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What are the best practices for migrating from an old system to Zendesk?

asked this on September 08, 2010 07:31

Our company is trying out Zendesk. If we should choose to sign up for a true account, do your teams have any suggestions for migrating from an old support system to Zendesk? For example, we are currently using Kayako's eSupport and would want to migrate at least a portion of our old tickets (hopefully without notifying clients), old knowledge base articles, and wipe out any test tickets we created during our trial. Do you have any recommendations or tried and true practices? Thanks!



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To update, we've officially signed up now for Zendesk and need to begin formulating a migration plan. Any recommendations on best practices would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

September 27, 2010 08:24
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Adam Wygle

We are in the process of migrating as well and would love to have any and all best practices. As well as what "buckets" of forums to have. Looking at the way Zendesk sets up it's on support landing page, I get an idea of what would be ideal for Zendesk, but are there others out there with experience? 

We are a B2B company that is offering support for our customers and our customer's customers (to put it simply). To give you an idea of what we're looking at, we've got ~200,000 users that will be using Zendesk with ~1000 of them being "super-users." Is there a way to separate into cross sections so we know which client a given customer is from and then whether or not they are a super-user? Can we present different materials based on what a given user's role is?

October 11, 2010 14:59
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Mike Topolovich

We would like to know also

January 27, 2011 06:14
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David G

Bumb.. We use Kayako, and would be interested in switching to ZenDesk if we could import some of our Kayako tickets, Kb Articles.

February 10, 2011 11:03
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Giles Riddell

It would be great to get an answer to this one!!

March 06, 2011 18:29
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Sol Baish

Same here.

Answers on a postcard, please.


...anybody know of any import options - bulk import of users or tickets based on a CSV file maybe..?

June 21, 2011 05:11
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Sol Baish

I just got a response:  " You would need to get your old data in XML format then you can make use of our API to import it

June 21, 2011 07:28
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Devenie Corliss

We are currently in the process of moving from an open source system,RT (resource tracker), to Zendesk. As a part of this process I identified a subset of our historical (closed) and open tickets to migrate and had a colleague write a script that created tickets in Zendesk. We migrated the historical/closed tickets in using a group of "Migration"  as "Solved" so they will be easily distinguished from our tickets which will be active at cutover and we also used one-time values for our custom fields to be used for classification and reporting on tickets as these fields are not available in our current system and we didn't want to undertake any effort to categorize the somewhat dirty data from our old system.

One negative in our old system was that tickets easily became overly long/threaded with a lot of duplicate information due to the way email replies from customers were processed. Since we are providing this for customers to have some ability to look at history only we chose to make the full ticket information available in an attachment rather than making that the description or comment on the ticket. This does mean for these tickets they will have to look at attachments for any real value but we decided it was that or not migrating historical tickets at all and this seemed the better benefit to our customers. We migrated in using the title from our old system as the subject line pre-pended with the ticket number from our old system as a better reference. (Internally we will be able to keep our old system for reference since it runs in house on a virtual machine.) Our old system did not provide any customer portal/access to tickets so Zendesk will be a huge benefit to them. RT has the functionality but the colleague who initially developed it did not implement that. 

For our migration, the engineer wrote a script that extracted the data from our old ticket system and generated a single text file comprised of 1) ticket metadata (requester, title, CCs, assignee and date created), and 2) all public comments in the order processed. He also created a second attachment with the same data but also including private comments that may not be sanitized enough for customers to see. We generated text files programmatically using this script from our old system and brought these in as attachments that are attached to the initial comment/description. We put the full attachment with private comments on a second "private" comment on the newly created ticket.

The engineer who wrote the script (he chose to use Python just because he likes that) was able to do all updates via the REST interface. These tickets are not beautiful but that is all a result of the data in our old system and a conscious effort not to spend an unreasonable amount of time on this. We will migrate to our production Zendesk in 3 steps: 1) closed tickets some days before cutover, 2) tickets closed between initial migration and cutover date as 'solved' tickets at cutover and finally 3) open and active tickets at the point we migrate. The active tickets will require some manual update by agents as they pick up working on these tickets in the new system. We are still a couple weeks out from launch but with our tests in sandbox this looks to be very workable.

The one bit of information I am looking for is how to manually force the solved tickets to closed after migration. It seems clear that I could temporarily change the default time for closing solved tickets to some extremely short value but I plan to look into a specific automation for this purpose. I'm also still working out the notification to customers that we have created a login for them. (Again, we created orgs and end-users using the API from lists generated from both our old ticket system and our CRM.)

I'm happy to share some of the logic the engineer used in the script to migrate ticket data although of course so much of it is specific to our old system so may not be helpful.

June 25, 2011 08:19
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Christine La Grua

If the Zendesk staff would mind taking a moment to answer this please ? There must be something in place already  ?

