This Fine Tuning session is about maintaining the beautiful simplicity of your Zendesk instance with users, groups and organizations.
Introduction to users, groups and organizations
Best practices on setting up and maintaining users, groups and organizations
Zendesk on Zendesk: What we've learned in our own instances
Zendesk Customer Success Consultant Irene has over 7 years experience in Customer Support and Training in some of the fastest growing companies in the tech industry. Irene is passionate about helping people learn, grow and be successful in their job.
See all the Fine Tuning series discussions.
Part 1, 8 am: An introduction to users, groups and organizations
When working with Zendesk customers, I always remind them to view their Zendesk as a constantly changing environment. It’s made up of many elements that have intricate relationships to one another, and updates to one element can often inspire or necessitate updates to others. So how do you build this environment in a way that is simple, straightforward, and promotes effortless experiences for agents and end-users alike?
Today, we’ll talk about three of these inter-related elements in particular:
- Users, which are the most important aspect to keep in mind
- Organizations, which are collections of your end-users; and
- Groups, or collections of agents
Let’s get started by looking at each of these individually.
Users can be end-users, but also your administrators, your agents, and light agents. For an overview of user roles, you can check out this article. You can find the list of your users by clicking on the Admin icon on the sidebar, then selecting People. Here you can browse end-users and agents.
Organizations can contain both end-users and agents. On the Team plan, users can belong to only one organization. On Professional and Enterprise, users can belong to multiple organizations. It’s a good idea to segment your customers into organizations because you’ll be able to support them based on their company’s unique needs. For example, you can support them based on their location and track requests from different markets. This will also allow you to build custom reports to see trends within these companies. We’ll discuss this topic more in Part 2.
Groups: Only agents can be added to groups. Agents must belong to at least one group, but they can be assigned to more than one. Groups can be assigned to an organization’s tickets, allowing agents to better support escalations, provide support in a specific language or time zone, and provide support based on topical expertise.
Now that we understand what each of these elements can do, it’s time to build workflows around them. In your Zendesk, you can use triggers, automations, and SLA policies to create connections. Here are some quick examples:
You can assign agents to support a specific organization.
You can use organization as a condition in a trigger to automatically assign requests to a group or agent.
You can create automations that escalate tickets to a group or agent.
Change is expected. It’s only natural if you have questions around how to best manage this change. We’ll talk more about how to setup and manage these elements in part 2.
Part 2, 11 am: Best practices on setting up and maintaining users, groups and organizations
The key to any good workflow is planning ahead and planning thoroughly.
Less is more
Customers often ask me how many administrators, groups, and organizations they should have. It’s a difficult question to answer as it completely depends on the size and structure of your company or the teams that will be using Zendesk. The real point is to find the balance that allows you to build workflows without being overwhelmed by the number of elements to manage.
Clearly, having a single group in Zendesk wouldn’t help efficiency as all requests would end up in that one group, with no distinctions between different support tiers or languages. But even more importantly, too many groups will make your agents’ lives chaotic. Make sure you keep simplicity as a goal when building your space. Let’s be a bit more specific.
Keeping it simple when adding users
You can add users manually, one at a time, or you can automate the process by adding users and their organizations in a bulk import operation. To make this operation simpler, read our documentation to find more information on how to bulk import users and organizations.
If you are on Enterprise, your agents can have different roles. And yes, the bulk import supports the Enterprise roles! For example, you can set an agent to be an Admin, or Staff, Team leader, Advisor, or even Light Agent.
Be cautious when it comes to adding additional Admins. You’ve spent time creating your beautifully simple, balanced workflow, so you wouldn’t want to invite just anyone to make changes to your masterpiece. Limit administrative rights to people you regularly communicate with, so that you can be kept up-to-date with what changes are being made to the configuration.
Keeping it simple when creating groups and organizations
Read our resources on how to create groups and organizations before starting.
If you provide B2B services, your organizations will probably reflect the companies you work with. Map these companies out and list them all before creating your organizations. For each company, indicate whether they are a customer, a distributor, or a development partner, and record which products they have and which services they are entitled to. This will help you when you build your workflows and when you decide who should get access to which sections in the Help Center.
If you are a B2C company, think of how you would segment your customers. Do you have Premium customers? Do they speak different languages? Do you have products that concern only certain customers? These are differences that would justify the existence of different organizations.
Be careful when bulk importing organizations. We’ve seen Zendesk users with thousands of organizations containing only a few customers and having very generic names, which makes it very difficult to manage them. You cannot merge two or more organizations. If you need to mass delete organizations, you can use the API.
When deciding which groups you want to set up, ask yourself these questions:
Are my agents segmented on the basis of different skills?
Do we support different languages?
Do some agents only support specific customers?
Consult our resources on how to better manage groups and organizations as you’ll find great tips that can support you as your company grows.
Make a map
Our Customer Success team always encourages a journey-mapping exercise as part of the process for creating workflows. Here are some specific suggestions for creating your map:
Map out the life cycle of a ticket.
Where do your tickets come from? Where do you want them to end up?
Think about how tickets are routed.
Are they routed to different agents on the basis of their skills? Are they routed on the basis of the language spoken or their time-zone?
When setting up your organization, think of where the tickets originate. If they originate from different segments of customers (Premium customers, Italian customers, English Customers, and Company XYZ customers), it would probably be a good idea to have four different organizations.
Who replies to these tickets? If you have some Italian agents, some English agents, some agents trained in Premium, and some enterprise agents supporting Company XYZ, you’ll probably need four groups.
