Fine Tuning: Effective team communication in your support organization
This Fine Tuning session is about effective team communication in your support organization, including:
- Effective use of Zendesk notifications
- Tips and tricks for communication within Zendesk
- Best practices for communication across multiple platforms
Zendesk Customer Success Consultant Yaaz Dabiri has been with Zendesk since November of 2015 and brings over seven years of experience in customer success with various SaaS companies.
To find more Fine Tuning articles, see Fine tuning resources.
Part 1, 8 am: Effective use of Zendesk notifications
Making effective use of Zendesk notifications can be crucial to your workflow. The last thing you want is to desensitize your agents and end-users to Zendesk emails. Cleaning up the notifications that are sent out will help effectively alert the recipient and keep communication meaningful. In this section, I’ll discuss helpful action items for consolidating and optimizing the email notifications sent from your Zendesk.
Adjusting default triggers
There are several triggers that come standard within Zendesk.The default Zendesk triggers are based on best practices, however, not all of them will make sense for every team.
To minimize unnecessary email notifications, a good first step is to take a look at your default triggers by going to Admin Center and opening Objects and rules > Business rules > Triggers and deactivating those triggers that you don't need. (The ability to deactivate triggers is available on Team, Professional and Enterprise plans.)
Deactivate “Notify all Agents” if your agents live in Zendesk
Namely, one option to consider is disabling “Notify all agents of received request” If your agents are already living in Zendesk and using their browsers to reply, an extra email to notify them of a received request is a duplicate notification. To deactivate the trigger, deselect the box next to the trigger title.
Deactivate “Notify Group” if you want agents to use the Play button
Another trigger to review for your use case is “Notify group of assignment.” Perhaps your business model does not require the whole group to receive an email for every update, so in this case you could deselect the box next to this trigger to deactivate it.
If you want to encourage your agents to use the Play button, deactivating this trigger is also helpful for encouraging your agents to live in the Zendesk interface rather than becoming accustomed to replying to tickets from their email. Using this trigger, especially with larger teams, can start to inundate your inbox with unnecessary notifications. If you want multiple agents to be notified on the same ticket, copy them on the ticket.
Also you can use Guided Mode. If your admins have set up Guided Mode, agents can only use Play to view their tickets. Using Guided Mode will mean your agents won’t need notifications and disabling the “Notify group of assignment” is the way to go!
As a general rule of thumb, if your agents are living in the Zendesk interface every day, you will not need the two above mentioned triggers: “Notify all agents of received request” and “Notify group of assignment.
Modify “Notify Assignee” to get only the notifications you want
Now let’s look at another another trigger: “Notify assignee of comment update.” This could be modified to add another condition which states, “Ticket: Assignee is not [Insert agent(s)]” for those agents you do not want to receive an email.
A second modification to that same trigger would be to add a condition that “Ticket tag contains one of the following” for example, “sample_notify_me” tag. Create a universal tag that identifies tickets that you want to receive notifications for.
By default the agent won’t receive a notification email from updates made on the ticket unless they manually add the universal tag to the ticket. This way, the agent chooses which tickets they receive notification emails for by adding a tag to the ticket.
Organizing notifications outside of Zendesk
From an email perspective, a simple way to organize incoming Zendesk notification emails is to create a folder within your e-mail account so that all those emails are automatically routed to the specified folder.
You’ll find that the more your agents live in the Zendesk interface, there is less need to generate notifications to remind them of logging into the interface. If your agents do not live in the Zendesk interface, notifications are essential to ensure timely ticket responses. If you’re relying on agent notifications to alert your team to incoming assignments, could you instead direct agents to keep up with their Open Tickets view? If agents regularly monitor their Open Tickets view, you might be able to eliminate notifications.
Using broad email aliases
A common headache for managing incoming emails is when broad email aliases (i.e. - support@ or billing@) are assigned to agent seats instead of groups. Consider keeping agent email aliases unassociated with individual agents but rather with groups.
