One of the best ways to increase agent efficiency and streamline your support tasks is to use Zendesk routing options to manage your ticket workflows. Routing options provide a power set of tools to make sure your tickets get to the right agent as quickly as possible.
This article includes the following sections:
Understanding where tickets go by default
When you create a Support account, you can start receiving support requests right away using the default support email address created during the registration process. All support requests sent to your account, via email or another channel, automatically become tickets in your system.
Zendesk provides default views and triggers that work together to create a simple ticket routing structure. Understanding the basics of these tools can help you design your own customized ticket routing structure.
Views are a way to organize tickets based on certain criteria. Views are similar to desktop folders, but a single ticket can appear in multiple views, or in no view at all. The tickets that appear in a view are defined by conditions applied to each ticket when it is created or updated. When you begin using Support, without making any changes to your views structure, every ticket appears in at least one default view.
The following views are enabled by default:
For more information on default views, see About default views.
Triggers are business rules that perform actions whenever a ticket is created or updated. They can send notifications to end users, agents, or groups of agents, add tags, and more.
The default triggers are designed to send email notifications. Some triggers are aimed at sending a notification to the requester (usually an end user). Other triggers send notifications to the agent assigned to the ticket, and some triggers send notifications to other interested parties (groups or all agents). You can edit, clone, and disable these default triggers if necessary, but keep in mind that the notifications they produce are considered best practices, and changing them may disrupt your workflow. For more information, see Managing triggers.
For a comprehensive list of default triggers and what they do, see About the Support default triggers.
Without any configuration beyond the initial registration process, the default ticket views and default triggers provide the following basic ticket routing path. Every new and updated ticket appears in at least one view, triggers at least one notification.
When a new ticket is submitted through your support address, it appears in a number of default views, including:
- Your unsolved tickets
- All unsolved tickets
- Recently updated tickets
It may appear in other views, depending on what Support plan you’re using and whether you have added other agents.
Also, the following default triggers fire when a ticket comes in or is updated, including:
- Notify requester and CCs of received request
- Notify all agents of received request
Setting your routing goals
Before you choose your routing options for tickets and customize your account, put together a list of key goals you want to achieve with the routing. These goals should reflect your company’s priorities and focus. Map out your desired outcome before you set up anything in Zendesk.
Items to consider include:
Your customer’s needs
- How would each of your customers benefit from a specialized workflow? For example, would prioritizing support requests in your ticket queue be useful, or would it be better to route tickets to specific groups?
- How can you route tickets to provide them with the best, quickest results?
Which situations are the most urgent to solve
- What situation or issue experienced by your end users would make your team stop and go ahead to solve that issue?
- How can you determine those situations under a business rule conditions to route those cases to the right agents?
Your entire workflow
- In addition to your workflow within Zendesk, think of your workflow outside of Zendesk.
- Think about which tools and applications are the most important for managing your workflows and how Zendesk can enhance these flows.
Your support team organization
- What are your agent operating hours and locations?
- What are your agent skills? This can include seniority, product knowledge, channel expertise, and language.
- What is your agent workload?
- How is your team structured? Do you group agents or requests based on topic (such as billing or tech support), ticket severity, or customer status? Or do all tickets go into a single bucket accessible to all agents?
Planning your workflow
There are two basic ways to connect tickets with agents:
- Push methods allow admins or triage agents to “push” tickets to agents or groups, with no direct input from those groups.
- Pull methods allow agents to grab tickets for themselves, rather than having tickets assigned to them. Pull methods can be refined by using routing tools to organize tickets into smaller selection groups.
Each of these methods has both manual and automatic options for routing tickets to agents and views. You can combine multiple styles -- push and pull methods, manual and automatic options -- to create a workflow that fits your needs.
Pushing tickets to agents
Using push methods to direct incoming tickets involves analyzing tickets and matching them to the right agents, groups, and views. You can do this manually, or you can do it automatically based on ticket criteria. And don’t forget--you can always use a mix of both to create an approach that works for your team and business.
Pushing tickets manually
You can use manual triage to analyze tickets and direct them to your agents. The following image shows the basic steps in a manual push workflow:
Manual triage works best for smaller teams, with low-volume ticket queues. It requires very little time to implement, and because each ticket is assessed individually, they’re less likely to be assigned incorrectly.
