Understand department priorities to support customer service

Posted on June 4, 2023

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When you work with departments on a new website, it’s helpful to begin by learning about their priorities. Once you understand them, you can work on ways to make their key services easy to find. This will help you develop a government content strategy.

Each department has its own mission and operational goals. Depending on their programs and services, their target audiences may wildly differ. For example:

  • The Library may be starting a new program aimed at helping new immigrants learn computer skills
  • The Housing department may be trying to incentivize empty nesters to rent out extra bedrooms in their homes
  • The Police department may be trying to connect people experiencing homelessness to support services
  • The Fire department may be working to help older adults improve their homes with grab bars

Often these programs and services are buried in the website, sometimes as a PDF or form behind a poorly worded hyperlink.

Review goals and plans

An easy place to start is to review organizational and departmental reports like:

  • Annual goals and objectives (sometimes this is part of the budget process)
  • Strategic plans
  • Roadmaps

This will give you a sense of the key programs and services.

Interview department staff

It’s important to talk with people in the department to learn about:

  • New priorities that are not included in the plans or reports
  • Customer service pain points
  • Opportunities to improve service delivery

Talking with department leadership can help you understand the big picture goals. Talking with front line staff, especially people who answer calls from the public, can help unearth customer service pain points.

Questions to ask

  • Why do people visit your website? What information do they need? What have they come to do?
  • What’s working well with your current web page?
  • What’s not working well with your current web page?
  • What do you get the most phone calls or emails about?
  • What do you wish people could do or learn on their own using the website?

Use priorities to drive your government content strategy

This information can help you develop a government content strategy for the department that focuses on the programs and services that are important to the department. It can reveal gaps between the department’s priorities and the way the department is presented online.

Use this information to make sure the department’s landing page features key services.

Make sure there is an action page for each important program and service, with a descriptive page title. List these services (helping someone do something) in a service inventory.

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