Announcing the Collaboration Add-on (feat. Side Conversations)

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  • Justin Fenech

    @Toby a couple of issues from my side I'm hoping some are user error.

    1. When I reply (or any agent replies) to an ongoing side conversation from within Zendesk it seems to remove my email from the chain, so any subsequent replies from other collaborators do not come to my email inbox.
    2. Notifications alone are not enough when side conversations are updated. I can not always action them straight away, how can I view all updated conversations in a view, inbox, or list? (this could be solved if point 1 was resolved).
    3. When there is an update to a side conversation, move it above all other ticket comments, otherwise it quickly gets buried in public/private comments.
    4. Is there a way to start a new side conversation with a trigger? 
    5. remember the fact that I don't want to include my signature. 

    Here is an example of my use case.

    1. We create problem tickets to track user cases for a particular issue.
    2. When there are 10+ incidents on a problem ticket, create a side conversation with some information (ticket description, and some other static text) with another team (not always Zendesk users)
    3. Side conversations should then be used as normal without dropping the sender from conversation (essentially allowing me to email myself from zendesk to my email inbox)
  • Toby Sterrett

    @Justin replies below:

    1. Side conversations don't automatically include the email address of the agent replying via the Support interface, so when the recipients reply-all it will just include the address of the side conversation. You should be able to add yourself as a recipient to the original message and/or subsequent replies which would then be included on a reply-all.

    2. One thing I've done is set up some triggers that would enable this type of workflow:

    • Trigger assigns the ticket to the creator of the side conversation, tags the ticket with "side_conversation", and sets the ticket status to pending or on-hold
    • Another trigger sets status back to on-hold when assignee replies to side conversation
    • Another trigger sets status to open when a side conversation is received by non-assignee
    • A view set up that displays open tickets assigned to agents will not display tickets that are marked on-hold as a result of creating a side conversation and will display them when non-assignee replies to one
    • A view that displays all tickets assigned to you < closed with side_conversation tag will show all tickets that have side conversations

    That type of workflow has been working well for customers. That said, this is still an area that we are planning to do a lot more with.

    3. That's something we've thought about, but moving things around in the comment stream breaks the temporal aspect of when the side conversation was initiated and we've never had things moving around in it. We have thought about other approaches, though, like maybe automatically opening the side conversations menu when a ticket loads if you're involved in any side conversations that have unread messages. Would something along those lines be helpful?

    4. Not yet, but it's something we're considering. How would you use this? Also, it is possible to initiate a side conversation with a macro, which lets you start one that is pre-filled with boilerplate and dynamic placeholder content from the ticket. Would love to hear more about what you'd like to do in this area.

    5. Do you pretty much never want a signature in side conversations, or would you rather have separate ones? Or perhaps the choice to insert it when appropriate?

    Thanks a ton for the detailed feedback and use case! If you'd like to dig in more, let me know and we can set up some tie to do a video call.

  • Justin Fenech

    @Toby Thank you for the detailed explanation.

    Here are some comments the answers to your questions:

    1. I understand, just something the agents will just need to remember if they want to continue receiving emails also.
    2. I could set up something like this, I appreciate the detail but may not be relevant for my use case until i can resolve 4.
    3. I guess that would be helpful. anything to draw attention to the side conversation when it is relevant.
    4. Currently I have a trigger set to email groups when a problem ticket has 10 incidents. I would essentially like to initiate the side conversation from this trigger instead. 
    5. A combination of both. The option to remember a selected signature (if multiple) or not to include one. Having a ticket signature for public comments, and a side conversation signature would be acceptable. 
  • Justin Fenech

    @Toby Will there, or is there an API endpoint for collaborations? 

  • Brett - Community Manager

    @Justin I did some digging around and it looks like API for side conversations will be available as part of an Early Access Program in the near future. Unfortunately there's no ETA of when this will be available but we will post publicly once we have additional information to provide :)


  • Josh Keller

    A Side Conversations API would be most excellent!

  • Justin Fenech

    @Brett - That's great news; thank you for the heads up. I'm glad it is being worked on, I'll just have to wait patiently until then :) 

  • Toby Sterrett

    @Justin and @Josh – Brett is correct, we'll be opening up an EAP for a side conversations API in the near future. I'd love to hear what you have in mind to do with it... any ideas that you'd be willing to share?

  • Josh Keller

    @Toby - We would use it to automatically initiate Side Conversations with a few select partners. These would be populated with pieces from ticket and user fields. I'd set it up as an Extension target and use it in Triggers along with some Liquid to finagle what does and doesn't appear in that first Side Conversation message. I know we can already do this automatic sending of emails, but I need it to appear in the ticket and allow the recipient to respond back and forth with our agents.

    And eventually we'll be creating our own interface for some (different) partners to use that provides them with very limited access to some ticket details/fields, and the ability to converse with our operators, so a Side Conversations API would be great for this eventual piece as well.

    I'll be the first to sign on for that EAP!

  • Toby Sterrett

    @Josh awesome, thanks for the detail! We'd actually love to talk to you about this some more if you're open to it. I'll ping you about chatting some time.

  • Justin Fenech

    @Toby - Josh basically summed up my use case. We would build a message using liquid in a trigger which is fired off to a server which then interacts with the API.

    More specifically, this trigger would fire when a problem ticket has a certain amount of incidents attached, then automatically notify the development team of the issue.

    Like Josh, I have noticed some issues with emailing other teams. Currently my trigger emails a group, although this is not ideal as there are many users on the email thread, and replies (since they are light agents) end up creating a giant thread of internal notes, in which each internal note has the entire conversation history/email thread down to the initial email from the Zendesk trigger. 

    Hope that makes at least some sense; in short, side conversations either being called from a trigger, or being able to use the API would solve my issue.


  • Toby Sterrett

    @Justin great, thank you! I'll get in contact with you as well to talk these use cases over in more detail.

  • Dávid Balatoni

    Hi Toby,

    Is this feature integrated with Explore?
    In other words, is it possible to create reports on how Side Conversation is being utilized by Support Agents?



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