One of the best ways to increase agent efficiency and streamline your support tasks is to use Zendesk tools to automate your ticket workflows. Zendesk enables you to develop multiple, automated workflows based on your business goals. To automate ticket workflows, you can:
- Use standardized field types like dropdowns, checkboxes, and date fields (instead of text fields) to control value input and make inputs more dynamic in your workflows.
- Define SLA policies to help you keep the tickets moving and meet customer expectations.
- Use triggers and automations on standardized fields to streamline routing and free agents from boring, repetitive tasks.
- Use views to monitor progress and measure outcomes.
- Leverage macros to provide consistent responses and keep agent overhead to a minimum.
This article includes the following sections:
Automation planning and considerations
Before you automate ticket workflows, put together a list of key goals you want to achieve with the automation. Map our your desired outcome before you set up anything in Zendesk. For example:
- Do you have service level-agreements you have to meet?
- Do you want to manage workflows based on channel (email, chat, phone)?
- Do you have workflows that vary depending on hours of operation, or location?
- Do you want to manage and measure the time each agent works on a ticket?
- Do you want to track commonly-asked questions and prepare consistent, automated responses, or monitor potentially-escalating problems?
Workflow automation options
Consider these options to help you automate your ticket workflows. These options fit together like gears in a machine to go full circle. Some options kick off the flow (for example, ticket fields, tags, or SLAs), some options perform the automated part (triggers and automations), and other options (views and macros) enable agents to see what's going on and keep things moving.
Step 1: Kicking off the flow
In this step consider which automation options to use to kick off the workflow automation. This can include the data that customers provide in custom ticket fields or the Service Level Agreement (SLA) policies that your company wants to support.
Using custom ticket fields
Add custom ticket fields in your tickets to target key issues, or provide important information for your workflow. Custom ticket fields are typically used to gather more information about the support issue or product or service. You can add custom fields to your tickets for agents and you can also add them to your Help Center Submit a Request form if you want end-users to see the custom field.
For example, you can add a Language field, so tickets can be automated routed to an agent who speaks that language. Or, you can add custom fields for order numbers, refund requests, or product types so ticket can be automatically routed to agents who can best manage these issues. For more information, see Adding custom fields to your ticket or support request forms.
Using Service Level Agreements (SLA) policies
You can define SLA policies to help you manage automated workflows for your tickets. A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is like a contract between you and your customer where you promise to respond to and resolve tickets in a certain amount of time. Also, even if you don’t have an SLA contract with your customers, you can still use SLAs to help reach internal company goals.
Zendesk helps you create SLA policies and targets so you can provide good service on a consistent basis and avoid SLA breaches. SLAs enable agents working with tickets to see the time remaining before each ticket is overdue, which makes it easy for them to prioritize.
For example, you can set an SLA policy that enforces the time it takes to reply to tickets from high-priority customers, or an SLA policy that enforces a one-hour maximum window for network outages. For more information, see SLA resources.
Using ticket tags
Tags are words, or combinations of words, you can use to add more context to tickets. Adding tags to your tickets gives you even more flexibility to track, manage, and interact with your tickets. You can use triggers and automations to add or remove tags. Ticket tags are also useful for running ticket searches and setting ticket views.
For example, you might add tags to highlight high-profile, security-related tickets, so agents can respond quickly. For more information, see About tags.
Step 2: Performing the automation actions
In this step consider which automation options to use to perform the workflow automation. This can include event-based activities, called triggers, or time-based activities, called automations.
Triggers are event-based business rules you define that run immediately after tickets are created or updated. At their core, triggers are cause and effect statements. If a ticket meets a set of conditions, then an action is performed. You can create an unlimited number of triggers based on your ticket workflow needs.
For example, you might have a trigger that automatically replies to customers when they create a new ticket, or you might have a trigger that automatically assigns a high priority to tickets from VIP customers. For more information see Triggers resources.
While triggers are event-based business rules that can fire every time a ticket is created or updated, automations are time-based business rules that perform an action in your account based on time elapsed. Like triggers, automations are cause and effect statements. If a ticket meets a set of conditions, then an action is performed.
For example, if a ticket hasn’t been answered in a timely manner, an automation can escalate the priority level and notify a manager, or automations can find "abandoned" tickets that haven't been updated for a certain number of days. For more information, see About automations and how they work.
Step 3: Monitoring and keeping things moving
In this step consider which automation options to use to monitor the workflow progress and keep things moving. This can include views to see ticket status and macros to help agents provide standard, consistent ticket updates.
Use shared views to monitor ticket workflows and enhance agent productivity. Views dynamically organize tickets based on specific criteria that you define. Using views can help you determine what tickets need attention from you or your team and plan accordingly. Administrators can create views to share among agents and agents can create their own personal views.
For example, by default Zendesk provides each agent with a view of their unsolved tickets. You can also create views based on ticket priority, product type, customer name, or time that has passed since the ticket was updated. For more information, see Using views to manage ticket workflow.
Embed macros within tickets to help agents save time, automatically fill-in ticket fields, and provide consistent responses. Macros are a predefined set of actions that agents apply to a ticket with one click. Create macros for support requests that can be answered with a single, standard response. This saves your agents the time and effort of crafting a separate response to each customer with the same issue.
For example, you can create a macro that describes how to reset a password, provides product warranty information, or processes refund requests. For more information, see Macros resources.
Recipes for automating ticket workflows
Refer to these articles for some examples of how all the Zendesk automation options can work together to automate ticket workflows:
- Streamlining your Support workflow
- Workflow recipe: Manage outages using SLA policies
- Workflow recipe: Using triggers to manage requests from important customers
- Workflow recipe: Funneling orders through Zendesk Support
- Workflow recipe: Creating an approval process
- Workflow recipe: Sending automated ticket reminders to customers