Setting up to manage multiple brand Zendesk accounts (Enterprise)

Setting up to manage multiple brand Zendesk accounts (Enterprise)

In the Enterprise version of Zendesk, you can manage support for multiple brands by linking separate branded Zendesk accounts to a central Zendesk (known as the hub). Support requests are received by the branded Zendesk accounts (known as spokes) and are automatically shared to the hub, which contains the support agents who resolve the requests. One team of agents supports all of your brands.

To ensure a seamless, branded experience for your end-users, all outbound communication is routed back through the spoke accounts and end-users are never aware that their requests have been handled by the hub.

Important: When you set up your Zendesk account to support multiple brands, be aware that some features function differently than they do in a stand-alone Zendesk. See How the user experience and workflow are affected below.

Linking between the spoke accounts and the Zendesk hub account is made possible using ticket sharing (see Sharing tickets with other Zendesk accounts). Sharing agreements are established between the spokes (the senders of support requests) and the hub (the receiver of those requests) and support requests become tickets that are resolved by the hub, as shown here:

Each of the spoke accounts require at least one agent with administrator permissions (this can also be the account owner) who can set up the sharing workflow with the hub Zendesk and customize the look of the spoke accounts.

Once set up, the ticket workflow is managed automatically because the ticket status is synced between the spoke and hub Zendesk accounts (ticket sharing creates a synced copy of the ticket in the hub). When the ticket status is set to solved by agents in the hub, it is updated in the spokes as well. Tickets are then closed within the spoke accounts using an automation (for example, using the default Zendesk automation called Close ticket 4 days after status is set to solved).

All ticket activity is managed in the hub Zendesk. However, all user and content management is done in the spoke accounts. For more information, see How the user experience and workflow are affected below.

Linking spoke accounts to the hub Zendesk is done in a series of simple steps, as follows:

How billing works

You can add as many spoke accounts as you need. Each account is an Enterprise account that must have at least one agent user. In terms of billing, Zendesk only charges for unique agent users. For example, if an agent is granted access to more than one of the spoke accounts, you will incur only one agent charge for that agent. One charge per agent, regardless of the number of spoke accounts that agent has access to.

How the user experience and workflow are affected

Because of the multiple accounts involved in managing branded Zendesk accounts, some features function differently than they do in a stand-alone Zendesk.

  • User management. All user management is done in the spoke accounts since your users are added to those accounts. No user data is synced to the hub Zendesk. The hub Zendesk is aware of the users as ticket requesters but they are not added to the user database of the hub Zendesk. Adding and editing your user base is done separately in your spoke accounts.
  • Content. Content for the Help Center or Web portal is created and managed in the separate spoke accounts. Since you're supporting multiple brands you probably have content and user issues that are unique to each. Community moderation is also done separately for each spoke. It's not possible to automatically share knowledge base articles to all the spoke accounts. If for example you want the same knowledge base articles in each one of your spoke accounts, you need to create separate articles in each spoke and then copy the content into each article.
  • Chat. Chat works a little differently when managing multiple brands and requires that chats originate from the hub Zendesk. For more information, see Using Chat when managing multiple brands.
  • Customer satisfaction ratings. Customer satisfaction ratings in spoke accounts are not quite as detailed as in a single account implementation. In the spoke accounts, you can track the overall satisfaction rating. For more information, see Tracking customer satisfaction ratings when managing a multiple brand Zendesk.
  • Custom ticket fields. If you use custom ticket fields, you need to add them to both the hub Zendesk and to any of the spoke accounts that you want to use them in. Just create custom ticket fields of the same types using the same names (in the hub and spoke accounts) and the fields will sync automatically.
  • Reporting. You can report on all the tickets that have been shared to the hub Zendesk using Ticket outbound sharing agreement and Ticket inbound sharing agreement attributes. For more information on Insights, see Setting up Insights.

Step 1: Set up your spoke accounts and then contact Zendesk Support

To begin, determine how many spoke accounts you need, create new trial Zendesk accounts for each, and then contact a Zendesk representative and they will set them up as spoke accounts that are linked to your hub Zendesk account.

If you already have a Zendesk account and have added your agents to it and you want to expand it to include spoke accounts, you can of course use your existing account as the hub. You'll also need to sign up for or upgrade to the Enterprise version of Zendesk.

