In my last post I discussed the concept of customer or citizen experience in government and focusing on how we as citizens want to engage with our government on our terms, and on the device we’re currently heads down on (unless, of course, we’re driving!). So where do you begin if you’re a government employee trying to focus on your “customer”?
While simple, you should begin by focusing on the outside in. Truly focus on that citizen first and not on the sometimes byzantine rules and stove-piped systems you may already have in place. Easier said than done, I know, but it really is how you begin to transform the way your agency deals with its customers, both internal and external.
How many times have you been to a doctor’s office, motor vehicle agency, or applied for a permit and had to write your address down more than one time? How many times have you had to read the manual of instructions on how to fill out the form or wait in line to discuss with someone the process to determine eligibility for a grant, license, or benefit? Compare this to the first time you used a social media application like Facebook or LinkedIn. How hard was that? Was there an instruction manual you had to pore over before you got online and started sharing photos and stories with all those “friends” in your network? Of course not, that’s what makes it so fun (perhaps dangerous in some cases!) but most importantly that’s what keeps people engaged and online, and coming back for more. I’m not sure we’re ever going to make renewing your driver’s license or applying for unemployment benefits “fun” but we can make the process more intuitive and keep more and more people online rather than in a line. That’s where the savings come into play.
Last year 70% of the individual tax returns in the US were filed electronically. Do you know how much money that saved the IRS? Hundreds of millions of dollars according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). For every electronically filed return the IRS saves $3.10. “In addition to reducing costs, e-filing provides higher accuracy rates, improved convenience, and faster processing and refunds for taxpayers.” To me, that sounds like a great customer (and agency) experience. How is this happening? Most of this electronic filing is taking place with the assistance of great software from Intuit and H&R Block that takes users through a complex (sound familiar?) tax code/business process and breaks it down to a nice and easy interview. They have essentially broken down a tax code that is thousands of pages of not-too-easy-to-read instructions and have made it a breeze (for most) to complete their taxes.
Government agencies are beginning to see this kind of experience is just what they need to do in times of budget reductions. Adobe has helped many government agencies follow this same approach. We look forward to sharing some examples with you as we move forward. In the meantime, let us know if you’d like to talk with us more about it. You can reach me via comments, on Twitter @alec_chalmers, and also connect with the Adobe Gov team on Twitter @AdobeGov.