Adding the support address for your external email address
The first step is to add the external email address as a support address in Zendesk. Any email address you want to use to receive support request as tickets must be added to your Zendesk as a support address. You can add as many support addresses as you need.
Now, to receive support requests at an external email address, you need to forward mail received at that address to the equivalent address in your Zendesk account. For example, email received at firstname.lastname@example.org is forwarded to email@example.com.
After you've added the external email address as a support address in Zendesk, you're ready to set up email forwarding on your email server.
(Optional) Ensuring that Zendesk can send email on behalf of your email domain
Finally, you can set up an SPF (Sender Policy Framework) record to verify that Zendesk can send outgoing email on behalf of your email server.
If you've added an external email address as a support address, when an end-user sends email to that address, Zendesk will make the responding email appear as if it originated from your own email address (for example: firstname.lastname@example.org). This will typically work fine, but in some cases, outgoing email might get marked as spam if there is not verification (in the form of an SPF record) that Zendesk can send email on behalf of your email server.
To lower the risk of outgoing email being marked as spam, you can create or edit (if you already have one set up) an SPF (Sender Policy Framework) record to include a reference to Zendesk. The SPF record declares what SMTP servers other than your own are allowed to send mail as if it originated from your domain.
To create or edit an SPF record, you need to edit your domain's DNS settings. The steps in this part of the process are going to vary depending on the hosting service you use.
To begin, it'll be helpful to understand more about SPF records and what you need to include in yours. We recommend using either of the following SPF records.
v=spf1 include:mail.zendesk.com ~all
v=spf1 include:mail.zendesk.com ?all
This is an example of a new SPF record. If you already have an SPF record, you add support.zendesk.com to it.
Note: Some Zendesk users have reported that they also needed to include smtp.zendesk.com to their SPF record. This may be due to a configuration issue with the external domain. You include it as in the following example:
v=spf1 include:mail.zendesk.com ~all
The only difference between the two is~all and ?all. These differences will be explained after describing the other elements contained in the record statements.
The first element in the record is v=spf1, which sets the SPF version to 1. The include directive is then used to declare that support.zendesk.com has permission to send outgoing mail from your Zendesk account as if it came from your domain.
Finally, the all directive determines how mail received from a domain not included in the SPF record is handled. To reject all mail not coming from a domain listed in the SPF record, you would use -all. However, Zendesk and many other customers who have already set this up, recommend using either ~all or ?all. Here's what each means:
~all- This is considered a 'soft fail' in that the mail did not originate from a domain listed in the SPF record. However, it's not immediately rejected and may be evaluated further to determine if it will be accepted. In other words, the mail might be rejected as spam.
?all- This is a declaration that you have no policy about mail received from domains not listed in the SPF record. Using this minimizes the chances of the mail being rejected as spam.
Which of these you choose is up to you and your domain administrator. Some Zendesk users have noted that using the more lenient setting (?all) helps to offset poorly configured mail servers that might otherwise over zealously reject the mail.
Note: If you're curious, you can read more about SPF records at www.openspf.org.
Creating an SPF record
This is a step that you'd ideally have your domain administrator take care of. If that's not possible, or if you're the de facto domain administrator, here are some examples of how add an SPF record to your domain.
SPF records are a single line of text and follow the format described above. If you have already set up an SPF record for another purpose, you can simply add a reference to the Zendesk support domain to it. For example, users of both Google Apps and Zendesk have created SPF records that look like this:
How you add an SPF record to your DNS configuration depends on how and by who your domain is being hosted. As an example, here are the instructions provided by GoDaddy.com: Managing DNS for your domain names.