Zendesk equivalent of RN's SmartAssistant?


RightNow has a feature it calls "smartassistant", which basically parses incoming email for terms and presents the user with some possible solutions from the knowledgebase, if any are found; their description of what it does can be found here:  http://crm.rightnow.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/322/~/description-of-smartassistant

I would just like to know if ZenDesk has any kind of equivalent to this functionality.




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    Right now Zendesk doesn't have anything like "smartassistant". We do have a related topics widget that will do some parsing of the email and give links to forum topics. But the user has to login and view the ticket in order to see them. 


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    Looks like this is now planned..
    "As well as all this other lovely new stuff, we're adding something we like to call Topic Suggestions, which means when an end user is asking a new Question, or raising a new Idea, Zendesk will suggest some Topics that might be similar or related to their Question or Idea, respectively. We hope this will not only allow end users to gratify their need to get their Question answered or Idea heard, but also take some weight off you poor support people out there!"


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    Rob:  We want this for email as well as for forums.  I believe what ZD is planning for is specific to online Forum questions.  What we want are tools that prevent support emails from hitting our agents queues in the first place.  I'd love to see something like this:

    1. CU sends email to help@
    2. Help request received by ZD system
    3. ZD parses the incoming email for keywords, and does a keyword search against the support forums
    4. ZD sends an auto generated email back to the customer, displaying the top 3-5 hits, and asks the user if any of these answer their question.  If yes, they are good and we don't get that question in our queue.  If no, the user says so and the question hits our queue.

    Of course this is a simplified overview but I hope you get the idea.

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    @Goolie: Certainly sounds like a great idea - and a great extension to the topic suggestions stuff. Are you sure RN does that without agent intervention?

    "The Append SmartAssistant Response to Response Field option when creating workflow rules does not work if the incident comes into the system via email.  Since the incident is submitted to a mailbox, there is no way to provide suggested solutions before the email is processed and becomes an incident."


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    Are you sure RN does that without agent intervention?

    No, I'm not, I was trying to remember and  dont' recall it being an email feature.  I'm pretty sure as RN has implimented it, it's online only (like ZD). 

    So, I guess this is a feature request...  any idea if this can this be moved over to feature request area...?

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    @Skip - If you could suggest the topics which are currently displayed in the Related Topics widget *prior *to the ticket being submitted (either as they type - or as an additional step before the ticket gets created) it might reduce ticket volume significantly. Whether to add the additional step could be configurable by the admin - and doesn't sound like it would be too tricky to implement (based on same logic as Related Topics widget). Any thoughts?

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    Helpstream did exactly what you're describing via email. They would send an autoresponse to the customer's emailed ticket with up to 5 suggested FAQs that matched keywords in the ticket. My favorite thing about Helpstream was that they were GREAT at ticket deflection and tools to help agents deflect tickets and track successful deflections. Obviously the automated system would sometimes return funky results that didn't have anything to do with what the customer wanted, but it often provided great suggestions. I'd love to see this in Zendesk too!

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    Kayako is doing this very well, but their interface "post ticket" isn't as good as Zen Desk.  Zen Desk need to take the "Make new ticket" page and make it an efficient ticket deflecting genius-beast.  This won't be very difficult for Zen Desk to do simply parse the database for keywords that are appearing in the form... am I missing something?

    Or easier yet, before the ticket is submittted reload to a "suggestions" page that tries to solve the issue "pre submission."

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    Just FYI, I used to work for RightNow and the default SmartAssistant behaviour for emailed tickets was to send back an autoresponse containing x number of suggestions & put the incident into a waiting state.

    So the incident would still get created, but would auto-close after x days/hours if there was no further response from the curstomer

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    Nice to know Richard, thanks for the info. 

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    Is this going to be added or considered as an add-on by Zen Desk? Its very important to our migration from Right Now.

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    Possible workaround:

    What we are going to do is use a java script widget to remove the "submit a request" tab.  Then on the home page will be the "What's your question?"  which will first search the forum and if they don't find it they can click the "submit request."  But it will still require a query f the knowledge base before a the request can be sent.

    Personally I don't see why it wouldn't just be default to leverage the knowledge base from the git-go.  However I do believe the above will accomplish the same thing.

    Set me straight if I'm missing something.

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    @Jacob  Great idea, do you have the code for the java script widget for this?

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    Here is the code Adrian: BTW - Please support my pricing flexibility request here: https://support.zendesk.com/entries/202895-please-make-pricing-more-flexible or comment if you agree disagree.


    Event.observe(window, 'load', function() {
       $$('#top-menu #green')[0].insert('<li class="main"><a class="tab" href="http://jumpmanual.zendesk.com/forums/">Feedback, Forums, and feature requests</a></li>');

    Event.observe(window, 'load', function() {
       $('contentwrapper').down('h2').update('Type your question, comment, or feedback.')

    Event.observe(window, 'load', function() {

    Event.observe(window, 'load', function() {

    Event.observe(window, 'load', function() {
    $$('a[href="/forums.rss"]').each(function (e) { Element.hide(e.parentNode); });

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    Hey Folks this can already be done with some work using the triggers.

    By using the CONTAINS clause in a trigger you can look for a whole range of keywords and then setup a REPLY or ACTION that sends back an email to the requester with links to your FORUM.

    Takes some setup work but all this is possible with Zendesk now OUT of THE BOX.

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    @Steve - that's what @Goolie was asking for - but in my opinion a much better customer experience is provided when you suggest topics immediately as they are starting to enter their request. This saves the customer time (as well as the agents) as they don't even have to finish typing their request. The automated email approach makes them submit their request, and then gives them the feeling that a robot has answered their email.

