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Tips and tricks to improve your Zendesk emails (from a Zendesk expert)

Craig Stoss

December 13, 2023

6

min read

If you’ve ever seen a brand new Zendesk instance, you know that the out-of-the-box templates for Zendesk emails aren’t the most engaging. The emails your support team sends need to reflect your brand and tone—they should capture the unique voice of your brand, and feel consistent with the messages your marketing, sales, and other teams are sending.

Luckily, Zendesk gives you the ability to customize email elements to suit these needs. Let's explore some tips and tricks to improve your Zendesk emails.

Finding email configurations

There are four areas in Zendesk where email settings can be found. Knowing where each of these areas is and what part of the email process they solve will improve your experience with Zendesk emails. 

  • Main Settings
  • Under the Channels>Talk and email>Email section of the Admin Center
  • https://[instance name].zendesk.com/admin/channels/talk_and_email/email
  • Ticket Update Notifications (eg. Agent responses)
  • Under Objects and rules>Business rules>Triggers  
  • Provides several default templates and rules
  • Time-based Ticket Notifications (eg. CSAT Surveys or Stale Ticket)
  • Under Objects and rules>Business rules>Automations
  • If enabled, the Satisfaction Survey automation will appear here 
  • Ticket CCs, Followers, and Light Agent Notifications
  • Under Objects and rules>Tickets>Settings>CCs and Followers
  • https://[instance name].zendesk.com/admin/objects-rules/tickets/ticket-settings

TIP: Find notification-specific triggers easily. Filter by "Actions" with "Email User" or "Email Group" to find all Notification triggers.


Each of these sections manipulates how and when emails are sent and what their content looks like. The tips and tricks below rely on making changes in these sections of Zendesk’s Admin Center to improve your emails. 

Setting up Zendesk emails

Let’s start with the main settings. There are important tips to ensure your support team is seen as professional and part of your company.

Branded domain

The default Zendesk Support email address is support@[yoursubdomain].zendesk.com. This domain name is not ideal for customer-facing emails. It isn't clear if the email is coming from your company or Zendesk, and it’s lengthy to type if a customer wants to email you directly.

It’s best practice to set up email forwarding from your branded support email. It’s also important that you verify your address, otherwise, you will see errors like those below that will cause emails to not be sent properly.

Completing these steps and achieving green check marks across the board means you’re already improving your Zendesk emails.

TIP: Under each of the "See details" dropdowns, there is an option to verify the settings, like a refresh button. If you have problems with emails, start with that button to ensure the email settings are verified and correct.

Style

Font style, color palette, and logos can be very important for a brand. It’s not easy to change email fonts in Zendesk, but it is possible. Zendesk supports Liquid markup to change the way your emails look and feel.

For example, you can use Liquid to change your template if you use Multiple Brands. These techniques help you implement branding elements such as your company's logo, colors, and slogan to the email templates for a consistent and recognizable customer experience. To implement brand elements, use a command like:

{% if ticket.brand == "Tide" %}

<img src=Tidelogo.jpg>

{% elsif ticket.brand == "Gillette" %}

<img src=Gillettelogo.jpg>

{% else %}

<img src=ProctorGamblelogo.jpg>

{% endif %}

While not the simplest example, you can also change the default Zendesk font. This example changes the text included in your Notification triggers from the Zendesk default to the Gmail standard:

<div style="padding: 10px; line-height: 1.5; font-family: 'Lucida Grande',Verdana,Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; color:#444444;">

{% if content contains "Lucida Sans Unicode" %}

{{content | replace: "Lucida Sans Unicode", "Arial" | replace: "Lucida Grande","Helvetica" | replace: "'Tahoma',","" | replace: "Verdana,","" | replace: "14px","small" | replace: "22px","1.5"}}

{% else %}

{{content}}

{% endif %}

</div>

TIP: Use Liquid to change font, styles and other attributes to match your brand.

