Forums/Documentation/Getting Started Guide (Zendesk Classic)

Lesson 5: Working with your whole team (Classic)

Matthew Latkiewicz
posted this on April 19, 2011 17:00

This lesson is for Zendesk Classic. If you are using the new version of Zendesk, see Assigning tickets to agents.

In the previous lesson, we went over how to organize your support tickets into Views so your team and you can focus on which tickets matter most at that moment. In this lesson, we’re going to start setting up your team. We will add an additional support agent to your help desk and show you how to organize your agents into groups.

Working with others on a support team presents many challenges (as anyone who’s tried to share one group email box will tell you). It can be difficult to know who has responded to what; or which issues should be handled by which person. The amount of time lost on trying to get your whole support team on the same page is a productivity killer.

Also, if your team is more than a few people, you probably have agents who specialize in a particular aspect of your business. When issues related to that aspect come in, you need a way to get it to that person; and they need a way to manage their personal queue.

To address these challenges, we’re going to look at how to assign tickets to people on your support team. Each ticket within Zendesk is assigned to particular agent - adding a layer of accountability to your support work. We’ll also see how you can use triggers to assign tickets to particular agents automatically based on the content of the ticket (i.e. all billing issues go to the agent who is the billing system expert). This will give us a chance to investigate the Zendesk web form, another way for your customers to get tickets into your Zendesk.

By the end of this lesson, you should be ready to start building up your team and assigning tickets to them; as well as creating the rules (or triggers) to automate how you assign tickets.

The Three Types of Users in Zendesk

To add an additional agent to your team, go the People page under the Manage menu. Before we add a new agent, let’s quickly look at the People page and the three different kinds of users in Zendesk.

The above is a standard set of users for new trial users. The owner of the account is listed at the bottom (presumably you) - you can see the small owner label underneath their image. The owner is by default an admin of your Zendesk. You can create additional admins. The role of the admin is to manage how the help desk works and be in control of many of the global help desk settings.

If you’ve been following through the previous lessons you’ll also see the two people from whom you received tickets -- the customer test account you created in Lesson 1 and Kelly H., the Zendesk employee whose ticket we discussed in Lesson 4.

These two accounts are called end-user accounts; this is the type of user your customer will be. End-users can create tickets and contribute to your community forums, but they cannot do or see any of the behind the scenes management. Note that while you can create new end-user accounts manually, in most cases they are created automatically simply by the person sending in a ticket. An end-user does not have to sign up, in other words, to work with your help desk - they can just send in a ticket and Zendesk will remember them.

ADVANCED TIP: you can change end-user access to your help desk -- for instance, require that new users create an account before they may submit a ticket -- in Settings > End-Users tab.

Lastly, (thought not represented above) are your agents. Agents are those who answer tickets and moderate forums - they run your support day-to-day. (Note that admins can by default do all the things that agents can do.) Most support teams are made up of multiple people. Let’s grow your team by adding our first additional support agent.

Adding and Working with More Support Agents

To add another agent, click Add user in the upper right of the main column. Fill out the form on the subsequent page, either with one of your colleague’s information; or, if you are working alone, or just want to test Zendesk out further before bringing others in, you may use another of your email addresses to create a test agent account.

TIP: When setting up Zendesk’s we often advise that the owner create a test end-user and a test agent account. It helps greatly with set up as you can quickly test out how each type of user experiences the site. When doing so use names like Johnny End-User and Mary Agent, so you can quickly recognize them in your emails.

To create the new agent:

  1. Fill out name
  2. Fill out Email
  3. Optionally, upload a Photo
  4. Add a note in the note field that reads “This is <your name>’s test agent account”

You can leave Detailed Information, Twitter account, and Organization alone for now.

When you get to roles, select Agent (End-user will be selected by default). A set of options opens up - these options allow you to finely control this particular person's access and role within your help desk.

Because we are just getting started, it makes the most sense to bring on another agent with pretty broad access - someone who can help us get our Zendesk set up. We can always restrict it later. To do so, leave all the settings as is, except switch Can moderate topics in forums from No to Yes.

Click the Create button and your new agent is created. Notice the Agent label below their image.

ADVANCED TIP: Need to import a lot of users all at once? Zendesk also offers a few ways to bulk import your users. This support article explains how.

The person you signed up will now receive a welcome email with a link that verifies their account and asks them to choose a password. If you are using one of your own email addresses to test this, go ahead and check your email and go through the verification process.