However, if you have a large team, or receive a high number of tickets, manual triage can be extremely time consuming. It also requires knowledge of agents’ availability and abilities, which can be difficult for an individual to track.
If you want to use manual triaging as part of your push assignment workflow, it can be used in conjunction with automatic routing methods to streamline the process.
Pushing tickets automatically
Zendesk provides a number of business rules that can be used in conjunction with triggers to automate and manage directed ticket workflow. The following image shows the basic steps in an automated push workflow:
You can use triggers to create an automated workflow to push tickets your agents. You can set up triggers to route tickets based on a number of ticket criteria, including support addresses, ticket forms, or SLAs. You can also use event-based triggers to assign tickets to a specific agent or group of agents
Note: Customers on the Essential plan will not have access to all of these features.
In addition to triggers, which are event-based. you can create automated workflows using the following options:
- Use skills-based routing to assign skills to agents and use them to determine which support requests they’re qualified to solve.
- Use the Routing EAP to assign tickets and messaging conversations, in priority order, to agents based on their status and capacity.
- Use time-based automations to prioritize and assign tickets, and send reminders to agents based on how long the request has been waiting in the queue.
- Workflow recipe: Using triggers to manage requests from important customers (multiple organizations)
Allowing agents to pull tickets for themselves
You can configure your Zendesk to allow agents to select tickets directly, choosing their own tickets at their own pace. If you have a small team, an open ticket handling process can work well.
The following image shows the basic steps in a pull assignment workflow:
However, if you have more than a couple agents handling more than a few tickets each day, this can be unmanageable. You can use Zendesk tools to add some structure to the ticket routing workflow that can balance the load and have agents work through tickets.
For instance, if you’re concerned about agents cherry picking tickets, you might ask (or require) agents to use play mode to move through tickets. Or if load balancing is a concern, especially for larger teams, you might use a round robin method for tickets.
Options that pull tickets for agents or enable agents to pull their own tickets include:
Views, as we explained above, are a simple way to organize your tickets. If you want to create a more granular approach to ticket organization, you can build condition statements, which are then applied to tickets to send them to a particular view. Views can be restricted to specific agents or groups of agents as needed.
To use targeted views, you need to create a view for each agent or group of agents that needs their own pool of tickets to work from. If there are multiple groups that can address a ticket, that ticket can be added to more than one view, so it is accessible to all appropriate agents.
Views are easy to create, so implementing this routing method is simple. When used on its own, it allows agents to choose from a pre-filtered set of tickets, combining push and pull ticket assignment methods.
- Recipe for the customer-centric customer: Create meaningful views of your customers
- Best practices for creating views
Zendesk Support offers Play mode, which allows agents to click through a view (using the Play button) to the next available ticket automatically. Play mode can be customized in a number of ways:
- Admins can restrict Play mode to only display tickets from a specific view.
- Enterprise customers can use Guided mode to allow agents to only access tickets using the Play button.
Round robin ticket management allows you to assign tickets by rotating through your agents. For instance, if you have three agents on duty, and four tickets come in to your queue:
- Ticket 1 is assigned to Agent 1
- Ticket 2 is assigned to Agent 2
- Ticket 3 is assigned to Agent 3
- Ticket 4 is assigned to Agent 1
And so on.
A round robin approach makes sure that tickets are distributed evenly among agents, and can easily be part of a more automated workflow. It does, however, assign tickets without regard for complexity, time-consumption, or necessary expertise.
The Round Robin app can help you build a workflow using this method.
Using Zendesk configuration options to automatically route tickets based on ticket criteria
Zendesk Support lets you create business rules that can incorporate a number of configuration elements, such as channels, ticket forms, and agent skills, as conditions when building views and triggers, to direct tickets to the right agents.
The following image shows routing options based on the channel through which the ticket was received:
In this section, we’ll introduce you to some of these options, along with brief examples of ways you can use them in your workflow.
Options you can use in your automated ticket routing workflows include:
- Support addresses let you route tickets based on which email address the customer used to contact support.
