Using Zendesk during a pandemic 

By  Nils Rebehn

A little guide on using Zendesk during a pandemic. We can split this into two areas: communication and automation.


Key to staying on top is to know what’s going on with the team. If you work remotely you need to know when changes happen. Look at the following tips on how to use Zendesk during a pandemic:

A) Notify your team via the Notification App

Zendesk is built for customer interaction. The live channels talk and chat are good for external conversations. But not ideal for internal conversations. 
The notification app allows you to give an update to the team as a one-off. 

Good for: Shout-outs to the team. A quick message to all online agents

Not so great at: It’s really limited to agents that are online in Zendesk. Agents can’t reply since it’s one-way only.

B) Talk to your team via Slack

This is an obvious one if you are working with Slack. And if you are not using Slack already you might want to consider. It helps the broader team to stay connected to important customer issues.

Install the Slack integration. Then you can create tickets and add internal notes from within Slack. Everyone gets real-time notifications on new and updated tickets delivered to any Slack channel. 

Another way of using Slack is this little app: You can boost the moral of the team by using the Agent Slack Shoutouts. It surfaces positive comments left in Satisfaction surveys, and sends them to a #shoutouts Slack channel.

C) Get notifications but protect but reduce Email

If you used Zendesk for more than a day you probably already deactivated the default triggers. You know, the ones that flood your inbox with notifications such as: “a ticket has been assigned to your group” or “a new ticket has been created for your Zendesk”.

However, some of those notifications are useful. But if you don’t want to receive them as email or via Slack, you can use this nifty app, simply called Notify (paid app).

You’ll receive pop-up notifications for ticket events inside the agent interface. Rather than clogging your email or Slack feeds with Zendesk Support messages, the Notify app gives you the option to have any ticket events you define pop up in the top right corner.


Working during an extreme or unprecedented event might cause a rise in questions for the customer service team. Here it makes sense to automate as much as possible to lighten the load on the team. If you haven’t done so already, you want to look into the following tips for using Zendesk during a pandemic:

A) Answer tickets automatically

You are either receiving more tickets at this time, usually referred to as a peak, or at least a lot of very similar questions. This is a great chance to automate the replies. Here I’ll list the options from least effort and least impact to more complex and better solutions:

Requirement: Zendesk Guide (Help Center)

  • Defer to Knowledge base – Create notification triggers that reply with a default message. This message thanks them for their question but should also include a link to your knowledge base where they can to find answers. Some customer might not be aware of it and find an answer themselves before your agents reply. 
  • Default reply – Create triggers that check for a word or a phrase. Send a message  to the requester with the answer for that specific question. Include a link to the article in Zendesk Guide. For example if someone asks for a refund explain the process or tell them where to find the article in the message. But beware, they might not be 100% precise as people use different words or they are replying to another message that includes the keyword or -phrase.
  • Answer Bot – a full fledged solution is the add-on Answer bot. Using machine learning to help answer your customers’ questions with the content from your Zendesk Guide knowledge bass. The more tickets and articles you have, the better it works and the faster you can set it up. See https://www.zendesk.com/answer-bot/

B) Escalate tickets

I’m sure your team knows what to do and is doing a good job. But if they are not around it will be easier to check on things. To make sure nothing slips into the cracks you might want to set up SLA for tickets.

This can help agents to decide what to work on next when no one is around to ask.  It also means you can get notified if tickets get ignored for what ever reason. Even better, step in before the tickets breach any SLAs.

Here is an example for outages, but you can easily adopt it to a simple business hour-setup: https://support.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360034126614

C) Check on work

When your team is not around it might be difficult to see what they are working on. You might want to check where they spend their time. Zendesk Chat and Talk have live monitors where you can see who is online and who is having a conversation with customers.

But when it comes to non-live tickets (email, web forms, social media) you can’t see who is online and working on tickets. The next best thing is to track the time agents spend on tickets with the Time Tracking App.

Learn how to install the time tracking app, how to set it up and get useful information from it.

I hope you found this little guide on using Zendesk during a pandemic useful. Let us know what you think or send us any comments you might have.

About the author 

Nils Rebehn

Founder of Guidoo Services and former Zendesk employee #100. Nils is a Customer Service Expert and a certified Zendesk Administrator.

Guidoo Services is "your guide to Customer Service” - the team offers a range of professional services and are specialised in Zendesk. Guidoo is a Zendesk Select Partner, assuring sophisticated solutions for your help desk.

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