Configuring how end-users access and sign in to Zendesk Support Follow

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One of the steps in setting up your Zendesk is deciding who you will allow to use it. Based on the type of support you provide, you may allow anyone to access your Zendesk Support instance and submit support requests or you may limit access to a select group of users. You can configure Zendesk Support for either scenario and also control many other factors in determining who is allowed to use Zendesk Support.

You'll need to configure end-user access, registration, and sign-in options.

Zendesk provides you with a lot of flexibility in all three of these areas and the following sections explain each in detail.


You have internal and external users. Your agents and other support staff are your internal users. Your end-users are the people to whom you provide support and whose tickets you manage in Zendesk Support. These are your external users. While your support staff must sign in to your Zendesk, your end-users may not have to depending on how you set up access to Zendesk Support.

You can set one authentication method for end-users and another method for agents and admins. For example, you can specify stricter password requirements for agents, who have access to more sensitive information, than for end-users. You can also provide different single sign-on options for each set of users.

You can also restrict the external users who can access your Zendesk Support instance. For example, you might want to allow only end-users from a specific email domain and then reject all others.

You can set up your Zendesk Support access to be completely open to all users, restrict it to a specific group or groups of users, or close your Zendesk Support instance and only allow the users you add to your Zendesk.

  • Open means that everyone can see your Help Center and submit support requests. This is the configuration you'd choose if you, for example, sell products and provide support to the general public. A user submits a support request and a new user account is created in your Zendesk.
  • Closed means your Help Center is visible to everyone but only the users that you add to your Zendesk account can sign in and submit support requests. Each user's account must be created before they can submit support requests and signing in is required. This is typically how an in-house IT help desk would configure their Zendesk Support instance.
  • Restricted means that your Zendesk Support instance is visible to all users but only users with email addresses in domains that you approve are able to successfully submit support requests. All other users' requests are rejected. This configuration allows you restrict access to Zendesk Support but also allows your users to request support without first having been added to your Zendesk, as is the case with a closed Zendesk Support instance.

Setting up your Zendesk Support instance for all three options is described in the following topics:


You can require that your end-users register before they can begin a conversation with your Zendesk Support instance. This means that users must first register (sign up) with your Zendesk by providing their name and email address.

Note: If you started using Zendesk Support on or after August 21, 2013, this option is not available until you activate your Help Center. See Getting started with Help Center.
The registration process is started when an end-user does one of the following:
  • Visits your Help Center and clicks Submit a request
  • Visits your Help Center and clicks Sign in for the first time and then Sign up
  • Sends an email support request to your support email address for the first time

After signing up, end-users receive a welcome email message that prompts them to verify their email address and also create a password so that they can sign in to Zendesk Support.

Important: It's important to note that when you require your end-users to register, the tickets that they submit to Zendesk Support remain in limbo (i.e. not actually added to your Zendesk Support instance) until the end-user has verified their email address and created a user account.

By requiring your end-users to register, you help to ensure that the support requests you receive are legitimate and not spam. Registration is not a guarantee that spam won't get through to your Zendesk, but other tools are provided to handle those that do manage to get through. See Managing suspended tickets and spam.

So what does the end-user gain by registering and signing in to your Zendesk Support instance? Doing so allows the end-user to do the following:
  • Submit tickets in Help Center without being prompted to provide their email address
  • Track their tickets in Help Center
  • Comment on articles in Help Center, participate in community discussions, and more. See Getting Started with Help Center
  • Update their user profile and add additional contact information (email addresses and social media accounts) so that they can submit requests from any of these accounts and Zendesk will pair them to their Zendesk user account.


Allowing unregistered users to submit requests

You can still provide support to your end-users without requiring them to register and sign in. They lose the benefits that registration provides but as far as your agents are concerned, the ticket workflow is the same. Many companies provide email-only support and never require their end-users to register because they don't want or need their end-users to visit and use their Help Center.

Note: You can actually do both: not require registration and also allow your end-users to use your Help Center. You'd do this by hiding all the signin access points into your knowledge base and then providing content that anyone can see. For more information about setting this up, see Setting up to provide email-only support.

Even though you don't require your end-users to register, a user account is created for each of them in your Zendesk. This is required of course because Zendesk (and you) need to communicate with them via email. The user account contains their email address and other personal data. These users remain unverified in your Zendesk, which is fine since you don't require registration.

When unregistered users submit a support request, they receive an email notification informing them that their request has been received. They do not receive the new user welcome email message. And, unlike when requiring registration, the ticket is immediately added to your Zendesk Support instance.

See Managing end-user settings for more information about setting up your Zendesk Support instance to allow unregistered users.

User accounts created by agents

As we've shown above, there are a number of ways that your end-users can self-register in your Zendesk. In addition to self registration, your agents can also add end-users.

This can be done manually by agents. Administrators can bulk import a list of users using a CSV file or add users via the Zendesk API.

