Brisbane Zendesk Training and 3 Interesting Ways to Raise Support Tickets

I’ve just spent a very enjoyable and enlightening day with the Zendesk training team as part of their travelling roadshow. This was the Brisbane leg of the tour and there was about 45 people at the ‘bootcamp’.

What’s Zendesk?

By way of quick explanation – Zendesk is an online hosted help desk platform.

Rather than handling customer cases via Outlook, Gmail or post-it-notes, a help desk solution keeps these important conversations in a dedicated system where tracking, accountability and responses can be better managed.

The end result is a robust customer service system with less chance of dropping the ball with the person who is having a problem with your product and also has 500,000 online followers….ouch.

Brisbane Zendesk Training Day

There was a mix of experience with some people in the room having their first experience of the product while others had been using Zendesk for a while and were looking to pickup extra tips. If you had never worked with a help desk system or were unfamiliar with the concept then it would have been a steep learning curve today. Not so much because Zendesk is difficult to use – thats not the case – more that the workshop went into some detailed areas.

Much of the information delivered I won’t be able to put into practise straight away. The real value lies in knowing what is possible so that at least I know it exists and can then go back and look up the how-to later on.

Probably the biggest ‘ah-ha’ moment for me today was the realisation that you could completely re-skin the Zendesk interface design with CSS/Javascript – I had always thought it was pretty plain and a drawback in that customers would wonder where they had just been taken to.

Turns out that is not an issue.

These pages are great examples of custom CSS skinned Zendesk implementations:

If you visit their corresponding home pages you’ll see how closely they match – for the end user it doesn’t look like they are now on a different website.

I’ve yet to dive into it but on the Zendesk forums is a CSS Cookbook section with a number of posts that have example CSS code that you can take and modify to make your own custom branded elements.

You can find that here:

Knowledge Management

Strongly encouraged throughout the presentations was the idea of ‘knowledge management‘.

If your support staff are getting a common set of questions day in and day out…. then by answering those questions in the knowledge base and forums plus using the built in deflection options means that customers and leads will often be able to quickly find the information themselves.


They are happy as their problem/query was solved quickly and thats one less support enquiry your staff now need to spend time on. (there are associated SEO reasons you want to do this too)

Similarly using macros, filters and automation rules allows a company to extract some of the knowledge of their top support staff/experts and to start to capture this into company processes and systems.

Being able to search the support tickets can be a gold mine for the marketing people in your organisation. They now have a supply of topics that they can create content – blog posts, videos, slide decks, podcasts – around and that is interesting to the company’s target market.

So all in all a pretty cool solution for companies looking to streamline and reduce support costs while raising the bar on customer service response.

Oh yeah, it works on mobile too!

3 Interesting ways to raise new support tickets

Now that we’ve got that out of the road, the reason for putting fingers to the keyboard was to capture some of the ideas that were brainstormed over the afternoon tea & cookie break.

Zendesk has a number of ways(channels) to get information into the system to raise tickets:

Email – ie [email protected]
Web Portal – browser
Twitter– turns @mentions on Twitter into support tickets
Facebook – wall posts can generate support tickets
Voice – can you say ‘Build me a call centre in 30mins’ , worth checking this out, still Beta in Oz.
Feedback Tab – widget for your website that opens a lightbox style submission form
API – programmer stuff

Chatting with Matt Daley and Lachlan McKenzie of Zendesk and Greg(sorry Greg didn’t get your company name) we came up with a few others:

1. Reputation management – Setup Google Alerts to monitor for new mentions of your company and/or key staff – have the alert email sent to [email protected] This will create a new email support ticket and the ‘alerts’ email prefix will allow the new ticket to have the appropriate tag applied.

2. QR Codes – say you provide support to photocopiers installed in a number of client locations… on installation you could attach a QR Code to the machine which has been encoded to send an email to your support desk with the location, machine type, serial number and other information specific to that photocopier.

In the event of breakdown clients can scan the QR Code and quickly lodge a support ticket with one button press and have the support ticket populated with the information of that unique machine.

3. SMS – using a SMS-to-email gateway it would be possible for clients to SMS in support tickets straight into your help desk.

A little outside the box however those 3 methods should get you thinking.

Zendesk Alternative

A free alternative to Zendesk is osTicket.  Many hosting company cPanels offer osTicket as a quick install script. I found it quick to install on the hosting server when I did it several months ago but then it took a some time to setup and customise. I never finished the install/customisation as other priorities came up.

osTicket does list a lot of features so it might be worth looking at if you want to go the free route.

Leave some feedback

Do you have any experience with help desk software? – drop a note in the comments as to what you use. Similarly if you’ve come across another crafty way to get information into Zendesk then please, share your process.

As always a tweet, share or +1 is hugely appreciated and has been shown to improve your already fantastic good looks.