➕ A full guide to handling agent availability in Zendesk Messaging

This article will show you how to handle agent availability in the Zendesk Messaging Widget.

➕ A full guide to handling agent availability in Zendesk Messaging

When customers interact with your customer care team via a traditional channel like email of webforms the concept of availability and online are almost irrelevant. Customers expect a first reply time of hours (or maybe days..) and the conversation is asynchronous where a customer and an agent reply with minutes, days or hours in between interactions.

Traditional web chat is the opposite. Customers who interact with a chat widget expect immediate availability, and they expect a resolution of their issue within that single conversation since the moment they close that chat window all context to that conversation is gone.

Zendesk Messaging is a new take on these interactions that creates a hybrid between these two models that takes elements from Social Messaging and combines it with traditional chat and email support.

Asynchronous and continuous

Zendesk Messaging is a so-called asynchronous and continuous channel.

Asynchronous, in the sense that the tool does not expect both agent and customers to interact and resolve the conversation within one short time span. Just like with email and agent can reply to the customer, and the response will show up in the web widget, WhatsApp conversation or Facebook Messenger inbox.
The customer can reply immediately, or later that night to continue the conversation, just like you would drop a message to a friend, and you might get a response later that day, or the day after.

Conversations are also continuous, in the sense that, if the customer starts the conversation in a web widget and then closes their browser, Zendesk will know this and will send the customer the customer response via email, giving the customer the choice to continue that conversation back in the web widget, or switch to email entirely.
Or similar, a conversation started in the web widget, can be moved to WhatsApp via the contextual dropdown. 

But what's important is that it's one conversation that's continuous until the issue is resolved, across channels and only replied too when the customer or agent has time (or attention) to handle the conversation.


Even with a channel like Messaging that's build around async, it is important to let the customer know when and if someone is available to handle their question. If they have an urgent question about a flight cancellation, the fact that an agent is, or is not, available right now will influence the way they'll handle their inquirey And similar, even though your Chatbot will probably allow the customer to self-serve most questions, the customer should know that, if their issue needs a human agent, there is someone right now who will handle it, or if they can safely send their message and move on to something else until an agent becomes available to handle the ticket.

Within Zendesk Messaging and the Zendesk Bot there's a couple of scenario's we can handle with regard to agent escalations:

  • Is the agent escalation within or outside of business hours
  • If it's within business hours, are there agents available?

And similar, what happens when an agent goes offline during a conversation for a break or due to a technical issue?

This article will show you how to handle these scenario's in the Zendesk Bot.