Assigning tickets to agents

Tip: There's now an updated version of the Getting Started guide available. To learn more, see Solving tickets.

In this lesson we'll briefly review the different types of users. Then you'll start building your support team by adding an agent to your Zendesk.

We'll also talk about how to manage your tickets—specifically, how to assign tickets to agents on your support team. Each ticket within Zendesk has to be assigned to someone. Finally, we'll talk about how you can automate some of the ticket assignment process. To do so, you'll create something called a trigger to automatically assign tickets based on the type of question or problem the user has.

Now, let's get started by talking about the different users in your Zendesk.

The types of user roles in Zendesk

Your Zendesk defines a number of user roles that are key to managing the people who generate support requests, those who resolve them, and the tickets themselves.

You can see all of your users in the People page. Users and people are essentially equivalent terms; it's the broadest definition for all people who use your Zendesk. In the People page you add new users, define their roles and privileges, and then organize them using groups and organizations.

Notice the People page uses different icons to represent the different user types. The user types include:
  • End-user or Customer These people generate support requests from any of the available support channels (Web portal, email, Twitter, etc.). They don't have access to any of the administrator and agent features. They can only submit and track tickets and communicate with agents. You can add end-users manually, but in most cases they are added automatically when the user sends a support request.
  • Agent These people run your day-to-day support. They are assigned tickets and interact with customers as needed to resolve support issues. The agent's role and privileges are defined by administrators.
  • Administrator These people are agents with additional privileges to set up, manage, and customize your Zendesk. Administrators also design and implement the ticket workflow. Where an agent's primary function is to interact with end-users and resolve support requests, administrators may do that as well as set up and manage the workflow.
  • Account owner This is the owner of the account and a special type of administrator. The account name is associated with this person's name, usually the person who created the account. There can only be one account owner; however, account ownership can be reassigned by the account owner to another administrator if needed. The account owner has access to areas that other administrators do not, such as invoicing, payment options, and benchmarking for the account.

Each user has different privileges depending on their role and job function. For more information user roles, see Understanding Zendesk user roles.

Adding support agents

Now it's time to add an agent to your Zendesk. Remember, an agent's primary function is to interact with end-users and resolve support requests.

To add an agent
  1. Hover over the +add tab in the top toolbar, then select User.

  2. Enter the agent's Name and Email, then click Save.

    Tip! Consider creating a test agent account instead of adding a real agent now. It might be helpful to add a test user in each role for set up and testing purposes. If you do set up test users, use names like Johnny End-User and Mary Agent so they are easily recognizable as test accounts.

  3. The new user is added. The user receives a welcome email and verification link to sign in for the first time and choose a password. Now let's make the new user an agent.
  4. In the new user's profile, change the Role to Agentand notice the options in the top section of the profile change. Let's ignore those options for now.

  5. In the next section of the profile, click Add a contact, then select Phone.

  6. Enter a phone number for the agent.
  7. Enter other information if you'd like, or leave it blank for now.

All of the agent's profile information is automatically saved as you enter it, so when you finish updating the profile, you can simply navigate away.

Tip! You can add users manually or you can do a bulk import of users. For more information, see the section on Bulk importing users and organizations in the Zendesk User's guide.

Manually assigning tickets to agents

One common ticket workflow you'll want to set up early is how tickets get assigned. In Zendesk, each ticket must eventually have someone assigned to it. That way someone takes ownership of the support request.

When you were the only agent, all tickets were automatically assigned to you. Now that you have added another agent, you must assign the tickets. Incoming tickets are in waiting in the Unassigned tickets view.

Let's create a new test ticket. Instead of submitting the ticket through email, this time pretend you are on the phone with a customer and create the new ticket manually. Imagine the customer has a billing issue and you want to assign the ticket to your new agent, who is your billing expert.

To create a test ticket to assign to an agent
  1. Click the +add tab in the top toolbar,
  2. Enter a Subject for the ticket. For example, "Double charge on credit card."
  3. Add a Description about the caller's billing issue. For example, "This customer has a double-charge on their credit card for their order."
  4. In the ticket properties panel, enter a Requestername.

