Providing live chat support with Zendesk Chat

Providing live chat support with Zendesk Chat

After your Chat channel has been set up and enabled by an administrator, you're ready to accept chat sessions (see Setting up your Chat channel in the Zendesk Administrator Guide)

Customers can initiate chat requests from existing tickets or from a Feedback Tab. From a customer's perspective, the chat functionality is similar to other chat clients, such as MSN Messenger, AIM, Google Talk, or Facebook Chat.

Workflow

If your administrator has enabled chat, end-users can initiate chat from an existing ticket or from the Feedback Tab (if implemented) when an agent is available. A chat request from an existing ticket does not go to the assigned agent, but it goes to all available agents for anyone to accept.

The number of chats that your Zendesk can accept at one time depends on the number of agents who have made themselves and the number of chats that each available agent can accept (according to how the administrator set up chat). So that is:
(number of available agents) X (max number of chats allowed per agent) = total number of active chats that can be accepted at a given time

This is how it works:

  • If agents are available when a customer makes a chat request, the request is sent to all available agents. Any agent can accept or ignore the request. The first agent to accept the request begins the chat and the request disappears for the other agents. Depending on how the administrator set up chat, agents might be able to accept multiple chat sessions at once.
  • If agents are not available when a user tries to make a chat request, the user sees a message saying no agents are available. The user can add a comment to the existing ticket (if one exists) or submit a support request (if there is not an existing ticket).
  • If the request times out or is declined while a user is waiting for an agent to chat, the user sees a message inviting them to add a comment to the ticket (if they came from an existing ticket) or to submit a support request (if they came from the Feedback Tab). Chat requests time out if they are not accepted within one minute.

Making yourself available for chat

If your administrator has enabled chat, you can make yourself available to accept chat requests from users.

Note:

You must belong to a group to use Chat. Belonging to a group is a requirement to be assigned to tickets; Chat has the same requirement.

When you accept a chat request, you remain available for additional chat requests (unless your administrator has limited the number of chats per agent to one, or you have accepted the maximum number of chats allowed per agent). If you do not want to receive chat requests while you are in a chat session, make yourself unavailable for chat during that time.

To make yourself available to accept a chat request

  • Click the Chat icon in the top toolbar, then select Online.

    Zendesk Classic: Click the Chat icon in the menu bar, then select Open chat panel. Notice that the Chat icon () appears in the top toolbar, indicating that you are available for chat.
To make yourself unavailable for chat
  • Click the Chat icon in the top toolbar, then select Offline in the Chat section.
    Zendesk Classic: Close the chat panel.

Monitoring for chat requests

After you make yourself available for chat, you need to monitor for incoming chat requests.

To monitor for chat requests

  • Watch for chat request notifications to appear under the Chat icon in the top toolbar.

    Zendesk Classic: Leave the chat panel open and watch for chat requests. When a user initiates a chat request, the user's name appears in the chat panel.

Accepting a chat session

You can accept one or more chat sessions at a time, depending on how your administrator set up chat. Once you have accepted the maximum number of chats allowed per agent, you will not receive new chat requests until you finish a chat. You cannot transfer a chat session to another agent.

To accept a chat session
  1. Make yourself available for chat by clicking Online.
  2. When you receive a chat request. hover you mouse over the chat request and click Accept.

    Alternatively, you can click Ignore if you do not want to accept the chat.

    When you click Accept, an auto-reply is sent to the user asking "How can I help you today?" If you ignore the chat or don't respond within one minute, the user receives a message inviting them to add a comment to the ticket (if they came from an existing ticket) or to submit a support request form (if they came from the Feedback Tab).

  3. Type a message, then click Send.

    Continue the chat as long as needed.

  4. If you want to view the ticket associated with the chat or the user's profile, click the ticket number or the user name at the top of the ticket.

    New tickets are created at the beginning of a chat so either an existing ticket or a new ticket is available during a chat.

    Zendesk Classic: You can only view an existing ticket during a chat; new tickets are not created until a chat ends. To view an existing ticket associated with the chat, click the ticket number at the top of the chat panel. To view the user's profile, click the user name on the bottom left of the chat panel.
  5. When you are ready to end the chat, click End Chat. The user can also end the chat at any time.

Identifying the user and handling new accounts

End-users who initiate chat from the Feedback Tab are prompted for their name and email address before they send the chat request. They do not have to be registered users to initiate a chat request. End-users who initiate chat from an existing ticket are already signed in, so they are not prompted for their email address.

Chat requests received from new, unknown users generate new user accounts that include the name and email address the user entered. An unrecognized user might actually be an existing users using an email address that is not in their user profile. In this case, you can merge the new user account with their existing user account. For more information, see Merging a user's duplicate account.

