Why should government care about the citizen experience?

By Seth Engel, Senior Product Marketing Manager, DocuSign

If a company provides a subpar customer experience, it goes out of business. What’s at stake, though, if the government provides a poor citizen experience? It’s not like the government will go out of business so why should they care about providing a better citizen experience?

To answer this question, DocuSign recently conducted a survey of over 100 government decision makers where we asked them questions about the citizen experience. We asked them how important it was to their agencies to provide a good citizen experience. The good news is that 90% said it was extremely or very important.

Clearly, public sector decision makers care about the citizen experience, but it’s important to understand that the stakes are different for government than in the private sector. Sure, if government screws up, it’s not going to go out of business. But it could make national news, as the California DMV did last year, when stories of long wait times and around-the-block lines went national. In some cases, people stop seeking services. This is true when the application process is overly burdensome. We are in the midst of a national drop in the number of child support orders being requested. While there are many causes, experts point to an onerous application process as a factor. If it’s an onerous process for citizens, you can bet it’s bad for staff too. And that is when mission gets impacted, because public servants didn’t go into government to fill out a bunch of administrative forms; they went into public service to help people.

So how is the government doing when it comes to delivering a great citizen experience? Better than it used to be but not yet great. In Forrester’s annual federal Customer Experience Index federal agencies on the whole ranked in the same class as cable companies and airlines.

At the state and local level, data is harder to find but Accenture research found in 2017 that 4 in 10 citizens are not satisfied with digital services from government. Keep that number in the back of your mind.

We asked the government respondents in our poll to rate the level of citizen experience for their agency. 80% said very good or good. Only 20% said fair or poor. But what about the 40% of citizens that Accenture found were not satisfied? There’s an obvious gap in perception between the government decision makers we polled and the public.

You can visualize the gap here. It reinforces the narrative that the public expects more from government, even as governments have made great strides in providing a better experience for the public.

This blog is part of a three-part series on the citizen experience. Next we will cover an internal disconnect between citizen-facing staff and internal staff that is critical to overcome if you want to provide a better experience to the public. Stay tuned.

Are you ready to modernize your agency? Learn more about the DocuSign Agreement Cloud for Government.