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Andy Moy
Andy Moy
Andy Moy is Pitney Bowes' practice manager for Customer Analytics and Interaction. He is a graduate of business school and a postgraduate in human computer interaction. With a multi-national 15 year career in CRM and Customer Experience Management, Andy has worked with a diverse range of … More »

Governments Are Taking a Page from Commercial Businesses to Improve Community Engagement

September 18th, 2012 by Andy Moy

When a government prepares for a natural disaster its on-going communication strategy is put to the test. It has to notify people of an evacuation plan, where there is food and water, and communicate with its emergency teams. Recently, Australia experienced a number of natural disasters that exposed the inadequacy of its alert system. This has served as a wake-up call to many countries in the APAC region, and governments are taking a page from businesses to change its communications model. So, can this be achieved?

Today, like business in the private sector, there are disparate departments across government agencies that make it difficult to convey messages internally and to the community at large. It’s like going to the library and checking out a book, but the librarian having no knowledge that you also owe for outstanding parking fines because the billing department hadn’t made them aware of this detail, or wasting thousands of dollars by notifying everyone of a new senior citizen facility when really only the senior citizens themselves cared about knowing. To solve these challenges, government agencies need to adopt a customer relationship management strategy (CRM) that focuses on multi-channel communications to increase the speed at which they can engage with the community.

To implement a CRM strategy, governments need to treat citizens like a business treats its customers. The same rules apply in that citizens expect agencies to provide the same transparent communications as a customer would with an organisation.  A critical step to a multi-channel communications approach is to embrace digital media channels and support multi-channel service delivery.  For example, if a person needs to apply for a zoning permit with the local council,  it should be possible to do so in a channel that is convenient to them and to be updated on progress  in real-time. In emergency situations when time is of the essence, the real time nature of text and social media like Twitter can even provide life-saving information. But social media is important for another reason, too. It also elicits dialogue and feedback from people so governments are more in-tune with the needs of its citizens, and it provides them structured data points to improve community engagement.

Similar to how a company pushes out  communications and use surveys to collect data, a government organisation can use tools like Portrait Dialogue software to gather relevant information and distribute messages in real-time. For example, a local council can use the mapping element of the Geographic Information System (GIS) to locate a flood impact region, and then use the Portrait tool to communicate directly with impacted households, to quickly deliver vital messages to citizens via multiple social channels, text phone or email. It can then use questionnaires to gather vital structured data to better target follow up to those in need.

It doesn’t matter if you are a commercial business or a government agency, to effectively engage and deliver a relevant message you need to be able to predict and respond to the needs of the people. The governments of the APAC region are learning that to meet their citizens’ expectations they need to collaborate on a level that has been rarely seen in the public sector.

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Categories: Communications, Dialogue, Social

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