    As you enter a name, matching users in your Zendesk are displayed so that you can choose one. If the user is not in your Zendesk, you can click the New icon () in the sidebar, then select User to add the user. After you add the user, click the New Ticket tab to return the ticket you were working on.

  5. In the ticket properties panel, you can select an Assigneeby typing a name or using the arrow to browse to a name.

    In this case, enter the name of the new agent you added in the previous section.

  6. Change the Type to Incident and set the Priority as High.
  7. Click Submit as New.

The new ticket is created. Zendesk automatically sends the assigned agent an email notification.

The agent can either follow the link in the email or respond directly to the email.

In addition to assigning tickets manually, as they are created or as they come in, you can set up a trigger to automatically assign agents based on certain ticket criteria. Let's try that now.

Automatically assigning tickets to agents

Now that you know how to manually assign tickets, let's make the process more efficient by automating some of it.

To automatically assign tickets, you need to create a trigger. Triggers are business rules you define that run immediately after tickets are created or updated. For example, a trigger can be used to notify the customer when a ticket has been opened. In this case, you'll create a trigger to automatically assign tickets about billing issues to a specific agent.

Triggers contain conditions and actions. You combine these to create ‘if’ and ‘then’ statements (if the ticket contains a certain set of conditions then the actions make the desired updates to the ticket). You build condition and action statements using ticket properties, field operators, and the ticket property values. Only administrators can create and manage triggers.

Let's create a trigger that will automatically assign billing issues to a specific agent.

Creating a trigger

To build our trigger, we'll use the tag that was created when you added the custom web form field in Customizing your Web portal. If you didn't complete that lesson, you can do so now, or you can base your trigger on an item that already exists in the ticket.

This trigger will identify any tickets with the billing tag (which is based on the custom field) and assign them to a specific agent (the one you just added) who specializes in billing issues.

To add a trigger
  1. Click the Manage icon () in the sidebar, then select Triggers.
  2. Click Add Trigger.
  3. Enter a Trigger title for your trigger. For example, "Auto-assign to Billing."
  4. Under Meet all of the following conditions select Tags.

    Two more fields appear. Leave the middle field set to Contains at least one of the following.

  5. In the last field, enter a tag. For example, "billing_issue."
  6. Click the Plus (+) to add another condition.
  7. Select Ticket is in the first field, then select Created in the second field.

    This is important. A ticket can only be created once, but it can be updated many times. You want this trigger to run only when the ticket is created.

  8. In the Perform these actions section, select Assignee, then choose the billing specialist agent you added earlier.

  9. Click Create Trigger to create your new trigger.

Your new trigger is added to the end of the list of triggers. Now anytime a web form is submitted with the billing tag, it will automatically be assigned to your billing agent.

Now you'd probably like to make sure that your billing agent is notified when a ticket is assigned. Remember that Zendesk comes with a pre-defined trigger called Notify assignee of assignment. This trigger sends email to the assignee when a ticket assignment is made, so you don't need to create your own trigger to do this.

Triggers can work together; one trigger can trigger another. In this case, you created the Auto-assign to billing trigger that assigns billing tickets to a particular agent. As soon as that trigger executes, making an assignment, you want the Notify assignee of assignment trigger to execute and send the notification email to the assignee. But triggers execute according to how they are ordered in the triggers list, so it's important to make sure you have them in the right order.

Let's look now at how you can reorder triggers to make sure they fire in the right order.

Ordering triggers

When a ticket is created or updated, Zendesk runs through all the triggers in order. So it's important to make sure your triggers are in the right order.

In our example, we want the Auto-assign to billing trigger we created trigger to execute before the Notify assignee of assignment trigger. This will ensure that when a customer submits a billing issue ticket, it will first be assigned to the billing agent, and then notification email will be sent to the assigned agent.

New triggers are added to the bottom of the triggers list. Let's move the Auto-assign to billing trigger from the bottom so that it is above the Notify assignee of assignment trigger.

