October 16, 2019

Reaching Citizens in Their Channel of Choice

Consumers are bombarded with options that make getting what they want easier. Will you need your umbrella today? Just ask your virtual assistant. Dying to read the next bestseller but you can’t get to a bookstore? Doesn’t matter, it will be on your doorstep before you’re home from work. 

If you think government is on the outside looking in on this culture of convenience and ready information, think again. Citizens expect a similar experience from government as they get from Amazon. It’s time to open the door to improved citizen interactions and satisfaction by providing multiple communication channels designed around the citizen experience. By meeting them in their channel of choice, they can find the answers they’re looking for easily and conveniently. 

Government – We Feel Your Pain

The following common pain points present challenges for government.

  • Tight budgets make it critical to find cost-effective, modern tools that enhance citizen communications and interactions.
  • Growing citizen expectations call for responsive communication across multiple channels of choice. With 45% of citizens admitting that private enterprise provides easier ways to communicate and 62% saying they resolve issues faster, it’s clear that governments have some catching up to do.
  • New rules and regulations are increasing both the frequency of communications and the number of stakeholders. 
  • While governments are often playing catch-up with technological changes and advances, investments in technology do pay off when it comes to improving citizens’ experiences. Today, 73% of citizens report a higher overall satisfaction with governments providing digital services. According to the recent KUBRA Citizen Billing and Payment Report, 31% of respondents said that one of the reasons they aren’t paying for government services digitally is because the options aren’t available.

Citizens Are Speaking Up

Increasingly citizens want the same convenient, personalized experience they get from online shopping. When asked what they want from government agencies in the future, 59% of U.S. citizens expect public service organizations to use innovative technologies and solutions to improve service delivery. This isn’t just lip service. More than half of Americans indicated they’re open to their tax money going toward research into forward-looking technologies for their cities. They also want:

  • more proactive communication about issues of relevance
  • increased choice for accessing government services
  • confidence in the government’s ability to protect their personal information 

Craving Convenience

Given that there’s technology to adjust the heat in your house from your smartphone, you can understand why citizens have high expectations around government services They want more modern communication channels with user-friendly platforms, like text messaging, to do the following:

  • Obtain information on garbage pickup
  • Pay property taxes, parking fines, driving tickets, and license fees
  • Report road issues (e.g. potholes, damaged street signs)
  • Get information on street cleaning
  • File a police report
  • Report a drunk driver
  • Register to vote

Failure to understand these new expectations will lead to citizen frustration, lack of confidence in government, and loss of trust. 

Personalized Communication and Proactive Messaging

Now that you know what your citizens expect, how exactly do you meet their unique needs? Notifi® combines citizen preference information (e.g. the type of information and frequency in which they receive it) with your internal systems to automatically send messages in their channel of choice. Regardless of what information they are trying to find, Notifi allows you to track how they want to receive it and will trigger messages in any of these channels:

  • SMS text message
  • Email
  • Mobile app push notification
  • Automated voice

Not sold on SMS? Text messaging is an extremely efficient way to reach a large cross section of the population. A global survey found that 98% of text messages are read by the recipient and 78% of U.S. consumers indicated that receiving a text message is the fastest way to reach them for important service updates. And that’s not all, 56% of U.S. consumers said they would view a business more positively if they offered SMS capabilities. Through natural language processing, Notifi facilitates personal two-way, human-like conversations via text messaging. This means citizens no longer have to remember keywords like “BAL” to inquire about account balances or report a service disruption because interactions are the same as if they were dealing with a live agent.

Make Citizens Feel Connected

The majority of interactions between local governments and their citizens are still by telephone, in person, and regular mail. In order to meet current citizen expectations, this has to change. As technology continues to evolve, citizens are exposed to new ways to communicate and connect. It’s time for governments to raise the bar and create the environment for convenient digital interactions to give citizens the personalized experiences they’re looking for.

 

Sources:

Salesforce Research, Insights into how citizens connect with their governments via technology, Connected Citizen Report 2017.
Accenture Consulting, Digital Report: Great expectations, untapped potential, 2016.
Accenture Public Service Global Citizen Survey, What People Want, Accenture Consulting, July 2017.
Digital Transformation, Reinventing the business of government, IBM.
Pemberton, Chris, Tap Into The Marketing Power of SMS, Gartner, November 3, 2016.
Lemzy, Alexa, 62 Text Messaging Statistics for Businesses,Text Magic,  August 12, 2019.
Accenture, Digital Citizen Experience Pulse Survey Highlight. 2016.