The Rise of the Citizen Experience Why The Future of Citizen Engagement Is All About The Experience.

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Since 1996, the Center for Digital Government and Government Technology magazine have run a popular awards program called the Best of Web. Launched in the pioneer days of the web, we created the program to inspire and benchmark state and local governments embrace of the Internet — something that became known as the e-government movement.

Today, 20 years later, governments have clearly made big strides in leveraging technology to enhance the relationship between agencies and citizens. In addition to a ubiquitous government web presence, public agencies have developed award-winning social media programs, hired civic engagement coordinators, built custom apps and more. Clearly tech-powered citizen and civic engagement has become a big deal.

Yet as far as this field has come, there remains a long way to go. So in an effort to focus on what we see as the next generation of government service, we have launched our first ever Government Experience Awards — to help benchmark and evolve the experience of government.

Why Focus on Experience

The problem with focusing on civic engagement alone is that we tend to quantify success based on the channels we are on and by evaluating how many Twitter followers, Facebook likes or website visitors we have. Likes, followers and page views are important metrics, but they miss the real opportunity to change the underlying government and citizen relationship. What if that Twitter feed or Facebook follower is not the most effective experience to reach our citizens? These are hard questions we must be able to ask ourselves and adapt accordingly. It is time to evolve our focus in government from civic engagement to the citizen experience.

The Citizen Experience

Citizen Experience — The interactions between government and citizens across multiple channels that create mutual value.

Every day, millions of us will browse Facebook’s newsfeed, select a movie to watch online or order a product — what is hidden under the surface of these experiences is that they are all built around us, and that level of customization is beginning to affect the government experience. A few years ago, Paul W. Taylor and I began researching these interactions and came to the realization that citizen experiences with private sector technologies are actually shaping their expectations for government service delivery. It’s actually the same dynamics that fueled the spread of e-government on the Internet (where everyone needed a website), now applied to an exponentially changing technology and behavior landscape online.

Today, government agencies don’t just need a website — they need to be available at City Hall; through the Amazon Echo; on a responsive website; and through a kiosk in a grocery store — they need to be available everywhere at any time.

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