LeWeb 2012: How To Provide Support To The Government’s Super-Site


Cloud-based customer support is the future, says Matt Price, VP at Zendesk

On Tuesday, helpdesk software developer Zendesk announced it was selected by the UK Government Digital Service (GDS) to provide the customer support platform for GOV.UK.

GOV.UK is an ambitious project that aims to consolidate hundreds of government websites under one roof. The government thinks it will lead to possible savings of £50 million a year.

TechWeekEurope met Matt Price, vice president and general manager of Zendesk, at LeWeb in London to find out how the company was going to contribute to this undertaking.

Less pain

Zendesk, a Danish company headquartered in US, provides services to more than 15,000 companies, including giants like Adobe, Sony and Xerox. It employs 250 people, but is growing rapidly, with offices as far afield as Manila and Hong Kong.

GOV.UK, which has been in beta stage since February, is the result of a review that was produced by Martha Lane Fox for Francis Maude and the Government Digital Service (GDS). The mission is to roll out the cloud-based evolution of the current Directgov portal. In the future, it will serve as the single point of entry to all government services for both consumers and businesses.

“We are excited that we have been chosen to be the helpdesk for GOV.UK. Anyone who submits an enquiry about the new service will have it processed through Zendesk,” Price said.

“We were able to get them up and running within a couple of days. They are already handling enquires through the system. And that’s the beauty of the cloud. In order to get a helpdesk running, in the past, corporations and government agencies had to contract a major systems integrator, go through months of contract negotiations, put their requirements in, wait for twelve months, and then everybody hated what was delivered anyway. And it would cost a million pounds.

“Now, you can spend a lot less money and have it up and running overnight. This is what is great about what GDS are doing. They are engaging smaller companies, using newer technologies.

More gain

“The cost of ownership with Zendesk is a lot lower because there’s no build cost, and no running cost. It is also very quick to train on. A good helpdesk can save organisations money, in this case – the taxpayers’ money.

“Firstly, you can put information that helps users help themselves. It’s a win-win situation if someone can have their question answered without having to submit a ticket. They resolve the issue, and it saves time on the other end too.

“Zendesk provides capabilities that make organisations handle things a lot quicker. Getting tickets to the right place, handling escalations, making sure things don’t get lost, providing responses to common questions through an automated, but personalised system. We typically find the level of productivity of an organisation improves by at least 10-20 percent once they start using our platform.”

Zendesk has also recently added support for 10 new languages to its front-end, including Chinese, Japanese, German, Spanish and Italian. “Now, people who don’t speak English as their first language can feel more comfortable with the software,” said Price. “Also, it is a lot cheaper to recruit native speakers rather than bilingual speakers.”

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