Zendesk Roundup for May 2024

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Zendesk Roundup for May 2024

Doing a Zendesk roundup in the same month as Relate is always a bit weird. You've got a big story and platform changing releases on one side, and then you've got all the "little" updates on the other.

Relate told the big story of Zendesk AI Agents, Copilot and WEM and positions Zendesk as.

However, although there were lots of releases at the event (see my articles earlier this month for an overview), most of the announcements are either things that will develop over the next 12 months, or a repositioning of existing features of the platform under a new name or format.

What's always nice to see is how parallel to Relate's big moves, Zendesk as a platform doesn't sit still and the platform also gets a lot of smaller updates that one the platform forward one feature at a time. And this month's wave of releases do that once again.

Let's dive in!

This month's articles are sponsored by Swifteq. Zendesk Apps to help Support teams do more with less.

🎉 New Releases

🤖 AI Agents

The biggest release this month has to be the availability of AI Agents for all Zendesk Suite customers. Zendesk Bot, as it used to be called, now gets the ability to generate replies based on Help Center articles, with the option to customize these replies with persona in either a professional, casual or friendly tone of voice.

For customers that match one of the retrained industries this means they also get access to a pre-trained AI model with intents to map conversations to the right custom answer flow or generated response. (Reach out to your account manager to get it enabled)

This means that every Zendesk customer now gets the bot capabilities that used to be locked behind the Advanced AI add-on now gets these features as part of Suite.

Automated Resolutions

The above does come with a giant caveat: as mentioned in my Relate roundups, Zendesk will be moving its AI Agents (bots) to a new model where you pay for resolved conversations.

Similar to how Answer Bot used to work before the move to Zendesk Suite, each bot interaction that resolves a customers' question will cost you around 1€ per resolution. This counts for interactions via the Zendesk Bot and Auto replies via email based on articles or replies via triggers that use intents.

About automated resolutions for AI agents
AI agents are currently available on a trial basis. New pricing will be implemented on July 10, 2024. For customers who start using AI agents on or after April 16, 2024, pricing will…

What counts as a resolution? The above article has all the details but in general any bot conversation where the bot offers an article, AI generated response or arrives at the end of a flow counts as a resolved interaction if the conversation was not passed to an agent and the user hasn't interacted with your widget for three days.

You get a small allocated amount of resolutions included in your Zendesk Suite plan, averaging around 10 resolutions per agent per month. (So for a 20 person team this means 200 deflected interactions for free).

I can't judge pricing and financials for other people so I will refrain from making any further non-technical comments on this new pricing approach. I'd rather stick to guidance on how to implement Zendesk well.

Improved AI Models

  • Zendesk intents and sentiment detection now supports more languages: Vietnamese, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Hebrew, Finnish, Greek, Hindi, Ukrainian, Thai, and Indonesian. This increases the number of supported languages to 29.
  • All pre-trained intent models got updated with dozens of new intents and updates to the existing intent matching.
  • The sentiment model was updated to become more accurate in detecting positive and negative sentiments, so you should see less neutral sentiments. The model can now also between positive and negative sentiments where the user’s comment includes all capitalized letters. 
  • The supported industries got expanded with new models for entertainment and gaming industries.
  • Macro Suggestions now support French, German, Japanese, and Portuguese, in addition to English.

Set Variable

One of the things that set Ultimate apart from Zendesk's bot was the more advanced options for building custom answers. Where in Zendesk you could only use parameters within a specific flow to pass information from step to step, in Ultimate you had the ability to set a parameter in a conversation and use that value across all subsequent interactions with the customer during that conversation.

For example, if your conversation starts with asking the customer to enter an order number, you can store that input as a variable order_number. If you'd then ask the customer to choose between order status, cancel order, modify order and route them to three different answers, you can use that stored value in either one of the flows or even pass that value to the agent as a tag.

Announcing answer linking enhancements and passing variables to tags
Announced on Rollout starts Rollout ends April 24, 2024 April 22, 2024 May 3, 2024 In line with our ongoing investment in improving how variables can power automation for our customers, we’re…

These options are now also available for Zendesk Bots, getting us one step closer to feature parity between their different bot platforms.

If you want to learn more about this, stay tuned. I'm working on an update on my Bot Builder tutorial that will include these new capabilities. So subscribe to the blog if you haven't to get the new tutorials right in your inbox!

👨🏻‍💻 Agent Workspace

The Agent Workspace got a how slew of updates this month ranging from small cosmetic updates to new features that have been on many people's wishlist for a long time. Let's dive in!

