The Out of Office app is a tool for managing the availability of an agent in Zendesk Support, and ensuring that tickets assigned to unavailable agents are properly handled if updated by a customer.
This article covers the following topics to help you install, use, and extend the app:
- How the app works
- Installing the app
- Changing the app settings
- Using the app
- Understanding the 'agent_ooo' tag
- Known limitations
How the app works
The Out of Office app displays the availability status of the agent assigned to tickets in Zendesk Support.
For administrators, it also displays a list of agents and their availability.
The app prevents tickets from being accidentally assigned to an agent who is unavailable. When this occurs, a pop-up notification is displayed to the agent.
Installing the app
To install the Out of Office app
- In the Zendesk App Marketplace search bar, search for Out of Office, and select the app from the results list.
- Click Install in the upper-right corner.
- Select or unselect the Confirm status change checkbox. Unselecting this option disables the status change confirmation message. As a result, you cannot choose to unassign an agent's open tickets when marking them as unavailable.
- Select or unselect the Force unassign tickets checkbox. Enabling this setting unassigns an agent's open tickets automatically when their status is changed to unavailable. This option is disabled by default, allowing the unassign action to be run on a case-by-case basis.
- Select or unselect the Prevent assignment checkbox. Disabling this option allows tickets to be saved if they're assigned to an agent who's unavailable. A warning is still displayed that the assignee is unavailable, and agents can assign tickets to themselves regardless of their status.
- Select or unselect the Surface errors encountered
when bulk updating tickets? checkbox. Enabling this option causes the unassign process to take longer. Some tickets may still not get updated by Out of Office even with this setting turned on. This setting simply verifies the ticket updates and surfaces any errors encountered whilst updating tickets.
- If required, select and configure role restrictions and group restrictions.
- Click Install to complete the setup.
Changing the app settings
You can modify the app's default behavior by changing the app settings.
To change the app settings
- In Support, click Admin (), then select Apps > Manage.
In the Out of Office app icon, select Change Settings from the dropdown options menu.
- Modify your settings and click Update.
Using the app
An agent can modify their status using the app in the ticket sidebar or accessing their user profile.
To modify your availability
- In Support, click View, and double click on a ticket to open it. Alternatively, select your user profile icon the upper right, and then click View Profile.
- In the ticket app sidebar, under the Out of Office app, select the Availability toggle button. A confirmation dialog box opens to confirm the change.
- Click Set as Available to enable availability, or Set as Unavailable to set your status as unavailable.
An administrator can access the Out of Office dashboard to view the availability of agents and modify an agent's status.
To view and modify an agent's availability
- In Support, select the Out of Office icon in the left navigation bar. The dashboard opens.
- Click on the Availability toggle button next to agent. A confirmation dialog box opens to confirm the change.
- Click Set as Available to enable availability, or Set as Unavailable to set an agent's status as unavailable.
Changing the availability status either adds or removes a tag on tickets with a Pending, On-Hold, or Solved status, and optionally for all tickets with an Open status. For more information, see Understanding the agent_ooo tag below.
When a pending or on-hold ticket is reopened by an end user and the assignee is unavailable, a trigger fires that returns the ticket to the unassigned ticket queue.
The app checks the status of the assignee each time a ticket is saved. If the assignee is unavailable, the app warns the updater that the assignee is unavailable. If the Prevent assignment setting is enabled, it also prevents tickets from being saved if the new assignee is unavailable.
The following functions and behavior can occur when using the Out of Office app in Zendesk Support:
An agent can assign a ticket to themselves if they are unavailable. The following warning is displayed after the ticket is saved:
- An agent can update a ticket if they're not the assignee and the assignee is unavailable. A warning notification is displayed that the current assignee is unavailable:
- Tickets that are assigned to an unavailable agent with a Pending and On-Hold status, but are updated to Open, are reassigned to the respective ticket's parent group. However, the Assignee field becomes empty. Status changes from Pending or On-Hold occurs when an end-user replies to an email notification.
