So far, we’ve been working on the web portal home page you see when you log in to Zendesk. What do your customers or colleagues see when they visit the site?
You’ve probably seen it already if you have logged out and then come back to your Zendesk. It looks similar to the home page you see when you log in, but optimized for your customer. The navigation is different and anything that is marked for logged in agents and admins is hidden.
The important concept here is that your web portal home page serves both your support team and your customers. Keep that in mind as you are pinning topics to your homepage, writing your introductory text and building out your forums. It is a best practice to run through your own support experience from the customer perspective to ensure it offers the kind of support you want to offer.
In this lesson, we are going to review our web portal home page as our customers see it and adjust the content to provide the optimal experience. We will also customize the URL of our Zendesk support site so it can match your business URL. It is important that the support experience you provide your customers feels integrated with the rest of your customer experience. The URL is part of that. Additionally, we will also remove the “.zendesk” from the support email address for both incoming and outgoing messages so that your customers can send email directly to firstname.lastname@example.org rather than requiring email@example.com.
Assuming a Customer Perspective
In order to see what your customers see on the home page, you can simply log out - but this gets tedious over time. You don’t want to keep logging out and logging back in just to see what your customer sees while you’re working on your support page. A better, quicker way to work on your web portal is to assume the identity of a customer while still logged in to your Zendesk.
In Zendesk, you can assume the identity of any user of your support system. This means experiencing your help desk from their perspective. This can be helpful to guarantee that the system looks and behaves as you want it to for each person.
Click on the Manage tab in the top navigation and choose People. If you just created your account you don’t have many users yet, but everyone that has interacted with your help desk so far is in here. (We’ll go over the People section in more detail in Lesson 5).
If you are the person who created the account, you should see yourself in the list as Owner. There is also the test user with the email address from which we sent in a ticket in Lesson 1. (You might also have Kelly H in there, who is a Zendesk employee who has sent you a ticket to help you get started.)
To assume a user, you can either hover over their name in the user list and click the assume link that appears; or you can click the assume an anonymous user link the right column. An anonymous user is one who comes to your web portal and does not log in.
Tip: Once a customer sends in a support ticket, they have the option to create a password for themselves and log in. This will give them access to their support history -- every ticket they sent in -- as well as allow them to participate in your forums.
Let’s review the website from an anonymous user. Click the link the right column.
This drops you back on to your home page - it looks similar to what we were looking at earlier in the lesson, but notice the small differences:
The menu bar is different.
You do not see the "Agents Only Forum"
The menu bar has some new items. Your customers can visit your forums, but instead of having the Manage and Settings tab, they have tabs for submitting new support tickets and for checking support tickets they have submitted in the past.
As for the rest of the page, it has the forum directory we were working on in the last lesson, including our Knowledge Base with our new product line forum. It does not, however, have the “Agents Only” forum. As we read in the “For Your Eyes” only topic in the last lesson, you can create forums and restrict access to them, allowing only your support agents to see the topics within them.
The customer web portal home page does show the other sample forums that Zendesk starts us off with. While Zendesk sets you up with a number of items and tools to help you get started, it’s best practice to remove items you aren’t using once you get the hang of things. This will make your Zendesk much easier to use for your agents; they will not have to wade through items irrelevant to them.
Now that we’ve started building out and organizing our knowledge base, let’s clear out content we aren’t using. Look through the forums that Zendesk starts you with and decide if you want to use any of them. It’s not a big deal if you remove them and decide to add them back in later. You saw how simple it was to add a new forum earlier. You can always add forums later.
For our example, let’s keep “Announcements”. We sometimes have announcements about new products or news updates that we want to share.
To remove the unused forums, we need to switch back to our administrator profile. To do so, click the revertidentity link in the upper right. This will bring you back to the People page.
Configuring the Customer Web Portal Home Page
Removing Unused Forums
Back in the admin view, let’s remove the forums we aren’t going to use. To do so, click on the Forum tab. Once there, click on one of the forums you are going to remove -- “Community Help” for instance. Now click the green edit link in the upper right of the main column. At the bottom of the page, there is a delete link.
Click that and confirm your choice when the alert pops up.
Done! Easy. Now repeat those steps to remove other forums you don’t plan on using. For this example, we are going to keep the “Announcements” forum and the “Agents Only” forum. We want to keep some documentation private to our internal staff. We don’t like the name “Agents Only” however. Let’s call it “Internal Documentation”. To make that change click the title of the forum and click the edit link as you did in the previous steps. Rather than delete the forum, however, just change the title.
Before you click the Update button, notice the the radio button at the bottom of the form that sets the permissions for who can view topics in this forum.
“Agents only”. That’s how you restrict your forums and make them invisible to your customers. Leave that as is and click the update button.
Adding The Introductory Text Back In
Let’s make one more change to the customer web portal home page - add back the Introductory Text we removed in the previous lesson. Now that we’ve seen what the customer sees when they visit our web portal, it makes sense to have some text that welcomes and orients them to the site.
To show that text, go to Settings > Channels and then click the edit link next to the Web Portal section. Click the Show box in the Introductory text on portal home page section (the first item). Click the Save button at the bottom of the page; and then check to make sure it is there by clicking the Home tab in the menu bar.
There it is! Feel free to edit this however you like, keeping in mind that the introductory text is visible to your customers. To make edits, click the green edit link in the upper right. You can of course keep the default text that Zendesk starts you off with, a generic welcome message.