Start mapping relationships between these elements:
Group Mapping allows you to automatically assign tickets received from users in an organization to a specific group.
User Mapping helps to assign incoming new users to an organization based on their email domain.
Things to consider when managing groups and organizations:
You can allow users within an organization to see all the tickets in their organization thanks to shared organizations.
Keep in mind that these users will be able to see the tickets in their shared organization, but they won’t be allowed to comment on all these tickets unless you enable this option.
If you have different groups, you probably want to create different views for these groups so that they can support your customers more efficiently.
You can add tags to users and organizations and then use these tags in business rules to manage the ticket workflow.
For example, based on a user or organization tag, you can automatically assign tickets to a specific group or you can grant them exclusive access to some Help Center sections.
Similar to adding custom fields to tickets, you can add custom fields to organizations to store additional details and bring relationship management capabilities to Zendesk.
If your organizations are your plants in your zen garden, having more information on them will definitely help you to know how to better grow and nurture them.
If this seems like a lot of work, don’t worry. We’re here to learn together. I’ll highlight some of the learnings we’ve had at Zendesk in Part 3.
Part 3, 2 pm: Zendesk on Zendesk: What we've learned in our own instances
Even here at Zendesk, we didn’t have the perfect plan for our entire workflow on day one. We had a lot figured out, but we also had to learn a lot.
Managing agents when growing quickly
As you can imagine, it’s quite challenging to manage agents in a company where new employees are frequently starting, many get promoted, and some move on to their next play in other companies. So how do we deal with it?
When new employees join Zendesk, they are added as agents in our instance. To manage this process, our HR department implemented ticket forms that, in turn, create a Zendesk ticket. This ticket is assigned to a team that is called Support Ops and they have their own group. Support Ops is an internal-facing team that act as main admins of our Zendesk instance. When Support Ops gets the form, they take three actions for each name in the form:
- They create a new user profile.
- They decide which role this user should have.
- They add the user to one or more groups depending on their role.
When a person leaves the company, the admin will need to downgrade that agent to an end-user.
Pro tip 1: When you downgrade an agent to end-user, all their tickets become unassigned. It may be a good idea to bulk edit all their tickets and reassign them before making them an end-user. As for solved tickets, they will be unassigned. In addition, make sure that you update the agent count on the subscription page for billing purposes.
Pro-tip 2: The reason why a person is no longer in the company can be highly confidential. If you have tickets related to employee departures in you Zendesk instance, there’s no way to prevent agents from searching them and reading them. Consider creating a separate Zendesk instance to deal with these ticket and protect confidential information.
Here at Zendesk we believe that administrative rights should be in the hands of a few employees. It’s important to carefully control who can modify business rules and manage the system in general.
- Have a transparent conversation among the leadership team around who should be in charge of managing the Zendesk account.
- Depending on the size of your company, consider creating a Support Operations team.
- Administrators should have regular forums where they discuss what is being changed. For example, our Support Ops team posts a weekly newsletter in our internal knowledge base, communicating changes and updates.
- If your company has teams in different continents, consider building a global support team, so that you won’t need to wake an administrator up at 2am if something urgent happens (they will be thankful!).
Utilizing groups to scale (without overdoing it)
Groups are essential in a company where there is a lot of internal movement. For example, maybe you have business rules setup to automatically route tickets to a particular agent. When this agent changes their role, you’ll need to identify all of the rules pointing to that specific agent and update them as needed. If you want to make scaling easier, make sure you create business rules around groups, instead of individual agents, so that you can efficiently add/subtract/modify agents as needed.
However, also here in Zendesk we got excited by the creation of groups and experienced the consequences of it. Because escalations are handled by developers and these developers were divided into different groups depending on product, the escalations had to be routed to specific groups. This is easy enough when you have a handful of products, but it becomes very complicated as you build more and more beautiful features. And the last thing you want is to escalate a very important issue to the wrong group, delaying the resolution. So how did we solve the issue?
We have a team at Zendesk called Sustaining Engineering. As they're responsible for maintaining the health of our product, they have a fantastic overview of all the developer teams in the company and have taken on the task of evaluating escalated tickets and deciding what's the best avenue for further routing.
Pro Tip: If the only reason you’re thinking of creating a new group is to have a view of specific tickets, opt for the creating a view using tags. Ask your agents to categorize tickets by selecting options from a dropdown. This will add a tag that can be used to create a view.
Creating organizations for accurate reporting
Our organizations at Zendesk don’t contain agents. They consist of customers only. The customer information is stored in Salesforce and we have an integration through which every record that is changed in Salesforce gets updated in our internal Zendesk instance.
Having accurate customer records on hand during the support cycle is essential for many reasons. Specifically:
- To provide better customer service. The more you know about your customers, the more you’ll effectively connect with them;
- To have more accurate reports. Insights (available for Professional and Enterprise) allows you to filter your reports by organization and analyze data depending on the customer segments you deal with. More awareness of what customers ask for and search for, along with other behaviors, will provide awareness into how to better interact with them. It will also make your sales conversations easier if you can present stats on how efficiently you support customers!
Pro tip: If you use use custom agent roles, be careful when deciding whether to allow your agents to add and modify organizations. Editing an organization affects all tickets associated with that organization, which would eventually have an impact on your reports. Administrators are probably the best people to manage your organizations.The bottom line is that nobody was born a Zendesk master. The most beautiful creations often are the result of numerous iterations. I’d like to encourage you to comment below and share your experience so that we can all grow our knowledge together.
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