Understanding the agent_ooo tag
When the Out of Office app is installed, it automatically creates in Zendesk Support the following items:
- A user field that applies an agent_ooo tag to users marked as unavailable
- A trigger to handle the unassign action on a ticket based on the agent_ooo tag
- A trigger to remove the agent_ooo tag from a ticket when it's assigned to a different agent
Note: These items are required for the app to work. Don't delete or modify them.
Changing the availability status either adds or removes an agent_ooo tag on tickets based on the following rules:
- When an agent marks themselves as unavailable, the agent_ooo tag is added to the agent's user profile in the Agent Out? user field
- When the agent changes their status to unavailable, the tag is added to all tickets with a Pending, On-Hold, or Solved status. When the agent changes their status to available, the tag is removed from these tickets
- Any open tickets with the tag are unassigned on update
- If the ticket assignee is changed, then the tag is removed
- If the tag is removed from a ticket, no other tags are removed
The Out of Office app has the following limitations:
- The app does not reassign tickets if the agent's out of office status is changed outside of the Out of Office app
- The app does not work on Side Conversations
- The app does not prevent assigning tickets unless the ticket is updated individually through the Zendesk interface. Triggers, Mail API, REST API, and bulk editing will be able to bypass the assignment restrictions
- Agents can still self assign/take ownership of tickets while they are out of office. The app will not prevent this. The app also can't prevent tickets being assigned to agents while they are out of office when done through outside the Zendesk interface.
- Agents without administrator rights can't change their status using the app dashboard in the left navigation bar of the agent interface. They can still change their status in their user profile or from one of their assigned tickets
- Agent statuses doesn't affect Out of Office app functionality.
- If the Prevent assignment setting is disabled and a ticket is assigned from one unavailable agent to another unavailable agent, the agent_ooo tag will be lost. This means that the ticket will not be unassigned if it is reopened
- Groups with only one agent:
- Agents are able to assign a ticket to a group with only one agent even if the sole agent in that group is unavailable.
- If an agent is the only agent in a group and the agent goes out of office, the assigned tickets will not be re-assigned back to the group. This is due to the inborn system ticket rules.
If there is only one agent in a group that can be assigned tickets, all tickets assigned to that group will automatically be assigned to that one agent. Some agents in groups, such as light agents, do not have permission to be assigned tickets.
- The agent_ooo tag is added to solved tickets. If the ticket is closed while the tag is applied, however, the tag will not be removable because Tickets in the closed status cannot be updated. This may be undesirable for reporting purposes. If so, the system automation that closes solved tickets should be modified to remove the agent_ooo tag before closing the ticket.
- When a ticket assigned to an out of office agent gets updated, the ticket is assigned back to the parent group with a null Assignee value. The trigger working in the background during this action does not currently send an email notification to the agents in the group
- In some instances, if an agent is downgraded to an end user while unavailable, they will retain the agent_ooo tag until it is removed manually. Any tickets that the end user creates also inherits the agent_ooo tag
- API Limits:
- When updating a large amount of tickets API rate limits can be encountered causing the update process to take longer than usual. Please be patient and allow the app to finish the update process. The update process is finished when the app no longer displays "Updating..." in lieu of the agent's OOO status
- The volume of tickets associated with an Agent will impact app performance and updating a large amount of assigned tickets can fail resulting in the agent_ooo tag not being added to all the tickets resulting in tickets not being assigned back to the parent group
- When marking an agent as OOO and un-assigning all open tickets, only some of the tickets will actually get unassigned
- If an agent closes the browser tab in the midst of an update or if there is a network issue, OOO updates may be lost causing incomplete updates to tickets.
- The framework within which the Out of Office app is built in has inherent limitations in terms of resolving errors and retrying. In cases where it encounters errors updating tickets or API limits can result in issues such as: some or all of the assigned tickets missing the agent_ooo tag when an agent changes their status to "Unavailable". The following workarounds can be tried to resolve such issues.
- Enable the Surface errors encountered when bulk updating tickets app setting. This will notify if any errors were encountered when updating the assigned tickets - either removing or adding the agent_ooo tag. By default this setting is disabled.
- Toggle the status in the app to "Available" and toggle the status to "Unavailable" (again) - or vice versa.
