Calvert County + Zendesk: Lowering costs, improving vaccine distribution

Maryland’s Calvert County improved communication across 13 departments and built a robust vaccine management program in a week with Zendesk.

Calvert County

“It took us only five business days to spin up a complete preregistration journey for vaccine recipients in Calvert County with Zendesk.”

Ruthie Buckler

Project Management Specialist at Calvert County

“Zendesk gives us the agility to adjust our preregistration journey for vaccine recipients, which is crucial as we continue to manage ongoing changes.”

Ruthie Buckler

Project Management Specialist at Calvert County

Products used

Industry

Government

Agents

375

Founded

1654

13

Departments using Zendesk

5 days

Vaccine program implementation

86.7%

Reduction in call volume

Founded in 1654, Calvert County, Maryland, is one of the oldest counties in the United States. While Calvert County prides itself on its rich historic background, trailblazers within the county government are paving the way to the future with a modern, innovative example of how local agencies can leverage technology to save lives.

When Ruthie Buckler, Calvert County’s project management specialist, was tasked with creating a COVID-19 vaccine registration system, she immediately turned to her partners at Zendesk to get a fully functional, streamlined process up and running within a week.

“It took us only five business days to spin up a complete preregistration journey for vaccine recipients in Calvert County with Zendesk,” Buckler said. “ Since launching, we’ve been able to register over 31,000 constituents which represents over 34% of the county’s total population, ensuring the local Health Department receives all the information they need to help protect our community and keep vaccine distribution running smoothly.”

By implementing a simple form and comprehensive help center, phone calls regarding the COVID-19 vaccine have decreased from 3,000 daily calls to 400. Constituents are able to receive the answers they need immediately via self-service solutions. And by improving its workflow, the county saves on headcount and keeps agent burnout at bay.

“Zendesk’s Support platform gives us the agility to adjust our preregistration journey for vaccine recipients, which is crucial as we continue to manage ongoing changes,” Buckler said.

Setting the stage for a centralized system

In 2018, Calvert County created the Department of Communications and Media Relations with the goal of centralizing interdepartmental communication. Part of the department’s mission was to identify a task management or workflow tool that could be implemented across departments to improve communication and operational efficiency.

“When we were given the mission of centralizing task management, we were looking for a solution that could be piloted within the Communications Department and easily leveraged across the entire county,” Buckler said.

Prior to implementing Zendesk, the Department of Communications and Media Relations relied on Excel spreadsheets to track incoming requests. That tool proved woefully inadequate to the task, however. Swamped with requests from the county’s 13 other agencies, the new department saw action items fall through the cracks.

Meanwhile, without a centralized platform to track requests, departments were unable to work cross-functionally or quantify data.

“We needed a tool that could track key metrics like ticket volume and first-response rate,” Buckler said. “Many departments would ask for additional headcount or money, but without a way to prove why they needed the resources, it became extremely difficult to spend money efficiently and operate effectively.”

Calvert County also needed a tool to centralize constituent interactions regardless of origin, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, phone, or email. By tracking all communications in one place, departments could employ a data-driven strategy to address constituent frustrations.

“The inability to report on what constituents were writing to us about meant we were approaching the commissioners with anecdotal feedback rather than actual hard data,” Buckler said. “We wanted to ensure that we were using data to provide the commissioners with the big picture on critical areas of improvement.”

To address these issues, the department began vetting support tools, ultimately choosing to partner with Zendesk.

Improving operational efficiency across the department

With Zendesk in place, the team could quickly view cross-departmental due dates, priorities, and notes from colleagues regarding specific tickets.

The team also saw improved agent productivity and focus. Agents are now able to get constituents’ responses more quickly and communicate a consistent message to the media when emergencies arise.

“Zendesk helped all departments be accountable for their asks,” Buckler said. “Today, key information isn’t lost in someone’s inbox. We’re able to cover for colleagues who are out of the office and ultimately keep teams accountable for their workloads.”

The team is now auditing the rest of its technology stack to see what else the county can sunset by relying on Zendesk. By streamlining their technology services, Calvert County stands to save thousands of dollars a year and provide a centralized repository of work requests.

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