Citizen Engagement Citizen Experience

So You Want to Optimize Citizen Experience?

There’s a plethora of articles and white papers about the importance of optimizing citizen experience (OCE) in eGovernment and all the benefits it brings. So let’s say you’re sold on the concept and decide to embark on a citizen experience improvement program for your organization/agency. How do you go about it?

The first question to ask is: What is it exactly that you’re trying to achieve? Or, put another way, what problem are you trying to solve? It has been my experience that OCE implementers commonly focus either on a subset of all the things that need to be done or on the wrong things altogether.

Rick Parrish, a Senior Analyst at Forrester Research, has articulated the problem very succinctly:

“When people think about improving the customer [citizen] experience, oftentimes they think about these surface-level solutions only. They think it’s only skin deep. But to really create an organization from the ground up or, sometimes even more difficult, changing an existing organization – to really be focused on the customer experience – goes far deeper than just the sort of thin patina that the customers actually deal with on the surface.

“We really [need to] break this down to a series of different disciplines of customer experience: there’s strategy, there’s customer understanding, there’s design, there’s metrics – measurement, there’s governance and there’s culture. And if you’re missing one of those, you’re not getting the whole picture – which is why this idea of improving the customer experience isn’t really just about this particular touchpoint or that particular interaction. It’s really about creating or recreating an organization that’s designed to function from the outside in.”

The point here is that improving citizen experience involves many dimensions and is a complex thing to do because each dimension is a discipline in and of itself. Take, for example, something as simple as making data available on line. As Mr. Parrish again puts it very succinctly: “[There’s a] difference between having information technically available and actually making it discoverable and easy to use. There’s a lot of information that’s out there but if it’s not easily discoverable or easily usable by people, the “product” is OK but the experience is terrible.”

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