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How to Use Zendesk for Customer Service Automation

“The obstacle is the path” is one of the better-known Zen proverbs—one that invites us to view challenges as growth opportunities. This is a very healthy outlook to have when working in technical support, where problem solving and stress tolerance are part of the job description.

Thankfully, there are tech support tools to help you face your path-obstacles. One of these is Zendesk, a versatile platform that streamlines many of the customer service challenges in running a large-scale, multi-tier operation.

Here are some examples of how our own customer support teams use Zendesk to support various service quality policies and work processes.

Managing Our First Response SLA Targets

When working on a ticket, providing first response is like providing first aid, offering immediate relief by communicating that a.) you understand the issue and b.) you are working on a solution.

Consequently, tight first response times are an important part of our enterprise service level agreements (SLAs) and our internal customer service policy.

Zendesk helps us meet our first response targets by providing us a dedicated feature set, specifically designed to manage response times for different SLA scenarios.

SLA Business Rules

As shown in the image above, these features allow you to define reply time targets, based on ticket priority, and also to set conditions for when these rules will apply. In this case, for all tickets from organizations the custom Managed field is checked, which is true for all of our managed-service enterprise accounts.

With the correct SLA rules in place, high priority tickets can get the immediate attention they deserve.

The image below shows how an Urgent priority ticket pops up on top of our queue, with a special countdown that notifies us of time left to SLA breach.

SLA Business Rules

Having these countdowns in front of us helps prioritize our tasks, providing us with the heads-up we need for a helpful and meaningful response.

Preemptively Escalating Complex Tickets

Great customer support is fast, but never rushed. Each interaction between you and your customer should be a step toward the solution, with the entire journey ideally complete in just a few strides.

To avoid prolonged support processes, we use a Zendesk trigger to highlight tickets with above-normal number of interactions. The trigger, shown in the image below, auto-escalates these tickets by marking them with special tag, which brings it to the top of the queue.

Trigger - Number of Interactions

Similarly, we also use another trigger to keep an eye out for above-normal number of agents involved in solving a ticket, taking it as another indicator for escalation.

number-of-assignees-zendesk

You many have noted that, in both cases, the trigger conditions are set to fairly low numbers which doesn’t necessarily indicate an issue. This is intentional, as our goal here is to anticipate complications even before they arise, providing a preemptive solution to an emerging problem.

Re-opening Solved Tickets

Customer feedback is an important part of any support process, one that gives you the opportunity to listen to your customers and get their take on the provided solution.

One way Zendesk helps us do this is with customer satisfaction surveys. Feedback, of course, is not only about getting performance ranked but also about taking action, when such action is needed.

In addition to the survey, we also offer our customers an option to re-open Solved tickets, if the solution was found to be inadequate or our directions were unclear.

To do this we put a 60-hour delay on a solved ticket, before changing its status to Closed.

During that time any response from the customer will change the ticket status back to Open, bringing it back to our attention. This allows us to offer additional explanations and new solutions, making the client the one to decide when a problem is actually solved.

One side benefit of this rule is having Solved tickets re-opened by “thank you” emails.

As a security company we work hard to avoid false-positives. These, however, we don’t mind one bit.


How do you use Zendesk business rules? Which additional automations do you want us to talk about? What would you suggest we should have in place?

Tell us in the comments below.