Zendesk Chat connects your agents and customers instantly, via web, mobile, and messaging. This guide helps you get familiar with and evaluate Chat in your Zendesk trial account to see how it will work for you, and provides guidelines on where to find more information. Each task typically takes less than 10 minutes to complete. Before you get started, we suggest that you read through and follow the steps in our Zendesk Support evaluation guide.
This guide includes the following steps:
- Step 1: Simulate a chat
- Step 2: Build your Chat team
- Step 3: Configure chat appearance in the Web Widget
- Step 4: Understand and enable triggers (if you want)
- Step 5: Choose your chat routing style
- Step 6: Create shortcuts to save agents time
- Step 7: Enable a pre-chat form
- What's next?
Step 1: Simulate a chat
If you are unfamiliar with Zendesk Chat, you may want to take a few minutes to simulate a chat, so you can get a sense of how it works for both agents and end users.
Try it out
When you simulate a chat, you play the role of both agent and customer, which allows you to see how an agent’s actions impact the visitor’s experience, and vice-versa.
You'll want to have your Support Agent Workspace and Chat dashboard open in separate browser windows to best use the chat simulation.
To simulate a chat
- In Zendesk Support, click the Chat icon in the top toolbar and set your Chat availability to Online.
- In your Chat dashboard, click Visitors, then click the Simulate chat button.
The widget you see in the simulation box is the UI your customers use to chat with your agents, before any customizations are made:
- Type a message. When you hit Enter, the agent (which in this case is you, over in the Support Agent Workspace window) sees the incoming chat notification:
- In the Agent Workspace, click Accept, and try moving between the customer and agent to understand how an action on one side affects the other. For instance:
- Respond to the chat with at least one public reply and one internal note. After you end the chat, take a look at the ticket to see the differences in each reply type.
- Use the Type drop-down to see how each type changes the fields in the sidebar.
Step 2: Build your Chat team
When you add agents to your Support account, they immediately have permission to communicate with customers through ticket email notifications. However, if you want any of these agents to serve customer chats, you'll need to explicitly give them Chat access.
- Which agents are right for Chat?
- Should Chat agents be Chat-only, with contributor-only access to Support, or should Chat be just one of the ways they can interact with customers?
- What special skills do they need to help customers via chats?
Try it out
For this trial, we recommend creating just a couple of Chat agents. They can be Chat-only, but you may want to have at least one or two agents who handle both customer chats and Support tickets.
If you haven’t added Support agents, yet, head over to the Support trial guide and follow these instructions, then come back here and continue the steps below.
To give a Support agent access to Chat
- In Zendesk Support, click the Admin icon then go to Manage > People.
- Click the name of the agent you want to update.
- In the section called Zendesk Chat: Role, click Manage in Admin Center.
- In the Roles and access tab, click the Enabled checkbox, then use the drop-down menu to select Agent.
- Click Save.
Repeat these steps until you have the Chat agents you want to start with. You can also create a new Chat-only agent from the Chat dashboard.
Step 3: Configure chat appearance in the Web Widget
When you enable Chat in the Web Widget, customers can initiate chats with your agents from within your Guide Help Center. You can customize the appearance of your widget before you add it to your website or Help Center.
Appearance settings are all about adding your company's brand to the widget. Think about the following elements before getting started:
- What image do you want to project? Laid back and friendly? Competent and matter-of-fact?
- Are there specific colors your customers associate with your company?
- Is there a small image you want to use as an avatar to represent your company?
- Have you enabled your Help Center, and will your widget customizations complement it?
Try it out
Some of the Web Widget’s Chat-related settings are managed through the Web Widget admin page in Support; others, through the Chat dashboard.
As you’re making customizations, you can preview them in the Chat dashboard by going to Settings > Widget and clicking the Appearance tab:
To configure widget settings
- In Zendesk Support, go to Channels > Widget and click the Customization tab to view the widget settings.
Here, you can enable Chat in the widget, choose colors for some widget elements, position the widget on the page, and select launcher button text. Remember that some of these settings impact the widget appearance as a whole – not just the Chat elements.
- In the Chat dashboard, go to Settings > Widget and click the Appearance tab (that's where the widget preview is, too).
You can customize the top title, avatar, display title and byline in the Chat window and Concierge, as well as the Chat badge image and background color.