- Multiple ticket forms (Professional add-on and Enterprise plans) allow you to collect information from customers in a specific form, then route the ticket based on the ticket form that was used.
- Ticket information can be customized to require information from customers before a ticket is accepted into the queue, and you can route the ticket based on specific ticket information.
Channels can be used as a trigger condition so that you can route a ticket based on the channel where it was received.
Note: Tickets created via the web and mobile messaging channels have different routing criteria. See About routing for Zendesk messaging.
- Service Level Agreements can be used to create time-based automations that reroute or prioritize tickets based on promises made to customers.
- Skills can match agents with tickets that require certain abilities or specialties to resolve.
- Agent status and capacity can match the highest priority tickets to the agents most available to solve them.
These options often overlap in a routing flow --for example, ticket information can include the channel a customer used to contact support.
When you set up Zendesk Support, you have one related email address to submit tickets: email@example.com, but you can provide your end users with multiple alternative email addresses, called support addresses.
If you have multiple departments designed to handle certain support topics, you can create a support address for each that routes tickets directly into that department’s queue. For instance, you may have email addresses for firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, and so on.
You can even set a ticket priority based on the incoming support address, and use the priority to move a ticket to the top of the queue.
With tickets organized into specific queues, you can add a layer of manual triaging -- for instance, a department triage agent can look at their filtered queue and push tickets to specific agents, or agents can view the filtered queue and select which tickets to take on -- or use other routing tools to refine the process.
Multiple ticket forms (Professional with the Productivity Pack add-on and Enterprise plans)
A ticket form is a set of predefined ticket fields for a specific support request. When you create multiple ticket forms, you can customize them to gather information from your end users to direct support requests to the right agent or group of agents. You can, of course, create a single ticket form that does all of this, but if you have a complex business structure, using multiple forms might work better for you.
Customers can be asked to choose a ticket form that best reflects their question or issue, or you can control which ticket forms are available to your customers by linking to relevant ticket forms from specific pages in your website or Help Center.
If used with business rules, information provided by a customer in the web form can streamline ticket routing and make sure it gets to the correct agent quickly. In addition, web forms can provide customers with self-service or live chat options to solve their issues quickly.
- Recipe: Setting up basic request ticket forms (IT example)
- Recipe: Setting up basic request ticket forms (Software example)
Tickets can be designed to provide a great source of information to help you route customer requests, by using custom ticket fields.
Custom ticket fields allow you to request or require specific information on a ticket. You can add custom ticket fields to your ticket or web forms to gather information from your customers; or, you can add them to the tickets themselves to request information from your agents about the support request. You can then use the information you’ve gathered from these fields as conditions in business rules, to route tickets to specific views, and the like.
- Recipe: Setting up basic request ticket forms (Software example)
- Workflow recipe: User and Organization Fields (Internal IT Example)
- Workflow recipe: User and Organization Fields (Retail Business Example)
Channels are the ways you communicate with your customers. When a customer submits a ticket, you can use the submission channel as a condition to build a trigger that routes the ticket to a particular agent or group of agents. For instance, if you are using a Twitter account to accept tickets, you may want to create a trigger that sends all tickets submitted through Twitter to an agent familiar with or trained to use that channel.
SLAs (Professional and Enterprise)
A Service Level Agreement, or SLA, is an agreed upon measure of the response and resolution times that your support team delivers to your customers. You can define SLA service targets in Zendesk Support so that you and your agents can monitor your service level performance and meet your service level goals.
Service level agreements can be used as conditions in views and automations to prioritize tickets that are approaching, or have passed, an SLA time requirement.
You can identify specific skills that are required to address common tickets, based on support topic, ticket language, end user priority, and so on. Agents can be assigned skills as well, allowing you to connect them with matching tickets. You can create skill-specific views accessible to agents with matching skills, and create triggers that assign tickets to agents or groups that have matching skills.
Agent status and capacity (EAP)
You can specify maximum capacity per agent for different channels, and use that in conjunction with the statuses agent set for themselves. You can create triggers that assign tickets to group(s), set priority, and apply the routing tag. You can use availability-based routing to assign tickets to the agents that are most available and have the most spare capacity to resolve them.