Powerful communication for local government starts with understanding citizens’ communication preferences, which is why Rock Solid set out to find this exact information in our 2022 comprehensive national survey. Think of the many services local governments provide to serve their constituents: 311, utility billing and municipal/government meetings, to name a few. Local government opinion leaders have many responsibilities on their plate and knowing which services to prioritize can contribute to efficiency, help city staff avoid burnout, and improve citizens’ positive feelings towards local government. .
We also have data from our comprehensive survey in 2020, to compare citizens’ preferences over the years. A notable finding from our comparative research is that 62.8% of people said they were very satisfied or satisfied with local government access, a skip of 7 percent from 2020. The increase is notable at a time when there is a lot of disillusionment with the federal or state government, but shows how local government meets the expectations of residents.
A recent Deloitte study only reinforces this notion: Local government had a higher composite trust score in the study, ahead of trust in state government (although still positive), and well above negative levels of respondents’ trust in the federal government. Even with this positive step forward in citizen satisfaction for local government, there is still room for improvement. Over 37% of respondents still don’t express positive feelings on their ability to access services.
Our survey aimed to find specifics to help local government opinion leaders make more informed, data-driven decisions. That’s why we started by looking at preferred access channels.
PREFERRED ACCESS CHANNELS
Citizens’ preferred engagement channels play a critical role in local government opinion leaders investing in communications resources, and we asked respondents what they thought about them. In 2022, the results for the top five citizen access points were:
- In person
- Phone call
- Smartphone app
- Text message
Although the person is at the top of the ranking of preferred access channels, residents are becoming increasingly dependent on access to smartphone applications. This could lend itself to increased reliance on smartphone apps for other daily tasks (Amazon, Uber, DoorDash). In addition to this ranking, we found that 66% of respondents named smartphone apps among their four favorites means of dialogue with the local government. Local governments must be prepared to adapt to changing channel preferences, which may include smartphone apps for accessing local government services. In the comprehensive What Citizens Want report, we dig deeper into the many services that citizens prefer to digitize and which ones local governments should prioritize.
We have discussed how citizens’ preferences for communication channels have changed over the years, but is there a correlation between preferences and opinions regarding access to local government services and age groups? ?
In our full survey in 2020 and 2022, we asked respondents to agree or disagree with the statement “I can communicate easily with my local government”. We then segmented the respondent age groups into Gen Z, Millennials, Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Silent and Greatest Generation. Our results showed that younger generations have a less positive view of a citizen’s ability to communicate with the local government department, and as generations age, After they have a positive view of communication with the local government.
It makes sense that local governments could accommodate generations like baby boomers and older generations, as they have years of experience accommodating these citizens’ preferences, before many new technological solutions were created, including smartphone apps.
As younger generations are more digitally savvy and have higher expectations of technological advancement, the channels they use to communicate will be different from those of generations before them. This means that local governments will need to keep up with current technology trends to serve Gen Z as they transition into adulthood, which may include a shift towards omnichannel communication.
NEXT STEPS: THINKING AHEAD
As mentioned above, American citizens now have more digital devices and channels than ever before, and inevitably the list will grow longer over time. Local governments need to recognize the need to provide easy access to their services across multiple digital platforms to accommodate multi-generations and plan. Citizens still rely on in-person visits and phone calls as primary means of engagement, but have growing expectations for digital and omnichannel accessibility. By thinking about the future and providing your community with the most convenient, digitally accessible omnichannel service resources, it is important to consider this services citizens want digital to be a priority.
The full What Citizens Want report digs deeper into the services citizens want to digitize and presents more context on why certain data might lend itself to external factors such as changing attitudes towards communicating with local government. Additionally, we highlight key services that local governments should prioritize based on a ranking of several survey questions. We asked respondents about services such as 311, pothole repair and requests, utility billing, public health and 11 other categories to find out which services citizens care about most and which ones. they access most frequently.
So we’ve covered some bases with preferred access channels and generational trends, but just making informed decisions. departures with the data. The next step to powerful and meaningful engagement is to understand citizen-centered responses at a higher level. That’s the goal of the 2022 report, and we’re excited to share the data with you in an informative and digestible way. Are you ready to learn more about the constituents you serve and the services they want to prioritize digitally?
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About Rock Solid Technologies
Founded in 1994, with offices in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Austin, Texas, Rock Solid is a SaaS provider that helps local governments and their citizens work together. As a trusted government partner for over 25 years, Rock Solid uses technology to create products that streamline internal local government processes and help municipalities better engage their citizens. From legislative management to public records requests and citizen relationship management, Rock Solid’s OnePlatform helps local governments operate more efficiently and improve civic engagement.