As a startup innovating in the civic technology space, PlaceSpeak is continuously improving and developing new features to help organizations in all industries and sectors meet their engagement goals. Based on extensive user research and customer feedback, we have recently developed a new set of features designed to increase engagement rates.
From now on, new visitors who are not registered with PlaceSpeak will be greeted by a beautifully redesigned consultation page with several optional new sections:
- Why We Are Consulting: Explain to participants why you want to hear from them. What information you are looking to collect? What you will do with the feedback collected?
- Who is Listening: Who are the decision-makers who will be reviewing the feedback collected? Who is responsible for using that information to make decisions?
- Why You Should Participate: How will people benefit from participating? What are the consequences of not participating?
Example: District of Central Saanich’s Brentwood Bay consultation
These new features highlight two important factors which influence the public’s decision to get involved in citizen engagement processes:
Clear impact on project
According to an Ipsos Reid study, 55% of Canadians believe that “public consultations are just for show, those who put them on rarely take into consideration the feedback received during these sessions when making decisions.” There is a common perception that citizen feedback has little or no impact on the final outcome, resulting in cynicism and mistrust in the public engagement process.
The purpose of the engagement process needs to be clearly articulated. By providing crucial context around the project, people are more likely to understand why it’s important for them to participate. By explaining what will be done with the feedback provided, people are more motivated to participate because they can be confident that their input will have an impact on the decision-making process. Otherwise, there is little incentive for them to have their say.
This also highlights the importance of “closing the loop” at the end of the engagement process, demonstrating (show, not tell!) how public input has shaped the project outcomes.
Engagement processes are often opaque and confusing. In closed surveys or public opinion research panels, participant feedback goes into a black box and decisions mysteriously emerge on the other side, further contributing to the perception of decide, announce, defend (DAD).
People want to know that their feedback is being taken seriously by decision-makers. Otherwise, there is no reason for them to get involved. By listing the key decision makers, participants can be confident that there are real people in relevant departments listening to their feedback and considering the input that they have taken time to contribute.
What do you think of our new features? Get in touch to learn more about how PlaceSpeak can help your organization meet its engagement goals.