There is no shortage of examples of businesses that effectively used technology or have successfully disrupted industries with the use of an emerging technology. Think about Uber, Amazon, Google, and Apple.
For government agencies, it’s often a different story.
A recent post from the Harvard Business Review, however, provides some helpful hints on the governments can become more innovative in employing technology and a customer-focused strategy in order to better serve its constituents.
The advice provided by writer Steve Ressler is applicable to businesses looking to turn page views into sales as they are to local governments looking for ways to make the process of obtaining a driver’s license faster:
- Scale up: In the online consumer space, cultivating a large audience is critical. Social networks become more valuable when more people sign up for it, sites gain greater influence when they have more subscribers. Government services like those offering online tax filing or transit schedules also need to generate larger audiences. Think big. Measure impact not terms of thousands of downloads but rather in the tens of thousands or even millions, says Ressler.
- Make online initiatives work with offline efforts – Just because your department has decided to go online doesn’t mean you can leave behind constituents that are still living in the offline world. Instead, government offices should strive to create contact to as many touchpoints as possible or as needed. For example, if your office is making changes to regulations that will impact constituents, don’t just announce it on the Web site. Consider posting on social media accounts, billboards, send out mail, put up posters in community centres.
- Strive for seamless connection – In some jurisdictions, people download one app to pay parking tickets, open up an online account to pay for taxes, create another one to view and manage their unemployment benefits, and yet another one for viewing trash collection schedules. Municipal services information is an area the government actually has an advantage over businesses. Consider making things easier for people. Perhaps a single site that provides a centralized source of information as well as one that allows users a way to access services and interact with the government.
- Segmentation – Businesses pay big bucks to companies that can help them segment and better target their audience. Government agencies can use the strategy of developing targeted campaigns to broadcast specific messages to the particular group that it is intended for, instead of using a scattershot method.
- Use influencers – Companies often use so-called “evangelists” and influencers, people who are well-known and respected in their areas of expertise, to broadcast key messages to a target audience It is a big challenge, but government agencies can identify people in the community who could become an advocate. Ideally, these are people who are genuinely interested in the community, the services government provides and the well-being of others. These are people who connect and engage with others. Ressler says such people would be likely to share online content with friends and families or her disseminate information they believe is helpful and are also likely to respond to calls for volunteers.