Once in a while we like to raise a flag to highlight the work of the teams in GDS and show how we work. This week Operations Manager Albert Massa tells us how the GOV.UK Helpdesk team helps users get fast answers to their problems and queries on GOV.UK.
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Albert Massa, GOV.UK Operations Manager:
There are a number of ways that users can get in touch with us for GOV.UK. We answer most of the questions that you might have via the material that's on the support pages. If you still have an enquiry then you can come through the public contact form and that creates an email in our Zendesk system. You can assign various priorities to the issue, you can add comments, you can discuss the issue. When you have a final solution you would then let the original requester know and solve the case. We have a very rich source of feedback on exactly what users are saying.
Listening to users
Hopefully we're like a good friend who always has the right answers and we'll tell you that in very plain language. You have to be able to listen. You have to actually understand what is being asked and then I think you have to try in good faith to provide the best information that you can. GDS is refreshing in that there's much more openness about sharing what's going on with the product.
What kind of things do people ask?
There really is a huge range. Some of the enquiries that we get are very straightforward; it's people perhaps not being able to find a piece of content. A lot of the tools and transactions that we link to through GOV.UK, we don't directly control the content, but we do get plenty of feedback on those from our users. We would give the best information that we could and very often we'll either pass the details on to that department or we will share direct contact details with the user. You do get that very positive interaction where you've given them the information; they'll actually write back just to let you know, "Hey, thanks, I get it now, I really appreciate it."
How many enquiries do we get?
The user certainly has something better to do than to contact you. I think of our contact rate as being a very good indicator of what we need to improve. For every million visits that we receive to GOV.UK we get about 243 contacts. It has come down almost every week since launch. You're making the improvements that make it less necessary for people to actually contact us, that they can just get the information they need.