To reorder triggers
  1. Click the Manage icon () in the sidebar, then select Triggers, if you are not already in the Triggers page.
  2. Click Reorder at the bottom of the list of active triggers.
  3. Click the Auto-assign to billing trigger and drag it above the Notify assignee of assignment trigger.

  4. Click Done.

That's it. Now these two triggers will execute in the right order. Remember to check the trigger order every time you add a trigger. And it's a good practice to test your triggers after you create them.

Finding unassigned tickets

Unless you create triggers to automatically assign all your tickets, you will have tickets in your Unassigned tickets view. This view contains all unassigned tickets, including those created automatically through channels such as email and Twitter. In Zendesk, each ticket must eventually have someone assigned to it.

You'll need to define a workflow for how tickets are assigned in your Zendesk. This will probably depend on the number of agents you have and the volume of tickets you receive.

You can implement a manual assignment workflow (you might have agents go through unassigned tickets and self-assign or you might have one or more people triage the list and assign agents.) an automatic assignment workflow (you might set up triggers to make assignments like we did in the previous section), or a mix of manual and automatic.

Figure out what makes sense for your Zendesk. And if you are doing manual assignments, don't forget to make sure someone is responsible for checking the Unassigned tickets view on a regular basis!


In this lesson we reviewed the types of users in Zendesk. Then you added a new user, an agent, to your Zendesk.

Next we talked about assigning tickets. You manually assigned a ticket, first, then you set up a trigger to automatically assign certain tickets to you new agent. You learned how triggers work and the importance of the order of triggers. Finally, we talked about where to find unassigned tickets.

If you've completed all the Getting Started lessons, check out the next section for more information about where to go next.

Have more questions? Submit a request


  • Avatar
    Iftakher Rahman

    Hi ,

    Just wanted to know if it's possible to do an automatic rotation of assignee using trigger. As in, if there are 3 agents in a group then the 1st ticket gets assigned to Agent 1 ,the next ticket gets assigned to Agent B and the third ticket to Agent 3.



  • Avatar
    Brandon K.

    Hello Iftakher,

    Triggers and Automations work off of ticket attributes and cannot take actions based on other tickets or users. Unfortunately, it seems that having an automatic ticket rotation is not possible natively. Something similar to what you want might be possible with a custom app, I would recommend senting an email to to discuss if this could be created for you on a contract basis.

  • Avatar
    Iftakher Rahman

    Thank you for your respond. I've another question . Is it possible to execute an external app from Zendesk using triggers? I would like to invoke a console app (.net c#) when a new ticket is created or updated. Is there anyway that I could do this?


  • Avatar
    Brandon K.

    Hey Iftakher,

    Yes, if you go to Settings > Extensions > Targets you can set up an external target, you'd most likely want to use the url target for a custom integration. Once you have set up your target here, you can then choose the option 'Notify Target' under trigger actions to fire under the circumstances that you specify in the conditions.

  • Avatar
    Luiz Teixeira

    In our case, we have 10 agents assigned to different courses. All agents are part of Support group. Based on the example given above, under "Automatically assigning tickets to agents," how can I assign tickets to more than one agent based on tags (course IDs)? I've tried cloning the trigger and changing the tags to the corresponding assignee, but instead of assigning tickets correctly the system goes through the list of cloned tickets and assigns tickets to the last agent on the list. If I re-order the list, it again assigns to the new agent at the bottom of the cloned trigger list. Not sure how to approach this and would appreciate any help. :)

  • Avatar
    Brandon K.

    Hey Luiz,

    Zendesk only allows you to assign a ticket to a single agent. If you want to have multiple agents work on a single ticket, I would recommend chosing one agent as point and then adding everyone else that needs to be added as a CC (you can add agents as CC's using triggers). If an agent is a CC they will receive updates on the ticket and can add public comments just like the assigned agent.

    Hope this works for you!

