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Introducing Zendesk Voice

Steven Yan
posted this on September 08, 2011 15:52

Zendesk Voice, powered by Twilio, turns your Zendesk into a call center within minutes.  Phone support is often the easiest and most effective way of helping your customers, and Zendesk now helps you track and manage your phone conversations alongside customer emails, chats and tweets.

Voicemails and live calls to your Zendesk Voice number are recorded as new Zendesk tickets.  The entire call recording, along with the caller's phone number and other call details, are recorded on the ticket for you, so your agents can focus on what matters most -- listening to and helping your customers.


Zendesk Voice offers the following features:

  • Local phone number provisioning in the United States and Canada.  You can provide this number directly to customers or forward to this number from your existing phone system.
  • Toll-free (freephone) phone numbers in the US, Canada and the UK.
  • Voicemail recording and transcription.  All voicemails are recorded and transcribed on tickets in Zendesk for later review.
  • Answer and record live inbound calls.  Your support agents can answer live phone calls, either directly through the browser or through a local US or Canada number of their choice.  A new support ticket is created automatically when a call starts for convenient note taking, and the call recording is appended to the ticket upon completion.
  • Call queueing and routing.  If you have more callers than available support agents, Zendesk will queue up any waiting callers for you.  You can control the size and maximum wait time of your queue to ensure that customers receive timely support.  While waiting, customers can dial 1 at any time to leave a voicemail.
  • Call activity dashboard.  Gain valuable insight into your daily support call activity with live status of queue activity and agent availability. Key performance metrics such as maximum wait time, maximum queue size and average talk time are calculated for the previous 24 hours.
  • Call history logging.  Review a record of past voicemail and live call activity.

Pricing and Packaging

Zendesk Voice is available to all subscription plans starting at 1.3¢/min, billed monthly.  Your phone number and call recording is included, and voicemail transcription can be optionally added to your subscription.  See full details on pricing in our Setting up Zendesk Voice article.

Getting Started

If you want to try out Zendesk Voice, we give you 20 minutes free to try the service, and the phone number is on us!  Here are some steps to introduce you to the core functionality of Zendesk Voice.

1.  Select a phone number

Visit Settings > Channels > Voice and click Choose a phone number for your Zendesk.  Follow the steps to select and confirm your phone number.


2.  Leave a voicemail

After selecting your phone number, your Zendesk Voice number is immediately active. Pick up the phone and call your phone number to leave yourself a voicemail. Your voicemail can be up to 2 minutes long. Your Zendesk will receive a new ticket with the voicemail recording and transcription.


3.  Take a live phone call in Zendesk

Navigate to the phone dropdown in your agent interface and select Available via browser.  


- This option is not available to Internet Explorer 7 users.  Support agents using IE 7 can route to their phone by following the steps in Using Zendesk Voice.


As the phone client is built in Flash, you will need to accept the Adobe Flash permissions to allow Zendesk to access your computer's microphone.

Pick up your phone and dial your Zendesk Voice number.  In the Zendesk interface you will be notified via a call console of an incoming phone call:


Click Accept.  You'll be connected to the caller and a new Zendesk ticket will be created immediately, providing a convenient place for you to take notes about the call.  


Once the call is complete, a new recording of the call will be appended to the ticket.  You'll be unavailable for new calls until you close the call console.


Learn More

See our two excellent user guides about setting up Zendesk Voice and using Zendesk Voice.  For a quick overview of how Zendesk Voice works, check out the following video.



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Aaron Pewtherer

@Kate: Yes. Toll-Free is now available in the US, Canada and the UK. Announcement here:

June 21, 2012 15:23
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Ryan Staatz

@Aaron & Steve. Just wanted to formally request an API or default bulk setting to make end-user phone numbers a direct line. The only way to do this is to individually open up each user profile and then click on the "make direct line" underneath the phone number. Unfortunately, if there are any tickets with the same phone number, they must be merged with this end user or deleted. 

