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Created

October 27, 2010

Citizen Experience: Ways to optimize your agency’s web presence

What happens behind your website is just as important as what is on your website. To maximize your agency's web presence, think about how you can make the web channel the "sole" channel for specific interactions and how you can make your agency responsive to these requests by transforming the review & approval process.

What happens behind your website is just as important as what is on your agency's website. To maximize your agency's web presence, think about how you can make the web channel the "sole" channel for specific interactions and how you can make your agency more responsive to these requests by transforming the review & approval process behind-the-scenes.

Your new government website just launched. The digital pages are visually stunning and impressive.

But is your website just a pretty facade?

Or…is it ready to turn those citizens who visit into satisfied customers quickly and without utilizing your agency’s overloaded phone, mail or in-person channels?

If citizens still need to call or visit an agency office after exploring your website, then there are still more opportunities for maximizing your agency’s web investments to reduce your agency’s operating costs and boost customer service. And, as I will note, investments in what the citizen doesn’t see, the operations behind your website, is just as important as what is on your website.

If your agency can provide required services online in a responsive and transparent manner, adoption of the digital channel will increase.

With the latest Pew research showing that more people are now connected to the internet, it’s time to think about online as a channel for completing end-to-end interactions with your agency. Not just taking a supporting role.

The good old eCommerce shopping cart. What it did for online retail was make it simple for customers to complete the transaction, all online. No utilizing of another channel that makes it inconvenient for the consumer and wastes precious resources from the retailer. Your agency's services and benefits enrollment are far more complex with eligibility rules and supporting evidence needed. But how can we make the web channel the sole channel for a portion of your citizen interactions?

The good old eCommerce shopping cart. What it did for online retail was make it simple for customers to complete the transaction, all online. No utilizing of another channel that makes it inconvenient for the consumer and wastes precious resources from the retailer. Your agency's services and benefits enrollment are far more complex with eligibility rules and supporting evidence needed. But how can we make the web channel the sole channel for a portion of your citizen interactions?

How efficient and effective would a site like Amazon.com be if after browsing for products online, a customer would still have to phone an Amazon representative or visit an Amazon store to complete a purchase? Not efficient at all, and what’s more, customer would not really shop at Amazon.com.

Similarly, it is great if your website provides useful information. However, if at the end of the day, you are still directing citizens to a phone or agency location to complete an interaction, you are loosing a key opportunity to save both your agency and citizen time and expenses.

One key reason citizens visit websites is to look for critical services or benefits. Providing the digital means for the application of these benefits and services is a way to move your agency into a web 2.0 level of customer service and efficiency.

If you are already providing information about the various programs you offer, why not invest in making the application forms available online so that any connected computer becomes a way for your agency to distribute applications, not just the agency offices which may be hard to get to if a citizen doesn’t have a car or works during the day.

Since citizens are accessing an electronic version of the application (whether it is an interactive PDF form or web-based guided wizard), have them submit the information electronically instead of printing and sticking in the mail. The benefit to your agency is reduced mail processing costs and also more accurate and complete information submitted.

However, most insightful among the numerous government agencies I’ve worked with to quantify the existing costs and potential benefits of using technology across common benefits and services enrollment processes is that one of the greatest opportunity for increased productivity and transparency is in the application/case review & approval portion.

This is the phase where traditionally all errors and missing supporting documents in the original application are discovered. It is where your skilled staff spend a large portion of their time correcting less than perfect submissions and where better collaboration could lead to decisions that lead to better outcomes for the citizen, family and community. It is also the area where traditionally manual ways of performing tasks is not keeping up with the increased case loads and agencies are hitting longer average backlogs. For those that measure performance, the this application/case review portion is also one of the key parts of the process that takes the longest time duration and a major cause of not hitting performance metrics.

It is because of these observations that the latest Adobe LiveCycle ES 2.5 which Marc Eaman from Adobe talks about in the previous post has a specific solution accelerator called “Managed Review and Approval“. This solution accelerator provides a supported framework around common requirements such as deadlines and tasks tracking which are necessary for agencies looking to quickly roll out a solution for streamlining the application review and approval for after a citizen or front-line employee submits an application for critical services or benefits.

With Adobe LiveCycle ES 2.5 released just this week, I recommend you take a look at this component as it may be a valuable asset for you as you look to move more services online and invest more in the web channel.