Don’t forget - This Fine Tuning article is meant to be interactive so feel free to post your questions or thoughts on this in the comments section below.
Part 2, 11 am: Tips and tricks for communication within Zendesk
In addition to managing email notifications, good communication within your Zendesk instance is also important for productive agents and happy managers.
Avoid agent collision
Agent collision occurs when multiple agents are working on resolving the same ticket. You can avoid having multiple agents work on the same ticket unintentionally by having agents use the Play button feature. The Play button guides your agents through the available tickets in a view automatically, without allowing them to pick-and-choose which ticket they want to work on. To activate Play mode, click the Play button in the top right of any view in your Zendesk agent interface. This will open the first ticket in the view. After addressing the ticket, clicking Submit will update the ticket and automatically move you to the next available ticket. Using the Play button is a best practice for agent protocol, and it helps to prevent agent collision (i.e. toe stepping) within Zendesk.
You can tell if an agent is working on a specific ticket when you are looking at the view or when you are in the ticket.
While this makes it easier to avoid conflicting updates to tickets, another best practice can be employed here. Avoid agent collision by training your agents to immediately assign tickets to themselves, preventing other agents from jumping in and responding before you do.
Agent actions within Zendesk, with regard to how they’re taking ownership of tickets, can help prevent agent collision. This works better than relying on the “who is viewing this ticket” feature. That feature can be vague, as both parties view the ticket, because it isn’t clearly defined who is actually taking ownership of responding to the customer.
Agent to agent ticket referencing
When agents need to reference another ticket within a ticket, they can improve agent-to-agent communication by adding an internal comment with a ticket referencing hashtag. The hashtag would read as #InsertTicketNumber. This allows agents to seamlessly reference other tickets internally through the agent notes section, without making it visible to the customer.
Using @Mention - (NEW!)
Using the @mention feature enables agents to copy someone else on the ticket, while also giving another layer of transparency into why someone is being copied and what area of the ticket they need to address. Agents can explain why they are adding someone to the ticket rather than cc’ing them without any context and potentially prompting the need for an email exchange outside of Zendesk. The @mention feature allows you to consolidate all those discussions and notes in Zendesk with more clarity.
Part 3, 2 pm: Best practices for communication across multiple platforms
External teams that need to be informed of information within Zendesk can end up getting bombarded with so many notification emails that they become accustomed to deleting without reading. The crux of the issue is that those other teams aren't in Zendesk every day like the support agents are. So how can you ensure that these other teams are getting the support data they need?
The key to minimizing the symptom known as “numbous to emailious” or being numb to Zendesk notifications is to determine IF and WHEN email is appropriate or if another notification method can be used entirely.
If an outside colleague just needs a general compendium of all updates within a timeframe: Why not schedule an Explore report instead of triggering individual email notifications? You can easily export these reports through a CSV or XML file as well.
If your outside colleagues spend most of their time in another platform (Salesforce, for example): Why not take advantage of our awesome integrations and API to put the Zendesk data where they spend all their time? You might consider using Explore reporting dashboards.
Using Targets to send notifications
(available in Team, Professional and Enterprise only)
Our target extensions feature can and has proven really helpful! But it's really just a matter of determining the most appropriate notification method for each audience/scenario and then deciding the frequency of notifications. You can notify external targets with ticket updates.
Targets are used in trigger and automation actions. Once you set up your targets, you can then specify the target within the trigger or automation by using the Notify Target action. Zendesk provides pre-defined targets with more information on the specifics of setting up targets.
We hope you find this information helpful if you’re looking to keep communication concise within your organization. These tips highlight the benefits of efficiently and effectively notifying your agents and people outside of Zendesk with important updates to keep the conversation going!
Please feel free to share how you implement strategies for effective communication both inside and outside Zendesk or ask any questions in the comments section below.
Welcome to this Fine Tuning discussion! Please post your questions and comments below and I'm happy to answer them!
