As we’ve seen our customers grow with us, we’ve seen their workflows grow in complexity as well. These days, customer support is a team sport, and providing the best customer experience goes well beyond the agent flying solo when replying to a requester. Many tickets require the agent to be the liaison for the customer, coordinate approvals from legal, conduct negotiations with finance and get detailed product information from suppliers.
With this in mind, we’re excited to announce the Collaboration Add-on, a new Support add-on that combines the existing functionality of Light Agents with a new feature we’re calling Side Conversations (what was also previously known as “threads” during the beta program). Our aim with the Collaboration add-on is to make it easier for agents to reach out to the appropriate folks to get information, kick off processes, or keep them in the loop, whether they’re internal colleagues or external to the company, all within Zendesk Support.
Get People Involved Directly with Light Agents
Light Agent functionality allows team members to be able to access Support, view tickets, and leave internal notes. Some teams are so integral to certain support process that they need full insight into the problems at hand to provide their insights. Even though they’re not the ones responsible for actually replying to the customer, they need to keep on top of every update to the tickets to make sure they have the full context.
For example, while tier 1 agents can normally handle technical questions, sometimes the engineering team needs to get pulled in directly. By making the members of the engineering team Light Agents, they can be CC’d on a ticket and log into Support to view all the details and leave internal notes with their thoughts.
The Light Agents role goes beyond tickets as well, allowing access to reports, apps, people, Guide, and more. Learn more about setting up Light Agents
Introducing Side Conversations
While Light Agent functionality greatly opens Support up for internal collaboration, we noticed teams doing some unexpected things when attempting to get more and more people involved in the solving of their tickets – especially those who they may not need to frequently interact with (like they would with Light Agents). From changing the requester multiple times in an attempt to direct emails to different people, to overloading problem/incident tickets, to setting up overly-complex triggers, it was apparent that we could go further to make these workflows better.
After talking with customers about how they were approaching collaboration, we identified a few core things we needed to help solve:
- Reaching out to subject matter experts from other departments, like billing or shipping
- Reaching out to people external to their company, such as vendors or partners
- Having multiple, focused, independent conversations within one ticket
- Consolidating back and forths within Zendesk Support, versus having to leave Support to use other communication tools (like email)
- Being confident that these conversations wouldn’t overlap with each other, or with the customer
Digging into these needs led to the ideas that became the new Side Conversations feature. At its core, it’s a pretty simple concept — essentially a mini communication tool embedded into every ticket. What this allows, though, is profound. With Side Conversations, agents will be able to reach out to whomever they need, directly from their tickets, in email conversations that are standalone and separate from the one with the requester.
This opens up a lot of possibilities. For example, imagine you’re a company that helps people plan and book their vacations. If a family who has booked a big vacation in the Maldives using your system submits a ticket needing to reschedule at the last minute, the agent will need to make sure every part of the trip is updated. Pulling all the external vendors directly into the ticket as Light Agents doesn’t make sense in this scenario. For most agents, this would mean having to jump out to their emails and fire off a bunch of emails to each of the partners directly. On top of that, the agent would need to get an approval from the finance team to make sure the discounts on the revised pricing is acceptable.
Instead of wrangling a bunch of emails outside of Support, Side Conversations lets them create separate conversations with the car rental, hotel, snorkeling tour, and internal finance team – all directly from the ticket. No overlapping conversations in internal notes, no need for spawning off and managing multiple tickets, and no more stranded email conversations outside of the ticket.
The more we spoke with our users about the feature, the more variety we found in the use cases they came up with: e-commerce companies reaching out to their suppliers to get answers to detailed product questions and shipping information; marketplace companies using side conversations to be the liaison between customers and sellers; companies with lots of internal departments reaching out to each other as subject matter experts. The more a company grows, the more likely that a scenario that can take advantage of Side Conversations grows.
Light Agents + Side Conversations = Collaboration Add-on
The combination of these features in the new Collaboration Add-on provides more levels of granularity and flexibility for your teams to get the people that they need to be involved in the solving of their tickets, which means the agents will be able to keep things organized and clean, and the people they’re reaching out to will only be involved as much as they need to be. No more notification fatigue for people only involved in one aspect of the ticket, and no more overlapping conversations.
With the addition of Side Conversations, the Light Agents Add-on is being retired, and the Collaboration Add-on is taking its place. The price remains the same, and if you’re already a paying subscriber to the Light Agents Add-on, you’ll be moved over to the Collaboration Add-on automatically.
We’re just getting started with the new Side Conversations functionality, so be on the lookout for more updates and features over the coming months. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from early access testers, and have loads of ideas to make things even better. We’re excited to see where we can take things.
If you think your workflows could benefit from the new capabilities this add-on provides, let your account manager know you’re interested in checking it out!