5 Steps to Improving Resident Engagement


If only improving resident engagement was as simple as a snap of a finger, then city staff would have more time to focus on other tasks and responsibilities  Fortunately, there are strategic steps for public sector organizations to take that improve resident engagement and empower residents and city staff.

In a recent Granicus comprehensive survey, we asked respondents to answer a variety of questions on how they wanted to access different local government services such as 311 services, utility billing, pothole and street repair requests, and more. All these vital local government services benefit a community when there is a clear process for residents to access them, but sometimes processes get lost in translation, and outcomes are shortened.

For that reason, Granicus has formed a five-step plan to help guide the strategic process for the public sector and resident engagement. Let’s begin with a fundamental step of planning, that Granicus discovered insight on in our latest survey:

1. Understand generational preferences

Every local government is unique and contains communities that carry different demographics. For local governments to serve communities most effectively, they must proactively plan to meet residents where they’re at. In the full Granicus survey report, residents of various regions, age groups, and other demographics were surveyed. Though one demographic category stood out glaringly in disparities of preferences — age group.

Granicus asked respondents to agree with the statement, “I can communicate with my government easily.” Older generations leaned towards agreeing with the statement more, and it makes sense as local governments have more years of experience communicating with generations like Baby Boomers and The Silent Generation. Conversely, younger generations agreed with the same statement less — meaning there is still some work to be done for local government and serving these generations. The second part of the equation is understanding generational preferences for communications. For example, older generations prefer in-person and phone call access to their local government, whereas Millennials and Gen-Zers prefer smartphone apps and omnichannel methods.

The most strategic course of action for local governments and identifying their community’s demographics would be to survey their own communities.  Then, local governments can decide which channels to prioritize based on the generational demographics of their community. As before mentioned, every local government is unique. There are many different survey resources out there but some that are popular include SurveyMonkey and Google Forms. These survey resources can help find out generational insights in your community and drive more strategy towards investing in channels of engagement.

2. Promote the preferred channels of engagement

After understanding which channels are popular for promoting resident engagement, it’s critical to decide the services to prioritize for digitization. Granicus asked respondents to gather a better understanding of which services the public sector should prioritize. The results showed that utility billing was the number one service that wanted to be digitized. This may be accredited to the fact that the public is used to paying for many other goods and services online, via smartphone apps (Uber, Amazon, GrubHub, and more.)

Millennial on Phone

If public sector organizations know that this is the most popular service to digitize, it wouldn’t make sense to allocate resources for this service via in-person visits. The more reasonable option would be for the public sector to implement a government CRM (constituent relationship manager) with mobile app integrations so that residents can pay utility bills with a click of a button. This leads to the next integral part of resident engagement planning, a process audit.

3. Conduct a process audit

So far, the steps of a resident engagement plan have involved understanding generational preferences in our community and promoting preferred channels of engagement. Now it’s time to conduct a process audit to ensure the processes in place for engagement have a purpose for city staff and residents. Conducting a process audit can be carried out in different ways, depending on the organization’s needs. Let’s assume a local government wants to strategize for a service like utility billing (since we discovered respondents want this service digitized most). It may begin with agencies asking themselves questions about the current process, such as:

  • Does your agency have a SWOT Analysis for each existing process?
  • Is the tool or process easy for city staff to use, with minimal IT training?
  • What’s the rate of effectiveness for each service provided?
  • Are there quantifiable measures in place already?
  • What processes are in place that automates work tasks for city staff?
  • How is your agency’s tech stack helping efficiencies of meetings?
  • Do your agency technologies reduce the burden on city staff employees?

To best answer these questions, agencies may consider having team meetings with the staff involved in processes. The next step is to identify available solutions to meet these needs.

4. Identify available solutions

After conducting a process audit, some gaps in processes for resident engagement may be apparent.  Government solutions can fill these gaps efficiently and maximize outcomes for resident engagement.

Let’s review government solutions that can empower resident engagement with services.


Government CRM: Often times the term CRM (customer relationship manager) is associated with helping productivity for the corporate sector, but city staff and residents can benefit from a government-focused CRM (constituent relationship manager). Earlier we showed you the top ten services to prioritize, and some of those services can actually be met with this solution, like:

  • 311 Services
  • Pothole repair requests
  • Water and sewer emergencies

Meeting and agenda management solutions: Meeting and agenda management solutions help automate the processes associated with public meeting management and offer public access to meetings.

“Online meeting agendas bring substantive benefits to the agenda management process by automating the process for city clerks and allowing for increased citizen engagement, transparency, and environmental stewardship, in addition to saving time and valuable resources.” — Diligent

The main local government service met with this solution: city public meetings.

Public records request management solutions: Public records requests help maintain transparency for the public and give residents information about the services they care about.

With this solution, citizens can receive information about the followings services:

  • City public meetings
  • Public health

Video/live streaming solutions: Video/Live streaming is a popular modern solution that can serve city staff and residents to receive information more inclusively. After all,  people prefer to consume information through video. The services that can be met with video/live streaming solutions:

  • City public meetings
  • Public health

5. Select with an eye toward the future

Down to the final step of resident engagement planning —building a checklist of requirements to provide your residents and your city staff with the best future-proof service possible.

Checklist to consider:

  • Years of dedicated local government experience
  • Tech solutions that adapt to multigenerational preferences
  • A gold standard in support
  • Integrates into your existing systems with minimal implementation time
  • Empowers processes for city staff and residents alike

Now we’ve made it to the end of the five steps of resident engagement planning, putting it altogether the steps are:

  1. Understand generational preferences
  2. Promote the preferred channels of engagement
  3. Conduct a process audit
  4. Identify available solutions
  5. Select with an eye toward the future

Any goal that was ever worth reaching took time and strategy, which is why Granicus built a five-step course of action to help local government leaders excel in resident engagement. Use this resource to help build and maintain your resident engagement plan to create processes for a better tomorrow.


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