A “no wait” waiting room in government? Document management drives constituent service
One of my favorite jobs was working in the National Main Street Program. I love Main Streets because the program focused on making communities inviting and able to serve their residents and visitors better. The idea was that people immediately get an impression about your community or your business according to by the atmosphere that they experience when they walk in the door or drive down your Main Street. I often reflect on the lessons I learned there and how they apply to the long lines and grumpy people at the service counters and waiting rooms of government agencies.
When people need to do business with their local government, their first impression is formed by the “waiting room.” Waiting is one of our least favorite things in life. And, when this is combined with the fact that government offices are open when most people have to work, you have a situation that puts the constituent in a frustrated mood even before they begin their wait.
But, just like the businesses in the Main Street Program, more thought could go into how this experience feels for your constituents. Do people seem to be conducting this business quickly and efficiently? Are there ways to use self-service tools to help manage the number of people who need staff assistance? And, is there even a way to keep people from having to visit your waiting room at all?
The answers to these and other questions could change your constituents’ view of their local government for the better. In my experience, much of the answer – perhaps surprisingly – has come from the IT folks having the right ECM technologies – document management and workflow – in place.
These tools have always been important for records management purposes. But one of the most impactful trends in government, online services, has really shined a spotlight on the benefits of these technologies. Why? Because when you combine the two, the need for the waiting room is oftentimes eliminated altogether.
Here’s a perfect example. An ECM solution allows a government agency to create an online form and get it directly to a staff person to act on. No printing. No manually walking it over to someone just to have it sit on his desk. With online services supported by an ECM backend, these services speed up and your constituents can access them 24/7 and may avoid coming to your waiting room altogether.
Worried that your constituents don’t have access to computers? No problem! Self-service kiosks, similar in concept to ATMs, are growing in availability. And, document management is able to support these self-service options, further avoiding a portion of the waiting game that makes our constituents so unhappy.
Let’s take a step back from the technology. When it all boils down, what are those one or two things that make constituents so unhappy about government? From my experience it comes down to two things: lost documents and long waits.
As simplistic of a view as that may seem to be, the beauty of document management software is that empowers government to avoid these two very things. It’s a makeover for your waiting room – now the “no wait” waiting room.
Staff members have reasonable workloads. Constituents are only there as long as they have to be. And just like these constituents, you’re not waiting either – for your return on investment, that is.