Using a macro to update a chat session

You can apply macros to chat sessions. This enables you to update a chat with a pre-built, standard response. Chat macros are available for Regular, Plus, and Enterprise.

For information about applying macros to chat, see .

For information about creating macros for chat, see .

Working with chat tickets

Every chat session is associated with a ticket—either a new ticket or an existing ticket, depending on how the user initiated the chat.

When a user initiates chat from the Feedback Tab a new ticket is created at the beginning of the chat. You can work on the ticket during the chat session.

Zendesk Classic: A new ticket is created at the end of the chat. You can work on the ticket after the chat ends.

When a user initiates chat from an existing ticket you can view and edit the ticket during your chat by clicking the ticket number above the chat window.

Zendesk Classic: You can view and edit the ticket during your chat by clicking the ticket number at the top of the chat panel.

During an active chat session the chat is not part of the ticket. When a chat session ends, the full chat session is appended to the new or existing ticket as a comment. You can then make necessary updates to the ticket and submit it.

If a new ticket is created and you find that there is actually an existing ticket for the same issue, you can merge the tickets. For more information, see Merging tickets.

Searching for chat tickets

You can search for tickets that were generated from chat sessions. You can also search for a user's tickets using their email address.

Use the via keyword in a search to search for chat tickets, as follows:

via:chat

If you want to search for a user's ticket using their email address, you can enter the user's email in your search.

For more information about searching, see Searching the data in your Zendesk.

Have more questions? Submit a request

Comments

  • Avatar
    Siobhan Hitchmough

    Hi there,

    Any chance that as you move forward with development we'll be able to:

    a) use macros in the chat (or have a separate set for the chat specifically)

    b) that chat windows will be closed automatically once the ticket has been created?  Perhaps that notification can be changed to a popup that disappears after the initial notification?

    Great service!  Looking forward to seeing the new streamlined modifications!

  • Avatar
    Nico Kunzer

    I have a question: Is it possible allowing the Chat for one end-user but NOT for another?

  • Avatar
    Anton de Young

    N Kunzer, 

    Sorry, no. That's not possible. 

  • Avatar
    Nico Kunzer

    Ok, thanks for your answer Anton.

    Another question: Our agents are not always in front of the computer waiting for a new ticket. When it occurs they receive a notification on their smartphone through the App.

    Is it a way having the same behaviour for the Chat?

     

     

  • Avatar
    Tyler Smith

    Can you chat via your mobile phone with the zendesk app or is this chat feature only for computers?

  • Avatar
    Tom Whiting

    Chat via IM, or via mobile device, even windows app would be great.

    Kind of silly having to keep a browser window open 24x7 just for 'chat'

  • Avatar
    Jbrodley

    Have you heard of any instances of any zendesk users using this for communication between different agent groups? For Example, if there is a general agent group and an escalation group and using this chat for general agents to chat with escalation agents?

  • Avatar
    Gabe Gomez

    Just started testing the chat function this week and love it.** The Zendesk app would be killer if chat functionality were added. Please consider! Thanks.**

  • Avatar
    Steven Yan

    Thanks to everyone who's commented about chatting from your mobile device.  We've considered this functionality but have not prioritized it very highly because we feel that the user experience may not be the best -- you would rather chat from your computer where you can type quickly to handle multiple chats.  If anyone has feedback about how they would want to use chat in a mobile support scenario, and what kind of volume you think you would be able to handle, please share!

  • Avatar
    Dee Quilliams

    Yes!!! I was hoping I would find something on this. Ok, my request isn't for agent-side chat in a mobile situation but for end-user chat in a mobile situation. The majority of our customers are on the go and are using their mobile phone to use our service. It would be awesome for them to have a usable and realistic way of initiating a chat session with us rather than emailing or calling, but currently they can only get a chat session through an open ticket or on the feedback tab. I'd like a way for them to initiate a chat session from a mobile browser from our mobile zendesk site. If they initiate a chat session now through the main website it is just a clunky chat window which isn't designed for mobile use. Once done, we would incorporate into our own mobile apps a dedicated 'Chat' button pointing to the mobile chat browser.

    I think we'd get crazy usage volume with this. We have over 500,000 customers and 75% of them using a mobile app to use our service rather than the standard IVR system by phone. Our people are impatient and they want an answer now. Chat is a no fuss and no frills, quick-answer type of solution our users want and need.

    We just started using Chat about a month ago and I have been shocked at how few chat requests we've received when it hit me about the chat not really being an option for our mobile customers.

    I would love to help beta test this if you guys are willing to put it on the roadmap. Thanks for listening!

  • Avatar
    Steven Yan

    Hi Dee, ok, I can see the end-user case more than the agent case.  Thanks for sharing!

  • Avatar
    Tom Whiting

    Still nothing via outside client though. This is really, really bad

    Operators shouldn't have to keep a browser window open just to respond to chat. It's annoying as anything.

