I was recently asked in an interview with Govloop, a government focused social network and online publication, about how the City of Philadelphia is engaging citizens through digital services. Government is changing, and the conversation is no longer about why we need digital services for engagement initiatives, but how we can use them. The key to engaging citizens through digital services relies on getting to know your audience, having a strategic plan, using a wide range of channels to communicate with your customers, and listening to feedback.
The design of our digital service platform is entirely informed by customers. Both our internal and external customers’ wants and needs determine the service we will provide. Having a clear definition of your stakeholders, and framing your relationship around the question of, “how can we make you successful,” is pivotal.
In government, we have to be cautious about spending; as a result, the voice of the community must define what we prioritize in service. Like I mentioned in my interview, “We look at everything in order to define what we want to design…you have to bring the customer’s feedback to the table, not just the internal people. You need everyone’s ideas, but specifically you need to know what your customers want and then design something around meeting their needs.”
Data trends become more crucial when determining citizen needs. As citizens adapt to mobile lives, we see a need to meet the citizens where they are. Forty percent of Philadelphians do not have access to Internet in their homes; however, most have access to mobile devices. Knowing that we have to meet our customers, social media becomes an influential tool. For example, the City of Philadelphia Philly311’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, are able to connect with communities on an inherently social platform. Social media also offers us an opportunity to observe trends; what people are talking about, and what topics generate the most conversations. Being the 5th largest City in the US, means that individual communities have needs that are specific to that neighborhood. Monitoring social media is an excellent way to manage the various voices throughout the city.
In addition to social media, surveys are crucial in getting to know one’s audience. By taking surveys, we collect data that speaks specifically to issues. However, noticing trends, leveraging social media, and collecting data, means nothing if that information isn’t being put into action. Planning a communication strategy is imperative to creating a mainframe for the dialogue. Once you know what is working, creating a blueprint of how you got there, you can apply that template to other initiatives.
Find out more about what’s trending in government digital services, here:https://www.govloop.com/resources/future-digital-services-five-trends-transforming-government/