To set up your Zendesk accounts and enable the Enterprise version

  • New customers or Non-Enterprise customers: Contact our sales team if you're interested in upgrading to the Enterprise plan. They will help you through the buying and account setup process. You can contact them via the support request form or email support@zendesk.com. Explain that you're interested in Enterprise and they will handle the rest.
  • Existing Enterprise customers: If you'd like some help getting started, or have any questions that are not answered in this document, send email to support@zendesk.com. Our support team will provide all the help you need.

Step 2: Set up the ticket sharing agreements

After you've set up your accounts, you create ticket sharing agreements. The agreements share tickets from the spoke accounts to the hub Zendesk account.

To create sharing agreements
  1. Sign in to each of your spoke accounts, one at a time, as an administrator.
  2. Select the Ticket Sharing tab of the Tickets settings page to create the sharing agreement. (This is documented in more detail in Setting up a ticket sharing agreement).

    Note: We recommend allowing both public and private comments and the syncing of ticket tags.
  3. Sign in to the hub Zendesk and accept the agreements (Ticket Sharing tab of the Tickets settings page). All of the sharing agreement requests can be reviewed and accepted.

Step 3: Create the ticket sharing triggers for each spoke account

You now need to set up the workflow that automatically shares to the hub Zendesk all tickets received by the spoke accounts. To do this, you create a trigger for each spoke account.

To create the ticket sharing trigger
  1. Sign in to each of your spoke accounts, one at a time, as an administrator.
  2. Click the Admin icon () in the sidebar, then select Triggers.
    Zendesk Classic: Select the Manage menu, then select Triggers and mail notifications.
  3. Select Add Trigger.
  4. Enter a title for the trigger (for example: Share tickets with hub Zendesk).
  5. Add the following condition:
    • Ticket is Created
  6. Add the following two actions:
    • Share ticket with [your hub Zendesk name].
    • Add tags [enter a tag that identifies the spoke Zendesk account]
      Note: By adding a tag that identifies the spoke account, you can route tickets as needed in the hub Zendesk and also use it to keep track of where tickets originated.
  7. Save the trigger by clicking Create.

Your trigger should look something like this:

Step 4: In the spoke accounts, disable the business rules that notify agents

You also need to deactivate any business rules (automations or triggers) in the spoke accounts that notify agents when a ticket is created or updated. For example, if you're using the Zendesk default triggers, you need to deactivate all of these:

  • Notify assignee of comment update
  • Notify assignee of assignment
  • Notify assignee of reopened ticket
  • Notify group of assignment
  • Notify all agents of received request

You need to do this so that the spoke account agents do not receive notifications. Only the agents in the hub Zendesk should receive notifications; therefore, all ticket activity notifications will come from the hub Zendesk.

Even though you may not explicitly assign an agent to a ticket in a spoke account, one is automatically assigned because it's a required ticket field. Once it's received in the hub Zendesk, an agent is assigned based on the business rules in that Zendesk.

To deactivate a trigger
  1. Click the Admin icon () in the sidebar, then select Triggers.
    Zendesk Classic: Select the Manage menu, then select Triggers and mail notifications.
  2. Locate the trigger you want to deactivate and select Deactivate. This command appears when you move your mouse over the trigger in the list of triggers. The trigger is deactivated and displayed in the list of inactive triggers.

Step 5: Create business rules for tracking and managing shared tickets

This step is optional, but you'll probably want to create business rules in the hub Zendesk to control the workflow and track tickets received from the spoke accounts.

As described in Referring to shared tickets in business rules, you can create business rules that include tickets that you've received via ticket sharing. The following conditions are available for that purpose: Ticket channel is Ticket sharing and Ticket update via Ticket sharing.

With these ticket sharing conditions, you can create views in the hub Zendesk to, for example, track all of the tickets that have been received from the spoke accounts. To track the specific Zendesk where the shared tickets originated, you can use tags to identify each spoke.

You can create a view, or report, like this for each of the spoke accounts.

Note: Don't forget that you need to have included the spoke account tags in the sharing triggers you created (described above in Create the ticket sharing triggers for each spoke account).

You can also use the spoke account tags to route tickets through your workflow. For example, if a specific support group should be assigned to tickets from a specific spoke account, you can create a trigger in the hub Zendesk to automatically assign those tickets to that group. Here's an example of what that might look like:

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Comments

  • Avatar
    Cory Taylor

    Great implementation guys.  I have a question in regards to Goodata and reporting in general.   Since branded help desks have tickets copied into the central, is it possible to read those tickets via Goodata setup on the central help desk?