The reason why this would be very useful is because our users register for our service based on their phone number. We authenticate their phone number so we know that we can contact them on this number. We then import our user profiles (name, email, and phone number) from our servers into ZenDesk using your APIs. When one of our customers calls, a ticket is automatically created for that phone number. However, if that phone number is already attached to a user profile, the user profile will not be automatically matched to the ticket unless the "make a direct line" option in their profile is enabled. If there is way to do this via API or automatically that would be great. As far as I am aware, there is no way to bulk set the direct line setting for user profiles. If you could provide us with an API or other efficient method, that would be great. Thanks! 

September 21, 2012 16:28
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Steven Yan
Product Manager

Thanks Ryan, I think in the short run we can look into an API that lets you set this.  The reason, as you probably understand, that we never made this a default is because of the risk of automatically associating a ticket to a user who's direct line has been inadvertently set to a non-unique phone number.

September 24, 2012 12:10
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Ryan Staatz

@Steven: Thanks for looking into this. Setting a safety for this makes sense, but limits what you can do with ZenDesk voice. An API or default setting for making a direct line would be great! 

Additionally, we'd like to route calls based on corresponding user-profile (with triggers, API, etc). The way we would like to be set up is:

  • A user makes a call to our one support number (does not matter what type of user)
  • Based on their phone number, we match their call to their end-user profile (we push user profiles into ZenDesk using your API)
  • We would like to smartly route the call in real time to the right agent(s). 
  • If they are one type of user, we would like to automatically route them (1) to the correct type of agent (depending on the type of user) and (2) if they ever had a previous inquiry, route them to the same agent that answered that query (if possible).

I talked on the phone with Kevin this morning, and he let me know that this is not on your internal roadmap yet, but you guys are looking for suggestions on new features for voice. From my understanding, you guys use Twilio numbers for your ZenDesk voice service. I did some research on Twilio and it appears they have extensive API documentation on voice calls (including forwarding/routing). It would be great if we could access some of these API calls (or be able to integrate our own Twilio accounts with ZenDesk).

If, in the short term, smartly routing calls via ZenDesk is not possible, it might make sense for us to use Twilio (we already have an account for other purposes) for the actual routing and recording of calls, and then use your existing API to push new updates to tickets to ZenDesk (create new ones).  If possible, creating an option for ZenDesk administrators to access some of the Twilio APIs would be awesome.

Basically, we just want a way to smartly route calls and link them to existing user accounts. Playing round robin with available support agents is a start, but doesn't solve the problem we're trying tackle. Thanks!

September 24, 2012 13:58
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Steven Yan
Product Manager

Ryan, thanks for your in-depth explanation.  Your use cases make a lot of sense and we are still planning on offering routing functionality in the product, but I cannot offer an ETA at this time.

October 03, 2012 13:06
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Curious if the ability to set a "Direct Line" from the API and/or Bulk Import has been added yet? I don't see it in the bulk import tool or API documentation. If not, any ETA on it?

November 26, 2012 09:44
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Can we choose a 1800 number?

December 11, 2012 12:11
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Aaron Pewtherer

@Monica. Oh, we missed that! Forum article updated above, "toll-free (freephone) phone numbers in the US, Canada and the UK." Thanks for the great question! :)

December 11, 2012 13:25
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Aaron Pewtherer

@Ryan: Thanks for the feedback. We are aware of the need for bulk update and API call for Direct Line. There are no plans at the moment, but are reviewing the possibility, and possible drawbacks.

December 11, 2012 13:28
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Marian Zange

Hey guys, any ETA on supporting German phone numbers in Zendesk Voice?

January 06, 2013 10:11
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Chad Nuesmeyer

+1 for the outbound transferring feature.

It was love at first site, until we found out that you don't like 3-way's...3-way calls you pervert.

January 18, 2013 15:14
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Aaron Pewtherer

@Marian: Twilio does not offer German numbers yet. You can be notified of their plans by letting them know here:

January 18, 2013 15:14
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