E-Constituent Relationship Models for State Legislators
Elected officials are often challenged by a lack of permanent staff, limited financial resources for technology and a sometimes unending barrage of email from constituents and advocates. That's where Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) comes in. Good CRM is a constituent- focused philosophy that helps elected officials use technology to manage constituent correspondence and requests in a responsive, efficient, and effective way. Whether you a policymaker or someone who wants to reach them, this easy-to-read white paper will give you some useful insights!
From the Intro to this paper:
The term “constituent-focused” seems very touchy-feely. So do the terms “constituent relationship” and “responsiveness.” Each term works well in theory. After all, most state legislators believe that constituent feedback – whether over email, phone call, face-to-face meetings, or fax – is an important part of the policy-making process.
Yet, each of these phrases seems to reflect the sort of out-of-touch jargon that analysts like me use to describe a perfect world in which elected officials and their constituents walk hand-in-hand through the legislative process. In other words, they seem like impractical ideals that don’t reflect the realities of holding public office. Some of these realties range from a lack of permanent staff to no financial resources for technology to the occasionally unceasing barrage of computer-generated email launched at legislators by advocacy groups.
Fortunately, this is not another out-of-touch academic paper. Situated at GWU’s Graduate School of Political Management, the work of my organization, the Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet, cannot help taking a more practical approach.
I mentioned a few realities in the last paragraph: namely, lack of financial and human resources and an onslaught of email during the busiest times of the legislative calendar. What I haven’t mentioned are a few other realities – things that blur the distinction between running for and holding public office and good, old fashioned customer service:
- People are more responsive when they feel like they are participants in a real relationship with other people – a relationship that includes genuine conversation.
- Constituents are more likely to be content with an elected official when they feel as if that elected official is responsive to their needs and speaks directly to their wants, needs, and desires.
- Reelection is not simply a matter of name recognition. Positive name recognition certainly helps, of course, but as federal candidates are beginning to find, elections are being won and lost based on how much the campaigns know about their voters and how they use that information to target get-out-the-vote activities. Many of their tactics are starting to trickle down to the state level.