Should government agencies provide a retail-like experience?

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    Should government agencies provide a retail-like experience?

    Most people have interacted with a brand through an online, mobile experience. They used apps to submit documents such as a resume or copy of a health insurance card; locate items within a store; claim coupons and receive updates about items similar to previous purchases.

    Whether it’s going to jury duty, a DMV, a health clinic or police station, the agency experience can be improved by using similar technology strategies we see and use every day with retail.

    It’s no surprise that these retail experiences are setting the standard for how we engage with other enterprises such as schools and even government agencies.

    Whether it’s going to jury duty, a DMV, a health clinic or police station, the agency experience can be improved by using similar technology strategies we see and use every day with retail.

    Today there is unprecedented federal funding and technological opportunity for state and local agencies to innovate much like other enterprises. Not only will it improve civilian and staff experiences, it will improve business outcomes and productivity for agencies – from decreasing operational expenses to filling staffing gaps.

    Article Series

    This is the first article in a two-part series. In this first article, we’re focusing on the civilian and civilian servant experience along with the benefits to agencies.

    The second article shares stories of how three state and local government entities are creating these experiences without breaking the budget, complicating operations, or requiring hard-to-find IT staff.

    What A Retail-Like Experience Looks Like for Government

    Similar to retail, agencies can improve experiences and business outcomes by leveraging reliable, real-time mobile technology. This can manifest in multiple ways:

    Mobile app. Instead of long lines and time-consuming manual form entries, civilians have the choice to complete the required paperwork before entering the agency premises. They can use the app to schedule an appointment or, if they want to walk in without an appointment, they can view how busy the facility is and the estimated “dwell” or wait time.

    Removing unnecessary manual tasks with automation not only improves the civilian’s experience but it also helps staff be more accurate, efficient and available to focus on creating a positive engagement with civilians.

    Location Services. Location services can be used in a variety of ways, including:

    • helping civilians find the right room (i.e. jury duty)
    • aiding staff in locating assets (i.e. wheelchairs in a health clinic)
    • advancing processes for public safety (i.e. contract tracing during COVID-19 or locating inmates within a prison)
    • and more.

    Reliable Connection and Wi-Fi. For these new experiences to add value rather than stress, the Internet and network connection must be reliable and able to support multiple people, applications and devices. No one wants the Wi-Fi to go down while they are uploading information into the agency app or surfing YouTube while they wait for court.

    Work from Home. Now more than ever, staff want and need to work from home to provide citizens services. The remote work experience needs to be supported by IT as though staff were in the office. And without having to roll a truck or create security risk.

    The Benefits of Innovating Like Retail

    Retail brands have a short time to win consumers’ attention and operate in competitive markets that are driven by very low margins. That’s why they’ve learned to use technology to make staff and customers happy while also improving their profit margins (or productivity for the government) and brand loyalty.

    In the same way, these innovative experiences can also improve business outcomes for government agencies. A few of the benefits include:

    • Increased Efficiency. Technology that drives personalized experiences within an agency makes both staff and civilians more efficient. But coupled with advanced analytics, agency operation leaders can look across all the agency locations to learn which locations are doing better, why that is and implement similar processes or solutions. 
    • Decreased Operational Expenses. Paying for multiple staff members is expensive. Especially when it’s for IT staff to work overtime and hunt down why the Wi-Fi keeps going down or certain applications keep failing. That’s why Juniper Networks provides network management driven by artificial intelligence (AI). This enables IT staff to find and fix issues before more users have time to submit help desk tickets. The result is a reliable, fast, high-uptime connection that reduces operational expenses.
    • Decreased Staff Churn Rate. One of the biggest challenges agencies have is with attracting and retaining talent. A working environment that is innovative retains talent because they can be more fulfilled by their job. They don’t have to spend the entire day troubleshooting issues or speaking with multiple civilians who are angry about their experience.
    • Reduced Issues with IT Staffing. Like stated above, finding talent is difficult. This is especially true for IT and cyber security. With innovations like AI and automation, even the most “green” or inexperienced staff can manage the Wi-Fi and other areas of the network.
    • Improved Satisfaction. We’ve all seen the Google page with ratings of three or less stars for a courthouse, DMV, or another agency. Now teams can send a satisfaction survey when a person leaves the agency. This is beneficial because it bypasses the need for people to take initiative searching Google to leave a review. Keeping citizens satisfied and having real-time data to show it becomes especially useful during elections.

    Next Steps

    Legacy IT networks make creating and managing these new experiences a very complex and expensive process. It’s why so many retail enterprises have turned to innovative technology and now, so are government entities.

    Read our second article in this series that shares three stories of how state and local governments are using artificial intelligence and other innovative technology to transform the IT network experience. You’ll see why more than 300 counties are turning to Juniper Networks.

    Interested in seeing this in action? Contact Juniper’s state and local government team for a personalized demo.

    Most people have interacted with a brand through an online, mobile experience.

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