Why Customer-Centric Strategy is Vital for Digital Service Adoption
Customer experience (CX) has become a driving force in digital communications. 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.
Over the last few years, the trend toward improved CX has crossed the line between the private and public sectors. While the “C” in “CX” may shift to mean “constituent,” the demands are clear: 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.
Both the Biden 2022 and 2023 Executive Orders focusing on CX, as well as the continued impact of 2018’s 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.
A recent webinar featuring digital analysts Charlotte Lee and Nick Geier looked at how these changes are impacting the work being done to help agencies meet new demands while maintaining and, in many cases, improving efforts toward achieving their missions. Based on their experiences working with government clients through the Granicus Experience Group (GXG), Lee and Geier presented some insights and discussed crucial questions agencies should be considering when building new digital strategies around service adoption.
A strategy for long-term transformation
“Government has started to mature their understanding of customer experience and examine previously unexplored concepts around the role communications plays in CX,” Geier said during the presentation. “We’re seeing many more leadership roles emerge and evolve as we begin to define ‘operationalizing.’”
But, Lee added, many agencies are still left with the question of what government hopes to achieve by transforming their services digitally. Success in service adoption, she said, should remove barriers and enable seamless, omni-channel experiences for the customer. For many agencies, however, that might be easier said than done.
“The right technology is critical,” she said. “But so is a long-term strategy and an agile culture.”
When considering a new strategy toward digital services, agencies should establish these cornerstone concepts:
Determine what success looks like and align on a measurement plan. These goals should support overall agency goals and objectives and will help inform what types and categories of content should be prioritized at different phases of the program.
This may be potential donors, volunteers, and supporters, or new audience segments. In all cases, 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 audience needs.
Getting audiences to reach intended goals requires multiple channels or touchpoints to achieve the best success. Outlining key questions and actions an audience member might take while interacting with an agency can best be informed by the goals and pain points created in audience segmentation and help better address potential barriers toward success.
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.
More than providing services, building relationships
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.
While the relationship between agency and user may seem like one that has to be managed, creating complications and possibly conflicting interests along the way, 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.
One of the common barriers that agencies have with program enrollment and service adoption, however, starts at the first step: the enrollment process. A successful account creation can mean the beginning of the customer’s journey and is often considered a metric of success. But the user’s consideration process is often overlooked in digital service adoption strategies.
Government agencies can seem daunting, cold, and uncaring to many users. Because of that building trust with the user becomes critical for service adoption, as well as helping them understand the benefits of enrollment and clearly communicating the requirements that must be met to enroll and participate in the program.
With a multi-channel, guided experience, agencies can provide content that not only addresses the issues and concerns that users may have with the enrollment process, but also help build not only a positive relationship with the agency but establish expectations for future user interactions.
“Users have a phased, not linear, tendency when it comes to changing their level of comfort,” said Geier. “Familiarity can be achieved with clear and transparent communication through the consideration process. But iteration is the key to creating that successful change.”
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 may 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 that potentially creates barriers, in mind.
Content interactions that increase engagement
The idea of 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.
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 of 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.
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, Geier said that opt-in subscriber data collection is critical for truly maturing service delivery.
“Opt-in is not an option,” he stressed. “Better data, it follows, 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.”
A shift in philosophy, not just services
While the recent drive to increase the quality of digital experiences was sparked by executive action, the changes at the core of a successful CX evolution reflect a broader shift in the ways that government is adopting some of the techniques that the private sector has relied on throughout the overall growth of digital tools.
Sending personalized and relevant messages about happenings, ideas, and events with the intent of raising engagement and meeting strategic objectives may seem ancillary to government services. However, for agencies targeting increased adoption, customer advocacy, and mission impact, improved customer relationships and developed brand presence will continue to grow in importance.
Learn more about how a platform of digital engagement tools can help government agencies embrace a digital shift and increase strategic success.