Accelerating local government transformation
Digitizing government information and services is imperative. As the private sector continues to set the standard for digital experience, expectations increase for all levels of government. This article explores how leading councils are connecting residents with critical digital services during this time of unprecedented change.
Wired for connection
The pace of technological adoption is staggering. Every day one million people connect to the internet for the first time. 4.5 billion people, over half the world’s population, spend an average of 6.4 hours online daily (CEO Magazine, 2020). Increasingly, personalized platforms such as Facebook and Amazon are shaping our expectations of digital experience.
Recent customer research found that 73% of consumers want organizations to deliver personalized experiences based on their needs (Salesforce, 2020). These findings are even more critical for government agencies. 85% of citizens expect the same or a higher standard of quality from government services as they do from commercial organizations (Accenture, 2019).
61% of citizens are happy with the digital experiences provided by the government. One thing on which most experts agree is that accelerating deployment of digital services needs to be a top priority across all levels of government (Gartner, 2018/2020).
Serving the community, at speed
Given the pace of change and increasing expectations of local government, let’s explore three examples of Councils in New Zealand and Australia that have accelerated digital transformation to engage and serve their communities.
1. Citizen-first digital services during the pandemic
During the pandemic, the Ashburton District Council in New Zealand responded rapidly to critical information to residents. As Ruben Garcia from the Council explained in a recent Squiz webinar, “During COVID the challenge is to keep all channels updated with consistent, relevant information efficiently. When a crisis occurs, that’s what people are after.”
In partnership with Squiz, the Council built an integrated digital portal for essential services and resident-centric information. Most of the content needed for this portal already existed. Squiz’s digital experience platform enabled the Council to integrate this content into a single landing page environment.
“We don’t have to duplicate that content,” said Ruben, ''I think what is fantastic (is that we can) quickly ramp up and put something together and to meet the demands on the needs of the community. They want information, and they want that simplified.” Squiz “allows us to do that quite efficiently.
2. Personalizing the digital experience
The complexities of local government can create competing priorities that are difficult to manage, for example – providing personalized digital services and simultaneously facilitating online community consultation. To overcome this challenge, Wollongong City Council in Australia partnered with Squiz to build a site that prioritized audience segmentation to create a better user experience.
In a recent Squiz webinar, Jason Turnbull from the Council said, “The old website was so hard to use, that people just didn’t.”
Since launch on Squiz’s digital experience platform, visitors have increased by 10.9%. Visitor bounce rates more than halved from 38.8% to 17%, and mobile use increased by 7.4%.
The new site is intuitive, offering benefits to both residents and Council employees. “Training has been easy, it’s easy to use, and it’s just logical,’ said Jason. One of the benefits of Squiz is that cost efficiencies can be realized as fewer resources, agency and IT support are required to manage the platform.
Because Squiz’s digital experience platform user-friendly, said Jason, “our lead content writer picked up a lot of technology skills in the process. So, I don’t get involved as much anymore because our content author has skilled up on the technology that she needs to be able to expand the website and build-out new sites.”
3. Digitizing front-line response
Timaru District Council in New Zealand recognized that many people wanted to access information by self-serving, avoiding the need to queue. In response, the Council partnered with Squiz to develop a chatbot called ‘Tim’ to answer questions.
The chatbot, built on Squiz’s digital experience platform, responded faster than the time it takes to browse or search the website, handling multiple conversations at once. Since launch, ‘Tim’ handled over 21,000 enquiries, enabling people to better access information on the website and freeing up council staff to respond to more complex questions.
The chatbot answered 80% of enquiries. 77% of respondents said that the answers they received were helpful. As ‘Tim’ continues to refine its responses based on machine learning, accuracy will increase, resulting in even higher customer satisfaction.
Closing the gap
Local governments are rising to the challenge of delivering dynamic digital information and services. In response to ever-increasing expectations, leading councils are engaging and serving their communities better by partnering with Squiz. With over 20 years’ experience, Squiz’s open digital experience platform accelerates local government transformation.
To find out more, download our e-book The new citizen expectation: rethinking digital transformation in local government.
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