- Bulk update all tickets and add the agent_ooo tag if the agent is going to be "Unavailable" or remove the agent_ooo tag if the agent is going to be "Available"
If you cannot install the Out of Office app, and get and error "agent_ooo has already been taken", please review the following steps:
- Remove the user field that has the field key agent_ooo - most likely named "[Out of Office] Agent Out" or the user field is in inactive state
- If you get an error while removing the user field, check your triggers or automations and remove any references to this user field
Version 2.8.5 — 2020-12-03
- Fixed an issue where it was possible to assign tickets to OOO agents.
Version 2.8.4 — 2020-09-01
- Allows only one installation of the App on an account
- Fixed an issue with the confirm change setting(dialog) not working
- Fixed some translations
Version 2.8.3 - 2020-02-18
Breaking changes: Removed support for IE11. For more information, see Removal of support for Internet Explorer 11
- Bug fixes:
- Fixed an issue where open tickets not un-assigning when the status is toggled from the ticket sidebar
- Fixed issues where a ticket prevented assignment
- Fixed an issue that now allows an update of tickets assigned to OOO agents
- Fixed an issue that prevented updates if changing ticket assignee to an agent that's OOO
- Fixed an issue that prevented assigning new or existing tickets to agents that are OOO
- Fixed an issue with a frozen availability toggle button upon error in changing an agent's status
- Tickets are updated based on recent updated tickets assigned to the agent
- Light agents aren't displayed in the navigation bar since they can't be assigned tickets
- When "Surface errors encountered when bulk updating tickets?" is selected, it can take up to one minute to validate ticket updates. If validation takes longer than one minute, a warning is shown asking the agent to try again.
- Improved error handling and notifications. Notifications upon error will last for 10 seconds
- Minor CSS and user interface updates
- Known issues: There will occasionally be an issue where an agent's ticket may not get tagged properly. In such cases, the app will show an error. To resolve the error, toggle the agent's status back to the previous state, and then toggle the agent's status to the desired state.
Version 2.8.1 — 2019-11-11
- Fixed an issue with the navbar location not sorting agents in alphabetical order by default
- Fixed an issue where searching for agents is case sensitive
- Fixed an issue where the Out of Office toggle button was showing up in the sidebar for end user profiles
- Fixed an issue where the new ticket screen allowed an agent to assign a ticket to someone who was set to Out of Office
- Fixed an issue with the "Surface errors encountered
when bulk updating tickets?" feature and app setting, where tickets were not properly checked for successful updates or not.
Adding my voice to the others requesting that someone other than Admin should be able to set other agents as out of office. Admin access is WAY too much access for this small task!
Since the app update to V2 in 2019 we have experienced almost daily issues with tickets remaining in agent Views when the agents are set to Unavailable. This bug has caused many frustrating experiences for our customers and has prevented us from maintaining our SLA on multiple occasions. I opened a ticket about this in Oct 2019. Finally in January of 2020 we received this response:
Unfortunately it looks like you're running into a bug in the app. The good news is that our devs are already working on fixing it.
This in June of 2020:
Our engineers are still exploring the best way to fix the underlying issue here. I've let them know that this remains a big problem for you (and other customers), and I'm waiting to hear back from them on their plans moving forward.
And now finally this update:
We have received confirmation from our app developer team that there are no immediate plans to address the OOO app's underlying infrastructure and the behavioral limitations that we previously discussed will unfortunately remain in place going forward.
We to are very upset at the lack of support for this App. We made a decision to stop using the App since it caused pain for not only our Agents but our Customers too. The period of time that has lapsed without fixing the many issues is unacceptable.
My guess is the ZD App Developer Team is never out of the office or they do not utilize the App.
HI everyone -
Just a reminder that the proper place to provide feedback is in the community. Here's the official thread for feedback on the Out of Office app.
This is the space that product managers will be following and responding to feedback going forward.
@... Zendesk has been making so many product changes during last 2 years. So it feels like they don’t have enough resources to support all products. We’re getting many such customer customer support replies :(.
I'm having trouble with the app.
Does other people have the same issue ?
