How to get started with The Zendesk Suite

Going omnichannel can seem intimidating, but The Zendesk Suite is all about making omnichannel support easier.

This playbook helps decision makers understand the thought process and the required steps needed for a successful omnichannel rollout. That includes collaborating on a deployment strategy, ensuring that your channels are set up properly, and conducting a rollout to your agents and customers.

Section 01

Why go omnichannel?

According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2020, companies that use an integrated omnichannel approach—compared to those that don’t—have:

3X faster ticket resolution

75% shorter requester wait time

5.7X increase in productivity by being able to handle more tickets

Consumers have grown increasingly accustomed to having their conversations flow seamlessly between channels.

When interacting with customer service, customers want to be able to begin communication in one channel and, if needed, later follow up or finish in another without having to repeat themselves. Keeping the context of a conversation consistent ultimately leads to a better customer experience.

An omnichannel solution integrates channels to provide a consistent customer experience. It allows customers to reach you in whichever way is best for them—web, mobile app, email, voice, chat, or popular social messaging apps—and easily continue the dialogue across every channel.

The Zendesk Suite is a solution you can use to create an omnichannel customer service experience, but choosing it doesn't mean you're automatically set up for success.

Section 02

Crafting a deployment strategy

An effective deployment strategy first requires you to think about how you can use The Zendesk Suite in a way that makes sense for your business, customers, and team.

It's important to fully understand the complexity and urgency of the service you offer, as well as the ways in which your customers want to engage with your business.

A holistic approach to planning an omnichannel deployment is critical; it will help you develop a realistic timeline, identify dependencies, and avoid mistakes.

Focus on how to offer your customers the right channel at the right time (see figure 1).

Let's say your company sells clothing. Many of your customers may have time-sensitive questions about shipping, sizes, or returns. These are topics best addressed through self-service, a quick live chat, or through social messaging apps like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. Understanding what your customers need allows you to prioritize which channels to rollout first.

This is just an example of the channels you'll want to emphasize in your deployment strategy. It's dependent on your industry and the products you provide. If you provide something more complex, such as a financial instrument like an annuity, you might want to focus on phone support or face-to-face conversations via a video integration.

How to offer customers the right channel graph

Figure 1

Regardless of your industry or the products/services you provide, there are important questions to answer when building out a deployment strategy:

  • Which support channels do your customers engage with?
  • On which channel do most of your tickets come in? Emails, phone calls, chats, messaging apps, or some other channel?
  • What's your ideal mix of channels?
  • How will you staff channels?
  • How will you train agents?
  • What's the agent workflow for working across channels?
  • How do you provide both reactive and proactive support?
  • Is your customer support outsourced? Is it being moved in-house?
  • Are you planning to discontinue other systems? How will you migrate information from those systems?
  • Will third-parties be involved?
  • How will knowledge sharing be conducted?

Deploying with a phased approach: Rolling out The Zendesk Suite

A calculated rollout gives agents and admins the opportunity to learn the basics and nuances of each channel.

With The Zendesk Suite, agents and admins are enabled to immediately access all the products and capabilities: Support, help center, chat, voice, and the social messaging add-on. That gives them a lot to work with.

The first step with The Zendesk Suite is always to get Support up and running. From there, you can tailor the omnichannel experience to the needs of your company and customers. That might mean making live chat or social messaging available right away, having your agents ready at the phones, or building out your self-service offerings.

We recommend a phased approach. Below you'll find a breakdown of each product and key capabilities within The Zendesk Suite along with 5 critical steps for getting started with each one.

We recommend the following phased approach:

Set up support


A rollout with The Zendesk Suite always starts with Zendesk Support and the Agent Workspace (see more below). All the capabilities of The Zendesk Suite seamlessly integrate into Support and the Agent Workspace. This provides the foundation of your omnichannel customer service. It's where every interaction becomes a conversation, no matter if a customer shoots an email, sends a text, calls, tweets, or leaves a message on your WhatsApp. Tickets capture the customer's initial request and all of the subsequent conversations along the way.

Support is where users are added and managed, roles are defined and assigned, and ticket fields are created and customized. This is where you decide how your organization will work internally and how you’ll stay efficient via automations and macros. You can add all sorts of extensions that can help customers contact your organization and improve how your agents respond.