  • Avatar
    Luiz Teixeira

    Hi Brandon,

    I just re-read my previous note and I think I did not explain it well. I am not trying to assign a ticket to multiple agents, but rather I am trying to assign a ticket to one agent based on tags/words/text in the ticket. This is what we are trying to accomplish:

    • All agents are part of the same group (Support)
    • When a ticket is created with specific words anywhere in the ticket, I would like it to be automatically assigned to a specific agent in the Support group.
    • The specific words are course IDs (we are a school)
    • So say Agent 1 handles course A1, A3, and A5; and Agent 2 handles courses A2, A4, and A6. How can we set up a trigger so that if a new ticket is created and includes "A1," for example, in any of the ticket fields, the ticket is automatically assigned to Agent 1?

    I thought this would be a straightforward process since it's probably common to have tickets assigned to different individual in the same group.  If you have any other suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it. :)

  • Avatar
    Brandon K.

    Hi Luiz,

    Thanks for the clarification! You can definitely do this using the condition 'Comment text... Contains at least one of the following' and then choosing the codes you want to assign off of. This would only work for words added to the comment box, not any of the free form text custom fields. Another route you could go is to list every possible course in a drop down custom ticket field and then create a trigger that would assign newly created tickets based off of the tags associated with the choices in that custom drop down field.

  • Avatar
    Ben Rasmussen

    Is there a way to shut off the automatic updates to agents email?  Our plan is for our agents to be in the client, we'd prefer to not clutter their email account every time a ticket is created.  I don't see the option located anywhere.

  • Avatar
    Brandon K.

    Hey Ben,

    All emails that are sent out from Zendesk are due to a trigger. If you do not want your agents to receive certain emails, I would recommend that you go to Manage > Business rules > Triggers and look through the default triggers to see which ones you do not want sending out emails. The ones that start with 'Notify assignee' are usually the ones that send emails to your agents. Check out this article for an explination of the default triggers:

  • Avatar
    Web Designers Studio

    Now I would like the same as previously mentioned with a slight variation.  All of our agent will be mobile and so we would like to be able to auto assign a ticket to the agent who first opens the ticket.  Quite simply, if  you open it you own it, you solve it.  Can this scenario be setup with the current trigger and automation setup, if so, please share how?  Thanks.

  • Avatar
    Brandon K.

    Hey Web Designers Studio,

    I'm sure we can do this with a trigger, I just need you to define what you mean by open. Do you mean when an agent creates a ticket, updates a ticket, or views a ticket? Get back to me and i'll be happy to take a screenshot of a recommended trigger.

  • Avatar
    Web Designers Studio

    When an agent views the ticket, the ticket is then automatically assigned to them.  Ninety percent of our tickets will be generated via email.  So with an agent logs in there will be tickets already in the queue.  When they click on the ticket to view it then the assignment should take place then.  Thanks.

  • Avatar
    Brandon K.

    Hey Web Designers Studio,

    Unfortunately Zendesk is unable to assign or have a trigger take effect just by viewing a ticket. We could definitely design this to occur when the ticket has been updated, but the assignee would have to make a change to the ticket for the trigger to fire. If you created a trigger with the condition 'Assignee is -' and then the action 'Assignee (current user)' you would be able to automatically assign tickets to your agents when they first update an unassigned ticket. I hope this works!

  • Avatar
    Cory York

    How can I use zendesk so people can deal directly with a particular agent every time they speak with us? 


    Can we use there indivdual email ids? or would it still need to go through one support email that is forwarded to zendesk.. Can we just forward all the agents direct emails to zendesk and auto assign back to them?



  • Avatar
    Dr. J

    Wow, that’s a really interesting question!


    I think that the best solution would be one of the following two options:

    If you have allowed Email Forwarding, any agent can forward an email in to your Zendesk, and have it properly create a ticket with the correct requester.

    To make this more powerful, you can also take advantage of the fact that you can use any prefix with your email address.


    • I have an email I want assigned to Jimmy (one of my agents)
      1. Have the customer email, or have your Agent forward the message to
    • Create a trigger to automatically route tickets that are *Received at… " the address, and Assign the ticket to Jimmy.
  • Avatar
    Robert Still

    I would like to know if it's possible to do something in Zendesk. Every now and then, we have the need to reassign multiple tickets from one agent to another, for whatever reason. Currently, the only way we know to do it is to go in to each ticket, one by one, and reassign to the desired agent. Is there any way in Zendesk to reassign multiple, select tickets from one agent to another en masse?

