City’s Helpdesk Solution Eliminates IT Bureaucracy

January 7, 2011

“Our main goal was to find a more efficient way to keep our tax application up and running. With Zendesk, we’re providing more customer service for our city’s main source of revenue.”

–Leslie Fuentes, Director of IT, City of Hampton, Virginia

Hampton is one of seven cities in Virginia’s Hampton Roads metropolitan area – an area that includes Norfolk, Newport News and Virginia Beach. With 146,437 residents, Hampton is the sixth largest city in Virginia. The city’s Office of the Commissioner of the Revenue assesses personal property and administers business taxes. Its Office of the Treasurer collects both real estate and personal property taxes.

Mission-critical tax application requires immediate support

Like most cities, the city of Hampton, Virginia relies on tax payments for much of its revenue. That’s why the city’s tax assessment and collection software must remain in top working condition. This sophisticated application performs a wide range of financial processes to support such tasks as changing tax assessments, calculating tax rate schedules, and collecting fines and payments.

“When you have people standing in line waiting to pay their taxes and the application goes down, getting it back up and running is a mission-critical task,” says Leslie Fuentes, Director of IT, City of Hampton, Virginia. “We have a development staff devoted to managing and maintaining our application.”

The development staff works hard to respond quickly to IT requests from the Commissioner of the Revenue and Office of the Treasurer. The city’s traditional IT help desk offered no way for city staff to collaborate with developers or monitor the status of their tickets, and was not well suited to supporting extensive application development work. As a result, developers seldom used the system.

“We needed a way to get our internal clients more involved in their tickets, rather than just having them phone in requests to IT,” Fuentes remarks. “We hoped that with an online support solution, everyone involved in a ticket would be able to share information and track it through to completion.”

Online support solution dramatically enhances communication

After comparing the features of several cloud-based support solutions side-by-side, Fuentes decided to do a Zendesk trial. What she saw convinced her to look no further.

“Zendesk’s price made it highly feasible for us to build a pilot solution,” Fuentes explains. “During the trial, we discovered that it would be easy to scale Zendesk based on our budget and business needs.”

Immediately after implementation, staff within the city’s Revenue and Treasurer offices began using Zendesk to submit support requests. Communication has increased dramatically.

“With Zendesk’s intuitive interface, it’s easy for city staff to enter their tickets, comment on issues and even re-open tickets if necessary,” Fuentes reports. “Even though I’m in another building, I can see everything that’s going on between my developers and our internal clients.”

With complete visibility into support tickets, nothing slips through the cracks

All support requests for the City of Hampton’s tax assessment and collection software are now streamlined through a standardized workflow in Zendesk.

“Our main goal was to find a more efficient way to keep our tax application up and running. With Zendesk, we’re providing more customer support for our city’s main source of revenue,” says Fuentes.

Fuentes’ staff is both working more efficiently and demonstrating value to the city officials who pay for their services. In their last three months of using the previous system, the city’s developers logged only 20 tickets. Within the first month on Zendesk, they logged 50.

“Since our old helpdesk made it such a hassle to log tickets, it was tough to show that we were providing a valuable service,” Fuentes explains. “With Zendesk, it’s easy to quantify exactly how productive and efficient we really are.”

As tickets proceed through the system, Zendesk provides clients and developers alike with an instant view of progress. Notifications keep everyone informed of major changes.

“I can always see exactly how much progress my developers have made,” says Fuentes. “Just as importantly, city staff and managers can see all of their requests and how we’re prioritizing them. Everyone has embraced Zendesk as a way of staying in the loop.”

In addition, the city of Hampton has found other highly innovative uses for Zendesk. The city’s development staff recently used Zendesk to quickly notify employees about a new pay system. As the city develops a new collections site, staff who are beta testing can send in tickets through Zendesk, which integrates with the city’s solution to create development tasks.

“We’re also considering rolling out Zendesk to our IT help desk and finance department,” says Fuentes. “We’ve even discussed using it to streamline the contract workflow in our procurement department. With Zendesk, the possibilities are endless.”

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