For quite a while, we've been testing out fully featured rich text in Zendesk Support's email channel. It's been a long, hard road to get it working right, but now we're ready to make the feature publicly available to all accounts.
Email generally contains two parts: A "plain text" part and an "HTML" part. Sometimes they contain more parts, and some are encoded, but for our purposes those two are all that matter. In the past we've always taken the plain text version (which has no formatting) and turned it into a comment. With the new changes we'll be reading the HTML part, processing it to make sure we're pulling in the formatting we want, and presenting it in a consumable way in the ticket.
As of today, you'll be able to make the switch and start seeing full color, bold, and italic text in your incoming Support tickets. You'll also get inline images, tables, and fancy formatting. Everything you see in your inbox, you'll see in tickets, making the conversation with your customers totally faithful to their intent.
Never miss important context. If a customer underlines a word in an email or uses color to distinguish text, when everything is plain text you lose this specificity. The same is true for inline images, tables, and other formatting. Customers use these elements to communicate, and modern communication happens in rich text. Now you won't lose the context.
Better Productivity. Now your agents don't have to open up a new window to verify the HTML version or go hunting for an image that was turned into an attachment. These are small things, but they add up over time.
To start seeing rich content in your tickets, just turn on the setting. You'll find it in your Admin area, under Channels > Email. It looks like this:
Enabling this setting means that every email you receive will be processed as an HTML email. It won't affect previous messages, and turning it off won't undo the processing on any email processed while it was enabled.
Nearly every kind of formatting you can put in an email will be transferred into tickets now. Comments will contain a faithful rendering of any email sent to your Zendesk. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Basic text formatting (bold, italic, underline)
- Colors (text, background, etc)
- Table layouts (borders, padding, arrangements, etc)
There are only a couple things aren't supported:
- Special fonts (all text will be rendered in Zendesk's usual font for tickets)
- Background images
Here's a very complicated looking example email:
We took security very seriously during the process of building this feature. External links and embedded HTML in email can be exploited in a number of ways. We're taking care to avoid everything we can, and run checks against the message to prevent any malicious code from being run in Zendesk. We also verify that all images are safe before rendering them in your account.
Processing HTML within the already complex space of rendering rich content in tickets has created a lot of bugs. Rendering will never be 100% perfect, but at this point we are confident that it is very close to perfect, and creating a visual that is as expected well over 99% of the time. That said, there are a few things we have seen and could see again:
- Missing content, including partial or full email text
- Problems with our Agent Forwarding or Mail API features working correctly
- Issues with line spacing or padding
If you see issues like this, please report them to our Support team so we can investigate as soon as possible. This shouldn't be cause for alarm, though. We process millions of emails a day, and have still only had a handful of these problems (and none recently).