    An example of an application which does this very nicely is UserVoice - see http://feedback.uservoice.com

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    I guess there are a couple of issues.

    1. Email answering which can be done via the current triggers to a certain extent

    2. Form answering where they maybe should be directed to the Forum first and then submit a request. The other issue in support is whether you charge for the support request or whether you want to spend the least amount of human time on an answer. If the former then you definitely want people to engage you. This strikes right at the heart of customer engagement and whether automated systems replace good personal customer service interaction.


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    Sorry Steve I didn't mean to be critical - I re-read my comment and I missed the "thanks!" part. I'm keen to push Zendesk to implement something along the lines of what I've described - but your solution is useful immediately (and is applicable to all requests - including those submitted by email - not just via the webform). So cheers for submitting.

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    Hmm can I use the CONTAINS clause for the forum search?

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    You can't search the forum with email triggers but you can do the following:

    1. Select Triggers

    2. Set up the criteria in "Meet all of the following conditions:" as "Comment Text..." and then you can select Contains a word or a string etc. This is where you put the list of keywords that you want searched for in the Email Title or Body.

    I have tested this and it triggers on a new ticket and also any additional comments added by the agent or requester.

    1. Then set an action that contains an email reply with links to your Forum entries.

    This takes some work to setup the conditions and keywords and email content but it is ALL possible and like anything else in life if you put the effort in up front you reap large rewards down the track from a semi automated process.

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    @Jacob: regarding your comment on how easy would be to parse the database using keywords. This would indeed work, but keyword searching will return you lots of "false positives". The correct way of doing this is implementing a semantic search engine, which will not look just for keywords but do some contextual search. This is what guys that code search engines targeted to deflect lots of calls/emails do (examples would be Imbenta or Q-Go).

    As an example, imagine you want to perform a search regarding active X. You may use the word "component", but I might use "libraries" or "controls". With keyword search you need to perform three searches, while a semantic engine will understand exactly what you mean and return the desired results.

    Now, ZenDesk partnering with an SSE provider doesn't seem that far fetched, considering the integrations they have done with other major players...

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    @Steve, @Xavier


    My solution is not in emailing the forums but in showing possible answers on a forum search (on my front page it looks like a contact request more than it does a forum search).

    The problem is that the forum search appears to be VERY rudimentary.

    For example it will return search results for the word "faq" but if I type in "where is the faq" there is no search results.

    Even if the search pulled words and matched them to tags I would at least have a much more workable solution.


    My setup removes the "contact" tab via widget...

    Then, shows a form that says "Type your question or comment here"

    Then it shows answers, (if the search finds any)...

    If it doesn't find any then they can actually request contact.


    We have cut down on tons of tickets this way, and haven't had complaints.


    BUT if the search was a bit better this would be darn near perfect. 

    KAyako's system does this very well, but lacks so much of what makes Zendesk the best.


    Sure, a smarter search algorithm for the forums would be nice, but right now I'd just be happy to parse the text and match it to tags... 

    With this, agents could alter tags to match questions manually, whenever they continue to get a question that should be caught by the "smart assistant" they can add that tag to the appropriate forum and eliminate another possibility.

    Does that make sense?

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    Indeed it does. I think you got a clever workaround and the prize for it is some amount of call deflection. Then again, that deflection will only be as good as the search engine is, hence my comment before.

    If you run a site with thousands of users and a healthy forum with hundreds of threads then the search algorithm will become all the more important. Hell, we all know of a certain "G" company that made a fortune out of knowing how to search for things right?

    I forgot to mention that once the integration with a semantic engine is done you can easily apply it to your email queues too. It doesn't stop at web based content.

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    I'm confident Zendesk will come up with something.  Props to them for managing such a huge list of requests and making pretty solid progress.


    I LOVE our workaround so far. We're WAAAY down in tickets.  from maybe 75 a day to 6 - 15.

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    Just a heads up to anyone who cares... we also moved to a live support method... once a week we do a live webinar (currently with ustream (free)...

    It's been a HUGE cut down on work, then we record parts of the sesssion to use as content or knowledgebase articles.

    I'm loving it, and our customer are very pleased.

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    Another example of suggesting topic immediately: http://help.37signals.com/tickets/new

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    That's perfect Rob, is that integrated with Zendesk?

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    @jacob. 37signals wrote that page and then uses our API to do the search and ticket submission

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    @Rob that page would be EXCELLENT as components on the Zendesk home page. Not just the right panel but in the middle also.

    The 37signal guys really get goal oriented design.

    Why don't others copy what they do???

    The components would be:

    1. The Top ??? Forum Posts (as tickets are personal to users)

    2. Dynamic Search a Post (and please make it also do soundex searching)

    3. Submit a ticket (all on the one page. no navigating anywhere else)

    I am betting @Jacob that you could reduce your support even further with a tool like this.

    THE other feature (if someone from Zendesk is looking at this) would be to tie it into the security on Forums.

    I have  setup private Forums for each client for there specific Site Setup (This is an Computer Services Company) so that clients can get access to there own site specific details (ie this server is here with this config etc)

    Using this sort of search that respected security would pull general results from the open forums plus site specific info from their private forums. This would drastically reduce our support time.



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    @Skip, this is EXACTLY what I want and am trying to patch together on my own.

    I would looooooove to duplicate this.  I'd pay for this to be replicated on my site if anyone can do that.

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