Fine Tuning is a day-long discussion about a specific topic, hosted by a member of the Customer Success team.
This Fine Tuning session is about agent productivity, including:
- Utilizing triggers, automations, macros, and keyboard shortcuts to make your agents more efficient
- Pre-qualifying customer issues and questions
- New Zendesk and Apps
- Measuring productivity
Sylviana Ho is a Customer Success Executive and was one of the early Customer Success team members at Zendesk. She comes with a ton of tech and customer support experience from one of the fastest growing companies in the tech industry and loves helping customers optimize their Zendesk.
See all the Fine Tuning series discussions .
Customer support is not an easy job. As an agent, you’re faced with the challenge of delicately balancing being effective and efficient and keeping the customer’s issue and overall experience in mind.
This Fine Tuning session will help you optimize and measure your Zendesk for agent productivity, all the while delivering the best customer experience.
The four sections in this session will provide you with tips and best practices to improve your Zendesk and create reports to make the balancing act a little easier for your agents. The optimizations that result in agent productivity gains will also translate to cost savings for your team, allowing you to reduce your operational costs for your organization.
Part 1, 8am: Business Rules, Macros, and Keyboard Shortcuts
Triggers and Automations
Triggers and automations are what make up Business Rules. This is the bloodline that runs through the Zendesk body to keep things moving and can remove much of the repetitive work. Triggers are event-based conditions that run immediately after a ticket is created or updated, and automations are time based. There is a myriad of ways you can use triggers and/or automations to help make your agents more efficient. For example:
- Automatically assign tickets by channel - If you have a dedicated team or agent that is responsible for certain channels, you can create a trigger that will automatically assign tickets to that group or agent whenever customers write in from that particular channel. This removes the manual work and potential errors from agents passing tickets around.
*If you deactivated the default trigger “Notify group of assignment” you will need to add an action to “Notifications: Email group” to the trigger above.
- Automatically assign tickets by text or ticket field - If you need a specific team or Tier 2 support to handle certain issues, you can build a trigger to automatically assign these tickets based on the text in the form or custom fields that are selected (for more information on custom fields, check back in at 11am Pacific for part 2).
*If you deactivated the default trigger “Notify group of assignment” you will need to add an action to “Notifications: Email group (assigned group)” to the trigger above.
You can escalate important tickets with a specific
by using the ‘Hours Since created’ condition.
You can notify a team when a new ticket has remained unassigned for a certain number of hours by using ‘Hours since created’.
You can notify the assigned agent or team when a ticket has been open for X number of hours without an update. Note that we are using "Hours since assignee update (business) is" to take into account your hours of operation.
You can notify the customer after a certain number of hours or days when a pending ticket has not been updated (meaning they haven't responded to your agent yet). In this automation you would use the ‘Hours since pending ' **and 'Hours since update **' conditions.
*Please note that we add a tag to keep track of these tickets (notify _ 3days). You can build a second automation to track these tickets and mark them as ' Solved ' after a certain amount of days if the customer never replies.
By intelligently configuring the business rules that are appropriate for your organization, your agents can save time and energy and redirect that focus towards the tickets that really matter.
Another feature you can take advantage of that sheds seconds off of each ticket per agent are Macros . A second may not sound like much, however, they add up and can actually translate into dollars so perk up those ears and eyes in this section! Macros perform a series of actions, like adding a response and updating ticket properties at the click of a single button.
Let’s say you have lots of customers submitting tickets about the same issue and they all require the same answer. Instead of having your agents manually write out the same response for each ticket or copy/paste from Word, you can create a macro that will add the response, change ticket fields, and prompt the agent to submit the ticket in a certain status by simply selecting that particular macro. A more specific example is a macro used for incidents where end-users cannot access their account. Our very own Support team uses a macro that helps guide the end-user through a password reset while setting the ticket to the pending status.
We understand that not everything is one size fits all in a support organization, so you can create both shared macros for the team and individual agents can create personal macros if they have slightly different workflows. I also encourage you to take advantage of placeholders to make macros even more useful. For great tips from our community forum, please check out this forum post on macros .
Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to introduce Keyboard Shortcuts to you. Many people overlook the power of keyboard shortcuts and consider this a minor feature, but what they fail to realize is that you can shave time off of tickets by reducing mouse activity. You can take any action on a ticket without having your hand leave the keyboard.
My personal favorites are the hotkeys that allow you to submit and update the ticket status with the tap of three keys:
For a full list of keyboard shortcuts please navigate to your profile picture in the top right hand corner of your Zendesk and select “Keyboard shortcuts.” From here you can enable it and download the master list as a PDF so that you always have them handy.
Part 2: Pre-Qualifying Customer Issues and Questions
How great would it be if your agents knew what customers’ issues were before responding to the ticket? This would not only reduce the back and forth responses, but it would simultaneously make the agent’s life easier by having all the information they need up front to solve the ticket and create a fast and positive experience for the customer.
This can be accomplished by using Custom Ticket Fields (available on all plans, however, only Professional and Enterprise customers can report on them). Custom Ticket Fields are customizable ticket fields that you can create to capture more information from your customers or agents and can be made visible to agents only or to both agents and end-users. (Pro tip: Use custom ticket fields with user and org fields to store richer customer and company information in Zendesk by defining separate fields on users and organizations).
