Gov.uk goes social to serve its customers
A cloud-based customer support system that integrates with social media has been selected by gov.uk, the betaversion of the new single government services portal.
The Zendesk system - chosen by mini-competition against four other suppliers - will alert the gov.uk team in the Government Digital Service (GDS) to any inbound customer enquiries from any channel allowing them to prioritise queries and route them to relevant officials.
Customer interaction can be pulled in from different channels including web forms, email, Facebook and Twitter.
While most customer service solutions will take in social media searches or contacts, Zendesk says it is unusual in allowing a level of two-way integration, with the ability for example for the user agent to Tweet back a link which the citizen or customer can follow to reach the full response.
Payment for the cloud-based system is a flat fee for each civil servant who uses it, regardless of how many calls or contacts the system ends up handling. Might that not be rather a large number of contacts, if every Tweet complaining about the government is logged in?
In fact, the gov.uk team will limit volumes by homing in on social media discussion of specific keywords relating to current projects rather than broad terms like "government", Matt Price, Zendesk general manager for Europe, told UKAuthority.com.
The system will also be used to keep tabs on which parts of the gov.uk portal are working well, or are popular, and which parts are generating the most annoyance for people, by a system of keywords which will enable contacts to be tagged and management statistics generated such as how long it takes to handle contacts in a particular area. Citizens may also be asked how happy they were with the outcome of a contact.
Zendesk - a name emphasising the need for helpdesk staff to retain a stoic calm at all times, not always easy in government - was built from nothing by a Copenhagen start-up in 2007, but is already used by thousands of organisations worldwide, from online discount merchants Groupon to Angry Birds game creators Rovio.