Earning and maintaining public trust is core to the function of government agencies. Trust has clear connections with re-election, resident engagement, and resident satisfaction. And it’s especially important for local government since it’s typically the level of government that people interact with the most.
Given rampant misinformation (like unverified quotes and AI-generated images), fostering trust has become particularly challenging for government agencies.
What should agencies focus on to restore trust?
One of the best things agencies and government leaders can do is proactively communicate with residents. Provide specific (and known) outlets for communication such as agency social channels, a newsletter, a blog, or text messages so your agency can keep residents up to date on events, emergencies, important news, etc.
Along with any urgent and necessary messaging, consider publishing data-rich reports, relevant recaps, updates on legislation, and community events. This shows residents that your agency and staff have nothing to hide and are truly there to serve the community.
Use technology to enhance agency capabilities
Crush the stereotype of the inefficient, late adopter and prove to residents your agency offers top-of-the-line service. Incorporating digital services is proof of a more modern and capable agency, especially for folks who have grown up with internet access.
Technology enables agencies to provide better service and more reliability, both in-person and online. Ultimately, people support and elect government leaders who are prepared for the future. A savvy digital strategy could include:
- Online licensing, utility, and payment portal
- Virtual court hearings and events
- Digital DMV
- User-friendly agency recruiting and employment portal
UX design demonstrates agency care
Well-designed digital services make life easier for all residents, proving your agency values equity and inclusion — and that you’ll go the extra mile to make sure resident needs are taken care of.
A key component of trust-worthy digital experiences is an intuitive product for users. That requires thoughtful, human-centered design. It’s one way to ensure your agency’s services are accessible, effective, and understandable.
Support and attend volunteer events
Spread the word and participate in local initiatives like trash pick-up days, tree planting, or walking dogs at the animal shelter. It sounds simple (and obvious), but getting involved in community events gives your agency more humanity.
Providing resources for your residents to get involved and having an active presence at events proves you value your community and civic engagement — building trust in your agency and staff.
Win with honesty, transparency, and innovation
Trust in government leads to more support for the agency and public policies. Residents want reassurance that their leaders are fair and forward-thinking. Building on the strong social contract between your agency and your community takes effort.
Open dialog, efficient digital services, and a positive presence in your community are good places to start. You can arm residents with critical information, encourage them to take part (and take pride) in community events, and build a two-way conversation between residents and your agency.
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