These are helpful tips. But when will agent "notifications" be extended beyond just email? For agents who already live in the Zendesk browser app, why is there not a visual representation of accumulated notifications in the taskbar like all other apps they are accustomed to (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)? I'd love to be able to adjust triggers to add an in-app notification for agents when certain events take place.
I'm eager to hear at 2PM about the possibilities of notifying teams that are not in Zendesk. We built a custom Slack integration to Zendesk that's working great, but have non-Slack, non-Zendesk users that need to be roped into ticket conversations once in a while.
These are really great tips, Yaaz! Another thing to consider when determining your notification schedule is audience and intention. Who are you notifying and why?
If you need to remind an agent to check up on an aging ticket, one-off email notifications are great. However, if you audience is a senior leader within your org you'll probably want to summarize your points as much as possible. Ex: Instead of sending them a single email every time an SLA is breached, schedule a weekly/monthly report of your total SLA breaches.
Summarizing the data in this way helps managers is more impactful because it tells them the whole story at once and allows data to drive your organization's decision-making process.
Thanks for your post Mike! We'll have more information coming from our Product team regarding your notifications roadmap question.
In the meantime, here are some potential avenues for setting up notifications within Zendesk.1) Our SMS channel is in beta! SMS Targets will be available by Q2 and there's a beta you can sign up for!2) We have new Facebook messaging options as well as our mobile app which has in-app notifications.3) Two ways to compile messages within the interface:- Notifications App (Promotes messages to your agents at the top right)- If your agents are getting messages about tickets or tasks, could they create a "My Tasks" custom View and compile their messages there
Also, Section 3 has been posted so you can check that out now!
Each and every time I observe an agent using Zendesk, I die a bit inside when I see they have Zendesk up on one monitor and email up on another—all to make sure they see important Zendesk notifications come into their inbox. We definitely need to do better.
I've been doing some high-level thinking on the use cases that we most need to cover, and am hoping to get a project off the ground in the not-super-distant future. We are likely to start with some sort of in-product notification system that focuses (at first) on the really common events in Zendesk that agents need to know about - like being assigned to a ticket, a new comment coming in for their tickets, @mentions, etc, before getting into more customizable trigger-based notifications.
Would you be interested in talking with me more about your needs over a call? Just say the word, and I'll reach out via email to arrange.
We've been using the notifications to targets for some time now, and they've proven really useful already. The only thing I was wondering about, is there a way to make sure that when such a target responds to the email they receive via this notification that their reaction is NOT added as a public comment to the Zendesk ticket, but rather as an internal comment?
We've had some rather awkward situations where the team replied to the email with internal information and the end user was informed of this as well. Currently the teams all know their replies go to the end user as well, but if there is a way for some more "internal" conversation even between teams that don't have access to Zendesk, that would be great.
Thanks for your question. There area a couple different ways you can make sure the response is added as an internal comment and not a public comment:
- Through the Mail API
- By turning off the "Agent comments by email are public by default" setting which can be found at Settings >> Tickets >> Comments
Hope that helps and let me know if you have any questions!
Sorry, a late reply -- but Erin, if you're offer still stands to discuss by phone some possible notification features, I'd be happy to do so. Just drop me an email and we can schedule a time.
@Yaaz thank you for the quick response. I've been reading up on the mail API and it looks very interesting.
But I'm afraid it won't be a solution for the question I raised yesterday since in this particular case the triggers go out to external email targets and not Zendesk agents. :-(
Is there another way to accomplish something similar for non Zendesk agents?
When you've got people commenting from outside Zendesk and those people aren't Agents, their comments are always going to be public because they're considered End-Users. End-Users can't add private comments to a ticket.
What you might consider using are Light Agents. They're not available on Plus plan, but if you moved over to the Professional plan, you'd be able to get Light Agents as an add on.
I'd recommend looking carefully at the feature differences between the two plans and talk to your Account Manager to make sure everything is perfectly clear before you make the switch. But it might be exactly what you're looking for!
ok, thanks Jessie. I'll look into it
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