Shifting to digital channels of engagement with citizens can be a great way for the public sector to save money and increase efficiency. But what exactly does channel shift look like in those instances? And how can agencies achieve channel shift when they are leveraging outdated tools?
Granicus brought together a few experts to answer these questions at a recent Digital Engagement Breakfast in Washington, DC. Alison Hamilton, Federal Account Executive at Granicus and Mike Rupert, Deputy Communications Director at the Executive Office of Mayor Muriel Bowser, broke down what channel shift is and how government can start leveraging it.
At its core, channel shift is making information and services accessible on the channels that your customers are utilizing most. For example, most airlines have recently shifted from providing only printed boarding passes at airports to online check-in and mobile boarding passes because that is what consumers want.
Government can and should do the same thing. “Public sector organizations have to change their mindsets from ‘this is how we have always done things’ to ‘this is what our customers (the citizens) want, so let’s give it to them.’” Hamilton explained. “People have high customer service expectations and government does not get a free pass.”
However, it goes beyond new tech for government. Hamilton emphasized that agencies have to get the word out about how they are enhancing the customer experience. She said, “If you don’t take the effort to promote your service, it’s not going to be utilized by the people you serve, and your efforts to shift will be fruitless.”
One federal agency that is doing this particularly well is U.S Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). They are a completely self-sustaining agency that operates on fees collected from passport and visa applications. They use Granicus to educate citizens on the more than 250 applications available to them in order to increase awareness and drive revenue.
At the state and local level, DC government is also doing big things through channel shift. Rupert explained, “We are personalizing relationships through different channels and meeting each resident where they are.”
An example of this is in the DC public schools’ My School DC platform. DC public schools serve a wide range of students and citizens who have the same needs but very different ways of communicating. As a result, they needed to develop a strategy to make sure everyone was getting critical information from the school district. “To do this, we developed a single platform to communicate information,” Rupert explained. “This means that the grandmother raising her two grandkids and doesn’t check her email but does check her text messages can go to the platform and sign up to receive communications through text on the central portal.”
In another example, Rupert explained that the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs wanted to get feedback on a program they were running. They realized that the return on investment wasn’t there for handing out paper questionnaires, so they shifted channels and leveraged interactive text messaging to solicit feedback.
At the end of the day, governments must integrate digital with offline channels and adopt the self-help model that has been so critical to private sector customer success and send citizens messages where they will see them. Through channel shift and continual promotion, you can effectively increase your reach and engagement.
To learn more about how Granicus can help you shift channels and boost engagement, contact us here.