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Last updated: 3 Jun 2021

Zendesk and SmartSurvey feedback data pipeline

GOV.UK users can select a feedback question at the bottom of a GOV.UK webpage to provide feedback.

There are 2 feedback questions. If the feedback question is:

  • “Is this page useful?”, the feedback data goes to SmartSurvey
  • “Is there something wrong with this page?”, the feedback data goes to Zendesk

The Zendesk and SmartSurvey feedback data is routed to BigQuery so that GDS users can view and analyse that data.

The following content explains how this feedback data pipeline works.

Copy and cleanse the feedback data

SmartSurvey and Zendesk store their feedback data on their own servers.

As this feedback data is stored in two different servers, accessing and using the data is difficult.

The following process allows GDS users to access this data more easily.

Every day at approximately 8:10am, an AWS Lambda function runs a collection of Python scripts to copy the feedback data from the SmartSurvey and Zendesk servers to BigQuery.

These Python scripts are located in the govuk-user-journey-models GitHub repo on alphagov.

To get access to this repo, speak to the GDS Data Labs team on the #govuk-data-labs Slack channel.

Whilst the data is being copied to BigQuery, the Python scripts process and cleanse the data to mask and remove personally identifiable information (PII). This is a 2 step process.

  1. The scripts use regex matching to look for National Insurance, NHS and credit card numbers. The scripts then mask this PII. The regex patterns are as follows:

    [r'(?i)\b(?:[a-z]\W?){2}(?:\d\W?){6}\W?[a-z]\b', '[NI###]'],
    [r'(?i)nhs\s?(?:.{0,20})?(?:\d\D?){9}(?:\d)', '[NHS###]'],
    [r'(?:\d\D?){16}', '[CC###]']
  2. The scripts send the data to the Google Cloud Data Loss Prevention service (DLP). Google Cloud DLP looks for the following information types:


Google Cloud DLP then cleanses the data of these information types and returns the cleansed data to BigQuery.

Save the feedback data in BigQuery

When the data cleansing is complete, the data is saved into the GOV.UK Analytics project in BigQuery, govuk-bigquery-analytics.

Within this project:

  • the Zendesk data is stored in the zendeskdata data set
  • the SmartSurvey data is stored in the UISData data set

Within these data sets are the daily data tables. Each day’s data is created as a new data table with a YYYYMMDD format. For example, for 9 March 2021:

  • the SmartSurvey data table is UISData_20210309
  • the Zendesk data table is zendesk_20210309

To request permission to view or edit these data tables in BigQuery, speak to the GDS Data Labs team on the #govuk-data-labs Slack channel.

The Zendesk and SmartSurvey feedback data is now in BigQuery, ready for users to view and analyse.

See the documentation on presenting or extract feedback data from BigQuery for more information on the next step of the process.

Data field definitions

All data fields in BigQuery are text strings.

For more information on the BigQuery data field definitions, see the Google Analytics BigQuery Export schema documentation.