Here are 4 steps for getting started with Support:
  1. Get your agents and administrators ready:

    Agents and administrators only need to be added to Support once. From there, they can be enabled to use the other Zendesk Suite products. This is done directly from the agent's profile. You can also add them to groups and create the business schedules and user fields they'll use.

  2. Assign roles:

    Zendesk products include a number of user roles that are key to managing the people who generate support requests and those who resolve them. Each user's role is defined when they are added, although you may change a user's role as needed.

  3. Create your workflow:

    Skills-based routing allows you to set up and assign skills to your agents, so that the right ticket goes to the right agent. Automations are time-based actions that can automatically update tickets and send notifications. Triggers are similar, but are event-based (such as receiving a reply from a customer). You should also establish service level agreements (SLAs), agent views, and agent macros.

  4. Prepare to launch:

    When you're ready to launch, the last steps are to import your end users, forward your email, and embed the web widget.

Set up the unified Agent Workspace to manage all conversations

The Agent Workspace is where your agents spend the majority of their time, managing conversations across the different channels you use to provide support to your customers. This unified workspace was designed with the omnichannel agent in mind. From this workspace, for example, your agents can easily have a chat with a customer and immediately continue the conversation with them over email.

Here are 4 steps for getting started with Agent Workspace:
  1. Know before you opt-in:

    • The agent workspace is an opt-in experience for Zendesk Suite customers
    • Only admins and owners can enable the Agent Workspace
    • If enabled, the Agent Workspace will become the new interface for all agents in your account
    • To opt-in, agents can go to admins -> settings -> agents
  2. Mapping Chat Departments to Support Groups

    • For chat transfers to work properly, make sure the chat departments in your account are mapped to Support groups.
    • You can use the Agent Workspace migration wizard to automatically do the mapping when you first enable the agent workspace. This is the recommended method.
    • Once migration is complete, you will have successfully enabled the new workspace
  3. Get familiar with your new workspace

    There are a few components of the Agent Workspace to get familiar with:

    • Conversations can include Support, chat, and voice. Agents can also receive and reply to social messages.
    • Agent status (online, away, or invisible) and chats served appear at the top of the page.
    • Agents can open the voice console at the top of the page to set voice status and manage calls from the workspace.
    • Customer context information, including interaction history, appears on the right side. Agents can toggle between Apps and customer context.
    • To be compatible with chats and provide a more-natural conversation flow, ticket comments are arranged from oldest to newest, with the newest comments at the bottom.
    • The visitor path shows a list of websites the requester has viewed. The interaction history shows a list of Support events.
  4. Use chat for analytics and settings

    • When the Zendesk Agent workspace is enabled, the chat dashboard is available for managing chat settings, but not for serving chats. Chats are disabled on the chat dashboard to prevent cross-chat confusion between the agent workspace and the dashboard.
    • Admins can still use the dashboard for most other chat-related tasks, including viewing a list of active visitors, viewing chat history, monitoring chat volume and more.

Set up help center

help center

We recommend setting up help center right away with The Zendesk Suite. This lets you collect internal knowledge from your agents that will enhance your self-service articles (like FAQs) and knowledge base.

A Help Center can deflect tickets away from your agents and allow them to focus on more complicated support requests. If customers can't find an answer, they can submit a request to an agent. Agents can also utilize the knowledge base if they need help solving a ticket. Help content can be managed and delivered in multiple languages, emphasized across large teams, and improved by leveraging AI-powered tools. Over time, your team can continue to revise and optimize content with various collaboration tools and insights.

Help center provides your customers with a complete self-service support option and empowers agents to better help them. Using help center, you can create a knowledge base that includes:

  • A branded customer-facing Help Center for self-service
  • A community for customer collaboration and additional support
  • A customer portal, where customers can manage their tickets and content contributions
Here are 5 steps for getting started with help center:
  1. Set help center roles and permissions:

    Agents are help center viewers by default and can be upgraded to help center managers from Zendesk Support. You can customize which articles are visible to which users as well.

  2. Brand and customize your Help Center:

    Make your knowledge base match your company’s branding and tone, and build multiple help centers for different products.

