Cloud software speeds Web publishing at Victoria University

Melbourne institution adopts Zendesk to manage requests from 1500 staff

Credit: Victoria University

Credit: Victoria University

Victoria University has sped up its ability to add and update digital content for the Web by replacing an email-based support system with cloud-based customer service software.

The Melbourne-based tertiary institution looked for software to help its 12-person staff manage the Web content requests that are regularly submitted by 1500 to 2000 staff across the university, according to Eleanor Tan, manager of Web UX and communications.

The team deals with about 120 such requests per month, including news items, event announcements and course information updates, she said. Some larger projects, such as developing a new microsite, can take several days to complete, she said.

The amount of work has increased over time as Victoria University has transitioned to digital, Tan told Computerworld Australia

“Everything is moving to digital and we have stopped producing a lot of our paper-based publications and course guides. A lot of things are now going online, so it has increased the number of requests that we have.”

However, the university’s old, email-based method of taking requests was not holding up to the task, said Tan.

“We had such a horrible system,” she said. “We received everything by email and the same email would be sent to about eight to 10 people. We’d have to yell across the room, ‘Who’s [working] on this?’”

“It was quite antiquated.”

The university officially implemented Zendesk in January, following a two-month trial of the customer service software. Tan already had experience with Zendesk, having introduced it at the AFL in a previous job, and did not consider any alternative software, she said.

Read more: Australian businesses invest $3.19 billion in software Q1 2014: ABS

A major advantage of using the software compared to the previous email system is that staff can now monitor how many requests are coming in and track how long it is taking to respond to them, Tan said.

“That was something that I found really difficult in the past. If something was sitting there for five days and hadn’t been responded to, I couldn’t tell.”

Importantly, the experience for the end users making the requests is largely unchanged — they still submit requests by email, but now the software handles them in the backend, she said.

“They don’t need to know that we’re using this new system at all,” Tan said. “I really didn’t want to have to change people’s behaviour. People don’t like change, especially at the university.”

Read more: In brief: Zendesk seeks room to grow

Since introducing the software, the Web content team has reported “feeling much more efficient because they know exactly what they’re doing now,” Tan said.

In addition, the software has injected some healthy competition into the staff because it presents a leader board showing who has completed the most tasks, she said.

While the experience has been largely positive, Tan said the Zendesk software’s presentation of emails could be improved.

“Sometimes when we receive a request, it comes in HTML format but the formatting gets stripped out by default. Sometimes that’s a little bit difficult to manage.”

Zendesk has doubled its customers in Australia and New Zealand in the past year and now has nearly 3000 local customers, the vendor reported last week. In addition to Victoria University, other customers here include Crazy Domains, Lonely Planet, LJ Hooker, the REA Group, Tourism Australia, Forever New, Cotton On and Kwik Kopy.

Zendesk opened a development centre in Melbourne in September 2012.

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of a dystopian novel about surveillance. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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