It’s accepted wisdom today that improving the customer experience is a top priority of for-profit businesses. But other organizations, including government agencies, are only beginning to realize that they can benefit as well. The City of Sacramento is one such organization. About five years ago, the city undertook a digital strategy that focused on the “customer/citizen” experience.
“The legacy apps and technology solutions were problematic for not only citizens/customers, but also for internal departments within the city,” said Mrudul Sadanandan, the city’s IT manager.
The city decided it needed to fundamentally upgrade and integrate the digital systems and apps that supported each of its departments. Without a cohesive plan, each department had implemented its own apps, and there was little or no interaction between them. Users needed separate credentials for each one, and any service that crossed departments required information to be re-entered. It wasn’t possible to gain a complete picture of any citizen and their issues because all of the information was siloed.
The key to solving the problem was to implement a single online “citizen identity” system that works across all city departments and integrates the disparate departmental apps. A critical part of this solution was to personalize and manage each identity. With the new platform, any 311 activity, ticket, or request is now linked to one identity. To provide content and valuable information, the citizen identity initiative is supported by e-newsletters created by city departments or elected officials.
Each time an inquiry is made to the city’s 311 system—whether it’s about city parks, trash pickup, or any other issue—an email is sent to the caller. These emails, along with details about the issue, are stored in Adobe Campaign, which starts a profile. More information is added to the profile by using outbound emails to follow up on the issue. Email is also used to ask citizens if they want to receive any of the available e-newsletters. If they ask for one, that information is added to the profile.
The results have been impressive. As Sadanandan noted, “We launched on April 18th, 2020, and there are already 4,000 registered accounts in just one month, all created by users.”
More importantly, there’s a clear pattern of individuals reusing their citizen identity account for new needs or to get more e-newsletters. One of the key features that has driven increased use of citizen identity is the city’s integration of Adobe Sign into many apps, eliminating the need for individuals to go to an office in person to sign documents.
The success of citizen identity, particularly in these uncertain times, prompted Sadanandan to offer some advice to other organizations.
“Take small steps. Take one area, roll that out, then expand on that success,” he said. “Don’t try and do too much at the beginning. It is also imperative to use all available training to ensure you can support the initiative. Finally, work with a good business champion on the departmental side who will be a partner for the IT team.”