  3. Create content:

    Create content for help articles, which can be optimized with tools like Content Cues and reach a wider audience with help from Answer Bot.

  4. Configure the Knowledge Capture app:

    Make it easier for agents to capture information and share that knowledge right from the ticket interface.

  5. Create a community for end users:

    Build out an admin-moderated community space for your customers to communicate and share issues, solutions, and ideas.

Set up a targeted rollout for chat and voice

Since live channels require agents that are fully and immediately available, you can test out chat and voice with targeted support. That might mean offering live chat during key points in the customer's journey or making outbound phone calls for particularly difficult requests. This gives you time to determine if you're adequately staffed and to estimate metrics that constitute success. When you're ready, you can fine-tune with advanced configuration options and conduct a full rollout of chat and voice.


By enabling real-time support on websites and mobile apps, chat frequently results in high rates of customer satisfaction (CSAT). Customers can easily create a new support request by initiating a chat session; many can even be resolved within that session. Live chat can be utilized to enhance the customer experience or it can be focused on increasing conversions.

To start using live chat right away, it must first be enabled in Support. An agent’s permissions for chat can be managed directly from their profile in Support. Once installed, there’s a lot that can be done with chat: determine when it’s initiated, choose the location of the web widget, manage the volume of end-users, and much more.

Here are 5 steps for getting started with chat:
  1. Add chat agents and departments:

    Designate agents that will engage in live chat and organize them into departments. Organize your chat agents into Support groups (or if you haven’t enabled the Agent Workspace yet, then into chat Departments) so that customers can be directed to an agent best equipped to help them.

  2. Configure chat settings and triggers:

    Build a workflow and escalation path, and create triggers to set up event-based automations.

  3. Create shortcuts:

    Create “canned responses” for a variety of different scenarios including for greetings, queries in different languages, responses to frequently asked questions, and links to the Help Center.

  4. Configure the web widget (instead of the chat widget):

    You don’t need both the chat widget and the web widget with The Zendesk Suite. The web widget is preferable because it allows customers to access multiple channels from the same place.

  5. Activate chat analytics:

    Analytics gives you a bird’s eye view of your success metrics for chat including the chat rating, average wait time, average chat duration, and agents logged in and serving.


Many customers appreciate it when companies make an investment to provide quality support over the phone. Zendesk voice allows teams to deliver phone support from the same platform they use to manage all other customer conversations.

For the best audio quality with Zendesk voice, you’ll want to ensure that you’ve optimized your network environment and selected the right hardware. You’ll need a Zendesk voice number which can either be brand new or a port of an existing number (available for most local or toll-free numbers in the US or Canada; porting capabilities are being added for more countries). Alternatively, you can connect your own telephony provider for free using voice Partner Edition (you may incur additional costs from partners). You’ll then be able to route incoming calls directly to agent groups or use an IVR. You can also continue fine-tuning your voice set-up with real-time reporting and historical dashboards.

Here are 5 steps for getting started with voice:
  1. Add voice numbers:

    • Choose a new voice number, or use an existing phone number to port over to Zendesk voice. You can also forward calls to your new voice number.
    • If you have your own telephony provider or are unable to get a local phone number, you can integrate your provider into The Zendesk Suite using voice Partner Edition for free.
  2. Configure basic voice settings:

    Decide on the optimal queue size and wait times.

  3. Create greetings:

    Create custom greetings (or use the default greetings) and assign them to specific numbers.

  4. Configure IVR and routing:

    Set up an interactive voice response (IVR) phone tree or simply route incoming calls to agent groups.

  5. Get familiar with the voice dashboard:

    See where you can analyze call activity, account call data, and agent activity.

Add social messaging to the mix

Social messaging gives you the ability to integrate popular messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Twitter, WhatsApp, WeChat, and LINE into your Zendesk channel mix. This is especially useful if your business has customers in regions where these messaging apps are very popular. For example, if your business has a branch in Brazil or India, WhatsApp would be a great channel to add to your omnichannel strategy. Similar to live channels like chat and voice, social messaging requires agents that are fully and immediately available, you can test out social messaging with targeted support. That might mean offering social messaging only in certain countries where your business operates to begin with.

Here are 5 steps for getting started with social messaging*:
  1. Set up the messaging apps you want to activate for your business.