Creating Accountability within Your Support Team by Assigning Tickets

One common problem in support teams with multiple people is establishing who is in charge of which support requests. If it is everyone’s responsibility to answer a particular ticket, then it is effectively no one’s responsibility. In Zendesk, each ticket must eventually have someone assigned to it (or, as we say it in Zendesk: have an assignee). In the previous lessons all tickets were by default assigned to you, since you were the only agent in the system.

But now that you have another colleague working with you, the assignee must be set. Why does each ticket require an assignee? Because it clearly defines responsibility within your support workflow. Once a ticket is clearly assigned to a particular person, they are much more likely to address it, simply because no one else will. Assignment can always be passed off to another agent (if, for instance, another agent has a particular expertise that is better suited to the ticket), but at any given time it is clearly someone’s.

Let’s create a new ticket and assign it to the agent we just added to our help desk. Let’s assume we just received a call from one of our customers who is experiencing a billing issue; and that our new agent is the billing expert in our organization.

While on the phone with the customer, we open up a new ticket within Zendesk by clicking the New button in the upper right of the menu bar. They are a new customer and have not contacted our support before, so as in Lesson 4, click the add a new user link under the Requester text box.

Click the Create button; this will bring you back to your ticket with the customer details filled in. Next, we’ll fill out the ticket with the customer’s issue - say, they were double-charged on their credit card. The subject can read, “Double-charge on credit card”; in the description, you can make a note about what your call was about: “I just got off the phone with this customer who is seeing a double-charge on their credit card.”

Now, we want to assign it to the new agent we just added who is our support person in charge of billing issues. Notice that there is a new drop-down field on the ticket now: Assignee. Open it up and choose the new agent you just added. (You’ll see that you are also an option in the drop-down as you are also an agent.) Leave the status of the ticket to New (until the new agent opens it, it is still a new issue); change the type to Incident; and make the priority High. It should look something like the screenshot below:

Click the Submit button. A new ticket is created. What happens now?

First, Zendesk automatically notifies any agent who is assigned a ticket. It’s fine to assign a ticket to someone, but it’s no use if they don’t know it was assigned to them. To confirm that they were notified, go back into the ticket by either clicking the link in the notification that tells you the ticket was created or by using the Recent Tickets menu in the top menu bar.

Scroll down the the Events section of the ticket and click the All events and notifications link on the right side. We’ve looked at this in previous lessons - it logs every action taken on a ticket.

Here we see that the ticket was indeed assigned to our newly added agent; and that a notification was emailed to them (using a trigger).

The email your agent receives looks like this (if you are using your own email to go through this lesson, you’ll receive this email):

The agent can then either follow the link or respond directly from email to work on this support request further.

If you look at the Views menu in the upper right, you should now see a difference between My Unsolved Tickets and All Unsolved Tickets. My Unsolved Tickets collects all the unsolved tickets assigned to you; All Unsolved Tickets collects all the unsolved tickets period. Click into All Unsolved Tickets - if you remember the previous lesson, you’ll see that this view groups the tickets by assignee (see below).

Automatically Assigning Tickets to Agents

Now that we’ve assigned a ticket to another agent (and gone over the reasons for why each support request should have an assignee), let’s make the process more efficient by automating it. Remembering lesson 1, we are going to be building a trigger that automatically assigns billing related tickets to our new support agent. While there will always be a need for you to manually assign tickets to other agents, it’s a best practice to automate what you can within your help desk. This will reduce the amount of human error in your support -- forgetting to assign the ticket when you update it say -- and also allow your support to scale as more and more requests come in. It’s one thing to read a couple billing related questions and assign them to our billing expert; it’s another thing to do that with hundreds of tickets.

The process we use here can be used to address most scenarios when you want to automate some piece of your support.

  1. we’ll define a task we do often
  2. we’ll build a trigger (and any other component in Zendesk we need) to address that task
  3. we’ll test what we’ve built.

We’ve already defined what we want to automate: the process of assigning billing related support requests to our new agent (who is the billing expert on our team). Now let’s look at the pieces we need to accomplish that.

Building a Web Form

First, we need to know which questions are billing questions or not. There are many ways to do this in Zendesk, but one of the most effective is to configure the support form on your Zendesk support site.

