The many kinds of custom notifications you can set up in Zendesk

Written by
Craig Stoss
Director of CX Services at PartnerHero
May 23, 2023
min read

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Custom notifications: The many kinds of notifications you can set up in Zendesk

Whether you’re talking about First Response Time, Time on Hold, Resolution Time, Average Handle Time, or some other metric—time is always top of mind for support leaders. While the number of acronyms might get overwhelming, support professionals know that time-related KPIs are critical to service delivery and customer experience. 

And that means when something notable happens, being notified quickly can be the difference between a happy customer and disaster.

Some information is totally fine to sit on a dashboard waiting for a manager to review it. But other situations require a more proactive approach. These are the scenarios support leaders want on their radar immediately, from tickets about to fall outside of an SLA or issues from high priority customers. 

Zendesk custom notifications are an effective way to surface these tickets to important parties. In this article, we’ll talk about the different kinds of custom notifications you can set up within Zendesk. In part 2, we’ll dive into common use cases for Zendesk custom notifications. 

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The many types of notifications in Zendesk

There are lots of ways to set up and receive notifications in Zendesk. Each type of notification has a different ideal use case, so it’s important to understand the problem you’re trying to solve. Fortunately, Zendesk makes it easy to set up and configure custom notifications to one or more people. 

Trigger-based emails

Triggers can be used to send a real-time event notification to a person or Zendesk group by email. 

If you’re familiar with setting up any other kind of trigger in Zendesk, understanding how email notification triggers work is simple. They work the same way. Each time a ticket is created or edited, the triggers are checked and—if the conditions are met—the trigger executes. 

To set up an email notification to be sent, your trigger must contain an "Email user" or "Email Group" Action.

If you’re using an Email Group, you are required to select the Zendesk Group to be notified (or it can automatically send to whichever Group the ticket is assigned to). 

Similarly, when selecting an Email User you can select a specific user or choose preset automated users based on the field settings of the ticket. A specific user might be a team lead  or an account contact, but it could even be a Zendesk administrator who wants to track when a trigger fires. 

The big limitation to keep in mind is that the built-in trigger-based email notifications can only be sent to Zendesk users. External stakeholders—anyone without a Zendesk license—can’t receive this type of notification. 


Custom notifications initiated from Zendesk Automations are different from Triggers in that they are not real-time. 

Pro tip: Triggers and Automations in Zendesk often get confusing. Check out this guide to understand the difference between Triggers and Automations (and how to use them). 

Despite the time delay, the options of who you can notify are exactly the same as with triggers (discussed above). Automations also include an option for notifying an active webhook, which we’ll cover below.  

Zendesk automations run on time-based intervals, so they’ll notify you of tickets that meet the specified conditions at that time. For that reason, this notification type isn't great for being notified right when something happens—it’s better to use them for time-related status concerns, like a support ticket that’s been sitting idle for more than six hours.   

Similarly to trigger-based emails, automation-based notifications are limited to licensed Zendesk users. 

Notifications via Slack (and other third-party tools)

Instead of email, your team may use other tools to keep an eye on Zendesk notifications. One common example is Slack.

Slack has a Zendesk Marketplace app to help notifications reach outside the Zendesk ecosystem. For instance, the Slack integration allows you to use the "Zendesk Integrations'' Action to send a notice to a Slack channel. That message automatically includes select data from Zendesk within the message.

Another example is Zendesk’s Jira integration. A common use case for this type of notification would be alerting your engineering team of defects or notifying them when specific customers experience problems.  

Apps like these two overcome the limitation of Trigger and Automation-based email notifications, enabling you to notify a wider audience when needed. This can obviously streamline workflows as well as bring real-time customer insights to teams throughout your organization.

Webhooks and Targets

If a tool doesn't have a Marketplace app, you might be able to use Zendesk Targets or  Webhooks to trigger notifications within it.

Both of these Zendesk features send information to applications, which can store or notify other stakeholders about ticket details. They do so by sending data to specific web addresses known as endpoints, which are typically defined on the app creator's website. While requiring technical knowledge to configure, these are powerful tools which can update records or details in many different tools across your tech stack.

Targets and webhooks enable you to connect to and notify external tools of important information coming from actions taken within Zendesk. This means they’re especially useful when notifying large groups of people who don’t have access to Zendesk but still need to know that specific actions have been taken. 

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Making custom notifications work for your support team

Zendesk empowers admins many different ways to set up custom notifications that alert stakeholders of high priority situations. While at first glance they may seem relatively simple, proactively notifying the right people is an easy first step to transforming your support team into a more proactive stance. 

To learn more about common use cases for custom Zendesk notifications (and how they can help your team), check out part 2 of this series.

Written by
Craig Stoss

Craig has spent time in more than 30 countries working with support, development, and professional services teams. He’s administered Zendesk himself, and he’s currently building out a team of Zendesk consultants in his role as Director of CX Services at PartnerHero. In his spare time, Craig leads a local Support Thought Leadership group and writes for Supported Content.

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