Connecting state and local government leaders
COMMENTARY | By harnessing existing data, agencies can deliver best-in-class experiences that enable residents to get the most out of their government interactions.
Today, consumers expect and often receive a personalized experience when they shop online. As a result, elegant, user-focused design, interfaces and experiences calculated to anticipate specific and personal needs have quietly become the norm. So why doesn’t the same level of personalization and ease of use extend to interactions with state and local government?
The truth is, it can and should. Excellent customer service, digital and offline alike, can happen in government, and it will start to happen more often. By providing secure and consumer-focused interactions across state government, agencies can benefit themselves and the citizens they serve.
By putting the consumers’ expected outcomes at the core of their government interactions, state agencies can deliver a focused all-of-government experience that achieves greater efficiencies for employees and contributes to deeper trust and a more positive perception of state government among residents.
For a moment, consider some of the largest, most well-known online storefronts and the goods and services they provide. Think about the personalized experience and how these sites and apps serve up relevant, personalized and practical information and recommendations. Etsy. Chewy. Apple. Amazon. The private sector has spent two decades inventing and refining processes and cues that guide consumers to navigate their options and complete their transactions quickly. Modern digital CX is remarkable—and it all starts with data.
Now, consider the data that state governments and agencies collect—from driver’s licenses to vehicle and business registrations, recreation and professional certifications as well as eligibility/enrollment records. In most states, that information is siloed within the agencies that collect it. As the video streaming, music and retail storefronts have shown, connecting those various data points can create opportunities for better, more personalized experiences—and better outcomes for people seeking services. Data is the currency of government services, and it must be secured and allowed to flow across agency services. Ultimately, creating and leveraging a complete view of the people they serve can enable state agencies to digitally deliver the correct information and services to consumers where and how they choose.
Until recently, creating that holistic view of a resident would mean a significant investment in complex technology, carrying high costs in time and money. However, as technology has evolved, connecting and using disparate data sources has become more manageable and achievable, allowing agencies to maintain ownership of their data and protect those records with robust tools.
The all-of-government view is more than a snapshot of a single individual or agency. It’s a new, unified way of thinking across groups of residents and state agencies. It opens new possibilities for self-service delivery, content and messaging and higher rates of online customer satisfaction.
By harnessing the data that already exists and using it in a more powerful way, state agencies can begin to deliver some of what consumers expect from the private sector: best-in-class experiences that enable residents to get the most out of their government interactions.
Technological flexibility is the foundation
Technology is a powerful enabler and conduit, connecting residents to the significant resources, information and services available from states and state agencies. Delivering an all-of-government view requires technology that is, above everything else, flexible. Technology can vary widely, even within and among state agencies. Being able to focus on the customer—identifying the customer-driven need and integrating disparate systems to deliver a seamless, powerful digital experience—is no small feat. Accomplishing this goal depends on three critical elements.
First, it’s essential to use the right tools for the job. Just as a giant hammer would not be used to drive a delicate finishing nail, deploying a technology solution that fits the challenge is crucial. The ideal platform for delivering an all-of-government experience will be modular, cloud-hosted and able to be sized and scaled as requirements and expectations grow. It must also handle a wide range of integrations without getting bogged down with custom development and complexity. And, because the all-of-government view is primarily about using data from various places, technology should be architected to readily ingest that information and output the right experience to residents—where and how they choose.
Second, having a partner with the right mix of digital expertise can make or break a complex all-of-government project. Experience with platform development, integration and installation is critical. However, so too are capabilities in digital experience design, process design, usability and accessibility as well as content creation and messaging. Successfully delivering an all-of-government view means getting the most out of the technology in ways that are meaningful and useful to residents—because that’s how agencies support their mission. That level of intentional focus on the experience will ultimately determine the project’s success.
Lastly, security must be at the forefront of everything agencies do in the digital world, from securing data against bad actors to providing individuals with control over how their data is used. By enabling residents to set and monitor their privacy controls, states can foster trust, and people can remain confident that the state is safeguarding their personal information.
Reimagining the government experience
Fulfilling the mission to serve the public requires creatively reimagining how government can be delivered to people. Infrastructure, systems of record and middleware layers are all critical to success, but the impact is truly felt when the entire citizen journey meets—or even exceeds—expectations.
Whether through mobile-responsive websites, apps, human-like chatbots or other digital touchpoints, the experience should be personalized and curated to the individual. The result is a unique approach designed to help governments and agencies deliver effortless, productive interactions.
Ultimately, it’s those seamless interactions that will drive satisfaction and trust and create an environment where all-of-government ambitions can be realized.
Robert Knapp is senior vice president, Digital Government Solutions, U.S. Services, Maximus.