Online forms for local government that provide customers with what they want - convenience, first and foremost.
When you build online forms remember that customers want convenience, first and foremost.
Last week we helped another Australian local government organisation launch a customer portal which features important online forms. As with all new service offerings, there was a degree of anxiety among new staff about the launch prior to "Go Live". However, as their IT manager pointed out during a staff meeting, there has never been a better time to start delivering better digital services.
"There has never been a better time to start delivering better digital services."
At the time of writing (end march 2020) Australia is increasingly locked down due to the Covid19 virus. Residents and ratepayers are stuck at home. Online is the primary (sometimes the only) means of communication with the outside world. We have argued for many years that the community expects to be able to conduct business with council 24/7 on a smartphone. For the next few months (and maybe longer), the community will only able to conduct business with council via the internet.
As the IT manager pointed out, there has never been a better time for council's to improve their digital service offering. Other staff agreed with the IT manager and the digital customer portal was launched with minimum fuss.
Customer portals in local government
We don't believe a customer portal should be implemented in one "big-bang" launch. In fact, we believe that it is best to start small and build incrementally. This reduces risk and allows staff to transition to a new way of doing things.
When we work with councils we put in place the underlying digital platform that will enable them to scale in the coming years. They can change at the pace that best suits them and their customers.
The client in question has launched their customer portal with three simple online forms
Lodge a customer request form.
Update my details form
Contact council form (for general queries)
The ability for users to register on the portal. This gives them the ability to save and review forms
The ability to sign up to receive and manage newsletter subscriptions
While this is a basic start, this customer portal achieves two things:
- It makes it convenient and easy for the community to get in touch with the council at any time.
- Council has started its transition to digital services via online forms. Staff are empowered and the (incremental) journey can start.
The customer portal can grow over the coming years as it has with our other clients. Over the course of the last 4-5 years, we have seen online forms being slowly embraced by councils who start small and scale their digital services year on year. Many councils now receive thousands of online form submissions per annum where only a few short years ago they received none!
Online forms for local government
The journey for this council is quite clear and we have a roadmap to guide them on the way. Some of the next steps that they will implement in the coming weeks and months include:
- Adding more online forms: We have a library of over 100 local government online forms that are being shared across our local government clients. Adding new forms is quick and easy.
- End to end integration: Our other council clients have integrated their online forms with common systems like HP Content Manager, MS Dynamics, Technology1, etc. With the inbuilt integration engine in our platform, we will start connecting the council's online forms with their internal systems, eliminating all manual handling and associated errors.
- Sophisticated workflows: Within our platform or by integrating with their Microsoft Active Directory the client can build sophisticated workflows associated with online forms that may require multiple authorisations by managers.
There has never been a better time for councils to accelerate their digital transformation plans and to start offering digital services via online forms.