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STAY UP TO DATE

Tips & tricks from Zendesk masters

Subscribe to our newsletter to learn how to customize Zendesk and keep your agents happy

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

This is a monthly email with educational content. No spam (we promise).

Agent reply tips

Once your email is set up correctly, it's now time to improve the contents of those emails. Your support agents need to know how to write effective emails in the context of being a customer-facing individual for your company.

Meaningful subject lines

Zendesk automated subjects leave a lot to be desired. When a chat or a call comes in, the subject of the Zendesk ticket is automatically set and rarely changed by the agent. However, if the investigation needs to continue via email, "Conversation with John Doe" or "Phone call from: Jane Doe" are not meaningful ways to describe a ticket. These descriptions are even more important if you make your tickets available through the Zendesk Portal. Whether with some AI summarization or manual effort, renaming your customer-facing tickets will improve your Zendesk emails.

TIP: Don't use Zendesk's default Subjects in customer-facing messages.

Tone

How does your brand "sound?" Are you a casual brand or a formal one? Are emojis and gifs fun and engaging or unprofessional? Regardless of your products and your customer base, tone matters. Customers wouldn't expect, nor necessarily want, slang, pop culture references and innuendo from a company that sells finance software, but very well might from the latest trending sports drink. 

To keep everyone on the same page, create a tone and style guide for your team (pro tip: your marketing team may already have one, just adapt it as needed for customer support conversations). Make sure your team knows and is QA'd on it, and ensuring your macros and AI models make use of it to create a consistent brand experience. 

TIP: Create tone guidelines and train your agents and AI models to use them. Make sure your macros and notifications all align with these standards.

Personalization

Along with customizing tone, the email's content itself has to be useful and personalized. One way to improve personalization is to use Zendesk placeholders for macros. For example, you can get creative with the {{ticket.ticket_field_ID}} placeholder or have dynamic dates. Let's say you wanted to provide someone a shipping number. You can store that number on the ticket and directly link it using a macro so your customer doesn’t have to copy and paste, e.g. https://www.ups.com/track?loc=en_US&requester=ST&trackNums={{ticket.ticket_field_18333697998477}}

This strategy creates a link that is the value of the fieldID 18333697998477 (the tracking number) directly to the shipping site.

TIP: Always link links. Copy and pasting is error-prone and creates friction.

You can also customize your email based on your requester's profile, for example, the customer's language. You can do this with Liquid in your macros:

{% case ticket.requester.language %}

{% when 'Français' %}

Bonjour, {{ticket.requester.first_name}}

{% when 'Deutsch' %}

Guten Tag, {{ticket.requester.first_name}}

{% else %}

Hello, {{ticket.requester.first_name}}

{% endcase%}

TIP: Liquid can make macros serve multiple similar purposes instead of having multiple macros and making the agent choose the right scenario.

Another example might be an addendum to an email based on a checkbox or other metadata:

{% if ticket.ticket_field_13261467893265 == '1' %}

You are being offered a discount by being a long time customer! Use code VIPONE now!

{% endif %}

TIP: For a Checkbox, '1' is true/checked, '0' is false/unchecked.

It is also possible to personalize the content more based on customer user fields that you import from other systems: {{ticket.requester.custom_fields.my_custom_field}} e.g. A VIP customer may get a different experience than a non-VIP customer.

TIP: Personalization is a great way to show the customer they are unique. Using Zendesk placeholders can increase personalization in your emails with very little effort.

STAY UP TO DATE

Tips & tricks from Zendesk masters

Subscribe to our newsletter to learn how to customize Zendesk and keep your agents happy

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

This is a monthly email with educational content. No spam (we promise).

What if Zendesk was 4x less work?

Request a Demo ≥

What if Zendesk was 4x less work?

Request a Demo ≥

Notifications

Now that you have branded emails with the right tone and personalization, when and to whom do you send them? There are many use cases where you want your notifications to be sent to different people for different reasons. Note that notifications can also be used to improve internal processes. So don't just think about your customers, make sure you prepare your team as well. 