    Choose from: WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook Messenger, LINE, and WeChat. Note: WhatsApp must be configured separately.

  2. Configure your auto-responses

    Create custom responses that will be sent automatically to customers when they reach out to your business on either WhatsApp, LINE, or WeChat.

  3. Make your messaging app discoverable

    For WhatsApp for example, use the “Message Us” button builder to conveniently embed a WhatsApp button on your business’ website or mobile app.

  4. Stay on top of all messages

    See all messages coming in from WhatsApp, LINE, and WeChat in real-time through the live notifications view in Agent Workspace.

  5. Keep track of all social messaging tickets

    Create a custom view for all your social messaging channels so agents can keep track of all messaging tickets from one place.

Section 03

Staffing your channels

As a business leader, there are considerations to make for staffing your channels.

Do you have a dedicated model where you can ask agents to focus on a specific area? Or a shared model where agents are empowered to staff multiple channels?

Dedicated model vs. Shared model

Figure 2

The shared model enables agents to have greater agility in the way you approach your business. The dedicated model enables specialists for specific channels and may be more efficient in your organization.

Larger teams with larger customer bases generally have more dedicated agents. Smaller teams usually opt for more of a blended or shared model that’s optimized for agility. But of course, nothing is set in stone. Agents in dedicated models may have to leverage other channels to deal with escalation, capacity issues, and even for greater agent satisfaction (with the variety provided to them). Things change, which is why The Zendesk Suite gives you the flexibility to change your agent model from dedicated to shared—whenever you need.

Staffing for the new channel rollout

Take a phased approach to the rollout. Begin with a beta and staff the channel with senior team members who have been trained to support the new channel. Senior agents will be able to answer questions quickly and accurately and are less likely to be thrown by any workflow change.

Take advantage of agents who have had experience using a specific channel in previous jobs. These could be agents you already have on your staff or new agents you’ll hire to support the new channel.

Keep channel shifts short at the beginning. If you have sufficient staff, it’s worthwhile to keep shifts short at the beginning, rotating through your agents, so they can experience the channel and then process any lessons they learn.

Staffing can make or break your omnichannel strategy, so don’t leave it to the wayside during your omnichannel rollout.

Section 04

Going live & maximizing the value of The Zendesk Suite

Getting the most value out of The Zendesk Suite centers around your workflow and giving your customers a seamless experience.

That means thinking about how you can best operate to have natural conversations across channels with your customer.

Let’s look at an example:

Your support organization receives calls.

Through Support, you can designate a group of agents that will respond to calls via voice.

Then, you can create business rules that route calls to available agents based on your scheduled business hours.

Perhaps there are agents in a different region that the call can be routed to, or you can create a trigger to prioritize those tickets in Support when business hours resume. The Zendesk Suite can accommodate a multitude of situations and solutions.

Here are a couple more examples:

Tickets coming to and from voice, chat, help center, and social messaging are affected by the business rules that are designated in Support, where they can be automatically routed based on your ticket workflows. For example, an urgent question from a live chat can receive higher priority than a ticket that comes in from help center.

You can create custom triggers based on your customers’ preferences. Say a customer leaves a voice voicemail during non-operating hours; a Support ticket will be created and the customer receives an email to let them know their request was received. But your customers may prefer a reply from the channel of their choosing. A custom trigger can send an email only after you try to reach them a few times by phone first.

Going live with your channels

Before you roll out The Zendesk Suite to your customers, think about how they get your contact information. Do they do a general search that brings them to your website or Help Center? Once they are there, do they search for a support email or phone number? Where is your contact information located?

This matters because if a customer starts a conversation in one channel and finishes it in another, you’ll want to make it as easy as possible for them to switch channels (especially if it’s from your website or Help Center).

Web widget search

The web widget is perfect for this

It’s an important tool for providing your customers with an omnichannel customer support experience. It can be added to any of your web properties to give customers quick access to your available support. From the web widget, customers can access the Help Center, request a call with an agent, chat immediately with a live agent, or fill out a form to be contacted in the future.

When offering live chat with The Zendesk Suite, we recommend using the web widget over the chat Widget. Customers can still initiate a chat if they want to, or they can choose a support option that’s more appropriate for their inquiry.