Building reports with Zendesk Explore. Part 1: adding metrics

Written by
Jude Kriwald
Zendesk Consultant
June 5, 2023
min read

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Zendesk Explore is Zendesk’s reporting tool. Within it, you can view pre-built reports and dashboards (groups of reports) as well as create your own. With Zendesk helpfully collecting so much data with each customer interaction, there is a wealth of insights to be discovered through simple yet powerful reporting, helping your team discover what’s slowing them down and what, or who, needs celebrating and learning from. In this article, I’ll walk you through the key concepts you need to know to make your first report in Zendesk Explore.

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A simple place to start is for us to aim to produce a report that shows the number of updates to tickets, made by agents last month, broken down by day and then agent. An agent update occurs whenever an agent makes a change to a ticket and clicks the Submit button.

A report like this can be very useful for measuring how busy your agents are. As we go on further, we can refine this more to demonstrate new features and skills and really drill down into the data.

Creating a new report - Choose your dataset

Head over to https://YOURDOMAIN.zendesk.com/explore#/new-report or click the four squares in the top right of any Zendesk screen > Explore > then click the graph icon on the left > New Report.

The first screen you’ll see, as below, is asking you to choose your dataset. Similar to a typical SQL database, Zendesk doesn’t store all data in one table (place), meaning you can only work with one section of Zendesk data at a time. Helpfully, Zendesk has grouped similar data together, so most of the time you’ll have all the data you’ll need within one dataset.

The Talk - Calls dataset is the only dataset for Zendesk Talk, which thankfully means all call data can be accessed within one report. Support, however, is split into four, with each dataset representing a different theme.

The most commonly used Support datasets, in my experience, are Support - Tickets and Support – Updates History.

Support - Tickets is great for answering volume-related ticket queries, whilst Support - Updates History is much more useful for learning about activity on tickets, such as agent productivity.

For this example, we’ll go with the latter, Support - Updates History as it contains data on agent updates to tickets. Select this dataset then click “Start report”.

Understanding metrics, columns, rows and filters

You will now see the default New report user interface.

Along the left, you will see four different inputs for your report: Metrics, Columns, Rows and Explosions. We’re going to ignore Explosions for now as we won’t be needing them. You might also notice Filters along the top of the blank area.

Before we can begin, we need to understand what these four inputs are.

Metrics - This is what you want to measure, and will nearly always be numeric. For example; number of updates, number of tickets created, number of comments.

Columns - This is how you want to measure the metric (number) you just selected. For example, by month, by day, by assignee, and so on.

Rows  - This one is optional, and adds another dimension to how you want to measure your metric. It contains the same options as Columns.

Filters - These allow you to exclude data that isn’t required. In the case of our example, we want to exclude all ticket data that isn’t relevant to last month.

Note that columns, rows and filters are collectively referred to as attributes.

Let’s add a metric, then a filter, then a column, then a row, to see the effect each one has.

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Adding a metric

To add a metric, click “Add >” under Metrics

You’ll be presented with a list of all metrics that are available within the Support - Update History dataset. If the metric you’re looking for isn’t here, you might need to go back and try another dataset. It’s worth taking some time to look around and familiarise yourself with which metrics can be found where, as this can be a real time saver.

You can also have a look through Zendesk’s metrics and attributes reference for Support within Explore, which details exactly what each metric or attribute does.

Let’s go ahead and click on Updates and then Agent Updates.

Now, you’ll see Agent updates has been added to the Metrics section. The “D_COUNT” prefix shows that Zendesk is counting distinct agent updates. We won’t go into the nuance of this now, as this is the right option for us and the default throughout Explore. In short, it ensures all updates are counted once, rather than sometimes two agent updates only being counted once.

If we click the “Apply” button at the bottom of the list of Metrics to add, Zendesk will compute how many agent updates have happened in your Zendesk instance. As there are currently no time constraints (known as Filters in Zendesk, which we’ll cover later in Part 2), this number will show all agent updates ever made in your Zendesk account.

As you can see from testing this on a client’s account, this can be quite a big number!

We’ll cover formatting numbers in a different article, as it would be neater to display this number as we’d normally write it, 198,084 (yes, that’s almost two hundred thousand!). For now, we’ll leave this as it is as our numbers will soon be transformed into a pretty graph.

Congratulations, you’ve just added your first metric! In some cases, a metric alone is enough to be helpful. That said, you’re more likely to want to refine this number somewhat, so, in Part 2, we’ll move on to the next stage of our lesson; adding a filter and a column.

Written by
Jude Kriwald

Jude Kriwald first learned to administer Zendesk in 2015 and has been helping businesses improve their customer operations as a freelance consultant since 2018. Offline, he can be found making maps, paragliding or exploring remote places.

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