The end of the year is a great time to look back and reflect. All aspects of our digital society change at a faster pace every year and how local governments serve their municipalities is no exception. Let’s take a look at three major trends in modern constituent services.
Historically, governments have focused on in-person meetings to receive constituent input. But this doesn’t work for everyone. Younger generations are far more comfortable engaging online while disabled or senior citizens may have trouble traveling to town halls. The best constituent service is proactive and all-inclusive, two notable strengths of online engagement.
Tools like Agora empower local governments to host online town-halls. This means constituents everywhere can participate even if they are unable to attend meetings in person. By making it easy for everyone to get involved, local governments expand the reach and effectiveness of their constituent services.
Finding and engaging citizens online, whether through traditional social media channels or platforms like NextDoor, public servants have a wealth of options to ensure their communities feel heard. Not only are engaged constituents more likely to empathize with the challenges that local governments face, they are far more likely to be part of the solution.
Cooperation makes it happen
Inside departments, effective constituent services requires centralized information. Requests of all types can come in via email, phone calls, social media, or in-person walk-ins. Staff cannot be silos of proprietary information, single points of failure when sick or retired.
To effectively serve constituents, trend-setting departments are centralizing information online. Communication tools like Slack and CRMs like Romulus ensure important information is always accessible, even when specific staff members are not.
A huge advantage of centralized information is integrating with other tools like email or 311 systems. Post-Its and paper forms aren’t known for their shareability. Communication tools and CRMs help you keep track of information from “cradle to grave”, ensuring nothing gets lost in the shuffle.
Data driven democracy
Communicating changes and value delivered to your constituents should be backed by meaningful metrics. Everyone wants to provide better constituent services, but we need a sense of what that actually means.
Let’s look at two statements:
- We are using technology to provide better constituent services than ever before.
- We have reduced the time it takes to resolve constituent requests by 70%.
Which is a more powerful indicator to your constituents?
The first statement is subjective. The definition of “better” is pretty nebulous, and we aren’t holding ourselves accountable to a metric that the public can follow along with. Just mentioning technology fails to demonstrate how they are improving the lives of those in their district.
The second statement shows exactly the kind of impact Romulus is having on their performance. For constituent services, the time it takes to resolve requests is an important indicator of success. Technology is not an end in itself, but one powerful tool modern municipalities are using to achieve their goals.
In our digital age, constituent service has never been more important. Engaging citizens online, solving problems collaboratively, and using data to drive decision making have revolutionized how local governments are serving their municipalities. More than ever before, public servants are using powerful new tools to reach new heights in constituent services and communities are taking notice.