Government for the People:Tools for Engaging Today's Online Citizen

Beneficial products and attractive branding certainly can help catch the buyer’s attention, but unless an organization is capable of connecting with customers on a personal level, those customers won’t be likely to ever make the transition from one-time patrons to excited brand evangelists. Essentially, engagement is what keeps customers loyal, interested, and involved — three traits that the government would like to see emulated in it citizens.

Citizens Should Be as Engaged as Clients

No, the United States government isn’t a business. However, it does share a number of similarities with business, and when one starts to think of US bureaucracy as an enterprise, then it’s not much of a stretch to see correlations between customers and citizens. Both should be the driving focus for their respective organizations, and maintaining a good working rapport with each is essential.

However, where many businesses have learned to leverage new digital media technology to better engage their client base, most local and federal government agencies have yet to follow suit. Perhaps even more alarming is that in many cases where government agencies have attempted to improve citizen engagement via digital channels, results have been lackluster at best. In fact, fewer than 50% of citizens are even aware of services provided to them by local government through digital channels, such as apps or websites.

The question then become this: how can governments take better advantage of digital media and communication technologies to facilitate improved citizen engagement? To answer this question, first consider some obstacles to engagement that are unique to the government/citizen relationship.

Citizen Engagement Faces Unique Hurdles

When a buyer has a negative customer experience, what are their options? Most obviously, they can choose to simply stop doing business with the company. Beyond that, they have the option to take their grievance to the company itself, hoping for a favorable resolution. Unhappy customers may also post negative reviews for the company in question, hoping to warn other prospective buyers away from doing business with them.

Now, what about the citizen who has a negative experience with their government? What recourse do they have? Short of expatriating, a citizen really can’t ‘take their business elsewhere.’ As a result, many government institutions have developed something of a monopoly mentality where citizen interaction is concerned. After all, why worry about going the extra mile for citizens when they literally have nowhere else to go? Additionally, those who try to resolve issues often run into ineffective service and communication channels, or are bluntly rebuffed.

It’s no coincidence that DMVs and other government agencies have become synonymous with poor service. Long wait times, unhelpful representatives, and limited hours of operation lead to disengaged citizens, and even for those agencies that offer superior service, the negative stereotype is difficult to overcome. As a result, 68% of Americans say that they prefer dealing with private companies over government agencies, because companies resolve customer service issues more quickly, care more about people as customers, and provide better communication options.

To overcome this stigma, governments need to focus on improving their communication options as well as their service. Today’s citizen is an online citizen, and government institutions that take advantage of online media will be more capable of engaging their citizens in a positive way. New digital tools are making this possible.

The Right Tools Help Governments Support Their Citizens

The online citizen wants to engage with their government directly, without having to take a number or wait in a line. To better facilitate this, governments should take a cue from successful business organizations. Namely, they should adopt CRM-technology solutions.

An effective CRM platform is capable of gathering, analyzing, storing, and recalling vast amounts of citizen data. This gives government representatives the ability to not only deliver faster solutions for individual citizen issues, but to also provide a personalized experience more inline with what is offered by customer-centric businesses. However, this is only the beginning. The following CRM-based tools are designed to help government agencies better connect with their citizens in ways that promote real engagement:

  • Contact center management
    In order to provide the high-quality support that citizens prefer, governments need to take a page out of the business book, and employ effective contact center management. Contact center management makes to possible for governments to improve their processes from traditional transaction-centric business models into citizen-centric models. Contact center management gives service representatives a complete view of the relevant citizen data, across every platform and channel, for increased productivity and an improved citizen experience.

  • Case management
    Meeting service delivery expectations is vital to promoting citizen engagement, which is why effective case management is one tool that no citizen-focused agency should go without. Unfortunately, most agencies are currently spending half of their annual IT budgets, or $35.7 billion on average, on maintaining outdated, inefficient legacy systems. Improved case management that incorporates real-time data and easy-to-integrate cloud technology ensure improved service delivery and reduced total cost of ownership — all in a single, scalable solution.  
  • Engagement centers
    Today’s online citizen not only uses a wide variety of digital communication channels, they also move freely between them. With this in mind, modern governments need to expand to accommodate a new, multichannel approach. Incorporating email, phone, mobile apps, web, social media, and more, engagement centers gives representatives the power to answer citizen needs in real time, and to track those citizens seamlessly across every channel. Citizens can log service needs (such as those traditionally associate with 311 calls), request department reviews, connect with experts, and more.    

  • Advanced analytics
    Collecting data to improve the citizen experience is only the first step. Government CRM tools need to be able to accurately analyze that data, along with information related to use and processes within the agency itself, and generate reports that are as informative as they are accessible. By quantifying the effectiveness of any government CRM, agencies can identify weaknesses, improving the way they interact with their clients, and ensuring better citizen engagement over time.

Salesforce Government Cloud Is the CRM Solution for Improved Citizen Engagement

Salesforce Government Cloud is built on the world’s #1 CRM platform, and offers government agencies every tool they need to connect with their citizens across every channel. Connect with any device, provide faster resolutions to problems, and empower agency representatives to use up-to-the-minute data to improve the entire citizen experience. The end result is improved government responsiveness and efficiency, and increased citizen engagement across the board.

There are a number of critical differences between government and business, but when it comes to the customer experience, there are also a number of essential commonalities. Give your citizens the level of service they’ve come to expect from the private sector, and they’ll become the loyal, interested, and involved ‘brand evangelists’ that invigorate nations. Citizen engagement can be a reality, with Salesforce Government Cloud.

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