Forums/Documentation/Getting Started Guide (Zendesk Classic)

Lesson 3: Customizing the customer experience (Classic)

Matthew Latkiewicz
posted this on April 19, 2011 16:37

This lesson is for Zendesk Classic. If you are using the new version of Zendesk, see Customizing your Web portal.

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 support@mondocam.com rather than requiring support@mondocam.zendesk.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.

STEP 1

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.)

STEP 2

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:

  1. The menu bar is different.
  2. 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 revert identity 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.

So let’s set it up so that your customers write to and receive emails from simply: support@yourcompany.com. (In our case, that will be support@mondocameras.com.)

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: support@yourcompany.com; help@yourcompany.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: support@yourcompany.com), simply set it up to forward any mail it receives to your default Zendesk address (support@youraccount.zendesk.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 support@youraccount.zendesk.com 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 support@mondocam.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.

We explain how to set up this SPF record in our support forums: https://support.zendesk.com/entries/20519931-using-an-external-email-domain. It is a bit technical -- if you have someone who manages your web site, they would be the ones to talk to about this -- but the place you registered your domain name should have some good documentation on how to do it as well.

Using Your Own Domain Name

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).

Step 1

There are two ways to do this - the quick way and the more involved.  

The 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 (support@zendesk.com). Note this only works for paid Plus+ or Enterprise accounts.

The Quick

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.

Step 2

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).

Step 2

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.

Summary

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.

Next Lesson: Organizing your support tickets with Queues/Views →

 

Comments

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Dan Aronson
safemart
When I setup my company's support email address to forward to support@companyname.zendesk.com there is a problem: The ticket is associated with the account that has my company's support email address. How do I setup forwarding so that the ticket is associated with the initiating user's email address? Expected outcome: User Emails Company Email > Forward from Company Email to Zendesk > Ticket Created in User's Account or Welcome Email sent to User to create account > Rely to User from Zendesk displaying support@companyname.zendesk.com Experienced outcome: User Emails Company Email > Forward from Company Email to Zendesk > Ticket Created in Company's Email Account > Rely to User from Zendesk displaying Company's Email
September 02, 2011 11:09
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

Hey there Dan - Zendesk should definitely be associating the ticket with the original sender (as opposed to the forwarding address).  To clarify: in the scenario you describe, who is the requester on the ticket?  And is the original sender included at all in the ticket meta-data (i.e. does your Zendesk capture their name or email any where)?

September 02, 2011 11:26
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Dan Aronson
safemart
You are correct. I was sending the initiating e-mail from my admin account email address. Bad testing case on my part. Expected Outcome = Experienced Outcome. Thanks!
September 02, 2011 11:37
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

Ah! Cool :-) Let us know if anything else goes wacky.

September 02, 2011 11:43
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VerveMail
vervemail
While setting this up, inside of Email Channel, adding my support@company email - I get the following error: Personalized replies cannot be enabled as your mail server does not recognize notifications-support@[company].com
September 06, 2011 14:23
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Mumshad Ali
edevtech
Any example of how to customize the Email template ? and from where to send emails
September 07, 2011 06:19
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

Ah yes, @VerveMail - the old notifications- issue.  If you have personalized reply addresses enabled AND a non zendesk reply address, you will need to whitelist the non-zendesk reply address prefixed with "notifications-" in your mail server (e.g. notifications-support@yourcompany.com).  

We use google apps for our mail server here and there are some docs about it here: http://www.google.com/support/a/bin/answer.py?answer=60751  Your mail server should have similar documentation on how to whitelist a particular address.

September 07, 2011 10:01
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

@Mumshad Ali, definitely.  Check out our official doc on customizing the Email template here: https://support.zendesk.com/entries/20378368-customizing-your-email....  

As for the second part, Would you clarify what you mean by "from where to send emails"?  I'm not sure I understand.

September 07, 2011 10:04
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Razvan Neagu
komotion

Quick Tip for checking out customer view - use different browsers.

In terms of workflow what I've been doing with good results is to use two windows side-by-side. One where I am logged in as an admin, the other where I am not. The trick is to use DIFFERENT BROWSERS APPS (e.g. Google Chrome for one and Mozilla Firefox for the other). Then I can go back-and forth between admin view and user view as I set things up to ensure I am getting the results I want.

October 03, 2011 17:00
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

Great Tip @Razvan!  I do that too :-)

October 04, 2011 10:01
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Mumshad Ali
edevtech

I tried the same as well to use different browsers n to see what they (end users) can see

October 04, 2011 10:07
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Razvan Neagu
komotion

Quick Tip to setting up email forwarding when using Google Apps email (Gmail for your own domain).