To see the default support form, we need to put ourselves in our customers shoes. 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 menu in the top navigation and choose People. Remember the distinction between end-user, admins and agents from earlier in the lesson. We want to assume the role of of an end-user. To do so click the assume link next to one of the end-user accounts (Kelly H., for instance; or any user without owner or agent underneath their image).


This drops you back on to your homepage - it looks similar to the homepage we’ve been looking at all along, but notice that the navigation bar is different. This is your Zendesk configured for someone who is looking for support. As such, an end-user can browse whatever knowledge base article or community forums you’ve set up, or, as we want to do here, Submit a Request; you’ll see a button labeled submit a request in the top menu bar. Click on that button.

This is the default support form - your customers can come to this page, fill out this form, and just like sending in an email, it will create a ticket for them in your Zendesk. This ticket will look exactly the same for your agents and you.

Ok, but how are we going to know which support requests that come in through this form are billing related? The answer is: in it’s current form, it’d be pretty tough. Luckily, Zendesk lets you edit and add things to this form. We are going to add a drop down field for our customers to fill out that asks them what type of question they are asking. With that information, we’ll be able to accurately assign it to our support agent.

Adding a New Field to the Support Form

To add a new field, we need to return to our admin status. To do so, click the Revert Identity link in the upper right of the page. Anytime you assume the identity of another user in your Zendesk, you need to click this link to get back your admin perspective. Doing so will drop you on the People page again.

Now let’s add that new field.


Click the Manage menu and choose Ticket Fields from the options. This page lists all the various fields on your web form. You may notice that this list has many more fields than the one we were just looking at as an end-user. In fact, this lists all the fields we saw earlier in the lesson when we created a new ticket as an admin. What’s going on?

Zendesk uses the same ticket form for both your agents and your end-users, it simply shows them different pieces of that form. The subject field, for instance (the first item on the list) is available to both agent and end-user - both types of users can enter in a subject for a ticket. The Status field, however, can only be seen and changed by an agent.

Your support form is an important tool in capturing support requests because you can add many different types of information that a simple email simply cannot. While email is often very easy for customers and very important for the modern support team; the web form can really speed up and provide your support team with more information upfront.


Click the Add custom field in the upper right of the main column. On the next page select drop down list.


Here’s where we configure our new field. Give the field a title (this is for internal use, so name it something you’ll understand later like “Support Category”) and then add a more descriptive question in the Field Title Displayed to End-users. This is what your customers will see when they access your web form, so it should be something like “What are you writing us about?”

Leave Required for Agents unchecked, but definitely check Visible to end-users. This is what will put it on the customer support form. (Note that if you left that unchecked the field would still appear on your support form, but only for your agents.)

This opens up a second set of options. Check Editable by end-users - this will make it so that they can actually open up and choose an option in the drop down (not actually edit its content). You would leave that box unchecked if you wanted to show them the current value of the field, but not let them change it, such as if you wanted to show them which agent was assigned to their ticket (which would be the assignee field, but you didn’t want them to be able to change the assignee.

Next, add a short description which will help explain to users what you would like them to do in this instance, something like “Please specify what type of question or problem you're having.”

Lastly, check the Required for end-users box. This makes our drop-down field required for end-users; they must fill it out before they are allowed to submit their request.

Your drop down should currently look something like this.


Now we will add the actual options we want our customers to choose from. In the section labeled Field Options add three or four options in the text field labeled Title. Make one of them “Billing Issue”. To add additional fields, click the green plus button to the right of the text fields.

Notice that each time you enter an option, a corresponding tag is created. Zendesk creates these automatically for you (though you can edit them if you wish). When a customer chooses one of these options, Zendesk will tag that particular ticket with the corresponding tag. We’ll use these tags to create our trigger. That tag is how the trigger will know what kind of question it is, specifically if it’s a billing question, and be able to assign it to our billing expert.

Click the Add Field button.

Creating a Trigger to Automatically Assign Tickets

Now we are going to create an automated rule called a trigger based on the custome field we just created.  Go to Manage > Triggers > add trigger.

Triggers, you’ll remember, are business rules you define that run immediately after tickets are created or updated. For example, a trigger can be used to notify the customer when a ticket has been opened. Another can be created to then notify the customer when the ticket is solved. Zendesk starts you off with a number of triggers. For a description of those triggers, check out Streamlining workflow with ticket updates and triggers in the Zendesk support forums.


