Helping small businesses as they grow and navigate government
How might we help government help small businesses?
Small businesses are the cornerstone of the New Zealand economy and a key focus of government support.
When we began working with Business.govt.nz — the government website for small businesses — in 2009 it was essentially a five-page link farm harvesting content from other government sites.
Today, it’s a comprehensive resource that speaks to small businesses at every stage, from startup to exit, and in their language. Its growing popularity with business owners is reflected in the year-on-year rise in page views.
Understanding small business mindsets
Our initial in-depth research into Business.govt.nz’s core customers helped us to develop realistic personas and informed our recommendations for what the website and the brand should be.
This foundation customer insight supported Business.govt.nz — the name for the website and the team managing it — in shaping its strategy of helping businesses by bridging the gap between them and government.
In early 2014, Empathy took over the role of Business.govt.nz’s content provider from another external agency, which meant we could focus on customer-centric design and delivery. From then on, the website strategy has been mindful of what customers look for and how they look for it. In light of this, we began to refine the site’s information architecture (IA) and develop a range of targeted content.
How did we know what small businesses needed?
We talked to them. A lot of them. About everything to do with being in business. Not just government stuff, but what was front of mind for them, what their pain points were, their learnings, their mistakes, their dreams.
It’s a steep learning curve to start and grow a business, so we recommended using content in different ways to account for different ways business owners learn — visual, auditory, read/write and kinaesthetic (VARK for short).
To that end we’ve designed and delivered a range of customer-focused assets, including:
- tools to take key tasks, eg the Employment Agreement Builder
- interactive quizzes
- visual guides
- written content
We partnered with the design agency Capiche to interpret our learnings visually for the website and to make sure they shone.
Customer interactions soar, helpline calls fall
The number of visitors and their on-site interactions have risen year-on-year, showing small business owners increasingly turn to Business.govt.nz as a primary resource.
Since we began work on the website, traffic has risen by 55%. In the 12 months to July 2016 alone, the website has seen a:
- 140% rise in customer interactions
- 150% rise in newsletter subscriptions
- 32% fall in call to the contact centre.
The relationships with businesses we’ve built and insights we’ve found have helped us to continue informing Business.govt.nz’s strategy.
As Business.govt.nz’s long-term content partner, we’ve been working this year on a major upgrade to the website. Watch this space to find out what we’ve been up to…