September 26, 2011 22:29
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Jakub Glodek
Check Answer

Hi @Christine, at this time we encourage anyone that wants to migrate data into Zendesk take a look at our API documentation which can be found here:

Specifically the REST API.  If you look at the post above, that gives you a few ideas on how to proceed with this.  At this time Zendesk does not perform the migration into our system, but our partners do offer that support.  For more information about our partners take a look here:

September 27, 2011 09:54
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Michael Warjas
If you don't know how to code to a REST API or extract the tickets from your old application, Pervasive Software offers an easy to use tool to move data between applications, and services to help if you don't want to do it yourself. We're a parter of Zendesk and you can check us out at or shoot me an email.
December 14, 2011 09:33
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Javier Perez

I get maye more than two months of trial period to get some help to migrate from kayako 4. I receive a great support from the zendesk staff, but its very difficult to make this without the knowledge or some advanced known abot API. Start again from zero its too much for me. I continue using kayako awaiting some news about a tool that i can use to migrate more easily.

December 15, 2011 10:57
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Michael Warjas
Javier, feel free to ping me. We've got great knowledge around the Zendesk API, and the Kayako API looks pretty straightforward. In under 60 minutes I can give you a quote for 1-time migration of all your Kayoko tickets in to Zendesk.
December 15, 2011 11:03
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Donna Weeden

Hi Michael,

I would love to hear about the types of solutions offered by Pervasive for migrating macros and FAQs.  Do you offer migration services for these elements?

December 15, 2011 11:31
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Michael Warjas
Hi Donna! We're not constrained by the data sourcetarget, we have a tool (Pervasive Data Integrator) that we sell, and use, to do migration and integration projects. If it has an API or a Database, chances are strong we can get to it and build it out. I'll reach out to you over email to learn more about your case specifically.
December 15, 2011 11:36
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Devenie Corliss - Would love to connect with your engineer who worked on the RT data migration into Zendesk.  Anyway you can email me directly some information?  kathleen at webpt dot com.



January 30, 2012 11:35
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Patrick B.

Zendesk should offer at least a simple way to import basic FAQs in CSV format (as UserVoice does) and/or RSS (as Assistly does).

February 17, 2012 02:09
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Brad Harris

Regarding the initial question posted, I am also looking for similar information from other companies or groups that have migrated from an existing Ticketing solutions to Zendesk. We are also migrating from RT: Request Tracker but at this time we are less concerned about migrating over past tickets, we are creating a checklist of necessary steps to make sure that all bases have been covered and nothing slips through the cracks when we flip the switch to go live.


Effectively, I am looking to cheat off of someone's test... :)


If anyone has suggestions or resources that they've used, I would be grateful to take suggestions.

May 31, 2013 10:49
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Trent Murray

If I may - I'm completely on ZenDesk's side here... Migrations into enterprise level systems are not just "csv" or simpletext worthy. There are so many things going on in ZenDesk, to try and simplify this down to a single file would be a mistake.

If you have no technical knowledge; you should be looking at employing someone to do the migration for you. Or, be happy with manually migrating. I would suggestion oDesk or eLance for finding people (often 2-3$/hr) for data entry if you're not a large company with many tasks.

I know if I decide on this software, it will be a very complex migration effort which I would never be able to do without an API like the one they provide.

July 24, 2013 08:26
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Michael Y.

Not sure if this falls under "best practices" but here's our experience.

We moved from RightNow to Zendesk earlier this year. It was NOT a simple move in terms of the data (for example, we couldn't simply export the rightnow incidents, contacts, or standard text and then import them into Zendesk). 

We ended up deciding NOT to move most of the old tickets (but kept a searchable CSV file for reference) and moved over any current/pending tickets--manually--a month or so before stopping our RN service. We began replying to new tickets in Zendesk and added a note at the end to the effect of "We are moving to a new support system as of 1 January. Please be sure to reply to *this* message ( and not to any older messages you might have saved".

Since we still had Rightnow access, we also sent a quick note there, as well, saying, "We are moving to a new support system. I'll be contacting you from that address ( soon. Please look for that new message shortly and reply there. Don't reply to this message as it won't get to us" (or something to that effect).

Basically, you'll need to decide if it's worth the (significant) time and effort needed to migrate all your old tickets, or if you're OK moving just the current tickets and accessing others via a database, csv file, or what have you, and accessing them only as-needed outside of Zendesk. (It has worked pretty well for us so far--so long as we can access that archive of old RN tickets we can find the info we need).

As for migrating RN's standard text/canned responses...ugh. Forget about it. I got the impression, initially, that this could all be done via a CSV file with minimal effort but that's not the case. You *can* import a CSV file of dynamic content (which, if you're using multilingual support, is where you'll need to start anyway) BUT you'd have to copy and paste all your standard text into that file anyway. You may as well copy/paste it directly into each piece of dynamic content you make. Since we had over 300 individual entries for dynamic content (plus corresponding macros) this took ages...



August 28, 2013 09:22
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Laura D.

Hi Michael, 

Thanks for sharing your experience and advice! It can be quite a process to migrate between systems and we appreciate that it takes time and effort. There are some built-in tools that help but they don't address everything an account would likely want to migrate. Hopefully your information will help other people who are thinking about or in the process of migrating. 

August 28, 2013 12:14