  • Avatar
    Justin Graves

    @Robert - The best way to do what you want is to create a view showing the source agent's tickets.  Then you can select a few or all of them at once, and perform a batch re-assignment.

  • Avatar
    Julia Banks

    Can we assign tickets to agents based on the time the ticket comes in?  e.g. if between hours A-B assign to agent X, if between hours B-C assign to agent Y?

  • Avatar

    Hi Julia, 

    This is not possible in-product. While it's true that an Automation is a time-based event that can assign tickets, it would be based on the hours elapsed or until an event, not elapsed or until a specific time of day. 

    This may be possible to do via the API, however. 

  • Avatar
    Deborah Thomas

    Is it possible to set a trigger that would automatically send a ticket back to an agent if they tried to reassign to a particular agent?

    For example, Agent Jo Bloggs assigns a ticket (may or may not be already assigned to them) to Mary Smith. But Mary Smith shouldn't get tickets assigned to them.

    Could this be done with a trigger or somehow exclude an agent from being able to have tickets assigned to them? Sounds strange I know.


  • Avatar

    Hi Thomas, 

    This can definitely be done with a trigger. 

    Under Meet All of the Following Conditions, say:

    Assignee is Mary Smith

    Under Perform these Actions, say:

    Assignee is (current user)

    That will reassign the ticket back to the Agent submitting the update if they attempt to assign it to Mary Smith. 


  • Avatar
    Erin Ambrose

    When you open a ticket from the unassigned mailbox - does it automatically assign to the agent or do they have to assign it to themselves after taking it?

  • Avatar
    Rodney Lewis

    Hey Erin,

    If an agent takes a ticket from the unassigned view they will have to assign it to themselves. It will not automatically do it for them. I'm going to create a ticket for you, if you have  anymore questions please free to send a reply.

    Hey Erin,

    I forgot to mention the "Take It " button. If an agent opens a ticket  and then clicks (Take It ) the ticket will be  assigned it to them. 

  • Avatar
    Justin Graves

    @ Erin -  We set up a trigger which I think you may find helpful.  When an unassigned ticket is updated by an agent and the comment is public, the ticket gets automatically assigned to that agent.

    This allows us to triage and update ticket fields in unassigned tickets - and even add internal notes - without assigning the ticket.... But once an agent makes contact with an end-user, we expect them to own that ticket through completion.

    See the image for how we set it up.


  • Avatar
    Kasandra Darwin

    Hi there, 

    We have two types of support, regular support and channel support.

    I am trying to make it so that all emails that go to are automatically assigned to the channel support group. I have tried both an automation and a trigger and I cannot for the life of me figure out why it isn't working.

    Any magical tips?


  • Avatar
    Justin Graves

    Hey Kasandra - We do something similar.  Here's how to set it up.

    1. Set up to forward to  That will get the emails into your zendesk.

    2. Then go to and set up the email address and in Support Addresses.  I think you really only need to set up but I have both email types set up in our Zendesk and it works flawlessly.

    3. Create a Trigger that meets all of the conditions (only 1 of them) below:

    • Ticket: Is... Created
    1. In that same Trigger, in the any condition section:
    1. In that same Trigger, set it to perform these actions (only 1):
    • Ticket: Group = Channel Support

    Hope that helps.  Sorry there's no magical pixie dust to be sprinkled :)

    Happy Zendesking,


  • Avatar
    Kasandra Darwin

    Hi Justin, 

    Thank you! It works! That is all the magic I need! 

    I really appreciate it!

  • Avatar
    Justin Graves

    Perfect.  Glad you're up and running.  Keep using the forums to mine the collective knowledge here :)

  • Avatar

    Okay, help! lol

    I would like to have it set up when one of the forwarding addresses forwards an email to the zendesk that it auto goes to an agent. Is this possible?

    Ex: someone emails to my main support@ABC123 which now forwards to zendesk = agent 1

    Ex: Someone emails my support@XYZ321 which now forwards to zendesk = agent 2

    Thank you so much for your assistance!


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