A lookup relationship field is a custom field that you can use to establish relationships between tickets, users, organizations, and custom objects.
You can use the Zendesk API to retrieve lookup relationship data. For example, you can request a list of all tickets related to a specific support manager. To learn more, see Retrieving lookup relationship data with the API in the developer docs.
Understanding lookup relationship fields
A lookup relationship field is a type of custom field that you can add to users, organizations, tickets, and custom objects in Zendesk. After adding a lookup relationship field, team members can use it to establish relationships with other users, organizations, tickets, or custom objects.
You can add a lookup relationship field to ticket forms, user profiles, organization pages, and custom object schemas. When you do, agents can use this field to look up and select from a list of users, organizations, tickets, or custom object records in your Zendesk account.
You can use lookup fields in creative ways that serve your specific business needs. For example, you could create a lookup field called Manager, tie that lookup field to your account's users, and add the field to your ticket form. Your agents could then use this field on a ticket to select a manager from a list of your organization's users.
Topics covered in this section:
Understanding the custom field
A lookup relationship field is a custom field that lets you look up and select from a list of users, organizations, tickets, or custom object records in your Zendesk account. The following example shows a lookup relationship field on a user profile page. A team member typed a dash (-) in the field to list a filtered set of organizations in the account:
The list of options in a lookup relationship field is auto-populated as you type into the field. You don't have to define the options yourself as you do with a dropdown custom field, though you can filter them when you define the field.
After selecting an option, you can view the record details by clicking the field name:
After selecting a record in a ticket lookup relationship that points to a custom object, you can preview the record details within the ticket.
You can add lookup relationship fields to the following pages in the Zendesk interface:
- The user profile page
- The organization page
- Custom objects
These pages represent the possible source object of a relationship. For example, a user displayed in the user profile page can be the source object of a relationship with another user, organization, ticket or custom object. The lookup relationship field lets you select the other object — also known as the related object — in the relationship.
You can make a lookup relationship field conditional so that it only appears to agents under certain circumstances. See Creating conditional ticket fields and Configuring agent access to custom object records.
Understanding the relationships
A lookup relationship can be expressed as follows:
source object → related object
The source object is the Zendesk object that contains the lookup relationship field (among other fields). It can be a user, organization, ticket, or custom object. The related object is the object specified by the lookup relationship field. It can also be a user, organization, ticket, or custom object. Lookup relationships with legacy custom objects are not supported.
A lookup relationship can be any combination of a user, organization, ticket, or custom object with another user, organization, ticket, or custom object.
If you create a relationship between a source ticket and a related user, the ticket record will have a lookup relationship field identifying the user. However, the corresponding user record will not have a field identifying the ticket. Instead of a field, the user record will have a Related tab listing the ticket along with all the other source objects it’s related to.
Each source object can be related to only one related object. However, many source objects can be related to one related object. For example, after adding an organization lookup relationship field to users, you could then establish many relationships between users and one organization. Example:
- User 1 - Org A
- User 2 - Org A
- User 3 - Org A
You can view the relationships in ticket forms, user profiles, organization pages, and custom object record details.
You can also use the Zendesk API to list the users, organizations, tickets, or custom object records related to a specific related object. For example, you can request a list of all tickets related to a specific support manager. To learn more, see Retrieving lookup relationship data with the API in the developer docs.
Searching records by lookup relationship field values is not supported.
There are many ways you can use lookup relationship fields to build out complex relationship ecosystems within Zendesk Support. The following are some examples to help you start thinking about ways you can use these custom fields:
You're an admin for a trucking company and you want to associate shippers, drivers, and recipients with tickets. You add three filtered lookup relationship fields to tickets: a user field named Drivers, an organization field named Shippers, and another organization field named Recipients.
Your company is in the business-to-business (B2B) space and interacts with many other companies. You want to track the relationships these companies have with each other. You decide to use organization lookup relationship fields to create and track these relationships. For example, you might have a field named Partner, a second named Subsidiary, and a third named Competitor.
In another business-to-business scenario, each of your account managers works with a key stakeholder at each of your customer companies. You create a user lookup relationship field named Account Manager to establish relationships between the stakeholders and your account managers.
You want to designate emergency contacts for members on your team in case a member is not available. You decide to use a user lookup field named Emergency Contact to create these user-to-user relationships. In a more complex use case, you could add additional user fields -- Backup 1, Backup 2 – to establish a priority of backups for each person.
Adding lookup relationship fields
You can add up to ten active or inactive lookup relationship fields to users, organizations, and tickets. Custom objects have plan-based limits on lookup relationships per custom object.The fields are displayed on pages in the Zendesk interface.
You can also create lookup relationship fields with the Zendesk API. See Lookup Relationships in the API reference docs.
