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Why Every Civic Experience Should Be Singular, Personalized and Frictionless

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A single, great civic experience for a resident has the potential to have a lasting, positive impact on an entire community.

A single, great civic experience for a resident has the potential to have a lasting, positive impact on an entire community. Consider what dozens of beneficial experiences could do for a small town or what thousands could do for a major city. Creating a positive, impactful civic experience means creating a lasting relationship that takes root, branches out and spreads like flowering ground cover over bare dirt and weeds.

The average resident typically only interacts with their government when they must. These interactions have often been viewed negatively because they are inconvenient for the resident or slow to get the results they are looking for. Residents aren’t always aware of all the challenges and constraints government offices and workers face. As a result, they may be less understanding when an experience isn’t ideal.

To combat this, you can exercise a proactive approach for your local government by strategically “setting the table” so that when residents need to communicate or transact with your offices, they can do so clearly, in a way that is unique to them, and can be accomplished in a single stop. If these needs are met, residents are more likely to do business and stay engaged with their local government, leading to benefits such as:

  • Increased interest and participation in domains like recreation programming
  • Increased revenue from services offered across departments
  • Repairs and improvements to infrastructure thanks to submitted feedback
  • Improved compliance with permit and application requirements
  • An overall increase in satisfaction with the level of service provided

What leads to these positive encounters, and what can you do to strive to achieve them and make them the norm?

THE RECIPE FOR AN IMPACTFUL CIVIC EXPERIENCE: FRICTIONLESS, SINGULAR, PERSONALIZED

Frictionless

Community members are more likely to engage when tasks and interactions with one or more departments are easy to complete and result in resolution. The average resident is not intricately familiar with the inner workings of their local government; they don’t know how complex a workflow could potentially be between departments. The resident requires a service or resolution to a problem, which might be all that matters to them. To be prepared for that and keep the interaction free of the friction that can turn it into a negative experience, make sure you take steps to create efficiencies.

  • Automate processes. Take advantage of technologies that make shortcuts possible and incorporate them into existing systems
  • Optimize workflows. Review popular services within and across departments and determine how they can be streamlined

Singular

Ensure your solutions cover the full spectrum of local government services. In other words, make sure citizens have easy, unimpeded access to information, services and processes that can be accessed upon request and come to a definite resolution in the span of a single visit. Can residents find community event information, pay a bill and sign up to volunteer easily through your website? Or do they have to search for the information they need, make several phone calls or visit an office to complete a transaction? One of your residents’ most valuable resources is their time. Ensuring their whole civic experience can be realized with one-step access goes a long way to show your respect for this resource that is often scarce for all parties involved. Provide them with an easy, singular way to interact and find the needed information.

Personalized

Solutions must be flexible and tailored to the needs and interests of each member of the community accessing them. Citizens that feel like they’re just another number on a service ticket don’t feel a sense of value and are not likely to have a positive experience. And just as one positive experience can lead to a cascade of development and positive momentum for a community, a single negative experience can erode hard work and take an organization in the opposite direction like a weed spreading through the flower bed, leaving less room for new growth. Members of the community want to know that their unique needs are valued and considered. If a resident with a visual impairment were accessing your website, would they be able to read the flyer attached to an online form? And if they weren’t, how would that affect the civic experience of that resident? It’s essential to consider your entire population when planning your approach to creating a complete civic experience for your community members. A constant state of adjustment and maintenance is necessary and will allow you to be more precise and economical in your workflow.

Transformed Interactions

An improved civic experience is clearly a difference-maker for community members, but there are also significant benefits for the governments that prioritize optimizing the civic experiences of their residents. These proactive organizations will see benefits such as: increases in revenue, more satisfied and efficient staff, and recognition from the public.

The power of these positive civic experiences can’t be overstated. They can transform interactions with residents and permanently shift residents’ perceptions of government. These valuable instances of cooperation and collaboration lead to more profitable, safer, healthier, more productive, and engaged communities.

About the Author Jennifer Elliott
As the director of product marketing for CivicPlus®, Jennifer focuses on understanding the challenges local governments face in communicating and engaging with their citizens. She ensures that the benefits of our Civic Experience Platform are shared and leveraged by our local government clients. She leads the corporate marketing effort for CivicPlus and assists with communications and special project implementations. Jennifer holds a bachelor of arts degree in mass communications and journalism with a major in public relations from Kansas State University. She has over 17 years of experience in both the public and private sectors, handling internal and external audience communications, with a focus on marketing.
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