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    Pierre Grenier

    Hi Cory, yes you can report on the tickets shared with the central instance.  If you want to see total number of tickets shared with the central instance, please go to "Created Tickets by Submission Method" report.

  • Avatar
    Wesley Cole

    Question: With the requirement of having one agent or the account owner on each branded helpdesk, would that bring additional cost? Do you have to pay for the agents in the central support hub in addition to paying for the same agent or product owner on each branded help desk? 

  • Avatar
    Paul Benson

    I second Wesley Cole's question, what exactly does the annual cost per branded site amount to? $208 for Regular (assuming Starter is incompatible, although it'd be $108 per year)?

  • Avatar
    TJ Baker

    I'd love to know the answer to the question Wesley and Paul have asked as well, thanks.

  • Avatar
    Paul Benson

    To answer Wesley, Mine, and TJ's pricing question - I received the following response from Matthew Heroux after opening a ticket with Zendesk:

    Multibranding is available on our Enterprise plan, which would bump your pricing structure up to $65 per agent per month (from your current $24/agent per month with your current annual discount applied).

    There is no cost per branded site - you are able to have as many as you want under your main Enterprise account - the only cost to you for these branded sites are the unique agents that would exist for each. We will only charge you once per unique agent, no matter how many branded sites you give them access to, but unique agents will be $65/month under the annual plan.

  • Avatar
    TJ Baker

    Thanks for the update Paul!

    Good news, too :)

  • Avatar
    Pierre Grenier

    What Paul mentioned is correct.  By signing up for the Enterprise Plan, you will have access to our Multi-Brand Management feature.  This feature allows you to create and support as many branded accounts as needed for your company.  Each account must be an Enterprise account with at least one Agent user.  In terms of billing, we will only charge for unique agent users.  For example, if an agent named Bob Smith is granted access to more than one of the branded accounts, you will incur only one agent charge for him.  No double-billing.

    Please contact support for additional information or to setup your environment and ensure proper billing.

  • Avatar
    Martin Grøn

    Just to specify - I have 1 company that supports 3 languages (same product, different languages), I would need to have my main account in language 1 (primary language) and if I want to be able to specify via a link which language my costumers will see, I need to have 2 Brands, each containing the language in the forums, but all tickets passes to the main. I have 4 enterprise agents, can one agent work in all "brands" with additional cost? Right now I have my main account setup with 3 languages, and the forums being language specific, but my costumers have to login to see their correct language. I do not want to force them to do that.

  • Avatar
    Pierre Grenier

    @Mg... yes you can have agents working in multiple branded instances, we only charge for an agent once.  Pierre

  • Avatar
    Michelle Wong Esguerra

    Can I use different ticket fields for different brands? Or do my fields need to be standard across all my branded sites so that my main helpdesk can process them?

  • Avatar
    Pierre Grenier

    @Mich... you can pick different ticket fields for different brands.  These will carry over the hub except for custom fields.  Sharing of custom fields will be in place within the next 6 months.

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    Juli Fischer

    When receiving a notification from the central help desk, it does not reference the branded help desk - so it's hard to tell at a glance that it's a support ticket for the "spoke" help desk, and not the "hub" help desk.

    Aside from creating new "notify agent of such and such" triggers which rely on the tags we set to identify the branded help desk, is there a solution to this?

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    Max McCal

    Hey, Juli -  When I set these up I usually add a tag to the ticket that identifies the helpdesk it came from. Would it help to add the placeholder {{ticket.tags}} to to the Notify Assignee trigger to identify the ticket? This is probably the easiest thing to do. If you're assigning them to spoke-specific groups, you can also use the {{ticket.group.name}} placeholder.

  • Avatar
    David

    Do you have any examples of Zendesk sites running this multiple brand approach?

    If so, can you share links to the sites?

  • Avatar
    Bill Bohen

    Sorry if this has already been addressed but I haven't found it documented anywhere. Please point me in the right direction if it is.

    I am an Enterprise customer and have already set up multiple 'brands' for our different products. Until now, our products have been different enough where we did not need to have the same knowledge content on multiple brands. However, we are about to launch a free version of our product for which we do NOT want to provide the ability to generate a support ticket, but we DO want them to have access to the same knowledge base content as our fee-based product. Is there a way other than double-posting the content?

  • Avatar
    David Pipp

    @David (December 20, 2011 12:55 pm) - We are currently a regular customer with multiple brands wondering if we need to upgrade.  Is there an answer to linking to some of these sites so that we can take a look at how others have managed this?

