Tip: How to optimise your macros usage in Zendesk
Hi all! 👋
I am very happy to proceed with my series of Zendesk optimization posts. You can find previous ones about general Zendesk setup, ultimate optimization checklist, ideal KPI system, and excellent ticket categorization. This very post is based on those posts' ideas – so feel free to read them for having better context.
Today I would like to share some best practices for organizing and using macros in Zendesk. After many Zendesk optimizations projects, I found that macros underutilization is the main productivity killer in Zendesk. Actually, I see the same issues with macros usage across very different Zendesk accounts all the time. But in fact, with pretty minimal efforts, you can fix these issues and improve your Zendesk productivity significantly – and other KPIs as a result since the speed and quality of the customer service is a key competitive advantage today.
Top 10 issues with macros in Zendesk
The following are issues with macros organization and usage in Zendesk and how they impact the agents' productivity or CSAT of your customers:
- Macros not used at all. All is clear – agents spend much time for simple typing or copy-pasting from somewhere outside of Zendesk. Just start using macros.
- Macros not actively used. Macros are up to date but (not all) agents use (not all) macros. Some agents are underperforming as a result.
- Limited macros taxonomy. Your macros cover only some limited set of topics while other cases are not covered. You should organize the macros creation workflow to manage this.
- Limited macros standardization. Sometimes managers allow agents to create personal macros and this might end with over-diversified macros taxonomy without any common brand communication style.
- Outdated content in macros. Some of your macros have old content that is being edited all the time when applied or sent as is (with negative consequences as a result).
- Missing actions in macros. Sometimes macros are used only to add the comment to the ticket. The rest of the actions are being made manually each time (like fields values, setting status, etc).
- Macros not grouped. Without grouping macros, you have a long list of macros with hard navigation and a difficult search process.
- Macros titles are too short (unclear). Without enough details, agents might need to preview or apply and undo macros changes manually to see in detail what the macro is about.
- Creating individual language-specific macros. When you create many macros for the same reply in different languages you end up with too many macros. If available on your plan, use Dynamic content instead to have fewer macros and manage them easier.
- Adding signatures to macros texts. Avoid doing this and instead, use the standard signature feature in agent profiles or Brands settings to manage them easily from one place.
How to organise macros in Zendesk
Below I would like to highlight the main macros organizations principles that also address the issues outlined above.
- Organise the macros creation process. Depending on the team size, macros creation and regular updates might be a duty of one or many persons. The main thing here is to establish an ongoing process and organize workflows when agents can request creating/updating macros right inside related tickets. They can refer to the replies-candidates and use special macros (!) to leave a structured internal note with relevant details. The simplified workflow looks like follows: (1) Agent requests new macro in the ticket > (2) Manager notified via trigger about the request > (3) Manager creates a macro and leaves a note about this > (4) Trigger notifies all agents about new macro with a source ticket link to learn the context.
Add all standard and custom actions. Macros serve great by setting many system and custom fields values, tags, etc in one shot. It makes sense to replicate all relevant actions even if some of them are set by business rules in Zendesk. Why? Because you never know when you could have a case when you need to do this manually and having all actions in the macro saves your time in any future case. The same applies to the plain text version of the comment: add it by default to avoid unnecessary edits for channels that do not support Rich content formatting. This is how the actions list might look like with all actions added.
- Group macros into categories. Once you have a good number of macros it gets difficult to navigate and search them from a long list. But macros can be easily organized into multi-level groups like dropdown fields values. By adding double colons (::) you are separating different levels (this might look like this: Delivery::Track status::What happens if the order is lost during shipping). I usually suggest using the same categorization taxonomy that is used for ticket fields and syncing them completely to have a full synergy between ticket properties and macros. Check my post about excellent ticket categorization for a reference.
- Formulate answer-style titles. Macros are about answers you provide to questions. That's why the titles of the macros should clearly indicate what the macro is replying to the particular request (but stay compact at the same time!) and not what is being asked (because you can use very different replies to the same question). Very often you have similar macros varying by some minor part – be sure to point this in the title. I usually suggest using "+" to separate main different parts of the macro and () for minor specifics. The macro title Delivery::Track status::Order shipped + Tracking link (International) tells us that we confirm order delivery status (shipped) and sending tracking link for an international order. Other versions might be for domestic or country-specific shipping.