  • Avatar
    eshaw

    We would like to see multiple queues be setup.  An example we have our CSRs and our Tech Support and would like customers to be able to select either queue. 

    Is this something on the roadmap?

  • Avatar
    Steven Yan

    Hi eshaw, it is something we have considered, yes.

    In your use case, it sounds like you would like your customers to be able to choose a queue, what is the intent here?  We've considered supporting multiple chat queues but this would be transparent to the user, and you would route chats into the queue by feedback tab/chat widget.  Agents could become available on the queue of their choice.

  • Avatar
    Jimmy Vosika

    We had to quit using ZenDesk Chat because you can't transfer chats, is that coming soon? 

  • Avatar
    eshaw

    Steven,

    We currently have it seutp to ask a few basic questions then they select in a dropdown box either Customer Service or Technical Support.  I would also be open to having separate buttons or links for our customers to click based on which group they are wanting to contact.  Also, as Jimmy above stated it would be critical for us to be able to transfer chat sessions.

  • Avatar
    Greg

    I am not sure where to log a Chat feature request, but I did find this thread so I will add it here.  Let me know if I should post these somewhere else.  

    1) The reps that are using chat complain that there is no notification up front to customers that lets customers know if an agent is available.  The customer has to click on the tab, then the chat box, and then they are told that there are no agents available.  It would be nice to have some type of "We're Open" sign/badge capability on the tab (an Online/Offline indicator) that would show if agents are logged in to chat.

    Thanks,

    Greg

  • Avatar
    Dirk

    Greg - if it helps they actually have a hidden api that lets you get the status of logged in agents (just look at the network traffic in chrome when you click on the button and you'll see the request). I use it to selectively show a  "Live Chat" button if there is someone logged in. So far it works great.

     

  • Avatar
    Dirk

    Is it possible to style the chat box that spawns - I don't see any place wehere I can include a custom css link.

  • Avatar
    Adam Monago

    I don't think mobile chat support makes much sense. Texting in feedback on a ticket is one thing, but customers using chat expect a reply in a conversation's pace. 

  • Avatar
    Stephen

    We would really love to see both end-user and agent mobile chat ability.  ipad and iphone integration would be so helpful.  Many of us run mobile business, and don't have office.  I do 70% of my company's business over mobile browser, including handling A LOT of client questions.  Mobiel Chat is important on both end of this transaction. I'd pay an additional fee for this service.

  • Avatar
    Stephen

    The option to do mobile chat is already available on much lower end, lower cost systems: http://portal.smartertools.com/KB/a1588/access-smartertrack-on-a-mobile-device.aspx

     

  • Avatar
    Stephen

    This is exactly the kind of option that Zendesk needs!:

    http://blog.livehelpnow.net/livehelpnow-iphone-app-for-the-live-chat-system/

  • Avatar
    Calvin

    Two questions:

    1. Has being able to set start and end times for the availability/display of the chat tab been considered? I.e. Our support is during business hours only, so we'd prefer to only display the chat tab during business hours. I understand that users will see the 'no agents available; submit a ticket' prompt, but the expectation of chat availability when it isn't available isn't desirable.

    2. We'd like to invite users to chat, rather than waiting for them to initiate the chat; is this feature being considered?

  • Avatar
    Dee Quilliams

    Oooh that's nice!  +1 to Calvin's two comments. Though truthfully we probably wouldn't iniate chat with someone very often, it would come in handy at times and I'd love for us to at least have that option. But the part about setting chat availability hours is really cool.

  • Avatar
    Edward Perry

    If you have a feedback button, but no agent remembers to open the chat panel, whats the point? Having a setting in the admin to force open the chat option for an agent would be helpful.

  • Avatar
    Justin

    Thanks for your feedback, Edward. The chat panel can be opened once, making the agent available to take incoming chat requests throughout the day. Shifts and duties change, so we want to have the flexibility to toggle that window at will. 

  • Avatar
    Edward Perry

    @Justin I understand your comment, but you are forgetting one essential item of human nature - people forget. What do you do when no agent has the chat panel open? There is no default or setting that would force an agent logged in or assign a specific agent to have to use the chat panel. 

  • Avatar
    Steven Yan

    Hi Edward, thanks for your feedback.  We'll be adding some settings to address this.  I understand that the agent experience can be improved here.

  • Avatar
    Judah Anthony

    Is it possible that you open up the API a bit?  I would love to be able to do:

    setTimeout(function() {

    Zenbox.Chat.available(function(check) {

    if(check) {

    var overlay = Drupal.theme.chatOverlay();

    overlay.click(function() { Zendbox.Chat.show(); });

    $('body').append(overlay);

    }

    });

    }, 10000); 

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