The customer-centric strategy used by companies like Amazon and Uber has shaped people’s expectations of products and services. Customers want speed, convenience and 24/7 access to businesses and their offerings—but this phenomenon isn’t limited to the private sector. Government agencies are under increasing pressure to provide similar experiences for citizens.
To do so, public sector leaders around the world are looking to technology that will digitally transform their organizations, enabling them to deliver enhanced, faster services to growing populations. While the shift may seem like a daunting challenge for some, the returns are tremendous. Modern governments have the ability to innovate and scale services quickly, more accurately allocate resources and ultimately better serve the public while remaining good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
Governments can borrow a number of strategies from the private sector in order to offer more citizen-centric experiences:
Government operations can no longer run at the speed of paper. Digital records are essential to governments’ ability to offer services online, via mobile devices and at any time of day or night. At the same time—as the employees at Franklin County, VA, learned in their digitization initiative—digital records offer the opportunity to improve information governance and mitigate risk of data loss in the case of a natural disaster or other event that could easily destroy paper files.
Introduce Public Portals
Self-service is key to scaling citizen services. By introducing public portals, governments empower citizens to obtain the information or services they need without requiring them to travel to a government office, or limiting their access to certain hours of the day. Cities like Long Beach, CA, also demonstrate their commitment to open government by making documents available to the public through read-only portals that enable 24/7 online viewing access.
Implement Electronic Forms and Automated Workflows
Like public portals, online electronic forms are a convenient way for citizens to interact with government agencies and obtain information or services. Once information is captured electronically, government agencies can also automate the processing of that information and reclaim significant amounts of time for employees to work on other projects. When the City of Ithaca, NY, made a public records request form available online and automated the request process, the city reduced request processing time by 7,000 hours in the first year.
Gather and Analyze Data
As an organization becomes more digitally mature, it can begin to gather data on how employees and citizens are interacting with content and processes. Governments like Oakland County, MI, are able to analyze this data in real-time dashboards that reveal unnecessary activities, uncover bottlenecks and help public leaders identify ways to improve processes. Governments can ultimately leverage analytics to geographically pinpoint usage of benefits and determine where to launch strategic programs.
Improve the Lives of Citizens
Public services are at the heart of every government’s mission, and agencies must embrace the strategies that make them faster, more accessible and aligned with citizen demand. By taking a citizen-centric approach, public leaders also position their organizations to respond quickly to changing needs, demographics or technology. Even in a period of tightening budgets and increasingly complex challenges, governments can remain focused on innovating service offerings and delivery, improving lives for citizens.