  • Avatar
    Stephan

    We are right now testing/setting up a second brand. I am familiar with the multi brand documentation (I think). Some advise of more experienced MB users would be nice though....

     

    • I was wondering how other multi-branders keep their ticket views nicely organized. My intention was to keep a similar set of views for both brands, but it will be too long a list in the central helpdesk. How did you approach this?
    • I am trying to find a way to vary the agent signature to reflect the correct brand. The placeholder {{ticket.group.name}} seems not to work in the settings/agents/signature box. How did you circumvent this?
    • How did you set up your helpdesk to work well with look & feel of messages to customers? Can't seem to find this documented.

     

    @ Pierre: A look into the mondo account settings etc might be very helpful. Is that something that could be possible? 

    OK guys, this is just what you get when a relatively ZD newbie is trying to set up a multi brand helpdesk... ;-)

    Thanks!

  • Avatar
    Marci

    With this multi-brand arrangement, are the email addresses and URLs for the different brands all separate? e.g., Product A customers can get support by emailing support@brandA.com, and replies will be from that address; and when they visit the Product A support site, it will have a different look and URL (and support email address) than the Product B support site?

  • Avatar
    Stephan

    @ Marci: Yes on all accounts. We find it works rather well. However, customer data is not transferred between the hub and spoke accounts. So to change customer data from the spoke, you must log into the spoke environment, this cannot be done from the central helpdesk (or "hub"). And agent signatures need to be inserted in Macro's to reflect the correct organisation/URL. Unless you work with a lot of agents that are fully separated between the brands.

  • Avatar
    Marci

    Thanks Stephan. Do you (or anyone else listening) have experience with the Forums in this environment? I gather that the forums are totally separate...in fact I'm getting the impression it's literally two totally separate help desks -- the spokes and hub have their own admin interface, settings, extensions (so separate widgets for CSS, js, etc), and customer facing side -- totally separate logins, just connected by ticket sharing. Is that about right?

  • Avatar
    Stephan

    @Marci: Yes indeed. Basically you could in theory log in to the spoke desk to take care of the tickets. Forums are managed as two completely different environments. The CSS/email templates you will implement on the spoke side and that is what the customer will see. Tickets are always updated on each side. Automations are to be created on the spoke side as well. 

     

    If you create all your ticket views on the hub side to be sorted on ticket group level (we use the ticket group to differentiate between brands now) you can easily overview both brands. Or allocate different agents to different groups. Anyway: that's our solution after trial and error and one week before going "Live"with our next brand. Wish us luck....

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    Stephen

    Stephan,  you seem to have fresh knowledge of this multibrand process, and I"m LOST.  Do I start by contacting Zendesk to setup my first spoke (alt branded desk), or is there somewhere to do that in the settings?

    We're already on an Enterprise plan, trying to get a different brand out there for support.

    So many thanks,

    Stephen

    Cary, NC

  • Avatar
    Anton de Young

    Stephen, 

    Yes, please contact Support and they'll get you set up with spoke accounts. 

  • Avatar
    Jeff S

    Has anyone come up with a script to take forum information from the central zendesk and populate spoke accounts? Need to find a way to utilize the API to get forum info and put it in a spoke zendesk to avoid duplicate entry. If anyone has ideas, please let me know!

    Jeff

  • Avatar
    Arnaud de Theux

    @Jeff,

    This is actually on my to do list as I'm looking to do the same thing for our Enterprise account. When (if :-) ) I manage to do it I'll make sure to warn you.

  • Avatar
    Jeff S

    @Arnaud de Theux - awesome & thanks!

  • Avatar
    Krissy

    "Sharing of custom [ticket] fields will be in place within the next 6 months." - September 19, 2011 23:25

    Is this feature available yet?  If so, how do we set it up?

  • Avatar
    Arnaud de Theux

    @Krissy

    Yes it's available :-) Simply create the same custom field type with the same name on both the hub and spoke(s) and the data will be sent automatically.

  • Avatar
    Mike Hendley

    I have a situation where were are evaluating your system for IT support with 3 agents.  However, another unit is interested in the service.  Our requests currently go to support@company.zendesk.com and that is also the reply-to address which is fine.  However this other group would like their separate othergroupsupport@company.zendesk.com where "company" is the same.  We want the units to be able to operate an manage tickets within their own groups but also permit sharing or transferring between our business units.  BTW, we may also want to pull in yet another unit or 2.  Will multiple branded sites support this??

     

     

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