If you've been using a smartphone for several years, you may not remember what it was like when you first began using it each and every day. Let me refresh your memory: Most websites didn't work well. You were delighted when one of your favorite websites provided a mobile version or released an app. This new convenience was so much better than how it worked before.
The mobile mind shift applies to government services too. A decade ago, a government agency’s primary online presence included a website and online services that citizens and businesses accessed from their (wired) home or office desktop computers. Today’s citizens expect to get whatever information they want, whenever they want it, wherever they are, using their mobile devices. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 64 percent of Americans own smartphones, and some 147 million Americans own tablets. By 2018, Gartner predicts that more than 50 percent of users will use one of these devices first for all online activities.
Mobile users expect responsive information to be available on government websites — and if it’s not, the agency has lost an opportunity to deepen the constituent’s loyalty and, sometimes, to generate revenue.
While some state and federal agencies are very progressive when it comes to mobile accessibility, others lag far behind private industry in creating the “mobile moments” that are redefining every constituent relationship. Often, even agencies that grasp the value placed on mobile access are still thinking in terms of devices to support or which native mobile apps to build.
The key to meeting this new demand for service is to understand and leverage the mobile moment – that moment when a citizen attempts to find and use a service in a particular context. Agencies who are winning at mobile accessibility have learned to anticipate their constituents’ needs in these moments.
Here are three ways government agencies can discover and leverage mobile moments to provide the best experiences for citizens.
Say, for example, that a citizen gets invited to the lake for a day of fishing and shows up without a license, not knowing until he gets there that one is required.
By understanding that this could be a common user situation, Utah translated the behavior into a mobile service that delivers a license on the spot. Using his mobile phone, the citizen can receive a fishing license in real time. The smartphone serves as a digital license and no paper license is required. The citizen gets what he needs, and the Utah Department of Natural Resources has enhanced its brand and reputation by providing a smooth experience that engaged the user during a key mobile moment.
Sometimes citizens feel confused about where to go within a government organization to accomplish certain tasks, especially those situations that cross several government agencies. When that happens, they can feel overwhelmed about interacting with government.
Arkansas responded by developing a “personal government assistant,” Gov2Go, a first-of-its-kind app that gets citizens to the government services they need via their mobile devices. Gov2Go tracks upcoming deadlines and tasks that citizens need to perform across multiple levels of government, sends notifications and reminders, and provides simple instructions for completing tasks.
Rather than focusing on one or two types of transactions, analyze the complete lifecycle of a citizen over a year. For example, a person moving to a new city must interact with multiple layers of government. A mobile application might recognize that the individual has moved, advise the citizen on how to register to vote, notify her about an upcoming election, provide directions to the specific voting location and report on election night results.