AWS Public Sector Blog

3 questions government leaders should ask when building a digital service—and how the cloud can help

The challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way organizations operate, engage, and deliver services. Although several public sector organizations launched new digital services, many still struggle with providing a high-quality and equitable customer experience. Feedback has shown that a complicated experience with a digital service can cause customers to not use the application, thus wasting the time and resources it took to develop the service.

To reduce the risk of a digital service not being received, or only being used by a limited portion of the intended population, government leaders should ask the following three questions before deploying new services — and consider how the cloud can help shape the answers.

1. Can customers access the service in more than one way?

Governments are required to provide many different services, and moving access online is a logical step. However, leaders should consider deployments across multiple digital channels. According to a McKinsey Insights article, it’s estimated that more than half of customers engage with three to five channels during their journey to make a single purchase or resolve a request.

Using modern technologies like chatbots, kiosks, and voice-enabled devices not only improves a customer’s experience by allowing them to receive information when and how they want it, but in some cases, creates less call center traffic, which frees up employees to perform other critical tasks.

Learn how the state of Kansas’s multi-channel platform not only improved how they connected with citizens, but also increased general funds revenue.

2. Can the service be accessed equally and equitably?

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many government organizations into their digital transformations. Unfortunately, some constituents were unable to use the newly created digital services due to various technology barriers.

The American Library Association’s digital-literacy task force defines digital literacy as one’s ability to use technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills. Meaning, for a digital service to be effective, a constituent must have the technology and digital literacy to be able to access and engage with the service.

If a service can only be accessed online, is on a non-ADA complaint website, or is only in one language, the service leaves out a large portion of the population. The negative experience has the potential to enhance a constituent’s distrust in government as well. To further the point, consider these statistics:

  • 15% of the world’s population has some sort of disability (World Heath Organization)
  • 25% of adults ages 65 and older report never going online (Pew Research Center)
  • About four-in-ten adults with lower incomes do not have home broadband services (43%) or a desktop or laptop computer (41%) (Pew Research Center)
  • 3 million residents in the United States now speak a language other than English at home, a number equal to the entire population of France (Center for Immigration Studies)

If government leaders are truly going to meet the needs of all their constituents, technology must be deployed that addresses both equity and equality. Making sure all customers have an opportunity to access a service (equality) is not the same as making sure individuals have the right type of access that fits their needs (equity).

Using technology to make sure websites are ADA compliant and accessible in multiple languages is a great start. Some governments are also utilizing cloud-based contact centers to address the broadband and other barriers outlined above.

Learn how the city of Johns Creek, Georgia leveraged voice-enabled devices and virtual call centers to improve their citizens’ access to services.

3. Is access to the service simple and convenient?

To stay competitive and remain in business, several consumer brand companies expanded their use of digital services. As a result, consumers are having better experiences with the brands they love, which also leads to constituents demanding more from their governments: more access to information, more ways to engage, and more digital services. In addition, constituents expect a better overall experience. People are no longer willing to wait on hold to ask a simple question, jump between multiple websites to conduct business, or spend hours in line for a permit or license.

Constituents want the same ease and convenience that they receive from private companies, and it’s not enough for governments to just provide a modern digital service. If the process to use the service is lengthy or complicated, customers will still be dissatisfied. The entire constituent service experience should be reconsidered with customer convenience and simplicity in mind.

Discover how the Maryland Department of Human Services (DHS) designed a platform that not only simplified how constituents engaged with multiple agencies at once, but also improved the overall experience for employees and consumers.

Learn more and get started

State and local governments do not always have the same level of resources as private organizations, but that doesn’t mean the customer experience can’t be improved. By putting the customer first, and thinking through the who, when, where, and how questions of ways constituents could engage can make a big difference in the customer experience.

For more information on how governments can rethink how they provide quality experiences, please check out our webinar series IMAGINE: The Modern Citizen Experience.

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Shonte’ Eldridge

Shonte’ Eldridge

Shonte’ Eldridge is an executive government advisor at AWS. Before joining AWS, she worked in the public sector for over two decades and served in various government C-suite positions including the deputy chief of operations for the city of Baltimore. During her time in government, she was known for using technology to change culture and solve complex operational challenges and was named one of the 25 women to watch by the Baltimore Sun newspaper and magazine in 2020.