For the sake of agent productivity, let’s focus on how we can use Custom Ticket Fields for the end-user. Rather than providing an open ended contact form where customers can free form their issues and potentially miss including key pieces of information, you can add a custom ticket field requiring specific information.
For example, maybe you need the make and model of the product that your customer is having problems with or maybe you need to know what department this question or issue is related to (e.g. General Question, Billing, Finance, etc). This information can all be requested from the moment your customer decides to contact your support team. You don’t have to wait around for basic yet fundamental information necessary to solve the issue because that can all be submitted with the ticket without any action on your agents end.
There are a variety of custom fields you can use and you can find the full list here . I would recommend using the drop-down list and the checkbox when possible because you can generate tags that can be used in automations, macros, triggers, views, and most importantly reports.
For those of you on Enterprise and on the new Zendesk, we have two additional awesome features available to you called Ticket Forms and Conditional Fields that take this concept of pre-qualifying tickets a level deeper. Ticket Forms allow you to create multiple support request forms that display a unique set of custom ticket fields so that you can get the right ticket, with all of the relevant information to the right agents. Conditional Fields App allows you to show and hide fields in your tickets based on what your customer selects.
Part 3 & 4, 2pm: New Zendesk and Apps & Measuring Productivity
If you haven’t made your 2015 New Year’s resolution yet, add moving to the new Zendesk to the list! Not only is the updated interface more user friendly, but it was built with the agent experience and efficiency in mind. If you don’t make the switch to new Zendesk for the Play button alone, which allows you to breeze through tickets while automatically skipping tickets already being worked on by another agent, let me entice you with Apps and Help Center.
Zendesk Apps offers over 200 pre-built integrations to extend the Zendesk functionality beyond what is out of the box. Installing an app is easy, seamless and fast. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the Apps Marketplace, you can get guidance on building your own app by visiting the Developer Center .
A few (free!) apps that I want to highlight that were built specifically to make an agent’s life easier are the following:
- User Data - This app allows you to surface customer information and ticket history right next to the ticket providing more context for the agent to get a holistic view of the issue. Not only does this prevent the agent from going on a wild goose chase for information, but your agent can provide a more tailored response to the customer.
- Time Tracking - The Time Tracking app captures the time your agents spend on each ticket. This makes managing your team’s performance and support operations easier by identifying which customers submit the most complicated and/or most time consuming tickets. The best part of this app is that it leverages Insights so that you can create reports with the time tracking data allowing you to make informed decisions to optimize workflows.
- Answer Suggestion - You can automatically search your Help Center and surface relevant articles on the agent interface so that they can quickly drag and drop the linked articles into their ticket response.
I’ll end the Apps portion with these powerful words from one of our customers, Groupon, regarding apps:
“Our agents save about 40% of time per ticket on average thanks to Apps, they make us more efficient” — Dominic Pasta, Operations Manager Groupon UK
Help Center is like the self check-in line at the airport. It enables your customers to self-serve by finding their own answers using various support options such as the knowledge base articles and community forums. If they can’t find the answer through those avenues, then your customers can always submit a ticket.
The knowledge base should be considered the all-knowing truth, especially if it is customer facing - so make sure to keep it updated! This may require crowdsourcing from your support team or hiring a dedicated Help Center content manager. You can make articles available both internally and externally so that your customers and agents can potentially have access to the same articles, but see additional content based on their role. It’s good practice to have internal articles with access restricted to your agents to reference policies and procedures, and it can also help to minimize the time spent onboarding new agents.
For more information on the benefits of moving to the new Zendesk, please check out my colleague's previous Fine Tuning article, So you’re still on Classic, eh? .
Part 4 - Measuring productivity
Now that we’ve covered tips and best practices on driving agent productivity, let’s discuss various ways to measure agent productivity. This is equally, if not more important than workflow enhancements, because numbers don’t lie, and they can help build a case for staffing, workflow changes, organizational changes, and much more depending on how you want to use the data. Below are some helpful metrics to start measuring:
- Tickets per agent by day/week/month - Tracking the number of tickets per agent is a simple yet effective way to measure if the workload is distributed evenly on the team and also to see who your top performers are. The insights gained from this information allows you to make decisions around staffing based on volume, training, and creating/updating knowledge base articles.
- Tickets per agent per channel - Similar to tracking the number of tickets per agent, measuring by channel helps to see volume by channel. You may discover that you need to add more agents to a particular channel or come up with ways to reduce ticket volume for certain channels.
- Time tracking app metrics - This app tracks time automatically, however, you will need to build a few custom metrics and reports within Insights to analyze your team’s time logs. You should track total time spent, average time spent per ticket, and average time spent per update in order to gather a holistic view on how much time is actually spent on each interaction. (For more information and the recipes for these reports, please click on the link above).
- One touch tickets - These are tickets that are solved in one interaction. I consider one touch tickets the slam dunk of tickets and have potential to be turned into a self-service opportunity. With one touch tickets, the more the merrier, so make sure you track them!
Share with us how you optimize for agent productivity! What features and functionalities do you use to make your agents more efficient while keeping the customer experience in mind?
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