When a resident visits a local government website or city hall in person, they are on a mission to find a specific piece of information or complete a particular task. One of the most important aspects of whether the resident will ultimately view the visit as successful is whether it can resolve in a single stop. Residents place a great deal of value on their time because they have very little to spare. They want and need to experience quick and easy transactions with their local government so that they can continue with their busy day.
Did they find an application to start water service, and were they able to create their account and make payments? Were they able to find the right department contact or the hours for the city landfill? Were they able to fill out the necessary online form in a single sitting, or did they have to save their progress to return to it another time? When a staff member had to refer a resident to another department point of contact in an adjacent building, was their issue still resolved in the same visit?
When local governments can provide one-stop experiences for residents, people feel like your organization respects their resources and will reliably and efficiently meet their needs. Build trust on the back of that confidence and watch as engagement increases, and business and revenue opportunities are created as a direct result of a focus on improving the civic experiences for the residents.
What is the Civic Experience?
These single-stop interactions are one of the three critical factors in any positive civic experience, along with making sure the encounters are personalized and frictionless. It should be quick and easy for residents to do personalized business with their local government.
Busy residents don't have the time or interest in learning how to operate multiple systems or websites with separate login credentials, different user interfaces, and incongruent levels of functionality. When a mother logs on to her community’s online recreation resource to register her kids for youth athletics, she should be able to seamlessly shift to paying a bill, requesting a vital record, or tracking down a mapping resource.
Residents want the tools and resources required to interact with their government to be centralized so that they’re not repeating themselves in communication or duplicating efforts, re-entering the same information multiple times, or answering the same sequence of questions from two different department’s contacts.
Members of the community, just like local government staff, hold their resource of time in the highest regard, and the more you can make it evident that you have thoughtfully considered and respected someone else’s valued resource, the more likely a civic experience is memorable, productive, and mutually beneficial. This can also lead to a cascading word-of-mouth benefit from a single positive and impactful civic experience that serves as a constructive reference that will continue working for you in the future producing far-reaching effects and long-term impacts.
If a family is quickly and easily able to complete an online reservation for the local park pavilion and picnic shelter for a family graduation party, not only are the residents likely to return for other future services, but they’re more likely to tell the guests that joined them for the celebration how simple the process was and recommend the same or related services.
How to Create One-Stop Interactions for Residents
Ensuring your digital solutions are as robust and comprehensive as possible will give you an edge in driving the civic experience. The best way to make sure you can meet residents’ needs quickly and easily is to utilize centralized solutions that meet the widest variety of needs and integrate them. If you need tools to help you open channels of communication, create resident self-service options, or tailor parks and recreation solutions, the technology now exists to use all of these tools in unison to create a complete experience for members of the community.
Benefits and Results
More Collaborative Communities
One-stop experiences offer convenience, time savings, and efficiencies for both residents and staff. These savings lead to more opportunities to solve problems and create solutions as a team. A resident who trusts their government has more reason to return to do business and recommends that others become active and engaged.
When time and financial resources are conserved, it frees residents up to spend time with their family or focus on their work. For local government staff, having extra time means they get to focus on other complex issues or additional ways they can positively impact residents’ lives. One-stop interactions perpetuate resident engagement by leading to more opportunities for residents to do business with the municipality because of the positive track record established. If a resident came to the government website to pay a bill but, after spending several minutes searching, was unable to do so successfully, it’s much less likely that that same member of the community is going to return to the site to sign their kids up for youth soccer or reserve a city building meeting room for a youth group exercise. Ultimately a positive experience is going to be much more powerful and has a better chance to lead to real change and future impactful community development.
Local government staff members who want to make a difference in their community want to provide high-quality resident service. Residents, in turn, want to feel that their municipality is operating efficiently and values their time and engagement.
The one-stop interaction represents workflows that are efficient, and communication streams that are free-flowing. Residents and staff alike will feel the benefits of such experiences and the community will prosper because of improved relations between residents and their local government.