- Track & review macros usage trends. Last but not least, any activity requires measuring its success. To keep macros usage high and measure their performance you need to have a tool. This point is explained in the last section of the post.
How to measure macros usage in Zendesk
The most intriguing question is: What is a good level of macros usage for my team? I know companies that have many hundreds of macros and use them very actively – like in above 95% of their replies (technically in all of their replied tickets). And I saw the brands with thousands of tickets monthly not using a single macro. With proper setup, you can create many macros and still use them very efficiently. The golden rule here is that the more macros you use the fewer support agents you need (= have fewer spendings).
First of all, it makes more sense to measure macros usage against replies and not tickets since macros usually are used in individual replies (public pr private comments). Also, the ticket might have more than one reply, thus the One-Touch Rate of the standard CS team might be between 60%-80%. The more replies on average does your typical ticket have, the more important is to measure macros usage against the replies.
From my perspective there are next levels of macros usage:
- Very high – > 80% of replies
- High – 60-80% of replies
- Medium – 40-60% of replies
- Low – 20-40% of replies
- Very low – < 20% of replies
To measure your macros usage trends and patterns you can use different tools depending on your Zendesk plan and budget.
Using stats on Macros page. If you have Zendesk Professional plan or above you can check usage stats for up to the last 30 days. Go to Admin > Manage > Macros and select a period in the sorting menu. With a regular monthly checkup, you can save your stats into a sheet and have these general usage numbers tracked. Clearly, that you don't have any additional context (except groups using macros) to analyze usage.
- Using Explore reports. There is a great Zendesk recipe explaining how to measure macros usage with tags. This approach is limited by counting all non-unique usage events per ticket level (which means you will not see all events of the same macro usage if it is used a few times in a ticket). But you can use any other Explore user or ticket attributes (like brands, forms, fields, etc) to dig into your macros usage trends. And this is great!
- Using Zendesk apps. There are just a few apps on Zendesk Marketplace that do allow you to report on macros usage in detail: Miuros Insights and Macros Reporting by Pythia. These apps provide you a deep look into macros usage and performance across many attributes and their relation to agents' productivity and customer satisfaction. Highly recommended for reporting obsessed ZD owners!
I hope this post was interesting reading for you. Let me know in the comments what other macros optimizations techniques do you use and like.
Stay safe and productive! And happy support! ✌️
P.S. Check my other tips on Zendesk Community:
- How to set up an "ideal" KPI system for your customer support
- How to organize an excellent tickets categorization in Zendesk
- Showing predefined answers for custom field values in your Help Center webform
Zendesk Expert, Pythia Co-Founder
Awesome optimization tip Andrei!
I'll get this added to our Weekly Digest to help provide visibility on this workflow :)
Brett Bowser thank you! Happy to share my best practices 😊
Andrei Kamarouski - thanks for the detailed and easy-to-digest optimization post. Will be rolling this out!
Hi Bart S., thank you! Happy to get your feedback! =)
Can you tell me what a good number of macros to have is, generally speaking? For example, If an organization has 400+ macros, I would imagine that the sheer number of macros would prevent productivity when responding to tickets and would indicate that the macros are not generic enough in nature to answer questions coming in through Zendesk. Any feedback you have is appreciated.
Hi Anne -
Just my opinion here: I think it will vary by company, because for some there will be a lot of commonly asked questions that can be answered in a macro, and for other companies this might not be the case. You might also have more macros if you have a lot of departments and/or types of tickets that you use macros to process. But I think you can have a lot of macros without problems if:
- They're titled and organized in such a way that they're easy to find, either by nesting or search)
- You have enough staff bandwidth to maintain them as needed – this will vary by how often your macros need to change
- You have a process in place where the people using your macros can alert whoever's maintaining them when an update is needed.
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