I installed it in production & set an agent as unavailable.
I waited on the web page till it said "Error, some tickets not updated etc etc"
Then I looked to the cases:
I've 222 cases assigned to this agent for which 26 cases didn't received the tag "Agent_ooo".
In my view I removed the "problems" to be sure that wasn't the issue.
What can be the reason ?
Because thats more than 10% issue rate.
This trigger not adding agent_ooo tag to tickets which are assigned to the agent when agent set him as unavailable. please suggest
Hey Anita Rajkumar! Depending on how many tickets the agent had assigned to them, it could take a bit before you see the update reflected in the ticket. As mentioned in the article, updating 5000 assigned tickets can take up to 8 minutes. Also, if you don't have the Surface errors encountered when bulk updating tickets? setting enabled, I would recommend doing so. Enabling this option causes the unassign process to take longer, but it will surface any errors encountered while updating tickets so that they can be addressed. If you have specific example that you would like us to look into, feel free to open up a ticket with us so we can investigate further!
Hi, is it possible to set up a trigger when an agent marks themselves as out of office, all of their current, pending on hold and open tickets are assigned to a selected agent.
We have a system in place where by an agent works Monday to Friday and then passes their tickets an agent who works weekends.
It would be great if we could make this an automatic process using this app.
Yes, I think you can. We have a trigger that is based upon the tag that Out of Office app use:
So put this and all other conditions you want in the trigger to perform the action you need it to do. 👍
Thank you Kristain, that worked well.
Your welcome. I'm glad to hear that!
We have begun using the Out of Office App but some agents are not seeing the notice that an agent is unavailable. We've tried updating Google Chrome but the box still does not appear for certain users. Any suggestions on this?
You can check your app settings to determine if there are any restrictions in place.
I tried uninstalling the OOO app to isolate testing a related issue. The app is not showing on the Zendesk apps page, and the 2 "OOO" triggers were removed, but the [Out of Office] Agent out checkbox is still on the User fields list.
- I deactivated the field, but I cannot delete it.
- I reactivated the field and then tried to delete, but that did not work either.
We want to reinstall the OOO app, but the task failed because of an error: Validation failed: Key: agent_ooo has already been taken. I had previously checked Rule Analysis, and I removed all instances of the agent_ooo tag. Thus far, Zendesk Support has not been able to help - wondering if anyone else has a suggestion?
Hi Jamie! I'm sorry you're experiencing this! I see you have raised a ticket as well and we're still investigating this issue for you, rest assured we'll provide an update in the ticket as soon as we found the root cause of the issue. Thanks for your patience!
I am hoping you can give me a better idea of what the Surface errors encountered when bulk updating tickets? feature looks like when it happens. Is it a similar notification in the agent view to these?
Also, has anyone encountered any functionality issues with this feature such as the application timing out? We are hoping to enable this feature but want to be sure we fully understand how it is going to work for agents.
My team is a bit of a minimalist and, when going through apps to remove from the sidebar, noticed there's no way to remove the Out of Office App without uninstalling it; we want to keep it, just remove a bit of its redundancy (i.e. it already has Out of Office buttons on your Profile and left sidebar, we just want to remove it from the right sidebar).
Is there a way to remove it from the right sidebar without uninstalling it? If not, consider this query as a feature request ❤️
It is similar to the one you have provided. In addition, we can also help with any issues that you may experience if you decided to use the OOO app for it's Zendesk developed.
As it turns out, we don't have that feature yet to hide it from the Apps sidebar.
Dane , is it in the roadmap to allow for admin override. i.e. As a manager of support, I want the agent who is OOO to handle an issue next week, when they are back from vacation.
I do like how if a requester replies to an assigned ticket while the assignee is out, it unassigns it, but it should be feasible to re-assign it back after review by the greater team or management.
Our team uses this app and has 'Force unassign tickets?' turned on but we've found that it does not unassign tickets that open up in an agent's working queue back to the main queue for another agent to take. This was working originally, but hasn't worked in a good year for us. What could we be doing wrong?
We're seeing the same this as you Melissa Boyle, it would be good to know if there is a problem with the functionality of this app.
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