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When the pandemic hit, people around the world had to make serious, sometimes critical, life decisions often at short notice. These decisions could affect an individual's financial situation, healthcare, education and a host of other areas. This once in a generation challenge prompted, in fact demanded, that governments accelerate their delivery of digital services.
By designing services that are accessible through digital channels, government can reduce the friction that occurs when engagement only happens in-person or through paper-based processes. This also allows government to speed and scale their services by delivering seamless and self-serve options, like the Amazons and Ubers of the world.
However, interacting with government departments can be a lot more stressful – and life affecting – than ordering a cab or your groceries online, and mistakenly choosing the wrong government service can feed a sense of citizen mistrust in government.
Making no choice or the wrong choice of government services comes with equitable and financial penalties. For example, the number of people subject to tax penalties jumped from 7.2 million in 2010 to 10 million in 2015, an increase of nearly 40 percent. This example highlights that making strides in the ways of services are delivered isn’t enough if the right choice isn’t made obvious. In fact, analysis by the US Internal Revenue Service found that understanding the options ranked as most important - but also generated the most dissatisfaction – on a customer’s journey.
Digital transformation in government is driving the distribution of services and control closer to citizens, employees, partners and ecosystems worldwide. But when transformation doesn’t work, citizens suffer. For that reason, it is vital that governments give citizens clear guidelines by categorizing citizen services to deliver two-way benefits:
Automated discovery of eligibility
Before citizens can take advantage of their personalized account or on-demand support, they need to know or automatically be enrolled in programs for which they are eligible. For both government employees and citizens, this requires having access to all information at any stage without needing to know which department provides it, or what Miami-Dade County calls 'borderless government’. With a central content management platform, agencies can proactively and securely share information with partner agencies and external stakeholders to automate citizen access to critical benefit programs without the disruption of updated or eliminated policies and procedures.
Consistent application procedures
In the hectic process of planning for or experiencing critical life events, citizens could show up to appointments without having thought through the questions they would be asked. The visible agency to-do list is to upgrade the website with a list of FAQs or documents needed for appointment type, but the communications shouldn’t end here. With a statewide communications platform, agencies can create a “Center of Excellence” to manage all citizen communications – both print and digital – to attract, maintain and grow customer relationships. A ‘design once, deliver anywhere’ feature also allows non-technical government employees to quickly and easily release changes to existing communications across services, not just within individual programs, to address application trends and common needs in real-time.
Save on transaction costs
If a citizen can choose multiple paths, government must map out the successful one. With access to government portals, citizens are provided status visibility and control over what happens next. By designing a simplified mobile-application that allows citizens to upload forms, documentation and evidence, and track correspondence from anywhere, government can significantly reduce the costs associated with telephone, postal or face-to-face transactions.
The way people connect with government is changing. Instead of viewing technology solutions to help respond to citizen demand, government should view technology as helping citizens respond to what government has to offer.
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