“Writing is thinking,” said author David McCullough. To write well, authors must have clear thinking about the topic at hand.

It’s not very different for governments. Good communication requires governments to have flexible internal processes and a clear understanding of citizens’ choices of communication, which differ across demographics, say Tan Yew Luan, General Manager, Fuji Xerox Global Services, and Wayne Williams, Group General Manager, Regional Services at Fuji Xerox Document Management Solutions.

Here is how governments can use digital strategies to satisfy the different ways citizens prefer to communicate.

Integrated channels

While the public sector is moving towards a digital environment, there are demographics who prefer to communicate using paper. Governments can improve efficiency by integrating paper, digital and other communications through a “multi-channel strategy”, says Tan.

grandfather and child

Technology enables agencies to achieve the outcomes by working seamlessly across paper and digital. “There’s a multitude of things that we can do,” Williams adds. A single, integrated system can be used to email a document, or convert paper to digital copies. It can modify these documents by adding information to it and control who has access to it.

This technology has allowed an Australian government agency to process payments much faster and cut human errors, Williams says. Fuji Xerox worked with the agency to improve the system for processing infringement payments. “We created solutions where the documents going out for those infringements were highly automated,” he says. As a result, “we could get the details scanned and the money in the bank within a matter of hours rather than days”.

Digital done right

Even “email is passé for certain generations”, says Tan. For instance, e-statements sent out as PDFs essentially become reminders. Eventually people stop opening them, she adds, because it doesn’t help them achieve their needs – to quickly and easily make a payment after reading the PDF file.

Good digital platforms must hold the user’s attention, she says. Younger generations are comfortable with social apps like WhatsApp, Facebook or Twitter. But only for now. Fuji Xerox’s research has shown that when new digital channels are introduced, their attention can quickly move to the new e-channels. Therefore, the single most important factor in digital adoption is how quickly an organisation can reach the users, as shown in the Technology Adoption Curve below.

tech graph

With the rate of changes in new channels of communication accelerating, the traditional way of implementing a separate system to handle each channel would be too slow for government agencies to respond to citizens. It would also be too costly to maintain. Agencies need to react and adapt their processes and systems to quickly catch the wave of ‘Majority Adopters’, and ensure continuous engagement with citizens.

Users’ needs must first be understood, before technology can be put in place to enable that. On this basis, Fuji Xerox helped a global telecommunications provider designed a user interface to help consumers check phone bills and make payments through an app. As a result, the company gets “four more days of cash because of the user interface. Customers pay faster because it is more convenient”, Tan says.

Communicating with citizens via their preferred channels is never easy. But an integrated and multi-channel approach can help governments become more efficient at it, while keeping citizens satisfied.

To arrange for a discussion on your citizen communication strategy, make an enquiry with Fuji Xerox at: www.dms.fujixerox.com/en/contact/