We are adding a trigger to automatically assign billing related tickets to our new agent in charge of billing. Click add trigger in the upper right.

Triggers contain conditions and actions. You combine these to create ‘if’ and ‘then’ statements (if the ticket contains a certain set of conditions then the actions make the desired updates to the ticket and optionally notify the requester or the support staff). You build condition and action statements using ticket properties, field operators, and the ticket property values.


Filling out the form.

Title the trigger “Auto-assign to Billing”. Open the dropdown under the Meet all of the following conditions header, and choose tags. This creates a second set of form fields. Leave the second dropdown as Contains at least one of the following. In the open text field write “billing_issue”. Remember from the previous section that when a customer chooses “Billing Issue” on our ticket form it will tag their ticket with “billing_issue”. We are leveraging that tag here in this trigger.

Next, click the green plus button to add another condition. Choose Ticket is...from the drop down. Open the resulting drop down and look at the options: Created and Updated. This is an important distinction. A ticket can only be created once, but it can be updated any number of times. In our case, we want this trigger to run when the ticket is created, so choose that in the drop down.

HOW TRIGGERS WORK (sidebar): This is important because we only want the trigger to fire once. If we didn’t specify a particular moment, then this trigger would fire every time a ticket tagged “billing_issue” was updated. Every time you update a ticket (i.e. hit the submit button within the ticket as seen below), Zendesk runs through your triggers looking to see if that ticket fits any of the trigger conditions. We don’t want the ticket to be assigned to our billing agent every time the ticket is updated; we just want it to be assigned once. So we choose created.

That covers the conditions. Next, open the drop down under the Perform these actions heading. What do we want to have happen? We want to assign the billing tickets; so choose Assignee, and then choose the agent you created earlier in the lesson. It should looks something like this:

Is there anything else we want to do? Well, we probably want to notify our new agent that a ticket has been assigned to them. We could click the green plus button and add another action. Let’s see what that looks like.

Click the green plus button. Choose Email user from the drop down. In the next drop down we want to choose our new agent. We could of course choose their name from the list, but a better technique is to pick (assignee). Triggers can use placeholders like this -- send the email to the person assigned to this ticket. We just assigned the ticket to our new agent, so that applies in this case.

Now, before we create the default email to send to when a billing ticket comes in, we should come clean and say, we actually don’t have to go through the trouble. It turns out that there is an easier and much more effective way to notify people when a ticket is assigned to them: fire another trigger that already notifies agents when a ticket is assigned to them.

We saw before that emails are sent out when a ticket is assigned to an agent (see the image above). This was done by one of those default triggers Zendesk starts you off with. It’s called Notify assignee of assignment. It turns out that one Zendesk trigger can trigger another; in our case, we have one trigger that assigns billing tickets to a particular agent, and we have another trigger that sends out emails to agents when a ticket is assigned to them. They can work together. To see how, we need to go back to our list of triggers. Let’s save the trigger we’re working on and check it out. Click the red minus button next to our Email Useraction and then click the Add Triggerbutton at the bottom.

STEP 3. Ordering Triggers

As we said, triggers can interact with one another, but they need to be in the correct order to do so. When a ticket is created or updated, Zendesk runs through all the triggers in order. This means that we want our Auto-assign trigger to be above the Notify assignee of assignment trigger. This will ensure that when a customer submits a billing issue ticket, it will first be assigned to our new agent; and then an email will be sent out to that agent. It doesn’t work the other way around: you can’t send an email out to the person assigned to the ticket before the ticket is assigned to anybody.

Our new trigger is down at the bottom. To move it, click the Reorderbutton at the bottom of the list. Then drag the Auto-assign bar to the top.

Now, we have all the pieces in place to automatically assign a ticket to someone. Let’s test it out.

Testing Our Trigger

To test the trigger we are going to assume an end-user again. Following the steps from before, assume an end-user.

Click Submit a Request in the top menu bar. Notice first that our new ticket field is there (sweet!). Fill out the ticket with a sample billing issue (you can copy what we have below); and make sure you choose “Billing Issue” from the Reason for Writing field.

Click submit and then revert identity (click the link in the upper right).

To see the ticket that was just submitted, go to Views > All Unsolved Tickets. The ticket you created should be in there. Click into it, and see that it is already assigned to our new agent. And, our new ticket field is also in there, already set to “Billing Issue”.

