Helpful Government Websites Use Website Self-Service to Be More Responsive

Every government agency, from the federal level to state and local departments, wants to be more responsive to its citizens. After all, that’s what a democratic government is for: representing and responding to the needs of its people. While America has over 200 years of doing this in the physical realm, when it comes to citizens’ experience of government online, we’re still figuring things out. Most government websites weren’t created from big budgets and fancy design agencies, so it is understandable that government sites aren’t perfect. Plus, government sites have a lot of information to convey: policies, procedures, permitting, reporting, and initiatives, to name a few. In an era when the public is quick to criticize government agencies for the slightest hiccup, it is more important than ever that citizens who engage with government websites come away with what they need, less confused and more informed rather than the other way around.

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Unfortunately, because of the high demand for a vast range of information and resources on government websites, many such sites leave their visitors feeling confused and frustrated, and often concluding that “our government doesn’t want to be helpful.” With so many citizens online these days, the need is greater than ever to provide exceptional user experiences to visitors of your government website.

Key takeaway: With the extreme pressures on government websites to meet their citizens’ information needs, it is more important than ever to ensure citizens have great user experiences on government websites.

Website self-service makes government sites more responsive

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Of course, it would be great if every visitor to a government website that had a question could get personalized service. Live chat may at first seem like the solution to this challenge, but live chat has to be staffed to be available; it is a form of assisted-service. Too often, live chat is unavailable, even on commercial websites, leaving customers feeling abandoned. With tight budgets and limited hours, government websites are unlikely to meet their citizens’ need for website help through live chat alone.

Enter website self-service. Self-service, by its very nature, empowers website visitors to help themselves through easy-to-use tools. Self-service usually takes the form of stand-alone “help islands” like knowledgebases, FAQs, or forums, but newer solutions like AnswerDash enable point-and-click self-service without leaving the current webpage. Although it is impossible for a government website to be personally responsive to every citizen, website self-service makes it feel like the site is responsive to each citizen because each citizen can get the answers he or she needs.

By enabling citizens to get answers under their own steam, website self-service brings three key benefits to government websites:

  1. It makes the site more responsive to the concerns of each citizen.
  2. It captures the concerns of citizens by making it easy for them to seek answers to the questions they have.
  3. It provides answers without tapping the limited human resources that each government agency has.

Key takeaway: Website self-service solutions give government websites the ability to serve many citizens while being responsive to each citizen’s needs. Good self-service solutions also teach government websites what needs its citizens have and what issues are on their minds.

AnswerDash’s experience on government websites

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AnswerDash is a point-and-click website self-service solution that makes it easy for website visitors to get answers about anything they see on a page. Agencies that adopt AnswerDash need to just put a single line of JavaScript into their page headers, and voila!, AnswerDash puts a tab labeled “Q&A” at the side of each page, styled however the adopting agency wants. When website visitors click on this tab, everything on the page becomes a hotspot where Q&A can be retrieved with the click of a button or tap of a finger. Every time a new question is submitted by a visitor and answered by the agency, it can be found by future visitors without requiring the agency to answer it again. In this way, Q&A builds up on the site over time, serving every future visitor better and better.

AnswerDash has been implemented on a number of Washington State government websites, including the Office of the Chief Information Officer, the Results Washington initiative from Governor Jay Inslee, and the Department of Enterprise Services. On these sites, as on many other government websites, there is a plethora of information to convey and a desire to efficiently help citizens find answers. By adopting AnswerDash, these sites have seen greater citizen engagement, more pages visited, longer stays, greater satisfaction, and savings in the thousands of dollars per month in customer support costs. With results like these, website self-service is clearly a win for government websites and the citizens they strive hard to serve.

Key takeaway: AnswerDash’s website self-service enables government sites to better serve their citizens. Measured benefits include greater engagement, more visited pages, longer stays on site, greater satisfaction, and significant customer support savings.

If you run a government site, try AnswerDash for yourself - start with a free demo today!