Why Open Government Data Isn’t Enough
I’m going to give you a phrase and you say the first thing that comes to mind. Ready?
Okay, let me guess—excellent, efficient or fast probably weren’t the words you landed on. You’ve had enough interactions with the DMV or other government entities to know that lengthy processes and lack of transparency can make it frustrating to get the information you need in a timely manner. And if you work in the public sector, you know that the steady stream of customer requests, complaints and questions are often unmanageable.
With limited resources and high demand for government services, getting the right information and services to citizens—and making their experience world-class—is a pretty tall order.
But there is a way to do it.
In May of 2013, President Obama issued an Executive Order stating “openness in government strengthens our democracy, promotes the delivery of efficient and effective services to the public and contributes to economic growth.” Now, more than two years later, 40 U.S states and 46 U.S. cities or counties now have open data sites like this one, giving citizens and civil servants open access to masses of government information.
But open data is just one step in the right direction.
Citizens and civic leadership now have access to petabytes of open data, yet citizen satisfaction is still dreadfully low. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which measures customer satisfaction in key economic sectors in the United States, satisfaction for the public administration/government sector is the lowest of any sector, pulling in a score of just 65.1 percent.
Why is this?
The speed at which our world moves is ever-increasing and in a technology-driven world, making data widely available just isn’t enough. Governments and citizens need fast data that gives them the insights to act in real-time and deliver efficient, citizen-focused services and initiatives. Only then will individuals across the government and public sector have the ability to drive change and improve satisfaction utilizing the growing government data pool.
Creating Faster Data for Smarter Governments
So how do we kick things into gear and fast-track government data? I suggest starting with these three steps:
Real-time citizen feedback
Part of creating a more digital government is collecting data fast enough to ensure that it’s relevant and useful. While this is an important step in the process, too many government entities present data that citizens can’t digest or understand.
You want to ensure that the data your government entity releases actually drives action and provides clear insights to the right demographic. Because so much of government data is released online, you can begin by tracking web page traffic, looking at bounce rates and viewing trends in your website metrics. However, if you want to take your data to the next level, asking citizens directly is the fastest and most efficient way to get the answers to questions like:
- Is my agency’s open data useful to citizens?
- Can citizens understand the data?
- Who is looking at it?
- What data do your citizens want to see?
- Is this data driving your agency’s desired outcomes?
To get there, every open data website should require targeted visitor engagement. Positive outcomes from open data are driven by feedback from those who consume it. With a website intercept tool like Qualtrics Site Intercept, you can pinpoint the right visitors using more than 20 behavioral, location, or device-type variables, and distribute feedback surveys. With instant, real-time customer and citizen data, every entity can act at lightning-fast speed to collect and distribute relevant and helpful data to citizens.
They say knowing is half the battle, but knowing what your citizens need and want will actually help agencies win the whole battle. With rapid data, governments can act faster and provide better services, while also engaging citizens and improving overall satisfaction. For a great example of how one local government is gathering citizen feedback, click here.
Create an opt-in citizen panel
As federal, state and local governments amass and distribute more and more data you’ll need a way to know whether your entity is simply creating noise or providing necessary insights to drive change. One way to do this is by regularly checking that the target demographic for your data understands and can use the information. While page-level and website feedback surveys can certainly help, they only capture the voice of citizens who engage online.
By recruiting and building your own citizen panel, you gain access to a wider range of citizens who’ve opted in to provide you with feedback about any number of issues. With your own panel you can segment responses based on rich respondent profiles, helping you see how various parties feel and act. Your own citizen panel will help you engage citizens and understand what information matters and drives the greatest improvement in your community.
Real-time case management
Lack of satisfaction doesn’t just stem from inaccessible or hard-to-understand data. People get frustrated when they have to wait weeks to receive a response about an issue or a complaint. They get mad when they sit on hold, or no one calls them back to answer their questions about garbage disposal, utility bills, tree removals or facility fees.
What if you could automate your case management and close the loop with citizens immediately? What if complaints or issues were automatically directed to the right department or individual, and that department received real-time alerts that allowed them to solve that issue faster than ever before? With voice of the customer technology, you can streamline your customer interactions and seamlessly collect customer tickets, receive real-time alerts and respond quickly. This way, citizens can get what they need when they need it—which means government offices can become more efficient and have time to take care of issues that matter most.
As we push toward a smarter, more digital government, open data isn’t enough. If we want to create government efficiency and improve citizen satisfaction, we need to get citizens involved. By collecting citizen feedback, distributing government data faster than ever before and closing the loop in real-time, governments can move toward efficiency and exceptional customer experience.
Want more content about citizen feedback and digital government? Check out our live webinar.