Once you have the text as you want it, check to see how everything looks by following the steps earlier in the lesson and assuming an anonymous user.
Looking good, but there are two pieces that might confuse our customers - the Zendesk support email address in the introductory text and the Zendesk in the URL. As we are making the web portal fit more and more with our company, let’s also extend that to email address our customers use to send in support requests, and the URL they visit.
Using Your Organization’s Email Address and URL
Using your own email domain with your Zendesk is easy to do and well worth it. Customers respond better when they see that their question or problem is being handled directly by the company. While you could use the default support address that Zendesk provides you upon sign up, it can sometimes be confusing to a customer when they see another company in the address. “Am I writing to the right company?” they may wonder.
Part of this happens on your end with your email server (whether it’s Google Apps, an MS Exchange server, or some other system your organization uses for managing your email account). Because of that, we will give general instructions easy to follow for whoever administrates the organization’s email.
Receiving Support Emails at Your Organization’s Email Address
As we showed earlier, it’s quite simple to get mail into your Zendesk. Just send an email to the Zendesk support email you received upon signing up. Using your own support email address is almost as easy.
If you don’t have an email address that you use for support already, the first step is to create one. This is something usually handled by whoever administers the email for your organization. It can be whatever you want: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; info@... you get the idea.
Once you have created the address, or if you already have an email address you use for support (say: firstname.lastname@example.org), simply set it up to forward any mail it receives to your default Zendesk address (email@example.com). That’s it! The customer will email your address which will send it on to your Zendesk address behind the scenes. They’ve never see the Zendesk name in the email.
TIP: If you use gmail, or another email platform that requires you to verify the address to which you are forwarding, you may need to check your Zendesk suspended tickets view (under Views > Suspended Tickets) for the verification email.
IMPORTANT: if you currently have a support email that you receive support emails to, do not forward that address to your Zendesk until you are ready to start using Zendesk for your real support. Those emails will start coming into your Zendesk as soon as you set up the forward. Better to stick with the default Zendesk email address for testing and set up.
Email forwarding is generally a simple process based on a rule engine in your mail server. You say: when a mail comes into address a, send it to b.
Sending Support Emails from Your Organization’s Email Address
Now that you can receive emails using your own email address, let’s make sure that your customers also receive all your support responses from that same address (as opposed to receiving email from the firstname.lastname@example.org address). This is not entirely necessary - the whole communication back and forth will continue to work even if you don’t set this up - but it might be confusing for customers who email one address and then receive a response from a separate address.
To set this up, go to Settings > Channels > Email. Find the section labeled Default reply email address. Unless you’ve already changed it, you should see that default Zendesk support email address you got when you signed up.
Replace that with your own email address (we recommend using the same one you set up to forward mails into your Zendesk, e.g email@example.com in our example). Click Save changes at the bottom of the page.
Now, that will work in most cases, but to ensure your mail from Zendesk is delivered correctly, you should also set up what’s called an SPF record with your domain registrar (e.g Godaddy, Network Solutions, Hover, etc.). Essentially what’s happening here is that Zendesk is sending out mail which it is then saying is from your email address. This is fine, and the SPF record basically tells the computer that receive emails delivered this way that it’s all right for Zendesk to send mail under your email address. If you don’t do this, there is a chance your emails may be flagged as spam.
Ok! We’ve changed colors and logos, and set it up so that all email communication comes from your own domain name. Lastly, we’ll remove the “.zendesk” from your support site URL so you can use your own domain name; so, for instance, instead of typing mondocam.zendesk.com your support site would be at support.mondocam.com.
This is also a bit technical and will require more work at your domain registrar. Essentially, what we need to do is go to the place where your domain name is registered, create a special address, and say that whenever a person goes to that address, show them your Zendesk.
You will be creating a subdomain of your website, meaning something like: support.yourwebsite.com or help.yourwebsite.com, where ‘support’ and ‘help’ are the subdomains in that example (though, your subdomain can be whatever you want).
There are two ways to do this - the quick way and the more involved.
All Zendesk accounts work by default with something called SSL to increase the security of your help desk. Without getting into the technicalities of this, if you want to use your own domain name and use SSL, Zendesk will have to host your SSL certificate. If this is you, read our walk-through of how to do this here; or contact our support team (firstname.lastname@example.org). Note this only works for paid Plus+ or Enterprise accounts.
If you just want to get up and running with your own domain, you will need to disable SSL by going to Settings > Security > SSL.
SSL addressed, next. Create a CNAME record within your DNS settings. That’s a lot of acronyms we know, but your domain registrar or the person who manages your website should be able to set it up. We’ve written up an example with Godaddy in our support forums. The important part is that you point your subdomain (sometimes called a hostname or an alias) at your default Zendesk account address (which is the address in the URL when you first create your account).
Once this is created, you can go back to your Zendesk and to the Account page under the Settings tab. Click Branding on that page and enter the entire URL you created with your CNAME record in the Host mapping field. In the example above, that would be support.mondocameras.com
Click Save Tab and now your new support site is on your domain name. Congratulations!
TIP: It is very important that you create the CNAME record first because if that is not in place when you put your new URL in the Host Mapping box, you will be unable to reach your support site home page. If this does happen to you, you can always go to youraccount.zendesk.com/access/normal which will bring you to your home page no matter what happens.
In this lesson we went over how to make your Zendesk a part of your organizations overall look, feel, and identity by changing the logo and colors to match your branding; as well as using your name and hiding the Zendesk one so your customers don’t see the Zendesk name while interacting with your support.