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Trust and Equity Reimagined Through CX

Constituent trust continues to present struggles for government agencies. While pre-conceived notions about working with the government can impact how members of the public interact with agencies, many agencies work against their own trust-building efforts with constituent experiences (CX) that can be confusing, time-consuming, or completely prohibitive to getting tasks accomplished.

Negative government CX not only prevents a positive relationship with constituents, it can actually play a role in further eroding the trust the public has with government. A study by McKinsey reflects that reality, with 60 percent of residents surveyed stating that they experience some kind of problem when trying to interact with government.

The public wants greater, and easier access to services online, not just in their daily interactions with the public sector, but also from government. President Biden’s recent executive order is driving agencies to deliver services with a focus on the experience of the people using those services and expand equity to access.

Government agencies must understand the enrollment journey from the user’s perspective in order to create experiences that put the audience first. Not only can this shift in CX improve how the public views working with government but, thanks to the impact of digital tools for service delivery, it’s easier than ever to develop experiences that increase equity. A recent webinar featuring GXG’s Jeff Tzucker focused on how government agencies can advance their equity. Leveraging years of experience with state and federal government agencies, Tzucker provided some key areas for agencies to consider when evaluating their current CX and highlighted the opportunities where agencies can have the most impact in building equity.

The move to mobile

Mobile devices have become a major communications tool for both the public and private sectors. Considering that Pew research recently dated that 97% of Americans are using mobile devices, SMS messaging should be a vital part of any communicator’s tool kit. Yet while the public sector has moved to SMS messaging in droves, Tzucker said that government communicators have trailed behind in adoption.

SMS messaging provides a powerful tool not only in creating better CX for agency services and enrollments, it also can quickly move the needle in equity efforts. With 28 percent of those making less than $30,000 per year relying on mobile devices for web access, SMS messaging should be considered vital to government communicators. SMS messages can also be read out loud without the need for third-party readers or other dedicated assistive devices, making it easier to reach those audiences who may have disabilities.

Tzucker provided some best practices for communicators looking to create the best impact from using SMS messaging:

  • Avoid being spam.
    Using opt-in services gives people the power to decide what information is sent to them. It not only gives the audience control over messaging, but it also helps establish a sense of trust and consideration that creates a better overall experience. When a user opts in to messaging when giving personal information, they are giving approval to be contacted, making subsequent messaging less likely to be considered spam.
  • Make it easy to subscribe.
    Getting the word out about the ability to subscribe to SMS messaging may seem like a basic idea, but it’s one that many communicators can tend to overlook. Raising awareness through dedicated messaging and advertising (bus stops, radio ads, flyers, online messaging, etc.) will help draw attention. Making sure to include the relevant information on how to subscribe should also be included in those promotions. Create a short code, no longer than a five- or six-digit number, specific to only the agency or program, to make it easier for users to sign up immediately.
  • Don’t sell. Educate.
    Even those members of the public who have low trust in the government know that the government isn’t in the business of selling things to people things. But that doesn’t mean that promotional branding is something that government agencies should avoid when it comes to SMS campaigns. Tying sign-up codes part of promotional branding better connects the program to a stable source like the government, not a scam, spam, or phishing effort. Further, many agencies are connecting with audiences to provide services that will improve the user’s life or well-being, not try to sell them a product.

Know those who know the audience

Audience segmentation provides powerful insights on any communications campaign. But for agencies looking to increase program and service enrollment and adoption understanding the audience provides a roadmap to increasing equity.

Some agencies might find a challenge reaching out to audiences who would benefit from their services but have not traditionally interacted with the agency or responded to past communications efforts. Leveraging community partners and making grassroots efforts with those organizations beyond those with whom an agency is affiliated can open the door to connections with trusted influencers. These hyper-local conduits can connect with targeted audience groups and, as a public service, help increase awareness of the benefits of enrolling in programs that have a positive effect on wellbeing.

These community partners and influencers who can amplify messaging include:

  • Pastors and church leaders
  • School leaders
  • Scout troop leaders
  • Any source trusted in the community targeted for engagement

Again, “trust” is the keyword. Agencies looking to create awareness that builds equity and trust should only look for those who respect the need for relationships with their communities founded in that same trust. These aren’t celebrity endorsements for products.

Many community partners and influencers engage closely with groups, frequently going beyond technology and connecting with people at food pantries, churches, homeless shelters, or community organizations. Agencies looking to spread equity should also consider these as critical places to increase awareness of programs and lay the seeds for positive experiences that continue through a user’s interactions with the agency.

Connect with other government partners

While government on all levels often suffers from a reputation of being territorial and siloed when it comes addressing common needs, when it comes to communication efforts agencies should look to benefit from the knowledge and experience of other government partners.

Leveraging knowledge and relationships between federal, state, and local agencies focused on similar priorities can help provide a strong network of community connection. Often, the more local the agency, the closer the connection to the audience who can benefit from programs.  Not only does this shared work help amplify the messages of both agencies, the cross-promotional efforts can help reach a broader audience.

Learn and shift from data insights

For government agencies, data is everything. But often agencies don’t use the data they’ve gathered to help adapt their efforts for greater success. Government agencies that shift data gathering online and allow users to more easily give information, update it in a timely manner, and be more willing to provide more information than on a paper form, are the agencies that will find the greatest amount of actionable data for their programs.

Beyond audience data agencies should develop a philosophy that always learns from internal data, as well. Engagement rates provide one level of understanding how users take advantage of an agency’s digital services, but digging deeper into the user journey can provide more detail into where to improve CX. Identifying the common areas where applicants drop off an application process can help pinpoint trouble spots and can lead to reevaluating the digital experience.

Data insights truly come together when gathered personal data is combined with lessons learned from behavioral data creating a level of personalization that truly connects with users and makes them feel uniquely seen by the faceless government that they once saw as untrustworthy.

Creating transformative digital experiences for government agencies doesn’t require a complete overhaul of current processes. Reimagining CX for a more user-focused approach means shifting tools to reflect a more service-oriented philosophy.

Start taking the steps to move into the next phase of government CX!