Survey: Better Citizen Engagement Trends/Reduced Budgets

Budget constraints becoming an issue

As part of a digital engagement trends report, the firm GovDelivery conducted a survey of 1,100+ government communicators at the local, state and federal level in the US and UK at the end of last year to find out what their priorities were for 2016. While some of the survey results are not surprising – in fact, they are expected – other results are very interesting and reflect a shift in governments’ thinking about citizen engagement.

In last year’s survey, some 51% of respondents indicated that improving citizen experience was a top priority. In this year’s survey, the figure is 82% – a major increase. Clearly, governments now understand the significance of providing a positive citizen experience. Good news here.

When asked what their four top challenges were for 2016, not surprisingly, 60% listed lack of budget and 50% lack of resources. Forty-five percent cited driving audience engagement with content and 40% driving customer satisfaction with online services.

The latter two challenges were not even mentioned in last year’s survey. These results reflect a recognition that achieving citizen engagement and satisfaction is not easy. But where do respondents perceive the challenges to be? User education, for one. Eighty-three percent believe their target audience has no or just a limited understanding of the services their agencies provide. Training is also a major challenge. Forty-three percent of the respondents felt they were not sufficiently trained on digital trends. An additional 24% were unsure if the training they had received was sufficient.

Websites remain the top digital communications channels (87%) followed by social media (63%) and email (51%). And that’s where the investment dollars are going. Forty percent of respondents indicated website improvements had the highest return on investment, followed by social media programs (22%) and messaging – eMail and SMS (17%).

I found the results of the survey very encouraging. I see a focus on the right things and a realistic assessment of the complexity of implementing effective citizen eServices. What’s the expression? Half of the solution is understanding what the problem is…

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