Ticket Updates

Ticket update notifications are controlled via triggers. The out-of-the-box triggers can certainly be improved  when it comes to their contents and structure. You can use Liquid and HTML to make your notifications pop. How you display the current update versus previous updates, for example, can make your notifications stand out.

{% for comment in ticket.comments %}

<b>Update added at {{comment.created_at_with_time}} by  {{comment.author.name}}</b>:

{{comment.value}}

{% endfor %}

Or if you don't want to show all comments at all:

{% for comment in ticket.comments limit:1 offset:0 %}

It is also important to recognize that Zendesk treats CCs and Followers differently, which can lead to you sending emails to the wrong people. For example, if you included someone on an email and then removed them from a ticket thread, your reply may get sent to them, depending on how your notifications are set up.

TIP: Just like email, you can drop down the response box to see exactly who will get your email.

Automations

Automations are time-based rather than update-based notifications. They often serve two main purposes:

  • Sending out a reminder to the requestor about a stale, open ticket
  • Sending out Satisfaction survey links on closed tickets

In each case, make sure the email provides some value to the requestor and is engaging. For example, the default Satisfaction template appears like this to your customers:

While it accomplishes the goal, it isn't an engaging email. Liquid and HTML are once again here to the rescue. Stylize these emails by using more engaging buttons or changing the way you frame this survey for the customer.

TIP: Do not use default templates.

Improved Zendesk emails

Your customers get dozens of emails a day and likely even more notifications across all of their apps, phones, or smart watches. Having mundane, unclear, unbranded emails detracts from your overall message and the high-quality service you are striving for. The biggest tip of all is to know where emails are set up, and actively engage in improving them. Do not accept the out-of-the-box settings. Zendesk emails are a representation of you and your brand. These tips and tricks will make them stand out against the noise and personalize your customers' experience.

WRITTEN BY OUR EXPERT

Craig Stoss

Director of CX Services at PartnerHero

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.

Sort by Topics, Resources
Clear
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
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Salto for

Zendesk

Zendesk

SHARE

Tips and tricks to improve your Zendesk emails (from a Zendesk expert)

Craig Stoss

December 13, 2023

6

min read

If you’ve ever seen a brand new Zendesk instance, you know that the out-of-the-box templates for Zendesk emails aren’t the most engaging. The emails your support team sends need to reflect your brand and tone—they should capture the unique voice of your brand, and feel consistent with the messages your marketing, sales, and other teams are sending.

Luckily, Zendesk gives you the ability to customize email elements to suit these needs. Let's explore some tips and tricks to improve your Zendesk emails.

Finding email configurations

There are four areas in Zendesk where email settings can be found. Knowing where each of these areas is and what part of the email process they solve will improve your experience with Zendesk emails. 

  • Main Settings
  • Under the Channels>Talk and email>Email section of the Admin Center
  • https://[instance name].zendesk.com/admin/channels/talk_and_email/email
  • Ticket Update Notifications (eg. Agent responses)
  • Under Objects and rules>Business rules>Triggers  
  • Provides several default templates and rules
  • Time-based Ticket Notifications (eg. CSAT Surveys or Stale Ticket)
  • Under Objects and rules>Business rules>Automations
  • If enabled, the Satisfaction Survey automation will appear here 
  • Ticket CCs, Followers, and Light Agent Notifications
  • Under Objects and rules>Tickets>Settings>CCs and Followers
  • https://[instance name].zendesk.com/admin/objects-rules/tickets/ticket-settings

TIP: Find notification-specific triggers easily. Filter by "Actions" with "Email User" or "Email Group" to find all Notification triggers.


Each of these sections manipulates how and when emails are sent and what their content looks like. The tips and tricks below rely on making changes in these sections of Zendesk’s Admin Center to improve your emails. 

