As has been felt and said too many times to count by now, the COVID pandemic has changed the way we live, work, and experience our daily lives. Whether it’s an employee working remotely, or a constituent requiring information or services, digital experiences became our safe, sterile, socially distant means of interacting, and trends that seemed years away, at best, became reality overnight. Agencies across the U.S. began to lay, often in a matter of weeks, the digital foundations necessary to adapt. COVID landing pages, portals for testing and vaccine distribution, labor and health services, and communications with residents were all transformed to provide a sense of certainty in a time without it.
Expanding Services Beyond the Foundations
As things begin to come around and a new normal starts to settle, agencies have the opportunity to build upon the foundations they’ve laid. The adoption of new technologies should always bring about an increase in interactions – website visits, application for services, as well as public outreach – that sets the stage for where to move forward. Expanding on these technologies and beneficial services in honest, open, and relevant ways can begin to build back the trust in government that has been declining over the last few decades (Pew Research). Engaging experiences are built on the equal pillars of data, content, and delivery across every touchpoint and channel. Understanding this customer journey and its included bottlenecks can help agencies figure out the best path forward for investment. As Rep. Gerry Connelly (D-VA) recently stated: “The pandemic laid bare the consequences of decades of deferred investment in government information technology, and we must not let the lessons learned during the crisis go to waste…”
Modernizing Experiences for Constituents and Employees
An easy place to begin is understanding that the customer experience does not stop with the residents. Often residents applying for services will require additional information – emails, welcome packets, or phone calls – to finalize the process, and agency employees themselves, who are handling the new customer interactions, have their personal processes to work within. So, workflows and approvals that act as hurdles, errors in manual data entry or forms submissions that add new interactions and time to processes, and the need to further engage and communicate with residents are all areas of opportunity that affect the experiences of both the resident and the agency.
One place to improve on these experiences is an agency’s forms. While the website is often the first point of interaction on a customer’s journey, forms are the point at which the communication becomes a conversation. An ITIF study of the progress of the implementation of the 21st Century IDEA (Integrated Digital Experience Act) shows the achievements agencies have made in modernizing their public forms but also demonstrates there is a large amount of opportunity for improvement. For agencies that have finished modernizing public forms, the opportunity to improve the employee experience can free up their time to spend more energy on resident experiences.
The knowledge gained from the rapid development of COVID landing sites and the expanded outreach for health and safety information applies to other use cases within an agency. Going to the web to find answers to questions has become second nature, and agency intranet portals are often the first source of truth for these answers. Outreach infrastructure can be used to provide employee-specific information along the same channels used by residents. Finally, the data collected from increased usage can be studied and adapted to tailor experiences with the most relevant content specific to the person requesting it.
All of these challenges are not left for agencies to overcome alone. Citizen Experience was a major focus in President Donald Trump’s President Management Agenda, and while still awaiting President Biden’s, expectations are his “go big” policy approach and focus on the pandemic will bring increases to these efforts. Policies including the 21st Century IDEA and the IT Modernization Act are still required to be fully implemented, and even new attempts to assist state governments are being introduced in Federal legislation with bills like the State and Local Digital Service Act of 2021, introduced by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Patty Murray (D-WA). Agencies need to take the lessons they’ve learned and the momentum they’ve gained during the last few years to continue improving resident and employee experiences and transform themselves into a modern digital enterprise built on trust and transparency.
Watch our on-demand webinar series, Improve Government Services by Reimagining Digital Experiences, to discover how Adobe’s digital government solutions can assist your agency in expanding its reach, propelling innovation, and further driving digital services to be easily accessible, seamless, and available anytime, anywhere, on any device.