Bridging the Digital Divide: How to Serve Everyone, Everywhere
Is your modernization journey leaving any customers behind?
By Frank Dean
Every day, you’re making moves to transform your service delivery. But, as more and more services move online, how can you overcome equity barriers and ensure no one is left behind?
Make services accessible and usable for everyone. Before launching any new system or program, make sure it’s mobile-friendly and tested for usability across various skills and needs. Be mindful of cognitive, socioeconomic, language, sensory, mobility, and technological factors that affect usability. Browser-based features like multilingual toggling, screen reader compatibility, and simplified navigation using keyboard shortcuts help ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and adherence to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
Digital-first doesn’t mean digital-only. Though it’s exciting and efficient to digitize services, people who lack internet access or proficiency may still need to come into your office. How can you make their experience just as flexible and convenient as your digital offerings?
- Check-in kiosks shorten wait times and offer alternative access points.
- A smart queuing system optimizes guest flow and gives customers greater control over their appointments.
- Automated action triggers send printed reminders to customers without email addresses on file.
Bring services to them. Not everyone can access your website or drive to an office. You can easily serve rural residents, seniors, and other underserved populations using flexible, web-based software—no more lugging around bulky equipment. For example, the Arkansas Office of Driver Services and Tennessee Driver Services Division recently won AAMVA Community Service Awards for their programs to assist prison inmates and formerly incarcerated individuals with obtaining or reinstating driving privileges and ID cards. As part of this initiative, agency staff visited various locations, including prisons, drug courts, probation and parole offices, and rehabilitation centers. These programs play a crucial role in reducing recidivism rates and facilitating employment opportunities.
Embrace the ripple effect. Most software vendors on the market claim their product will revolutionize your agency. However, the most effective solutions are those that benefit every service area and population segment, both in-person and online. Consider the broader impact of your choices, beyond the immediate advantages. For example, you might think that an online portal doesn’t benefit customers who call or visit your office, but online self-service reduces staff backlog and prevents unnecessary office visits, which expedites service for everyone else.
Since Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services launched its online portal in 2020, drivers can complete nearly all transactions online. Thanks to centralized data and automation, 58% of vehicle title transactions were automatically approved, eliminating the need for an office visit or customer service interaction.
Fast Enterprises has helped 95+ agencies worldwide incorporate these strategies into their operations. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact me at FDean@FastCore.com or visit FastEnterprises.com.