Setting up Zendesk emails

Let’s start with the main settings. There are important tips to ensure your support team is seen as professional and part of your company.

Branded domain

The default Zendesk Support email address is support@[yoursubdomain].zendesk.com. This domain name is not ideal for customer-facing emails. It isn't clear if the email is coming from your company or Zendesk, and it’s lengthy to type if a customer wants to email you directly.

It’s best practice to set up email forwarding from your branded support email. It’s also important that you verify your address, otherwise, you will see errors like those below that will cause emails to not be sent properly.

Completing these steps and achieving green check marks across the board means you’re already improving your Zendesk emails.

TIP: Under each of the "See details" dropdowns, there is an option to verify the settings, like a refresh button. If you have problems with emails, start with that button to ensure the email settings are verified and correct.

Style

Font style, color palette, and logos can be very important for a brand. It’s not easy to change email fonts in Zendesk, but it is possible. Zendesk supports Liquid markup to change the way your emails look and feel.

For example, you can use Liquid to change your template if you use Multiple Brands. These techniques help you implement branding elements such as your company's logo, colors, and slogan to the email templates for a consistent and recognizable customer experience. To implement brand elements, use a command like:

{% if ticket.brand == "Tide" %}

<img src=Tidelogo.jpg>

{% elsif ticket.brand == "Gillette" %}

<img src=Gillettelogo.jpg>

{% else %}

<img src=ProctorGamblelogo.jpg>

{% endif %}

While not the simplest example, you can also change the default Zendesk font. This example changes the text included in your Notification triggers from the Zendesk default to the Gmail standard:

<div style="padding: 10px; line-height: 1.5; font-family: 'Lucida Grande',Verdana,Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; color:#444444;">

{% if content contains "Lucida Sans Unicode" %}

{{content | replace: "Lucida Sans Unicode", "Arial" | replace: "Lucida Grande","Helvetica" | replace: "'Tahoma',","" | replace: "Verdana,","" | replace: "14px","small" | replace: "22px","1.5"}}

{% else %}

{{content}}

{% endif %}

</div>

TIP: Use Liquid to change font, styles and other attributes to match your brand.

What if Zendesk was 4x less work?

Request a Demo Get started with Salto

Agent reply tips

Once your email is set up correctly, it's now time to improve the contents of those emails. Your support agents need to know how to write effective emails in the context of being a customer-facing individual for your company.

Meaningful subject lines

Zendesk automated subjects leave a lot to be desired. When a chat or a call comes in, the subject of the Zendesk ticket is automatically set and rarely changed by the agent. However, if the investigation needs to continue via email, "Conversation with John Doe" or "Phone call from: Jane Doe" are not meaningful ways to describe a ticket. These descriptions are even more important if you make your tickets available through the Zendesk Portal. Whether with some AI summarization or manual effort, renaming your customer-facing tickets will improve your Zendesk emails.

TIP: Don't use Zendesk's default Subjects in customer-facing messages.

Tone

How does your brand "sound?" Are you a casual brand or a formal one? Are emojis and gifs fun and engaging or unprofessional? Regardless of your products and your customer base, tone matters. Customers wouldn't expect, nor necessarily want, slang, pop culture references and innuendo from a company that sells finance software, but very well might from the latest trending sports drink. 

To keep everyone on the same page, create a tone and style guide for your team (pro tip: your marketing team may already have one, just adapt it as needed for customer support conversations). Make sure your team knows and is QA'd on it, and ensuring your macros and AI models make use of it to create a consistent brand experience. 

TIP: Create tone guidelines and train your agents and AI models to use them. Make sure your macros and notifications all align with these standards.

