Government Services

Why the Government Needs To Learn Lessons from Online Retailers

Amit Magdieli - The Government Should Act Like a Retailer

The United States Government has amazing comprehensive and complimentary services spread across multiple agencies which help Americans every day.  One of the greatest barriers for success of these programs is the ability to connect the services with those who need them the most.  When our citizens search online for services, they often find themselves navigating a maze of different agencies, searching to solve the puzzle of their personal solution, piece by piece.  This often leaves the customer/citizen…. frustrated, confused, and angry.

Why Online Shopping Habits Matter To the Government

Unfortunately, our government is still focused primarily on providing citizens with a list of services organized by agencies, not solutions. With 2014 Cyber Monday e-commerce sales hitting $2.04 billion, up 17% compared to a year ago, according to comScore, the government needs to take notice of the online purchase habits of today’s shopper. The quality of services citizens received when buying online from the private sector, such as Amazon.com, is expected from the government at the same level of customer service and experience or beyond.

Here are just a few statistics driving why the government needs to act more like a large online retailer when providing online services:

  • Adults 50 years old and above comprise one-third of the total 195.3 million Internet users in the US
  • Two-thirds of American 50-plus buy from e-retailers online
  • 63% of adult mobile phone owners use their phones to go online according to PewResearch

3 Ways to Improve the Customer Experience

Mobile Friendly: More and more people are accessing their information online through mobile devices. Nothing can ruin a customer experience more than not being able to load, view, and search information on a mobile device. Responsive web design, which allows a single site to render on any device, needs to be utilized to improve government websites that lack this portability.

Solution Based Navigation: Unfortunately our government is still focused primarily on providing citizens with a list of services organized by agencies, not solutions. The government needs to design websites that allow people to easily find a solution to their problem and quickly direct them to the appropriate agency or department. A couple notable improvements are VA’s explore Va.Gov and DoD’s Military One Source. A great standard is the British Government’s GOV.UK.

Track Analytics: It’s great to invest the time and money in designing great websites, but how do we know if the site is living up to its full potential and serving the needs of our citizens? Just as online retailers track abandonment rate, usage rates, and conversation rates, the government needs to do the same to insure continuous improvement and delivery of a high quality “customer experience” for citizens.

Just as President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in one of his famous Great Depression Fireside Chats

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little”

I believe the government is at a critical crossroads in its ability to connect the services with those who need them the most online, as well as improving efficiency and management of it services.

About Amit Magdieli

Amit MagdieliAmit Magdieli is an expert in government management and efficiency. After successful stints in the private sector with PricewaterhouseCoopers and IBM, Amit followed his passion to pursue a public service career. Known as a top-notch problem solver, he has held various management positions within the federal government. He is also an adjunct professor at Syracuse University