Empowering government to build better resident and employee experiences and get more value out of their civic engagement technology.

Learn More
Back To Blog

Building a Digital Mindset to Boost Enrollment in Public Services

In an increasingly digital-first world, organizations looking to increase their enrollment in public programs find themselves facing new challenges in addressing, engaging, and attracting potential enrollees. Creating enrollment processes now requires the ability to anticipate the concerns and questions an applicant might have and address them in a way that allows them to successfully complete the enrollment process without having to call or email for assistance.

Importance of a Positive Government Experience (GX)

Creating a positive customer experience (CX) — or government experience (GX) in the public sector — has become an important factor in creating enrollment processes. At each step along an agency’s process, obstacles can arise that potentially discourage enrollment. Individuals might not understand enrollment benefits or account and log-in creation. Others may find processes and timelines unclear, leading to drop off during the enrollment process, resulting in time-consuming calls to agency call centers.

Creating a positive digital GX means assessing current processes and timelines, understanding the enrollee’s journey, and creating transparency throughout the enrollment process. Agency staff may have different motivations (such as operational excellence or funding impacts) compared to enrollees.

Identifying Enrollment Barriers

Agencies must better understand how they can identify enrollment barriers and create a digital GX that:

  • Eliminates confusion by providing clear instructions and visuals.
  • Reduces friction by making sure forms are easy to fill out.
  • Encourages trust by displaying relevant information.
  • Ensures accuracy by allowing users to preview their information.
  • Increases engagement by providing users with information about the government agency’s services.

Shifting the Mindset Builds Positive Digital Enrollment Experiences

As more and more people conduct their daily business through digital channels, whether on a computer, tablet, or mobile device, it is no longer enough to merely provide a digital presence. Successful interactions with customers require thoughtful strategy and attention to human-centered design that creates positive digital experiences.

The Demands of Modern Government Services

Government must be held accountable for designing and delivering services with a focus on the actual experience of the people whom it is meant to serve. But government must also go beyond that goal and deliver services more equitably and effectively, especially for those who have been historically underserved. ​

Over the last two years, the continued impact of executive orders at the federal level that reinforced the Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA) put the onus on agencies to consistently evaluate and improve not just their digital tools for service adoption and program enrollment but do so in a way that puts the user experience front and center.

Long-Term Strategy and Agile Culture

For many organizations, understanding how and why applicants are approaching public services is the first step. By building a strategy from the viewpoint of meeting needs rather than providing services, organizations can create programs that offer positive digital experiences and increase enrollment completions. However, that might be easier said than done.

Cornerstone Concepts for Success

Having a long-term strategy and an agile culture that is willing and able to respond to change can lead to success when established with these cornerstone concepts:

  • Goals: Determine what success looks like and align on a measurement plan that supports overall agency goals and objectives. This will help inform what types and categories of content should be prioritized at different phases of the program. ​
  • Audience: Whether potential donors, volunteers, supporters, or new audience segments, establishing clear personas and audience segments that reflect needs, motivations, goals, and pain points will help better understand audiences and inform content creation to meet their needs.
  • Journey: Outlining key questions and actions an audience member might take while interacting with an agency can help identify the goals and pain points in the enrollment process and help better address potential barriers toward success.
  • Content: What content audience members receive at each step of the journey is critical to removing the barriers that reduce program enrollment and service adoption. With clearly defined goals and an understanding of the audience, it becomes easier to develop content that meets their needs and ​drives positive actions. ​

Building Relationships Through Public Programs

For agencies looking to create better digital experiences, the desired outcome is a better, more efficient, and more effective way to collaborate and communicate. It shouldn’t be surprising that these are the same things a user looks for when engaging with digital experiences provided by that agency.

The relationship between agency and user might seem like one that has to be managed, creating complications and possibly conflicting interests along the way. However, at its core, the journey to service adoption has the same desired outcome: An agency looking to provide services and a user looking to adopt and use those services.​

Key Questions to Build Trust

Trust and communication are important pillars in that process, but process transparency can also play an important role. When planning a strategy to address new program enrollment, common questions to ask should include:

  • What are the components needed to ensure change isn’t painful?
  • What might be some barriers to trust in the digital adoption process?
  • What might happen if government services do not instill trust?

While these questions might not directly impact how a digital experience is created, developing and executing strategies through a lens that considers these issues will help build experiences that bear the relationship with the user and the concerns they bring to the process in mind.

Content That Increases Engagement

User engagement frequently takes high-priority in private sector digital experiences, whereas public sector programs may focus more on “hard”-number goals such as total enrollment. In addressing ways to create better digital programs for service adoption or program enrollment, the lessons and tactics used to increase engagement rates in the private sector can provide some insights for public sector projects.

Multi-Channel Communication Strategies

At all steps in enrollment service adoption, multi-channel communication strategies can create engagement that helps create a greater likelihood of success. Creating these channels of content can:

  • Increase Trust in Service Delivery: Ongoing audience engagement through two-way SMS, email, and surveys provides a more direct path to reaching the target audience. This approach can also help in collecting feedback and insights to inform future services. ​
  • Manage Expectations: Providing proactive status updates on claims or application processes with personalized, action-triggered messaging helps alleviate call center volume.​ Further, agency-initiated communications build trust as opposed to being seen as impersonal.
  • Drive Service Adoption: Targeted messaging allows delivery of content based on need-, demographic- and behavior-based categories that increase the likelihood of action being taken. ​

For this type of engagement to succeed, however, opt-in subscriber data collection is critical for truly maturing service delivery. Better data creates better experiences and can help move from a single-agency customer service approach to one that takes an interagency view to meet customer needs with a positive digital experience.

Positive Enrollment Experiences in Action

King County, Washington, used a mobile communications initiative to spread the word about their healthcare offerings and services through enrollment in their Washington Healthplanfinder website. The website, where residents can compare and enroll in health plans, had more than 600 in-person assisters to help enrollees navigate the, at times, complicated website to help enrollees make tough decisions about insurance.

Staff implemented SMS messaging to increase awareness and information about the services provided as part of the enrollment, including in-person opportunities, targeted both to events and specific neighborhoods and enrollee personas. Staff saw the opportunity not only to increase awareness and move the needle on program enrollment, but also to increase equity in their community, as their research showed that young, lower-income populations used text messaging more than any other demographic in the county.

As many within this demographic were more likely to be uninsured, it was important to not only actively reach out with information but do so in a digital experience in a channel — in this case, text messaging — that they were already frequently using.

Implementing the Tools for Positive Enrollment Experiences

The digital evolution of services has created challenges for public service enrollment, but it has also provided tools to better engage users and develop digital experiences that increase program enrollment.

By prioritizing GX, organizations will better meet the public’s increasing demands while achieving programmatic goals. Granicus’ Engagement Cloud tools deliver state-of-the-art technology to government outreach and enrollment programs, along with expertise earned by working closely with numerous organizations to successfully transform digital efforts.

Learn More

Learn more in this guide to better enrollment experiences.