If you require registration, you can choose if you want the welcome email message sent to the end-users you've added. This is an admin setting called Also send a verification email when a new user is created by an agent or administrator. Choosing this setting prompts the end-users to verify their email and choose a password just as if they had created the user account themselves (in other words, to register with your Zendesk). If you don't require registration, you would not choose this option.

How you set up Zendesk Support (as open, closed, or restricted) also affects registration, verification, and passwords. For detailed information, see the following topics:


If you've decided that your end-users must sign in to access Zendesk Support, you need to decide how you want to authenticate your end-users so that you're assured that they are who they say they are. Zendesk provides lots of flexibility in this regard. You can use Zendesk's own user authentication (the standard signin process) or you can remotely authenticate your end-users outside of Zendesk and then seamlessly sign them in to your Zendesk Support instance. You can also allow your end-users to sign in using popular social media such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter.

When discussing users that are authenticated outside of your Zendesk, you're going to see these terms: single sign-on (or SSO) and remote authentication. Single sign-on is often used interchangeably with remote authentication. For the sake of clarity, it's best to think of single sign-on as the ability for your users to sign in to your Zendesk Support instance using a password from a system outside of Zendesk. That's made possible by remote authentication; users are authenticated outside of your Zendesk and then seamlessly signed in.

Standard Zendesk sign-in

This is the user authentication that Zendesk provides and which was outlined above. You set your Zendesk account to require registration, the end-user signs up (registers) and then verifies their email address and creates a password. They then sign in to your Help Center using their email address and password. Zendesk takes care of authenticating the user and allowing them access to your Zendesk. You also have the option of setting the security level for passwords. All user data is contained and managed within your Zendesk account.

2-factor authentication can be turned on by agents and administrators on an individual basis. After entering their password as usual, they'll be asked to enter a 6-digit passcode. The passcodes can be received in text messages or they can be generated by a two-factor authentication app installed on a mobile device.

Social media single sign-on: Facebook, Google, Twitter

In addition to the end-user's Zendesk user account sign-in (email address and password), you can allow your end-users to sign in to your Zendesk Support instance using their Facebook, Google, Twitter accounts.

These social media sign-in options are provided as a convenience for your end-users so that they don't need to remember yet another password to sign in to your Zendesk.

The social media account, rather than Zendesk, is authorized to authenticate the end-user. Zendesk trusts Twitter, for example, to make sure that the user is who they say they are.

Note: Both Facebook and Twitter are also Zendesk Support channels, meaning that end-users can reach out to you using either of these, if you've set up these channels in Zendesk Support. Support requests received via these channels is not the same as signing into your Zendesk Support instance. In other words, enabling the Facebook or Twitter social sign-in is not the same as enabling these as channels in Zendesk Support.

For more information, see Enabling social media single sign-on.

Single sign-on with JSON Web Token (JWT)

You also have the option of creating a locally hosted custom remote authentication script that connects to your external user management system. This is possible using JSON Web Token (JWT). Single sign-on is based on a shared secret between your local authenticating script and Zendesk. This secret is used to securely generate a hash (one-way encryption) that Zendesk uses to ensure that users who sign in to your account using remote authentication are who they claim to be and have been pre-approved to do so by implicitly knowing the shared secret. JWT is available on Team and above.

For more information about JWT, see Setting up single sign-on with JWT (JSON Web Token).

Single sign-on with SAML (Professional and Enterprise)

If you prefer to manage your users and their sign-in to your Zendesk yourself, you have the option of using identity provider services such as OneLogin, Okta, and PingIdentity. These use SAML (Secure Assertion Markup Language) and either store all your user data or connect to your enterprise user management systems such as Active Directory and LDAP.

You might set up your Zendesk sign-in this way if you're using Zendesk Support as corporate IT help desk, for example. You have complete control over your users and they don't need a separate password to sign in to your Zendesk. Instead, when users visit your Zendesk Support instance and attempt to sign in, they are seamlessly redirected to your SAML server for authentication. Once authenticated, users are redirected back to your Zendesk Support instance and automatically signed in.

The only user data that is contained in your Zendesk is the user's email address or an external ID that you define.

For more information about setting up your Zendesk to use a SAML identity provider, see Using SAML for single sign-on (Professional and Enterprise).

Have more questions? Submit a request


  • 0
    We have SSO enabled, but we're going to allow end users to browse our Help Center if they have the direct URL (not requiring login). However, when they go to submit a ticket from the Help Center, we would like to require login for this. How would we go about setting this up?
  • 0

    HI Thor - You can restrict ticket creation by disabling the "anyone can submit tickets" setting. In your help center you will still have the option to set your sections to be visible to anyone. This will allow you to expose your help center content to anonymous users but still accept tickets only from registered users. Here's a great article on setting up a closed zendesk.

  • 0



    Is there any guide I can follow to add a new social media login button? Say, GitHub? Thanks

  • 0

    Eugene - Unfortunately there isn't a native GitHub SSO solution. There may be other social media services that you could rig with JWT or SAML. From what I can tell GitHub only supports SAML in Enterprise accounts.

