Digital planning, equitable access key for agency alignment with the President’s Management Agenda

For federal agencies, hiring and digital modernization have been top of mind for the past few years and the latest agenda reinforces these priorities while urgi...

Federal agencies should look to capabilities and a smart engagement strategy to meet the customer experience demands of the latest iteration of the President’s Management Agenda.  

The PMA was recently released by the Biden Administration and shares a vision around government service delivery as “equitable, effective and accountable.” This builds on recent executive orders around customer experience and equity and focuses on three priorities: the federal workforce, improving citizen services and managing the business of government. 

For federal agencies, hiring and digital modernization have been top of mind for the past few years and the latest agenda reinforces these priorities while urging alignment with relevant values.  

However, hiring top talent and getting through drawn-out modernization efforts are rarely short-term efforts for agencies. Luckily, simple CX tools, a multichannel digital strategy, and leveraging specialized services can enable maximum engagement without increasing administrative burden or requiring material upfront investments 

Building a strategy to align with the PMA 

When developing a digital strategy, it’s important to consider near- and long-term priorities centered on increasing access to digital government resources and services, maximizing awareness and measuring engagement and outcomes. 

Within the PMA, there is support for federal agencies to instill such plans to ensure “that every federal employee’s job is a good job with the tools, work environment and resources they need to succeed.”  

As many agencies focus their attention on policy-driven solutions for recruitment challenges, more emphasis on scalable technology and services in the near-term would prove beneficial for the workforce and the public. Further, the adoption of modern, easy-to-use tools can help support long term plans committed to equitable access. 

Lead plans with accessibility, equity 

Agencies should be mindful that customer experience starts with accessibility. If people seeking government services cannot access resources or information related to those services, agencies can’t measure – let alone improve – customer experience. 

An Information Technology and Innovation Foundation study found, “almost half of the most popular federal websites (48%) failed a standard accessibility test on at least one of their three most frequently visited pages.” 

Because the federal government serves as the proprietor of resources for all individuals, equity and accessibility of digital resources, information and services should be mutually inclusive. This level of universal accessibility may not be scalable for all agencies, but incremental changes now can be the foundation for long term change. 

One way to do this is by adopting capabilities reflective of what’s used by the private sector’s technology workforce. These capabilities not only modernize technology and processes but also better align with the skillsets of new job seekers.  

Additionally, intuitive capabilities with user-friendly interfaces can drive meaningful impact. For instance, agencies should implement websites and email communications with mobile-friendly design and offer engagement options that enable individuals to opt-in to email or text communications.   

Moving the agencies in a direction where all digital resources are easily viewed on mobile phones is not just a “nice to have” feature, it’s a necessity for reaching vulnerable populations. It is estimated that “27% of adults living in households earning less than $30,000 a year are smartphone-only internet users – meaning they own a smartphone but do not have broadband internet at home.” 

By closing the gap between individuals and their government, there is greater opportunity to create awareness and encourage action. 

Awareness of program offerings increase engagement, impact  

Transitioning from access to awareness requires an outreach strategy that leverages multiple channels. For citizens to enroll in services or take action – whether minor or critical – they must first be aware of the resources available to them.  

In fact, outreach to 6,500 people only results in about eight successful enrollments in a government program. Driving familiarity and clearly communicating relevant program information can increase those results.  

Individuals need multiple touch points, or interactions with an organization or brand, before engaging. In fact, private industry studies estimate upwards of eight touch points may be required to drive engagement. 

Because many agencies don’t use traditional channels like billboards or paid mediums like digital display ads, strategic use of digital channels is essential for awareness and action. An approach incorporating websites, opt-in emails and/ or SMS and social media channels can lay the groundwork from which agencies can build tailored messaging strategies. 

Measure engagement and outcomes for continuous learning

With an awareness strategy well established, agencies should tailor communications based on individual journeys as a way to facilitate improved CX while learning from the interactions and outcomes of their outreach efforts.  

A good way to initiate this learning is by leveraging opt-in communication activities. When prompting an individual to sign up for agency communications, offer a few different subject matter options as well as preferred communication tactic – do they want email and SMS communications or just email? These early questions can help guide individuals toward the content they’re looking for as well as support efforts to understand what subscribers want to learn more about and how. 

From there, agencies should be sure to measure the performance of those communications to learn what’s working and what isn’t. Is there an email with higher-than-usual open rates? Is there a URL interacted with more often than others? How are users engaging with webpages and digital communications: Where are the drop-off points and inquiries related to the processes with which audiences are engaged? 

This level of detail and data intelligence can not only improve customer experience but also give visibility into best practices and strategies for future program and service offerings. 

Building a CX strategy for today and the future 

The President’s Management Agenda fortifies this administration’s commitment to enhancing customer experience at the government level. From adopting tools that increase accessibility to developing a multichannel digital strategy, agencies can plan for the future while driving outcomes today. 

Gabriele “G” Masili is chief customer officer at Granicus. 

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