Let’s establish this first: There is no “silver lining” that will come from COVID-19. Any event that causes this much loss of life, loss of businesses and loss of livelihoods cannot ever be construed as an impetus for positive change.
That said, many municipalities, counties and states have implemented enhancements to their websites to accommodate tasks that once had to be performed in person. We’ve helped several of our clients make these changes, and transform their websites into digital front doors that welcome in more constituents, and allow them to do what they previously had to do in person.
When the crisis is over, there is no reason to revert to the previous procedures. In fact, the goal should be to further expand online services, and reduce the number of processes that require personal interactions.
Government Buildings are Closed – But the Government is Open
Shuttered offices and staff working from home won’t stop questions coming in from your constituents. Some of these can be handled by intelligent “virtual agents,” (IVAs) which in recent years have become more adept in the kinds of inquiries they can handle. Virtual agents can also complete routine tasks and transactions, such as processing a bill payment, checking the status of unemployment claims, or scheduling an appointment.
Yes, some people have an eye-rolling reaction to the overly chipper “Hi! I’m Donna – how can I help you today?” dialogue. But most will be happy to get stuff done and get on with their day, while your live service agents focus on the complicated conversations that require human intervention.
The DMV – Hell on Earth No More?
Sadly, it’s 2020, when some old TV shows figured we’d already have flying cars, and we still can’t fill out a driver’s license application, or get a vehicle registration for a new car, without making that dreaded trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles. And there go 2-4 hours of your life – more if you go on Saturday.
But perhaps that won’t always be the case. One state agency has experimented with IVAs for driver’s license renewals and auto registration fees. They are handing more than 20,000 transactions per day, and now consumers can take care of this chore in the evening after work, when the DMV office is closed.
Result? Happier customers, and a huge savings in labor costs. Hopefully coming soon to your town.
The Doctor Will See You – After You Fill Out These 400 Forms
It feels like it’s been ten years or more since we first heard about digitizing medical records. But every time you see a new doctor they still hand you a questionnaire that’s longer than a Game of Thrones novel.
The pandemic has served as a reminder that thousands of local, state and federal health departments still have separate reporting rules and won’t send or share data electronically.
Could we finally start seeing electronic health record systems to improve the treatment of individual patients? Seems like anything related to health care always ends in an argument among our representatives, so while we’d like to be hopeful…
I Got Your “New Normal” Right Here
If you’ve come to hate the phrase “new normal,” you’re not alone. So the next time someone says you better get used to being separated by plexiglass from everyone else in the world, resist the urge to punch them.
Instead, focus on the potential for expanding how we communicate and conduct business online. How places that close at 5pm will now be open all night through their websites. How we could be able to get answers when we need them, without standing in a line or being put on hold.
If we get there, in a way that is both efficient and secure, that’s a ‘new normal’ we can all celebrate.
We Can Help You Get There
Talk to us about how we’re expanding the capabilities of public sector sites, from cities to school districts to utilities. From advanced calendaring to IVAs to credit card processing, we’re ready to help you better serve your constituents.