Forums/Documentation/Zendesk basics

Streamlining your support workflow

Anton de Young
posted this on April 06, 2011 17:14

Managing your customers’ support issues and your ticket workflow requires tools that help you to create as many process efficiencies as possible. The best way to understand how Zendesk makes this possible is to look at how a typical ticket workflow can be streamlined with the tools that Zendesk provides.

Ticket handling shortcuts

It's common to get support requests for issues that affect more than one person and can be answered with a single, standard response. To do this in Zendesk, you use macros to create the standard responses and they are then manually applied to tickets by agents. Macros can also be used to update tickets (for any number of reasons) without also notifying the requester. For example, you can use macros to can change the agent or group assignment.

Here's an example of a macro that sends an email notification to the requester in response to an issue that affects many people in an organization:

This macro adds a public comment to the ticket (which the requester receives in email), sets the status to solved, and adds a relevant tag (well discuss tags shortly). You could extend this macro to also set the ticket type to incident and add a link to the original problem ticket. Using a macro in this situation is much quicker than manually responding to everyone who is affected.

In the text of the comment above, you may have noticed the text contained in the double curly brackets. These are called placeholders and their purpose is to stand in for data that will be automatically inserted into the email notification. Without placeholders it would be impossible to create automatic notifications. You'd have to manually enter this data for each ticket. For more information about placeholders and how they are used, see Using placeholders.

Macros are also used as shortcuts to streamline repetitive ticket handling tasks. Here's an example of a macro that is used by the support staff and does not notify the requester:

The Take it! macro assigns the ticket that an agent is currently viewing to that agent and the agents group. You can view the Take it! macro to see this for yourself.

To see the Take it! macro

  1. Click the Manage icon () in the sidebar, then select Macros.
    Zendesk Classic: The Take it! macro is not available in Zendesk Classic.
  2. Click the Edit link beside the Take it! macro to see all the actions contained in the macro.

Macros are applied to tickets in ticket editing mode by clicking Apply Macro and selecting one from the list of active macros.

You can also apply macros to one or more tickets displayed in a view.

For more information about creating and using macros, see Creating ticket handling shortcuts with macros in the Zendesk Agent Guide.

Triggering actions when tickets are created or updated

When a ticket is created or updated, you can immediately and automatically respond by modifying ticket properties (opening the ticket and assigning an agent, for example) and sending email notifications to the requester (confirming that their request has been received and that a ticket has been created, for example). The mechanism that enables this is called a trigger.

Using triggers, you can also automatically assign a ticket to a specific support agent or support group based on the email domain of the ticket requester or keywords contained in the request message. Those are just a few examples; triggers can be used in many ways.

A trigger is a combination of conditions and actions. Conditions define the criteria that, if true, trigger the actions. In other words, if all these things about the ticket are true then make these changes and, optionally, notify either the customer or the support staff. Here's an example of one of the triggers included in Zendesk:

You can view the Notify requester of received request trigger to see this for yourself.

To view the Notify requester of received request trigger

  1. Click the Manage icon () in the sidebar, then select Triggers.
    Zendesk Classic: Select the Manage menu, then select Triggers and mail notifications.
  2. Click the Edit link beside the Notify requester of received request trigger to see all the conditions.

The conditions in this trigger require that the ticket is newly created and that the status is not solved (a new ticket with no further action taken on it). If those two conditions are true, the action sends an email notification to the requester informing them that the request has been received and is now a ticket (and they are provided with the ticket ID and URL). You can modify the email message as you like and, if you set up your Zendesk to only provide support via email, you can also remove the ticket URL. You can create copies of the default Zendesk triggers or create new triggers as needed.

It's important to note that as new tickets are created or existing tickets are updated, Zendesk automatically runs through all of your triggers (from first to last) checking to see if each trigger's criteria are met. Whenever the ticket matches the conditions, the trigger is fired. This means that what happens in one trigger may affect what happens in other triggers.

For more information about creating and using triggers, see Streamlining workflow with ticket updates and triggers.

Using time to streamline workflow

While triggers enable you to automatically act on tickets when they are created or updated, you can also modify tickets and send email notifications based on events in time. For example, you may want agent groups to be alerted if tickets remain unassigned after 24 hours. To do this in Zendesk, you use automations.

Automations, like triggers, contain conditions and actions, as shown here:

You can view the Close ticket 4 days after status is set to solved automation to see this for yourself.

To view the Close ticket 4 days after status is set to solved automation

  1. Click the Manage icon () in the sidebar, then select Automations.
    Zendesk Classic: Select the Manage menu, then select Automations.
  2. Click the Edit link beside the Close ticket 4 days after status is set to solved automation to see all the conditions.

As the conditions indicate, this automation runs on all tickets that have been set to solved for more than 96 hours. The action changes the status from solved to closed. If you're curious, 4 days (96 hours) is a best practice for the minimum amount of time a ticket should remain in the solved state before it is closed.

Unlike triggers, which are based on ticket events and run immediately after tickets are created or updated, automations only run once every hour and only on tickets that have been created or updated in the last 28 days.

For more information about using automations, see Streamlining workflow with time-based events and automations.

Using ticket events to notify external targets

There may be times when you want to notify an external target about a new ticket or an important state change to a ticket (for example, send an email or text message when a high priority ticket has not been resolved after a specified amount of time). By setting up external targets you can communicate with many cloud-based applications and services (such as Twitter and Twilio) as well as HTTP and email.

Once you've defined a target you can add it to automations and triggers.

To see a complete list of the types of targets you can create

  1. Click the Manage icon () in the sidebar, then select Extensions.
    Zendesk Classic: Select the Settings menu, then select Extensions.
  2. Click the Target tab.
  3. Click the Add target link.

For more information about creating and using targets, see Notifying external targets.

Using tags to manage workflow

To help you categorize, act on, or search for tickets and forum articles, you can add tags. Tags can be added to tickets automatically based on the words in the request, manually by agents, or via triggers, automations, and macros. Once added, you can create views by tags, search for tags and the tickets in which they are included, and use tags in your triggers, automations, and macros.

Tags are helpful throughout the entire support workflow, but are especially so for the following support tasks:
  • Locating answers to support requests that have already been answered. Agents can search for tickets by tags.
  • Creating ticket reports using tags. This provides you with a way to monitor hot issues and trends, for example.
  • Creating custom workflows. Perhaps you want to add a custom field to your support request form and then act on that data. Custom fields contain tags that can then be added to triggers to, for example, route a request for a specific product to a specific support group or agent.

For more information about all the uses of tags, see Using tags.

 

Comments

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Mary Kay Soto
iassoftware

We  needed a way to request work from someone else in the company without changing the original Assignee of the ticket and we want to send them an email letting them know help is needed.  From a previous post, I understand that a custom field using a dropdown cannot reference the agent list on the system and that we would have to do this manually.  So I've created a trigger with an email target.  Since work can be requested from various people within the company, do I need to create a separate trigger with an email target for each person on the list. I don't see an "if" the name is list then send to this email option in the trigger.  Thanks Mary Kay

December 05, 2013 08:20
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Emily
Zendesk

Hi Mary, 

Targets cannot email more than one person at a time, so you will definitely need to create a separate email target for each person you'd like to notify. You can notify more than one target in a single trigger, but it's up to your work flow to decide if you want to notify all targets in every circumstance. If you have different targets for different circumstances, multiple triggers might be more useful. 

December 05, 2013 11:07