Google requires the email forward to go to a verified email address. It took me a while to figure out why I was not getting the verification email into Zendesk, which contains the verification link. Because of how the Google verification email is set up (something to do with not having a regular reply address) it would go into Zendesk's blocked (or deleted emails, don't remember the actual name). If you do not see the verification email in your regular ticket view, look for a view showing those blacklisted emails (identified in red) - that is where you will see the verification email! Maybe @Matthew can give better details...

October 04, 2011 14:45
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Razvan Neagu
komotion

...I just checked; for above tip, the verification emails are dumped into "suspended tickets" category.

October 04, 2011 15:01
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

Ah, good point @Razvan - at this point, it looks like checking your suspended tickets folder (as you say) is the best way to address this: https://support.zendesk.com/entries/195342-gmail-forwarding-verify-....  I will also update this doc here to mention this.  Thanks for the tip!

October 05, 2011 11:52
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Peter Stone

How do I set up a CNAME to my main website?

As I created a website just to house my zendesk.

eg. site.com

October 06, 2011 03:56
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Peter Stone

When trying to set a return mail address support@stoneyhelp.com I am getting this error message...

Failed to update email settings

  • Personalized replies cannot be enabled as your mail server does not recognize 

notifications-support@stoneyhelp.com

please help!

October 06, 2011 04:27
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

Hey there Peter - 

You set up CNAME records at your registrar - i.e. go daddy or network solutions or wherever you registered your domain name.  Each one is slightly different, but they should have very clear instructions about how to do it.  For general instructions, check out: https://support.zendesk.com/entries/13976-mapping-a-host-name-of-yo...

As for the error message you are getting - you need to create a new user in your email service (i.e. gmail or your own mail server) with the email "notifications-support@stoneyhelp.com".  For an explanation of this, check out: https://support.zendesk.com/entries/120269-personalized-reply-addre...

All that make sense?

October 06, 2011 09:06
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UNSW
unswf

Hi - I have set up forwarding for our support email (support@ourcompany.com) to our zendesk support email (support@ourcompany.zendesk.com) - but all notification emails are going ONLY  to our support email  (support@ourcompany.com) - NOT to the actual requestor / end-user.  

The requestor on the ticket is being created as the support email (support@ourcompany.com) - not the end-user...

I am getting no error messages - just the notification emails all being delivered only back to our support email account.  I know I can manually change the requestor on the ticket, but this is not a solution...

Any assistance greatly appreciated!

November 01, 2011 23:53
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UNSW
unswf

Solved by Zendesk support (thankyou!)  Replaced the [Forward] rule with a [Redirect] rule - works just fine!

November 02, 2011 06:53
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

Good to hear Crispin :-)

November 02, 2011 11:27
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Niki Jacob

Hey confused here, I do have the CNAME working fine, but the SP isnt. If I email support@mydomain.com, the zendesk gets the email, but the client never receives a email stating Zendesk received it. I as the AGENT get a email stating a new ticket came in as well. So the only one not receiving anything is the client.

November 03, 2011 14:38
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Jill Kaselitz
Zendesk

@Niki I'm going to create a ticket on your behalf so that we can look into this for you. You'll receive an email from us shortly.

November 03, 2011 14:47
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Laura

I need assistance customizing our support portal. Right now we have static text that contains a link to login (the login link at the top right of the screen is really small and hard to read). However, if the user is already logged in, this static text is still present. Is there a way to customize text based on whether or not a user is logged in or not?

November 23, 2011 08:37
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Jill Kaselitz
Zendesk

Hi Laura,

When an agent or user is logged into your portal, 'logout' should be displayed in the top right corner. If you are not seeing this option, please send us an email to support@zendesk.com so that we can look into this for you. If you are looking to change how 'login/logout' appears on your portal, this is possible via CSS

November 23, 2011 10:44
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Bill
genpro

Quick question, I've successfully setup support@MyCo.com e-Mail and the http://support.MyCo.com CNAME record.  All is working, however, one issue - once Zendesk loads the URL in the browser resets to http://MyCo.zendesk.com. When I've logged into Zendesk for other companies there MyCo url is preserved.  My question is do I need to manage this in custom css or is there a setting that I'm missing.  Everything works, it just not retain our companies domain name once redirected to zendesk.com.  Thanks in advance for your help.

December 16, 2011 14:38
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Joy Carletti
Zendesk

Hi Bill,

I took a quick look at your setup.  It looks like the issue is that you have enabled SSL while using a custom domain. You have this ability on the plan type that you are on, but Zendesk needs to host your SSL certificate.  Using regular SSL will enforce the use of an https:// myco.zendesk.com address; if we host your SSL certificate, you can have SSL encryption along with your custom domain. You can upload your certificate at Security > Settings > SSL, as well as find additional info there.  If you have further questions, feel free to submit a support ticket!

December 16, 2011 15:05
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Bill
genpro

Joy,

That's makes complete sense, should have figured that one out myself.  Thanks for the rapid response, I'll take care of uploading a SSL cert.  Thank you.