- Use the preview drop-down to select Online: Chat badge to see how the Chat badge will look with your customizations:
Step 4: Understand and enable triggers (if you want)
Zendesk Chat comes with a number of default triggers that perform common workflow actions automatically. These triggers can fire when a customer, for example, is starting a chat from another country, is requesting a chat for the first time, or if no agents are available to help them. You can use default triggers as-is, or modify them to meet your specific needs. Default triggers need to be enabled before they'll function for you.
Get to know the default triggers by going to Settings > Triggers in the Chat dashboard.
- What kind of message do you want to send to your customers, and when?
- Do any of the default triggers need to be modified to work for you?
Try it out
Let's take a look at the default triggers and learn how to read them. Then you'll be able to see what they do and decide which you want to enable for your account.
To view and enable triggers
- In the Chat dashboard page, go to Settings > Triggers. The default triggers are all listed here. Only one is enabled by default – the Chat Rescuer trigger, which sends an automatic response to a visitor whose chat request hasn't been served by an agent within 60 seconds.
- Click Chat Rescuer to open the trigger configuration. Take a look at the Customize trigger section to see how the trigger is built.
- At the top of the section are the condition rules. Reading from the top down, you can see that the trigger runs when a visitor requests a chat and all of the following conditions are met:
- The visitor’s account is not offline.
- The visitor has been on your site for 60 seconds.
- The visitor’s chat has not been served.
If all of those conditions are met, then the trigger performs the following actions:
- The trigger message is displayed in the chat on the dashboard.
- A message is sent to the visitor apologizing for the wait.
- Now that you know how a trigger is built, go back to the Triggers page. Click on some of the other triggers and see when they run and what they do.
- If you find a trigger you want to use, click Enabled at the top of the trigger’s configuration page.
Step 5: Choose your chat routing style
There are two basic methods for routing chats to your agents:
- Broadcast: When a chat request comes in, all agents (or subsets of agents) are notified.
- Assigned: Each chat request is assigned to the next available agent.
You can configure each of these routing methods to set limits on the number of chats an agent has concurrently. Assigned chat routing allows you to further configure the settings to let agents reassign chats to colleagues, create skills to better match agents with chat requests, and set automatic idles.
- How many agents do you have? If you're only working with a handful, you probably don't need to get too specific with your chat routing.
- Do you expect your agents to get a lot of chat requests they'll need help managing?
- Do your agents have special skills to consider?
Try it out
Once you decide on a routing style, you can configure it for your account.
- From the Chat dashboard, select Settings > Routing > Settings tab.
- In the Chat Routing section, select a routing method.
- Configure other settings as needed.
- Click Save Changes.
Step 6: Create shortcuts to save agents time
With shortcuts, you can save typing time by inserting common phrases with just a few keys. You can create very simple shortcuts, like a generic greeting, or get more detailed and add placeholders to pull in visitor- and chat-specific information. Admins can create global shortcuts available to all agents, and agents can create their personal shortcuts for their own use.
- What are some comments or suggestions your agents might use a lot when chatting?
- Do you have a standard greeting you want to use with all of your visitors?
Try it out
For this trial, try creating a shortcut that lets agents enter a standard, company-approved sign-off message when ending a chat.
To create a shortcut
- On the Chat dashboard, go to Settings > Shortcuts, then click Add shortcut.
- Name the shortcut "sign-off" and select "all agents" availability, then a enter your message ("Thanks so much for chatting with us!" for example).
- Click Create shortcut, to add it to the shortcuts list.
Now, agents can add the phrase to their chat by typing a / and selecting it from the list:
Learn more about shortcuts
Step 7: Enable a pre-chat form
Knowing what a visitor needs help with prior to starting a chat can help agents determine how they can best offer assistance. When you enable the pre-chat form, you can ask visitors who they are and what their basic questions are, and use that information to connect them with the right agent.
- How do you want to greet visitors on the pre-chat form?
- Do you need ID information, such as their name or email address?
- Do you want to require this information or make it optional?
Try it out
Let’s create and enable a required pre-chat form to collect identification from visitors before they start a chat.
To configure a pre-chat form
- On the Chat dashboard, go to Settings > Widget and click the Forms tab.
- In the Pre-chat form section, toggle the form On to enable it.
- Enter a pre-chat greeting, and select the checkboxes for Require identity and Require question.
- Use the preview drop-down to select Online: Pre-chat form to see what the form will look like to visitors:
- Click Save changes at the bottom of the page.