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Using Digital to Turn Mission into Realities

A true digital transformation starts by looking inward and identifying our missions in government – whether it’s updating citizens of road closures or better promoting a foster care program. We have the tools (cloud computing, social and mobile technology) and the talent to improve the citizen experience. But how can they best be used?

At the Granicus 2017 Digital Communications Summit, these organizations demonstrated how they used modern digital tools to turn their missions into realities.

Enabling Real-Time Communication with Social Media
Live from Capitol Hill!

As government workers, our first duty is to the people we serve. Where citizens once may have felt distant and removed from what was happening on Capitol Hill, now, the communication gap is continually narrowing with information being more seamless and engagement at the fingertips of citizens. Additionally, social media allows government representatives to interact with the people they serve in real-time.

Quin LaCapra, Digital Media Manager for the office of U.S. Representative Scott Peters, shared how they harnessed real-time communication to relate important events and issues to their constituents through social media.

Take a very controversial topic – gun violence – for example. Remember the democratic sit in last year on the Hill in 2016? During this pivotal moment in history, many network stations experienced a blackout.

That’s when Representative Peters decided to turn on his Periscope feed. Periscope allows users to “go live” via mobile devices anytime and anywhere. That same evening, his live video was viewed over one million times.

“We realized that meant a lot to the people that were watching,” La Capra said. “Because people have been demanding a more transparent government and we had to deliver. If we achieved nothing else that day, we reminded the American people that they could be a part of the conversation and part of the policy process.”

Thanks to real-time communication, people were able to tune in and weigh in on a critical debate for this nation. Additionally, Representative Peters and his office were better able to engage with his constituents and demonstrate that, as a government leader, he was taking them into consideration.

When government uses social media and real-time communication platforms, they can keep connected with the people who are far away from Washington D.C. Additionally, such digital outreach allows representatives, like Peters, to send real-time updates to subscribers, making them feel important and that they’re in the loop with current events.

Ultimately, enabling real-time communication with social media helps keep government open and transparent while keeping the country engaged. “And that is exactly what citizens demand,” La Capra concluded. 

The Importance of Understanding and Analyzing Your Data
Using Data to improve customer experience at Census Bureau

The Census Bureau is responsible for counting every resident in the U.S. and administers over 130 different surveys every year.

But while Census seems like it’s only about the numbers, customer experience is a critical aspect of what the agency does. Michele Bartman, Chief Customer Experience Officer at the Census Bureau, shared how driving good customer experience is critical to their mission.

“Data dissemination and how customers use our data is very important to what we do,” Bartman said. Such customers (or users) include federal, state and local governments, businesses, academia, non-profits and journalists. Users often need such data for planning their businesses, applying for grants, qualifying for social security and other retirement benefits or even conducting academic research.

To address all the needs of a vast user-base, Bartman applied customer experience data, or CX, as a strategy. CX data is cross-channel data that is instantly accessible and can be used to shape customer experiences in the moment of any given experience. Such data reveal a customer’s intent and what is meaningful and relevant to the customer as they progress with your agency.

By analyzing and understanding the needs of their customers, the Census Bureau was better able to personalize their services and even increase the rate of response for critical national surveys. Take the American Community Survey (ACS), for example. Census evaluated the messaging, design and sequencing of the ACS using a control vs. alternatives options, including envelopes, pre-notice letters, postcards, multilingual brochures and the ACS questionnaire form.

“When we evaluated the messaging and design, we were able to identify how customers were most easily able to engage with the survey,” Bartman said. “With our new design, we were able to improve the ACS response rate while saving $19 million.”

Ultimately, Census was able to do a lot more with data collected and disseminated and drive up response rates to surveys. By analyzing and engaging with the American people through a comprehensive CX strategy, Census is using data to improve the customer experience for the American people.

Connecting People Where They Are
How Prince George County Public Schools connects with communities

Nothing is more important than educating the future of America. And in order to better help parents and families engage in their students’ education, digital transformation must be part of the equation.

Max Pugh Jr., Senior Webs Specialist for Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS), shared how they are transforming digital services by connecting people to what’s happening in the school district from where they are.

For a county as vast and diverse as PGC, this was no easy feat. The county serves and must provide for:

  • 209 schools in urban, suburban and rural settings across 500 square miles
  • 131,000 students in grades PreK-12
  • 156 languages and 147 countries

In the past, PGCPS used to engage with its student population through backpack flyers, older websites, automatic calls to homes and school and community-based events. But Pugh Jr. and his team found that this was no longer resonating with users.

“Parents wanted to engage ‘my way, my language, my time at my discretion,” Pugh Jr. said. “They didn’t want to spend time browsing our sites. They wanted to get the information they needed straight from the classroom.”

To adjust to the changing demands, PGCPS is working improving their website: PGCPS.org website with multilingual settings in Spanish as well as English. Additionally, Pugh Jr. and his team are working on student and parent-focused applications that are accessible from any smart device.

So far, PGCPS now has 187,000 subscribers with 79,000 of those subscribers being wireless. The county also implemented a text and messaging outreach system that delivers multilingual capabilities in English and Spanish. This past year, the county sent 2.5 million SMS messages during emergencies and school closures. And as for social media engagement, PGCPS now has 93,000 Twitter followers and 19,000 likes on Facebook.

Looking to the future, Pugh Jr. and his team hope to produce more localized content and subscription choices and even implement late bus alerts to notify families in real-time. By connecting with users at their own level, when and how they wanted, PGCPS has been able to better meet family needs and demands and, ultimately serve one of the most important constituent populations: the future of our country.

Ultimately, a true digital transformation starts by looking inward and identifying the critical missions in government. Whether it’s keeping government open and transparent to citizens through real-time communication, applying customer experience data to improve user experiences or simply improving mobile connectivity to meet citizens where they are, digital transformation is vital to government meeting its mission objectives: serving the American people.

This blog post is a recap of Granicus’s recent Digital Communications Summit. To see more posts from the Summit, head here. You can also watch a livestream of the event.