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How to Embrace Citizen Feedback to Improve Government Operations

By Stephen Brandofino

The role of local government officials may be one of the most heavily scrutinized positions that a person can take. It may feel like a challenge for local officials to meet the standards and expectations that their constituents have for them. Not only are there general difficulties that may come up on a daily basis, but navigating the landscape of complex needs of citizens, resources, and regulations only adds to the challenge. This role can be a demanding one that requires balancing competing interests with wanting to serve the community to the best of their abilities. 

Another difficulty arises in gathering feedback from constituents. With difficulties in the efficiency of constituent engagement, it is hard for local government officials to figure out where to begin. On top of that, government officials may question the accuracy of this information as well as what exactly to do with the information they gather. 

Continue reading to learn about how you can embrace citizen feedback to improve your government operations. 

What is Citizen Feedback and Why is it Important? 

Citizen feedback is considered to be the opinions, suggestions, and comments provided by members of a locality regarding certain government policies, services, or other public matters. Local government officials seeking commentary from their constituents is the easiest way for them to be clued into what these constituents want and are expecting of them. Citizen feedback is an extremely useful tool in helping officials identify areas of improvement, make informed policy decisions, and foster accountability and transparency in governance. 

It is important for local government officials to not be offended by critique and feedback from their constituents. An important characteristic of a well performing local government official is to remove any ego. After all, being a local government official is a difficult job that requires the ability to bounce back from negative situations, and be resilient no matter what happens. Even the most difficult to please constituents are aware that holding a local government office is no easy feat, and a continued effort into improvement for your community is what is most important!

Learn everything you can about Hosting Effective Local Government Meetings For Constituents here. 

The Purpose of Taking Action After Receiving Feedback

While the most difficult task may be how you are going to gather insight from local citizens, arguably the most crucial step may be taking action with that insight. It is one thing to have the opinions, thoughts, and feedback from constituents, but it is important to make a concerted effort in making this feedback actionable. Here is a list of a few purposes of taking action after receiving feedback.

  • Helps To Improve Public Services

Feedback from citizens can help in putting the spotlight on areas that citizens feel public services are lacking or where improvements can be made. This information is extremely crucial in helping local governments do a better job in allocating resources and enhancing the quality of services provided to the public. 

Learn about Improving Municipal Services With GovPilot here. 

  • Enhances Accountability

By requesting and responding to constituent feedback, local government officials are actively demonstrating transparency and accountability. When gathering feedback, local officials are offering their constituents a new look into their decision making process. This can help build trust between citizens and their elected officials. 

Learn all you need to know about Building Trust in Local Government.  

  • Tailoring Services to Community Needs

Gaining a better understanding of citizen feedback will help governments tailor public services to meet the specific needs of their community. Rather than allocating resources towards improvements in your city that no one will notice or appreciate, putting funds and resources directly into areas of complaint will be more noticeable. This process will lead to a more responsive and effective local government office. 

  • Makes Citizens Feel Appreciated 

Engaging citizens in providing feedback and opinions about officials can help in many ways. These positive effects can include fostering a sense of ownership, making citizens feel directly involved, and an overall better relationship between officials and constituents that is founded on appreciation. When citizen morale is high, they are more likely to engage with their community, community members, community activities, and the overall local economy.  

Master Local Government Employee Appreciation Strategy

Citizen feedback plays a vital role in promoting good governance, enhancing public services, and strengthening your local offices. This will largely be due to the ability for government decisions and actions to be informed by the needs and perspectives of the people that they serve. 

5 Key Ways To Gather Citizen Feedback

Gathering citizen feedback is crucial for local government and organizations to understand public sentiment, identify areas of improvement, and ensure policies and services meet the needs of the community. When looking to gather this feedback, there are numerous different avenues that officials can use to collect this valuable input. From traditional approaches like surveys and public meetings, to more modern digital platforms, the ways to gather feedback are limitless. 

