Imagine if Amazon.com’s home page was a photo of CEO Jeff Bezos and contained only corporate information—they wouldn’t have many customers. Believe it or not, this is the way many Federal government agencies view their digital role—not to create relationship through an engaging experience, but to deliver simple information like press releases.
At a time when organizations large and small are trying desperately to develop meaningful relationships with their customers, it seems that government agencies remain mired in the past, mostly keeping citizens at a distance and not attempting to treat them as, well, valued customers. While this won’t come as a surprise to many Americans who have been frustrated when trying to get help at a government website, a new survey from Bluetext and GovLoop confirms how far behind agencies really are on this score.
Survey respondents, primarily government employees, by wide margins believe that agencies need to develop a relationship with their constituents using online tools. Yet, they overwhelmingly believe that their agencies are not doing so, instead publishing “corporate-type” websites that do not engage citizens. The survey of GovLoop’s members was conducted in December and was sponsored by Adobe.
Here are some of the survey’s key findings:
More than one-third of the respondents gave their agencies the lowest marks for their efforts to proactively reach out to citizens through their websites or through social media;
Nearly half gave the lowest marks for their agencies’ creative use of digital strategies to connect with citizens. Only eight percent found their organizations to be “very creative.”
In perhaps the most telling finding, only a quarter of respondents describe their agency’s website as a place to engage with citizens and develop a relationship to help provide services and solve problems.
Instead, according to the survey, agencies are using their websites to publicize programs and initiatives, or provide information to learn about the organization’s leadership and read press releases and Congressional testimony. Forty-eight percent described the way their agency views its website in relationship with citizens as a marketing tool.
And while 85 percent of respondents regard their agency’s engaging directly with its citizens through social media as somewhat or very important, only eight percent gave their organization the highest marks for achieving this. Forty-six percent gave the lowest scores to their agencies.
Government agencies have a lot of work to make up for the gap between where they are and where they need to be when it comes to digital strategy. If they want to be seen as relevant in the eyes of citizens, they need to do a lot more with digital tools to engage constituents.