3 strategies for ramping up personalization efforts and boosting public trust

A man in an office implements strategies to ramp up personalization efforts and boost public trust.

Technology is expanding the possibilities of personalized government services — making it easier for agencies to provide information where, when, and how citizens need it. Digital tools allow agencies to deliver tailored services regardless of someone’s location, language, or device. Using paper forms has been estimated to cost the federal government $38.7 billion annually, so a digital approach is vital to reducing administrative burden. Modernizing processes and adopting trends like paperless workflows also enhance citizen experiences and increase accessibility.

No matter your agency’s current digital maturity stage, you can take some basic steps to optimizing experiences not only for the public but also for your employees. To help you offer effective government services, we’ve zeroed in on three personalization strategies that will maximize your impact and boost public trust.

Strategy 1 — Get serious about your citizen experience data

People submit over 106 billion forms a year to government agencies. That would make for a stack of paper nearly 6,700 miles high. And many of those forms still rely on physical, paper submissions and manual processing that can often lead to siloed, disorganized data.

People submit over 106 billion forms a year to government agencies.

However, the process for filling out those forms — and the data within them — holds crucial insights into your customers’ experiences. Moving these paper-based processes into a simple and seamless digital experience can help citizens in the moments that matter most.

That is why for most agencies, going paperless with digital forms and electronic signatures is often the lowest hanging fruit in their journey toward becoming an experience driven government agency. By gathering and storing your documents digitally, you can begin standardizing your data collection via forms and gain insights into the experiences citizens have with your agency.

To submit documentation, citizens need to know that their data will be secure and their preferences and privacy protected. Digitizing your agency’s paperwork makes it easier to manage, monitor, and protect private citizen data to ultimately reduce errors, fraud cases, and claims — and strengthen your organizational reputation.

After updating your document data, the next step will be to centralize data collection from other sources like your website, surveys, and call centers. Today’s typical citizen journey stretches across multiple sessions, devices, and channels. Creating a single source of truth lets you build citizen profiles that update in real time and identify gaps in the experience.

Once you’ve established an approach for automatically collecting data, you can streamline data governance and compliance management by storing your information in a single repository. With one place to organize data, you can ensure the privacy of sensitive information by overseeing access permissions. This framework is essential to using citizen data responsibly and boosting public trust.

As you assess your agency’s digital needs, don’t worry about changing everything all at once. You’ll likely need to adopt a hybrid approach since many people you serve will still need to access in-person services and paper-based processes.

Strategy 2 — Accelerate content creation and deliver velocity

In a recent Adobe and Deloitte Digital study, 74% of participants reported frustration with accessing information about government services. The biggest problems were mixed messages and being directed to multiple websites.

74% of participants reported frustrations with accessing information about government services.

Confusing messages and unhelpful content hurt trust. Even in government, things can change quickly — and beyond the need for personalized experiences, your customers rely on your agency to deliver new information on policies and services quickly and clearly.

One way agencies can improve content experiences and update information in real time is by using a modern asset manager. Tools like this make it easier to locate existing content by consolidating on-brand graphics and approved messaging into a single source of truth for government communicators and public relations teams. This type of storage strategy means critical public-facing communications are updated more efficiently, getting citizens the crucial information they need — where and when they need it.

Once you have your asset management strategy in place, building and deploying those messages online with dynamic tools will help you engage with citizens faster and easier. Today’s content management solutions simplify this process, equipping agencies to deliver key information to the public rapidly and streamline the citizen journey with connected and personalized experiences. These capabilities can also lighten the IT load, empowering creators to make updates directly using low- or no-code pages.

The U.S. Census Bureau experienced major benefits from updating its citizen journey approach in 2020. As part of its first nationwide online census, the Bureau used Adobe solutions to analyze and modernize millions of webpages and guide content creation to fit within new web templates.

The Bureau used an omnichannel approach with digital and in-person data sources to look at audience behavior, identify content and campaigns that weren’t performing well, and adjust its outreach and engagement strategies quickly. Through this initiative, the Bureau improved citizen engagement using tailored content, leading to an unprecedented census completion rate of 99.98%.

Learn more about how Adobe can help your government agency deliver user-friendly web experiences.

Strategy 3 — Ensure a smooth journey for everyone

Since more and more Americans rely on smartphones to access government services, ensuring a seamless digital journey with your agency means taking a mobile-first approach. According to a national survey by the Brookings Institution, 51% of Americans prefer to use digital technologies or mobile apps to access services over phone calls or in-person office visits.

Another priority for agencies today is creating accessible options for those who may have disabilities or speak different languages. It’s important to create services that are responsive and adaptable to users’ needs, including features like high-contrast and large text options or the ability to toggle between multiple translations.

These personalized, omnichannel features aren’t just nice to have — they’re vital and impact citizen engagement. In the Adobe and Deloitte Digital study, 8 in 10 survey participants said they would be equally or more likely to use government services if they were personalized.

8 in 10 survey participants said they would be equally or more likely to use personalized government services.

Along with the previously mentioned advancements related to the 2020 online census, the U.S. Census Bureau followed an omnichannel approach that was central to the success of its outreach efforts. The Census Bureau balanced in-person work with campaigns across digital channels like Facebook to drive awareness online and reach 300 million constituents in personalized ways. The Bureau also ensured its website could function in 59 languages to accommodate a large sample of respondents.

Given the wide range of demographics that governments serve, it would be difficult for any agency to deliver highly personalized experiences without the help of AI (artificial intelligence).

Using automated decisioning, agencies can create smooth citizen journeys with a personalized touch to deliver curated content based on user behaviors. By taking advantage of your existing real-time citizen profiles, these AI tools can help you connect citizens to important information on their preferred channels and refer people to other relevant services or agencies where applicable. This dynamic response lets people get the messages they need at the right time — and on the channels that best suit them.

For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) successfully integrated personalization and analytics tools from Adobe to share critical public health information during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC used audience insights to expand 10 webpages into more than 1,000 pages tailored to specific needs and terminology. It also adjusted campaign workflows and audience segment lists to deliver personalized experiences via platforms like email, text message, direct mail, and social media. This approach allowed the CDC to share crucial updates with more than 2 million people through newsletter subscriptions across channels.

Take steps to personalize your agency’s services

Digitization strategies support equitable government in action, helping you reach each person who depends on you for services.

Even small improvements can create lasting organizational and public impact. Clear, consistent communication and meaningful content are key to improving the citizen experience. By streamlining your data collection and insights, paving the way for faster updates at scale, and creating smooth journeys across channels, you can boost public trust and help build a better future for our nation.

To learn more about how to create digital government experiences that the public expects, read our guide Make Today’s Government Dreams a Reality.

James has over 20 years of experience helping organizations develop go-to-market strategies, customer use cases, messaging, and brand positioning across government sectors. As head of industry strategy, James is responsible for driving the digital experience for government agenda through public and private use cases — and identifying best practices that solve specific federal, defense, and state and local government mission and business challenges.