Here is a comprehensive list of some different solutions that can be employed to gain this valuable information:

1. Online Forums

Online forums can be powerful tools for gathering citizen feedback due to their accessibility, convenience, and ability to reach a wide audience. Online forums can help officials do things like moderate open discussions, have dedicated feedback sections, and create different polls and surveys. By effectively using online forums to gather citizen feedback, governments and organizations can harness the insights of their community to inform policies and improve service to constituents. 

Learn more about How to Bring Digital Democracy to Government Agencies With GovPilot by clicking here. 

2. Website Comments 

Using government website comments as a means to gain citizen feedback can be a valuable strategy for engaging with the public and soliciting their opinions. Effectively utilizing website comments through moderation, engagement promotion, and prompt responses, can help make citizens feel seen and heard. By leveraging website comments as a platform for citizen feedback, governments can foster great transparency and engagement with the public. 

3. Report-A-Concern Mobile App

With the help of GovPilot’s trademark Report-A-Concern app, residents have the ability to present concerns either through an online form or through the mobile app. Once it is submitted, the concern is then sent to the correct department. This app is a one stop shop for citizens who want to become more involved in giving feedback to their local government officials. 

Learn more about GovPilot’s Report-a-Concern software here. 

4. Host Local Public Meetings

Hosting local public meetings is an effective way to gather citizen feedback. Largely due to their ability to provide a platform for direct interaction between government officials, stakeholders, and community members, public meetings like town halls are the perfect way to successfully gauge your constituent needs. 

Learn more about How to Manage & Improve Local Public Meetings & Events with the help of GovPilot. 

5. Encourage Voting and E-voting

The most tried and true way for government officials to gather feedback from citizens is to encourage constituents to practice their democratic right to vote, either in person or online. It is important for local government officials to remind people to vote, and to notify them when voting time is in their municipality for local elections. This will help in encouraging citizens to choose representatives they feel will best advocate for them. 

Consider: Is E-Voting The Future Of Local Government? 

What Are The Benefits of Embracing Citizen Feedback?

Embracing citizen feedback can bring about numerous different benefits. These benefits can be felt both within governmental organizations as well as the broader community. Here is a list of a few of the key advantages:

  • Happier Constituents 

When local government officials choose to embrace feedback from their constituents, this will surely lead to happier constituents. When feedback is taken into account, municipal services will be more effectively aimed at helping community members. Furthermore, when government officials actually listen to their constituents, there will be a sense of transparency between both parties that will make constituents feel better and happier about the local government that is working for them. 

  • Ease of Governance 

Having the ability to get a full understanding of what your constituents want out of their local government, will surely allow for an easier time managing public services. If you have access to an unprecedented level of insight from your community, it will take less time to ‘guess’ what constituents want and the prioritization of new leadership goals can happen with much more efficiency.  

Check out GovPilot’s Citizen Engagement & Community Development Software and Improving Your Neighborhood

  • Higher Chances of Re-election 

Local government officials have more chances of re-election when constituents see that their opinions and wants for the community are being taken seriously by their government leaders. Building trust and credibility within the government is vital and means local officials need to follow through on their promises and show respect to community members by taking their needs into account. Get re-elected by giving the constituents what they want, and let them tell you themselves! 

Consider How To Combat Common Constituent Misconceptions About Local Government with our resource. 

Local government officials need to make the effort required of them to round up citizen opinions and feedback on how the community is being governed in order to better serve their constituents. Book a consultation with GovPilot today to learn more about the most effective ways to take and implement citizen feedback into your community. 

Citizen Feedback FAQs

  • Why is it key to enact the changes citizens want to see? 

When the government listens to and acts upon the concerns, aspirations, and demands of its people, it not only upholds the principles of democratic governance but also ensures the stability and harmony of the society it serves. This means happier citizens and smoother government operations. 

  • How can governments gather citizen feedback? 

Gather citizen feedback through local public meetings, online forums, and communicating clearly and directly with citizens. This method of open communication with citizens will clue officials in to what they really want from their local governments. 

  • Is it okay if citizen feedback isn’t always positive? 

It is more than okay if citizen feedback isn’t positive, in fact this other feedback gives officials a chance to make improvements and use the negative feedback as valuable suggestions for the community. 

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Tags: Government Efficiency, Customer Success, Digital Transformation, GovTech