2018 Digital Citizen Summit: Exploring the New Citizen-Driven Approach to Digital Experience

by Lisa Lindgren

posted on 02-15-2018

On January 31st, government and industry leaders gathered at the Newseum in Washington, DC for Government Executive’s 2018 Digital Citizen Summit, underwritten by Adobe. Attendees heard from leaders championing a new approach to designing and delivering digital services, based on citizens’ needs. Through presentations and panel discussions, participants from agencies including FEMA, CDC, GSA, the IRS and more discussed how they are transforming digital services to not only deliver better services for citizens but create efficiencies within their own organizations through user-centric design.

In the opening session on Driving ROI by Repairing Broken Experiences, Celika Caldwell and Michelle Musgrove of AARP discussed the high bar that consumers have set for digital experiences, based on everyday interactions with leading private sector organizations like Amazon and Apple. Companies that excel in providing digital experiences have established what trust, timeliness, personalization means for consumers, and other organizations need to keep up in order to maintain consumer engagement.

Sean Howard, Global Managing Director of WPP’s Government & Public Sector Practice, took the stage to discuss a recent report by Adobe and WPP: Delivering experiences that count. By surveying 7000+ citizens across seven countries, the study explored where governments are in their digital evolutions and how citizens view their own experiences with digital government communications. While governments are doing relatively well at delivering certain functional aspects of digital service, they have fallen behind in terms of citizens’ expectations for positive digital experiences, particularly in delivering relevant, personalized content and building relationships with citizens.

In a panel discussion moderated by Nextgov’s Frank Konkel, UX experts from GSA, USDA, NGA-GEOINT, and the IRS discussed their work to prioritize user experience and design within their agencies, and strategies for improving website functionality for seamless online and offline customer experiences. Michael Lin, Chief of User Experience & Design in the Office of Online Services at the IRS, revealed that on average it costs the IRS $41 per phone call and a shocking $67 per interaction to help a customer in-person at a tax assistance center. The IRS is looking to digital solutions like the Where’s My Refund tool to alleviate some of these expenses, and is a great example of the way both agencies and their customers can benefit from the efficiencies that come with improved digital experiences.

Next, a panel discussion led by Nextgov’s Aaron Boyd included digital engagement specialists from the CDC, FEMA, and State Department who discussed citizen engagement through channels like social media and mobile apps. Where these agencies missions depend on communicating information to citizens, engagement is critical and requires personalized, relevant content distributed thoughtfully across relevant channels. This includes careful assessment of what channels reach which audiences, and what content, cadence of interaction, and tone of voice those audiences may expect from an agency engaging on a certain channel.

Martha Dorris, founder of Dorris Consulting International and former Director of the Office of Strategic Programs for GSA, shared her expert perspective on where government customer experience stands today, and progress to expected in 2018. Martha discussed key legislative developments that will impact government CX including the Modernizing Government Technology Act, Connected Government Act and Federal Agency Customer Experience Act, as well as challenges like legacy systems and lack of funding for modernization projects. Amongst Martha’s predictions are a renewed focus on CX in the coming year, more emphasis on the full customer journey, and that contact centers will begin to get much-overdue attention now that the GSA Center of Excellence has been established.

The summit concluded with a fireside chat between Aaron Boyd and Kate Zwaard, Director of Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress. Kate discussed how the Library is using digital innovation to carry out its mission as an interactive resource for the public. Digital services like the “Ask a Librarian” tool have made the Library more accessible and engaging than ever, while technologies like machine learning and AI bring new opportunities for the library to modernize its cataloguing system and make resources more findable than ever.

The importance of designing citizen-centric digital government services is clear, and it is inspiring to hear from so many leaders dedicating themselves to implementing technology to enable government to better meet citizens’ needs.

If you weren’t able to join us for the Digital Citizen Summit, you can see videos of the sessions here.

Join the conversation on Twitter by tagging @AdobeGov and #DigitalCitizenSummit18.

Topics: Data & Privacy, Public Policy