December 16, 2011 15:14
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Jens Fischer
pokermania

how can i change the link texts on the login page?
it says "Sign up to submit and track your requests online »" now, but i want it to say something different.  

January 17, 2012 00:19
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Max McCal
Product Manager

Hi, Jens -  While there is no GUI based way to change this text, you can change it via a Global Javascript widget that uses some JQuery to alter the text. Here is such an example of code for this, which uses the html and css specifiers to select the anchor and set its text. Be sure to set the widget to be available to everyone:

$j( function(){ 
$j('.content_green>p>a.emphasized').text('NEW TEXT HERE'); 
});
January 19, 2012 11:54
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Amanda Malis
planetshoes

I have set up our info@XXX email account to forward to our zendesk. It is correctly making the person who sent the email the requester, but it is adding our info@XXX email address as a CC on the ticket. Is there a way to avoid this?

February 25, 2012 13:25
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Doug Craver
mobiledefense

I work with our support team which uses Zendesk but not in support so I don't have a user account. But I wanted to know if it is possible to customize our support home page, i.e. font size, bold, ital, paragraphs. If I give our lead support tech HTML can she just drop it in?

April 02, 2012 08:54
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Justin Seymour
Zendesk

@Doug You can customize the help desk using CSS, HTML and a bit of Java. Lots of great documentation here: https://support.zendesk.com/forums/20146877-css-cookbook

April 02, 2012 11:38
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Doug Craver
mobiledefense

Justin, can we drop HTML into the customizable copy at the top of the page right below main navigation? I don't want to get into CSS or Java is we don't have to.

April 02, 2012 11:55
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Justin Seymour
Zendesk

Are you talking about the Welcome text area? That field will absolutely support custom HTML. 

April 04, 2012 09:21
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Doug Craver
mobiledefense

 Justin, thanks for the reply. Yes that is the area. And yes, I figured that out on my own. Under the editing box you might want to put that it supports limited HTML or whatever they call basic HTML.

April 04, 2012 12:23
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Dave Patel

How can I actually remove a menu element such as "Check your existing requests" tab. I want to make our email only but still use the forum as an FAQ. Furthermore, I would like to give users the ability to submit a request from here so I would not want the menu removed altogether. I can't seem to find a place that tell me how to manipulate the html elements to achieve this. Similarly, I would like to remove the login/sign up options on the top-right. I've noticed that https://zoosk.zendesk.com/home was able to do this.

May 30, 2012 17:27
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Matthew Latkiewicz
Zendesk

HI Dave, you can manipulate those elements by adding some javascript to a global javascript widget (go to Settings > Extensions and click add widget).   There is a discussion about hiding some tabs over here: https://support.zendesk.com/entries/70083-hiding-report-tab-using-j... - you can use a lot of the same techniques.

Here is the basic code you need: http://www.pastie.org/663316

Let me know if you run into any issues.

May 31, 2012 09:35
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Dave Dyson
Zendesk

Hi Dave -

There's actually an article on our forums on how to set up an email-only help desk: https://support.zendesk.com/entries/20032793-setting-up-an-email-on...The "Hiding end-user access links in the Web portal" section towards the bottom shows you how to hide elements using CSS (which can be simpler than using Javascript).

If you don't want users to be able to log in, but you want them to be able to submit tickets via a web form, our Feedback Tab feature is probably the best way to do this (and the article I mentioned also shows you how to set that up). 

May 31, 2012 11:08
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Dave Dyson
Zendesk

Hi Dave -

There's actually an article on our forums on how to set up an email-only help desk: https://support.zendesk.com/entries/20032793-setting-up-an-email-on...The "Hiding end-user access links in the Web portal" section towards the bottom shows you how to hide elements using CSS (which can be simpler than using Javascript).

If you don't want users to be able to log in, but you want them to be able to submit tickets via a web form, our Feedback Tab feature is probably the best way to do this (and the article I mentioned also shows you how to set that up). 

May 31, 2012 11:08
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Dave Patel

Thanks a lot guys, appreciate the quick feedback.

I actually ended up strictly manipulating the CSS widget by using the following:

/* Hide the footer and remove extra space */
#footer {
visibility: hidden;
display:none;
}

/* Hide request status from menu */
#green .tab_requests {
display: none;
}

/* Hide sign-up/login/cookie links */
div#top-right {
display:none;
}

The only challenge I have left now is to find out what the elements are referred to for the mobile view. Zendesk has a nifty mobile view that automatically kicks in and is much more user-friendly than viewing it in classic mode on a mobile device. However, hiding these elements does not carry over there.

Also, does anyone have any suggestions for what specs I need to have my logo in? It renders very blurry in the non-classic mobile view.

May 31, 2012 12:04