Personalization

Along with customizing tone, the email's content itself has to be useful and personalized. One way to improve personalization is to use Zendesk placeholders for macros. For example, you can get creative with the {{ticket.ticket_field_ID}} placeholder or have dynamic dates. Let's say you wanted to provide someone a shipping number. You can store that number on the ticket and directly link it using a macro so your customer doesn’t have to copy and paste, e.g. https://www.ups.com/track?loc=en_US&requester=ST&trackNums={{ticket.ticket_field_18333697998477}}

This strategy creates a link that is the value of the fieldID 18333697998477 (the tracking number) directly to the shipping site.

TIP: Always link links. Copy and pasting is error-prone and creates friction.

You can also customize your email based on your requester's profile, for example, the customer's language. You can do this with Liquid in your macros:

{% case ticket.requester.language %}

{% when 'Français' %}

Bonjour, {{ticket.requester.first_name}}

{% when 'Deutsch' %}

Guten Tag, {{ticket.requester.first_name}}

{% else %}

Hello, {{ticket.requester.first_name}}

{% endcase%}

TIP: Liquid can make macros serve multiple similar purposes instead of having multiple macros and making the agent choose the right scenario.

Another example might be an addendum to an email based on a checkbox or other metadata:

{% if ticket.ticket_field_13261467893265 == '1' %}

You are being offered a discount by being a long time customer! Use code VIPONE now!

{% endif %}

TIP: For a Checkbox, '1' is true/checked, '0' is false/unchecked.

It is also possible to personalize the content more based on customer user fields that you import from other systems: {{ticket.requester.custom_fields.my_custom_field}} e.g. A VIP customer may get a different experience than a non-VIP customer.

TIP: Personalization is a great way to show the customer they are unique. Using Zendesk placeholders can increase personalization in your emails with very little effort.

Tips & tricks from Zendesk masters

Tips & tricks from Zendesk masters

Subscribe to our newsletter to learn how to customize Zendesk and keep your agents happy

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

This is a monthly email with educational content. No spam (we promise).

Notifications

Now that you have branded emails with the right tone and personalization, when and to whom do you send them? There are many use cases where you want your notifications to be sent to different people for different reasons. Note that notifications can also be used to improve internal processes. So don't just think about your customers, make sure you prepare your team as well. 

Ticket Updates

Ticket update notifications are controlled via triggers. The out-of-the-box triggers can certainly be improved  when it comes to their contents and structure. You can use Liquid and HTML to make your notifications pop. How you display the current update versus previous updates, for example, can make your notifications stand out.

{% for comment in ticket.comments %}

<b>Update added at {{comment.created_at_with_time}} by  {{comment.author.name}}</b>:

{{comment.value}}

{% endfor %}

Or if you don't want to show all comments at all:

{% for comment in ticket.comments limit:1 offset:0 %}

It is also important to recognize that Zendesk treats CCs and Followers differently, which can lead to you sending emails to the wrong people. For example, if you included someone on an email and then removed them from a ticket thread, your reply may get sent to them, depending on how your notifications are set up.

TIP: Just like email, you can drop down the response box to see exactly who will get your email.

Automations

Automations are time-based rather than update-based notifications. They often serve two main purposes:

  • Sending out a reminder to the requestor about a stale, open ticket
  • Sending out Satisfaction survey links on closed tickets

In each case, make sure the email provides some value to the requestor and is engaging. For example, the default Satisfaction template appears like this to your customers:

While it accomplishes the goal, it isn't an engaging email. Liquid and HTML are once again here to the rescue. Stylize these emails by using more engaging buttons or changing the way you frame this survey for the customer.

TIP: Do not use default templates.

Improved Zendesk emails

Your customers get dozens of emails a day and likely even more notifications across all of their apps, phones, or smart watches. Having mundane, unclear, unbranded emails detracts from your overall message and the high-quality service you are striving for. The biggest tip of all is to know where emails are set up, and actively engage in improving them. Do not accept the out-of-the-box settings. Zendesk emails are a representation of you and your brand. These tips and tricks will make them stand out against the noise and personalize your customers' experience.

WRITTEN BY OUR EXPERT

Craig Stoss

Director of CX Services at PartnerHero

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.