"The productivity tools and self-service features of Zendesk Support help us deliver great services to the public."
- Rahul Dutta
Head of Technology at NSW Government Licensing Service at New South Wales Government
The New South Wales Government Licensing Service (GLS) processes business, occupational, recreational, and community service licenses, as well as various other types of certificates, notifications, permits, and registrations across the state.
As of February 2011, the service has managed approximately 6 million licenses—representing more than 120 license types, with the service processing more than 60,000 new license applications, 90,000 renewals, and 21,000 amendments.
The GLS had three goals prior to adopting Zendesk Support: To provide better service, reduce red tape, and minimize IT costs. The organization needed an efficient way of handling an increase in the number of third-party support requests, which were coming from more than a hundred business support staff assisting 2,800 public sector users in various government agencies.
Prior to implementing Zendesk Support, GLS used another reputed support software solution that was installed and maintained in-house. It was ITIL compliant, but was internally managed and upgraded; proving to be a distraction from the GLS core business. The proprietary nature of the tool meant integration to other platforms and systems was not possible without direct involvement of external consultants and significant costs.
“Our business isn’t about managing support software; it’s about providing services to other government agencies,” GLS’s Head of Technology Rahul Dutta said. “We’re essentially helping the helpers in customer support agents, so we needed customer service software that would allow us to respond to incidents and questions in a timely fashion. We needed a solution that would be easier for our staff and customers to use, and did not impose a management burden on the GLS team.”
Zendesk Support caught Dutta’s eye because of its Software as a Service (SaaS) integration, as well as its user-friendly web interface and built-in ability to easily build custom integrations with numerous systems, thanks to its open and comprehensive API.
“We often get requests for bug fixes that actually turn out to be product enhancement requests,” Dutta said. “With Zendesk’s API, we were able to quickly build an integration with Microsoft Team Foundation Services. This integration allows us to push those requests right into our product development database and manages them as part of the next release, and when the enhancement is complete, Zendesk Support automatically updates the original support ticket so that the customer will know their issue has been addressed and implemented into the product.”
Once NSW GLS went live with Zendesk Support, the agency gave full agent-level access to each of its employees in an effort to improve communication and collaboration. When agents first logged into the customer support system, they were pleased to find a highly intuitive web-based interface.
“Zendesk Support offers our employees the intuitive navigation they know from their daily web use,” Dutta said. “With all our communication centralized on one system, we’ve eliminated the possibility of support emails falling through the cracks.”
The transition to Support coincided with GLS’s customer base increasing by more than 25 percent; with smarter workflows enabling the agency to support more customers without increasing the number of staff. In addition to Support’s simplified interface, both agents and internal customers appreciated the convenience of submitting and replying to support tickets entirely by email—without having to log on to the system. However, when customers do log into Support, they appreciate the small, but important, personal touches such as being able to see a picture of the agent who has been assigned to their case.
“Zendesk Support is far more efficient than our previous support system, with features that let our agents manage tickets by email even when they’re away from the office,” Dutta said. “Each time an agent or customer sends an email, it’s logged as a ticket, so we always maintain a centralized record of the entire support interaction. This flexibility makes it possible to extend our support services to the weekend and off-hours. As long as agents have email access, they can keep tickets moving forward.”
In addition, many of the support staff use Android, iPhones, iPads and other devices, and the Zendesk Support mobile apps have proven to be very popular with the support agents who are able to attend to tickets from anywhere.
“Everyone at the GLS who has an iPhone or Android all have a Zendesk Support app installed on these devices,” Dutta said.
Support has proven especially useful to the GLS business team that serves as a liaison between individual government agencies and the NSW development team. Previously, employees who wanted to request an enhancement to a business application would contact the business team, which would then send an email to the development team. But there was no way to track these requests.
Now, employees simply log their development requests as tickets in Support. The business and development teams can then communicate efficiently until the request is completed.
Thanks to Support, the GLS has been able to update its website to include a feedback section, with Dutta explaining how the upgrades have been part of a major update for the agency’s online presence.
“We recently launched a feedback section where the public could share their thoughts about the system,” Dutta said. “We were capturing this feedback and feeding it through to our ticketing system and this allowed us to forward these queries onto the various, relevant agencies in a simple way.”
The GLS website now has sharing enabled with Facebook and Twitter, as well as compliance with accessibility standards—resulting in an increase in online queries. “We receive about 10-15 queries, feedback and requests each week through the website feedback feature,” Dutta said.
As well as the addition of the feedback function, Dutta added that the site is now organized around life events like health and business and includes a powerful search function, as well as quick and easy public access to government services.
“Every day we receive a query and it’s almost been like an additional transaction that we’ve had to deal with,” Dutta said. “Despite this, it has been a minor additional workload for our team to cope with, with Zendesk Support helping us direct these queries and automate most of the workload for us.”
GLS has recently expanded its use of Support’s community forums, which enables users to find answers to common support questions on their own. By submitting problems to Support and linking subsequent incidents to them, GLS hopes to enhance its overall problem management.
Also recently rolled out was an integration between Zendesk and Clickatell, a SMS notification service. “Integrating Zendesk with SMS through Clickatell is helping us especially after hours; if there is a critical incident outside business hours, we can send out a text message notification,” Dutta said.
A recent feature allowing ticket sharing with Support is also being evaluated in order to facilitate the integration of multiple-level support desks across government agencies.
“The name of the game for us is constant improvement,” Dutta said. “Our goal is to provide the best and most efficient services to other government agencies so that they can provide great services to the public in turn.”