Innovation in citizen engagement and constituent services is continuing all the time. Companies like iConstituent, Voxcitio and CiviCRM have made great progress in finding software solutions to the issues that face constituent offices.
Like politics, all government is local and it is at this local level that things are seeing change. Building legitimacy for local government is critical and requires authorities to take a ‘stakeholder engagement’ model.
Instead of being afraid of this engagement government now needs to incorporate conflicting, as well as consensual views in their decision-making process. At the heart of this process is the need for citizen engagement, something that has often been more of an aspiration for local government rather than a policy.
How are constituent services delivered?
CRM - first and foremost a Constituent Relationship Management system is required. That’s just a database, usually, cloud-based and optimized for data privacy and security. This is the central element of the constituent services hub and the one where all gathered data feeds back to.
Face-to-face outreach - field tech has improved hugely in the last 3 years with the great challenge of syncing data from real life interactions becoming much more reliable and user-friendly. Connecting this info back to the CRM system provides a powerful solution for much of that constituency work that, in the past, went unrecorded.
Continuous surveying - in the spirit of being proactive rather than reactive, it is a hallmark of good constituency work to be continually surveying the public on issues. It is a great way to test the future direction of the constituency and build a picture of what concerns people.
Issue tracking - tracking #issues like #education or #antisocialbehaviour is important for understanding the main areas of concerns for citizens. If your team is rigorous and does not indulge in ‘hashtag soup’ then these issues can be a really powerful way of communicating back to the constituents by segmented email or other targeted communications.
Casework management - probably the first thing we think of when we talk about constituent services. Having case files on specific issues raised by constituents is essential for getting things done. Maintaining a record of all actions and future actions in one place ensure efficient resolution of problems. The ability to assign casework to specific team members is critical and there will usually be the need to have this system on a cloud or software platform.
Digital engagement - using email and online properties like social media or website to communicate with constituents will increase efficiency and provide a record of interactions. Pen and paper communications are subject no longer provide the required level of data security or process accountability for modern constituency offices.
Reporting and analytics - Only by understanding a community can one solve its problems. Analytics functionality can help a constituency office to understand the trends and make-up of the community. More importantly, it can deliver insights for the constituency team to act upon.
Segmentation - If we understand that not all constituent services can be one-on-one, then we need to start understanding electorates as segments. Using data collected it should be possible to segment the electorate along demographic, geographic or issue based metrics. Doing this will allow constituent services to be delivered as tailored messages to the right group.
Technology Stacks - Oftentimes one technology alone cannot cover the entire scope of constituent services. A CRM system might manage constituents’ data but not facilitate outreach, or an outreach platform may not have an online portal. In order to address this, it is important that local authorities, at the research stage, take into account the integrations between possible software solutions. A software that can be ‘plugged into’ other software to create a tech stack that solves all your problems is far preferable to one that does not.
Constituent services, at their best, connect people with government and it is up to local government to lead the way in delivering these services in an open and accountable way for their citizens.
If you would like to talk us more about Voxcitio and how we can help you fill the void, why not jump on a call with us below.