Online experience monitoring: From the ‘squeaky wheel’ to real-time web metrics
Miami-Dade County digs into real-time feedback and web-experience surveys to better understand the citizen’s digital journey and deliver better customer experience.
When the number of people submitting service requests to Miami-Dade County through Apple iPhones dipped well below other entry points – phone calls, emails, website submissions and an Android app – the Communications and Customer Experience Department (CCED) started digging.
“Our IT team found that there was a caching issue in the map to where the map wasn’t loading as fast or was somehow doing something glitchy on the iPhone system,” said R. Adam Mullins, strategic initiatives manager for the department. After the issue was fixed, “we saw that the [iPhone] metrics popped right back up with the other channels of submission.”
That type of real-time feedback on users’ web experience with Miamidade.gov wasn’t possible until about three years ago, when the county completed a total overhaul of the website and made experience monitoring the norm. Previously, CCED relied on 311 service requests, which it oversees, and “squeaky wheels” among community members to find out what needed to be fixed. Using Qualtrics’ Digital Customer Experience (CX) solution, it now continually collects experience data.
In fact, the county used customer feedback to drive the design of the new website, CCED Director Inson Kim said. When planning began, the county issued a content improvement survey that got 5,000 responses, and when it launched a beta site in 2017, the county issued another survey that drew 13,000 responses, she said.
The new portal launched in 2019, but the web experience surveys didn’t stop. Today the bottom of every page of the website includes a one-question survey: “Was this page helpful?” Users can click yes or no. In 2021, the site had about 156 million page views and 149,996 content feedback submissions, with 76% saying yes.
The county’s Solid Waste Management Department was an early adopter of web experience surveys, Kim said. For instance, when it wanted to make sure that its bulky waste pickup was meeting goals, the department sent an email to each customer who provided an address after the job was done.
“I think everybody was [pleased] overall,” Kim said. But when someone wasn’t, the waste management agency’s customer service team called the resident to get more information and address the issue. “People were shocked because there’s a sense that you fill out a survey and you have a complaint or make a suggestion, [but] you’re not really sure that somebody’s going to do anything about it. And I think that’s important that when you’re asking for feedback, when you’re doing these surveys … people can feel like something happened, something was done with that information.”
Many governments have performance management systems that monitor digital touchpoints, often websites and apps, said Hannah Burn, government industry advisor at Qualtrics, but they typically only count the number of visitors or which links are being clicked the most.
“All of these are really great insights to get an operational view of a website and its performance,” Burn said. “What misses in that story is, OK, [we know the] number of visitors to the site, but what happens once they’re there? What’s their experience when they’re there? Are they able to actually find what they're trying to do?”
On Oct. 11, the company released a new out-of-the box solution called Government Web Experience that agencies at all levels can use to survey website users about design, content and performance. Built on Digital CX, it zeros in on the web experience, whereas Qualtrics’ Community Pulse solution is used to survey community needs across a variety of services to understand residents’ sense of their quality of life.
“Government Web Experience is designed really for that person who oversees digital journeys,” Burn said.
It comes with prebuilt distribution methods such as dialogue boxes that are triggered by website interactions so agencies can capture users’ sentiment at the moment they are experiencing it. It also has prepared survey questions, but users can edit them or add their own. A dashboard shows in real time how people say web services are performing.
What’s more, agencies can use Government Web Experience to benchmark their core digital experience metrics – how satisfied or dissatisfied constituents are – against those of private industry, but in the future they will also be able to compare themselves to other governments, Burn said.
“Our vision is that cities can say, ‘How does my satisfaction or how does the effort on my website compare to other cities of my population size?’” she said.
Improving the web experience is a major goal for agencies at all levels of government right now, especially since the Biden administration issued an executive order on transforming CX in 2021.
Stephanie Kanowitz is a freelance writer based in northern Virginia.