Establishing eligibility is one of the most common, and paper-laden, processes in government. From human services to business licensing to permits and more, government process often starts with a paper application, supplemented by supporting documents. These documents are dropped off, faxed or sent and the great mystery begins. Common questions at this point include, did someone receive the documents and how long will it take to get a decision? Your customers are right to ask these questions, after all, their well-being or their livelihood depends on this process and its conclusion. So what does your intake process say to your customers? Not sure? Consider these questions. Does the process require use of fax, mail or drop-in rather than web submission? Online, self-service capabilities have taken government by storm and for good reason. This makes access very convenient for applicants since it can happen without a visit, a fax machine or the unknown of the mail. And, online options can ensure a reduction in paper and its associated costs for your staff while ensuring that your customer’s application is not lost. You can even use a web-based solution to prompt applicants to fully complete an electronic application, saving time later over incomplete or error-prone applications. The point is, starting with an electronic application on a website is an expectation now, but it is one that has benefits for your agency as you evaluate applications. How do your applicants know what’s happening with their application? Sending your application off to an agency can be scary for your applicants. And your staff, burdened with the extra tasks required to manage all that paper, can’t move towards decisions as quickly. They are also interrupted by phone calls, from the applicants, from their colleagues, trying to figure out how long it will be before they receive a decision. In a world that uses paper, there isn’t an easy automated way to notify applicants of each stage of applicant review. And, if your staff stops to answer calls and send letters to notify applicants, they have less time to finish the reviews. It’s a difficult place to be, and your customer service may not be all it can be as a result. How long and how much do you spend sending out “needs more information” or even, rejection letters? Delivering programs and managing registration requirements also includes a great deal of correspondence to those who are not eligible. Many programs and processes have far more people turned away than helped or registered. This means that your staff are overwhelmed by applicants who will not be eligible or be registered. And, the reality of this workload ratio means that far more time can be spent on those you were not meant to help. What’s the answer? See the first question. The use of a web-based, paperless system can automate tasks including the creation of correspondence. This saves staff time and allows you to deliver answers, even rejections faster. A fast answer, even the wrong one, is better customer service and it helps your staff to eliminate backlogs in notification to your applicants. As these questions illustrate, your intake process needs modernization. Moving to a web-based submission process with electronic forms can change the service equation offering you the chance to meet customer service expectations while removing significant and low-value tasks from your staff. Moving away from paper can help you do more with your existing staff and it presents a modern front to timeless government process. Your online presence, or the lack of one, speaks volumes to your customers, are you comfortable with that?