Next, let’s check further by clicking All Events and Notifications. Here we can see that not only our Auto-assign trigger worked; but also that one trigger fired the next:

If you used one of your own email addresses for the second agent we added, you will get that notification in your inbox.

Unassigned Tickets

One more small note to wrap up this lesson. Now that you’ve got more than one agent, you’ll notice that there is an Unassigned Ticketsview in your View menu at the top. Unless you create an automatic assignment for all your incoming tickets, they will be unassigned by default. This view is a good place to check often - you want to make sure that unassigned tickets get assigned quickly.


This was a pretty packed lesson. We went over the three different types of Zendesk users and added a second agent.

We also introduced the concept of assigning tickets to your agents and went over two methods of assigning:

  1. manually changing the ticket fields
  2. automatically assigning using a trigger

In order to create the automatic assignment, we created a new ticket field for the Zendesk built-in support form.

And we checked how this support form worked (and looked) by assuming an end-user.

Now you are ready to add more people to your team as well as build up your support web form and your work flow!

If you've gone through all the Getting Started Lessons, we have some suggestions about what to do and where to go next...



User photo
Marj Christen


Smooth setup until statement below. I don't see it anywhere on my screen:

Creating a Trigger to Automatically Assign Tickets

When you create the custom field, there is a notice at the top of the page that notifies us that we “use the field option tags to filter report, view, trigger and automation conditions and actions.” We are going to create a trigger. Click that link.

May 17, 2012 12:15
User photo
Joy Carletti

@Marj, thanks for letting us know. I just tried this with my own test account and it does look like that notice has gone away.  If you're still trying the walkthrough, you can also access this by going to Manage > Triggers > add trigger.  We'll edit this shortly. Thanks again! 

May 17, 2012 12:23
User photo
Marj Christen

Thanks for your very quick response!

May 17, 2012 13:03
User photo
Matthew Latkiewicz

Updated  - thanks for the heads up Marj :-)

May 18, 2012 12:15
User photo

About Agents: if I want to forward tickets to colleagues, do I have to add them ad agents? Even though they are only helping me out from time to time with technical expertise?

May 25, 2012 01:23
User photo
Nicole Chang

I might be missing something: I have 5 agents (some admins, some agents) but the Assignee drop-down list remains empty and I can't assign tickets to anyone nor mark tickets as solved. Any idea?

May 25, 2012 14:59
User photo
Nicole Chang

Update: Switching to Lotus fixed it. Thanks!

May 25, 2012 15:45
User photo
Collin Vine

Question: Can I customize the homepage for only my agents?

What I want to do is add the view "My unsolved requests" to each agents homepage.

Possible or not...?

June 08, 2012 13:20
User photo

@Collin, Good question! While it's not currently possible to modify the agent dashboard, we are planning on making the dashboard more configurable, which would likely include the ability to change the views that are displayed. You can read comments from Jake on our product team and comments from other users at, as well as add your own. If I have misunderstood or you would like to discuss further I have created a ticket on your behalf. Thanks for reaching out!

June 08, 2012 16:11
User photo
Paul Emery



Up near the start you have the following:


ADVANCED TIP: Need to import a lot of users all at once? Zendesk also offers a few ways to bulk import your users. This support article explains how.


When i click the link I get an error saying the entry has been deleted.  Can it be reinstated or the link updated as that info would be really useful for me

July 04, 2012 07:02
User photo

We've had one agent leave the company, and we'd like to replace this person with a new agent - so the name, email address and photo will change.  We're at our limit of allowed agents.  What's the best approach?  If I delete the agent who left and add a new person, what will happen to the tickets that were assigned to and solved by the agent who left (in our case none of these tickets is open)?

October 05, 2012 16:11
User photo
Justin Seymour

Hey Daniel: 

Best practice here is to assign all open, pending, and solved tickets to one of your administrators. This assigns new ownership in the system; you don't want to nuke the account without moving tickets first. Once that's been done, you can downgrade that account from agent to end-user, instead of renaming things. You'd then create a fresh account for your new agent. 

October 08, 2012 06:22
User photo
John Butler

Anyone figured out a way to auto-assign a ticket in a rotation of reps? So reps don't cherry pick!  .. it happens.

February 06, 2013 09:42
User photo
Jennifer Rowe

Hi John, thanks for your question. You might want to post it in our Community Q&A forum so that more people see it. I hope you get some good suggestions there...

February 06, 2013 09:46