If you delete a lookup relationship field, the data in the field isn't preserved. To preserve the data, deactivate the field rather than deleting it.
To create a lookup relationship field
- Start by adding a custom field to your users, organizations, tickets, or
custom object and select Lookup relationship as the custom field
type. For more information, see:
- Adding custom fields to your tickets
- Adding custom fields to users
- Adding custom fields to organizations
- Defining a custom object's schema with custom fields
- Set the Display name, Field key, and Description as described in the articles linked from step 1.
- Select a related object to list in the lookup relationship field.
This can be a Ticket, User, Organization, or the name of a custom object. For example, if you select User as the related object, the lookup relationship field will display a list of Zendesk users.
- Click Add filter to define one or more filters to reduce the number
of options that the field can display.
You can filter objects by any number of tags or custom fields. For more information, see Filtering the field's options.
- Click Save.
Filtering the field's options
Your account could have thousands or even millions of ticket, user, organization, and custom object records. In most cases, you'll want a defined subset of records for the options in your lookup relationship fields. For example, you might want to list only users who are account managers.
By default, all lookup relationship fields that target standard objects let you
filter the records of the related object by tag. For example, to list only users
who are account managers, you could add an "account_manager" tag to the user
profiles of your account managers and then define the following filter condition
for the lookup relationship field:
Tags | Contain at least one of the
following | account_manager. This isn't possible for lookup fields
that target custom objects.
For ticket records, the following additional default filters are available: Status, Type, Priority, Assignee, Requester, Form, Organization, and Channel. See Building trigger condition statements. For user records, an additional Role filter is available.
Lookup relationship fields also support filtering by other custom fields added to
the related object. For example, if you add a Security Clearance custom
checkbox field to the user profile, the Security Clearance field will
appear as a filter option when you add the lookup relationship field. You could
then define the following filter condition for the field:
Clearance | Is | Checked
You can modify the filters at any time. This won't affect the values previously selected with the lookup relationship field.
To learn more, see About custom fields.
Viewing lookup relationships
Establishing relationships between records is important for building out your complex data model. However, it's also important to see and interact with those relationships within Zendesk. Each user profile, organization, and custom object record displays a list of related records. For tickets, any related records are visible as values within the ticket fields.
Clicking on lookup relationship fields opens the related record's details in a new tab in Support.
Viewing records related to users and organizations
Each Zendesk Support profile for a team member, end user, or organization includes a Related tab that lists all related source objects. The information is grouped by the type of source object (Tickets, Organizations, Users, or Custom objects) and the specific lookup field.
In the following example of a team member profile, tickets have a lookup relationship field called Driver. If Annie Porter is selected in the Driver field, that ticket appears under the Related tab on her team member profile. It’s grouped by the type of source object, Tickets, and the name of the lookup field, Driver.
The Related tab doesn’t appear on user profiles in your help center.
Viewing records related to tickets
Within a ticket, lookup relationship fields are displayed like any other fields in the ticket field panel.
For lookup fields pointing to organizations, users, or other tickets, clicking on the field opens the record in a new tab in Support. If the lookup field points to a custom object, you can view the record's details within the context panel without navigating away from the ticket you're working on. See Interacting with related object records in tickets.
Viewing records related to custom objects
Similar to users and organizations, when you view a custom object record's details, you'll see all values for all of the object's fields on the left and then a list of related records grouped by the source object's type on the right.
The following example shows the details for record 256 of the Project custom object. In addition to the specific details about project 256, you can also see that this project is related to 3 tickets via a lookup relationship field on the ticket () named Project Code that points to the Project object.
Using lookup relationship fields in triggers and views
When adding a condition to a trigger or view, any lookup relationship fields also appear in the list of options. In the following example, the first condition of a trigger is a user lookup relationship field named Support Manager. The trigger will only fire for tickets associated with the support manager named Jennifer Hanson.
You can also use lookup relationship fields in the actions of your triggers. In the following example, the action sets the value of the organization lookup relationship field named Company Organization to Northwest Region when the trigger fires.
In addition to using the record name specified in lookup fields in trigger conditions and actions, you can also reference the related record's fields within your conditions and actions. For example, if you have a ticket lookup relationship field named Software requested that points to a custom object named Software, you could use the Software requested lookup field to create conditions and actions around the record selected within the lookup field—as in a record is or isn't present, or the record's name is or isn't set to a specific value—or you can reference other fields within the record, such as a Approval required checkbox being selected or not within the record related to the ticket. For more information about using lookup relationship fields that target custom objects in triggers, see Using custom objects in triggers.
You can also use placeholders to retrieve the ID of the target record in a lookup relationship field. This is true for lookup fields pointing to other tickets, users (requester), and organizations. The ID can then be used in API requests, such as to assign the ticket to the user specified in a lookup field.