Imagine a World Where the Government Serves You

Joe McKairnes, December 9, 2016

I checked my mobile phone this morning and observed that a new text message had arrived overnight.

"Good morning, Mr. McKairnes. Your 2010 Chevrolet Travers registration is due. Click here to renew."

I clicked the link and a page opened asking me to confirm my personal details and make any changes; then I completed the registration with my PayPal account. Done. From start to finish – 3 minutes. If the above sounds too good to be true, it is. I made it up. But, why couldn’t this be a reality?

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The experience we tolerate today

Let’s compare this to the actual experience that occurred. I received a letter in the mail, hidden at the bottom of a stack of junk mail. Days later, I realize that my truck registration had expired. (Thank you Officer Jones…please consider that $50 ticket a donation!) A visit to my local Department of Motor Vehicles office, at the cost of a vacation day from work, gets me the pleasure of standing in line for three hours to get to a counter where I explain my ordeal to a clerk who eventually finds the correct paperwork for me to fill out. I do so by hand, then step back into the special expedited line and pay my fee by check (Who carries checks anymore??) And I’m finally done.  

I prefer scenario #1

When I do business online, the vendors remember who I am. They know my likes and dislikes and make recommendations to guide me through not only the purchase at hand, but other purchases that complement the primary one. They are pre-emptively helping me. These companies go to great lengths to make sure I am satisfied with my interaction, whenever and wherever I’m ready to transact. And, get this…if I’m not sure where to find what I want on their website, a helpful guided search navigates me through various selections until I do!  

Ever search a Government web site for a form you need to fill out? Enough said.

Great strides are being made today in the area of web optimization and customer experience/journey management. Why? For many reasons – but I think the primary one is to not only to win your business, but keep your business. If you think about it, we all have people we rely on to help guide us when we need it. Online vendors recognize this and are stepping up to become our trusted advisors.  

Government could take a lesson

Modern businesses have cracked the code on attracting and keeping customers. Now before you jump all over me, I know what you’re going to say: Business is profit-driven, Government is not.

Consider this: What is the cost to government when monies are not collected on time? Lost revenue, salary for the clerk at the DMV, even DMV infrastructure itself. And at worst? Shuttered agencies. Agencies that can’t operate with modern tools run the risk of becoming irrelevant. Now, I’m not saying all of the brick and mortar buildings can be replaced by an online experience…what I am saying is that there is great value in getting payments collected when they’re due, instead of having to deal with accounts in arrears.

Build a better straight-through process that handles minimal exceptions, rather than building an exception-riddled process.

Governments are just starting to realize that advancements in technology are driving this movement.  Technology solutions like electronic signatures, allow you to sign any document from any device at any time. Imagine that first truck registration scenario again; I could have been sitting on a train or an airplane, and using my smartphone to fill out the forms and e-sign them!  

Government would do well to recognize that the citizen is now the center of the universe, not the other way around. Digital citizens are demanding more modern, self-serve processes. Bureaucracies and nay-sayers may disagree with me, but it’s being proven over and over again by forward-thinking agencies.  Find that champion that ‘gets it’, paint the vision, and you will succeed.

Well, I just got a text – my OpenTable reservation for dinner is coming