    If you figure out a way to enable a new social media login I know everyone would love to hear about it. 

  • 0
  • 0

    We are evaluating Zendesk currently.  We would like to know if it is possible to automatically log a customer in when they log into our application, without any additional login steps.

  • 0

    How can I add my Zendesk Support credentials to my OneLogIn through the ZenDesk App?

  • 0

    Hey Mike!

    Have you had a chance to check out our SSO documentation? That should give you some useful information: Single sign-on (SSO) options in Zendesk.


  • 0

    Hi Weop-

    I think this resource from OneLogin should help you get SSO setup for Zendesk:

    Edited by Rebecca
  • 0

    Hi Zendesk,

    We don't want to force users to log into customer portal, but we don't want that anyone can see anyone's tickets.

    Would it be possible to send encoded links to the end-user? or maybe include end-users email in the request?

    Like :

    or Like :

    Instead of:

    Thanks in advance!

  • 0

    Hey Joan!

    It's not possible to do what you're describing here...can you tell me a little more about your use case? There are email placeholders available that will include the entire contents of a ticket in the notifications that get send out to your customers that would eliminate the need for them to view the ticket on the there a reason that doesn't work for you?

  • 0

    Hi Jessie,

    Our idea is that our customers place their complaints through our website, then through Zendesk API we would create the ticket and give back a code or a coded URL like my example, so they can check the status of their ticket at any moment.

    Why do we want to hide/encode the URL? Because we don't want to force them to log into Zendesk or to give anyone outside our company access to all tickets.

    But I was thinking about a workaround, could it be possible that without login the tickets show only the question placed and the answer without the personal data of the claimant customer?

    Edited by Joan Roda Vilella
  • 0

    Hi Joan!

    I am not sure I understand for the workaround part why you're looking to hide the end user's name from the ticket view. When agents login to your Help Center they are only able to see tickets they requested and organization requests if enabled. If I am not clear on this, can you please elaborate a bit and we can see what we can do? 

    I may be wrong, but from your question, "could it be possible that without login the tickets show only the question placed and the answer without the personal data of the claimant customer?" are you instead referring to our Community? Do your end users create posts and add comments in your Community and you'd like to hide their identity? 

    If so, this is not possible with default functionality but I was able to get pretty close to accomplishing this by removing a few lines of code in the various Community templates: 

    For example  {{!--  <li class="meta-data">\{{}}</li> --}} on the Community topic page template and 

              {{!-- <ul class="meta-group">
                  <li class="meta-data">\{{}}</li>
                  <li class="meta-data">{{t 'created'}} {{date created_at timeago=true}}</li>
              </span>  --}}

    Edited by Rebecca
  • 0

    Hi Rebecca,

    Right now we have a website with a complaint form, we don't want to change this.

    The idea is to take the data informed by the external users and through Zendesk API create the ticket in Zendesk, then we would like to send an URL to them so they can track the status of their complaints.
    Our employees are the only users authorized to create/manage tickets. Our customers create them through the API.

    But we have 2 requirements:

    • we don't want users need to log into Zendesk in order to check the status of their complaints
    • we don't want that anybody (except Zendesk Agents) could read any ticket. Each user without an authorized Zendesk account could only read the tickets created on their behalf

    Let me explain it with an example:
    User 1 creates ticket A. We send them an URL to check his ticket status
    User 2 creates ticket B. We send them an URL to check his ticket status

    But they could alter their URLs and check the status of each others tickets just altering the number of id (Zendesk creates correlative id tickets). We don't want that.

    We want that user 1 can check only the status of ticket A and that user 2 can only check the status of ticket B.

    We thought about adding the email of the claimant on the URL to check the identity but Jessie told us that is not possible, so we were thinking about the possibility that the URL only shows the original request and the answer of our agent, but no personal data.

    Edited by Joan Roda Vilella
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    Hi Joan!

    Thanks so much for the detailed response. I am going to pull this into a ticket and will be following up soon. :)

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    Hello, I'm trying to accomplish JWT single sign on via my application into Zendesk. I was able to do SSO for "Agents", but same snippet of code is not working for "End-users". Is there a known issue or configuration for this?

    I can share my code for those who are interested.

    Thanks in advance.

  • 0

    @Mayank M,

    There are no known issues with end-user or agent JWT sign-in that I am aware of. I will be creating a ticket for you so we can look into this further.

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    Will single sign on (JWT or SAML) also create new user records?   In other words, a user registers in our database on 2/17/17 at 12:00pm and clicks our "help" link at 12:01pm.  Will the user record be created at 12pm?  12:01pm?  or do I need to send it to ZenDesk first using API?  Thanks in advance.


    EDIT: disregard, found the answer here:

    Edited by Mike Dixon
  • 0

    Hey Mike!

    Thanks for letting us know you found it, and linking back to it!

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