First one is an update to Omnichannel Routing giving agents the ability to focus on a single channel at a time. I used to create a couple of new custom statuses for agents that put them online in a single channel at a time, but maybe with this feature I can just have one single online status again and let focus mode do the rest. Something to test.

Suggested Replies

At one of the booths at Relate I saw a new Suggested Reply feature being demo'd. This one is now available as an EAP for everyone to test. The new Suggested Reply feature will profile the reply field for an agents' first comment on a ticket taking information from your knowledge base, previous tickets and macros. Agents can tab complete the comment, make modifications where needed and submit the ticket.

It feels like yet another step towards the AI Copilot where instead of agents copying content from an article and using the expand/tone shift options to modify the response, the system now does that for you. One limitation is that for now it only works on the initial reply, so further discussion with the customers still needs to be handwritten by the agent.

Shared App Shortcuts

Last year Agent Workspace got the ability to pin apps to the sidebar, making them easier to get to. This was especially useful for environment with a lot of apps, or in scenarios where you wanted the app to take the full height of the window, instead of being stacked in between other apps.

One feature I heard from customers' time and time again is that they'd loved to be able to pin apps on an admin level and make them available to all agents. Pinned apps used to be a per-agent setting, but now this limitation has been lifted. Similar to views, admins can now preset pinned apps for all agents, while still giving agent the option to add their own personal pinned apps to the sidebar too.

pinned apps.png

Managing shared app shortcuts is done from within layout builder, and you can use this in combination with Contextual workspace to offer different pinned apps based on group or context.

Device Information

During Zendesk's migration from Chat to Messaging some existing features got lost. Gradually Zendesk has been adding them back into Messaging. We got user authentication, ability to tag conversations, routing to different groups,.. back in the past few months.

This months' Zendesk re-enabled the capture and display device information for customers contacting agents over web or mobile messaging.

The customer context panel in the sidebar of a ticket will now show device information like IP, location, device or browser type and OS version as context next to the ticket.

The Device information display is turned on and visible by default. To prioritize privacy, IP address and location are hidden by default, but can be enabled in Admin Center if needed.

🔎 Help Center and Self Service

The Zendesk Help Center only got two new releases this month.

The first one is a big one: generative search is coming to the Help Center, adding a generated response to a customers' search query on top of the search results.

Preview of the new generative search for Zendesk Knowledge Base and Agent Workspace
The new generative AI search features for the Zendesk Help Center and Agent Workspace turn search results into Quick Answers with custom generated responses.

Additionally, Zendesk keeps on improving the article editor with the addition of a new header that more clearly shows the article status. I really like these gradual improvements to the editor. All admin features are pushed to the side and the content gets more and more prominence.
I do hope someday we get the same /shortcuts that are available in apps like Slite, Notion or Ghost to speed up the insertion of images or other content types.

🧱 Open and Flexible Platform

The weeks after Relate always feel like Zendesk guarding a lot of releases and then making them available all at once. This is especially true when we look at the API and platform side of things.

API and Admin Panel updates

  • Custom Objects keys and their respective Field keys weren't reusable. This meant that if you added a location textfield to an object, and later deleted that field to replace it with a lookup field, that you had to give it a different identifier. This restriction is now gone!
  • It's now possible to merge an organization with another organization via the Zendesk API by calling PUT /api/v2/organizations/{organization_id}/merge
  • Admins can now delete custom ticket statuses. Previously, custom ticket statuses could only be deactivated. Sadly only available via the UI and not via the API for now.
  • The Dynamic Content overview page now gets a new column that shows the {{dc.placeholder}}. Saves you a click to find it!
  • The Data Importer tool is now available for everyone. This tool makes it easier to bulk import and update Organizations and Custom Objects.

Announcing new Talk hold and wait music by Nova Dawn

The default On Hold music for Talk conversations has been updated to a "more upbeat yet calming sentiment, infused with a tinkling beat, and driven by the quiet strumming of an acoustic guitar".

New Greeting
If anyone has the old On Hold song saved, please let me know!

Announcing the API Usage Dashboard in Admin Center

The Admin Center got a new API Usage dashboard giving you insights in API usage. You get an overview of errors and usage limits, as well as an overview of the top endpoints by volume or user. Useful to detect badly configured integrations or bad actors!



AI and the next CX Revolution

The conversations with Zendesk podcast has a great interview with Zendesk CTO Adrian McDermott and Teresa Haun on the impact of AI on CX.

It's an interesting conversation to listen to, but there's two quotes I want to highlight:

There's this quote from a technologist Tim O'Reilly that I love, right, he says what new technology does is create new opportunities to do a job that customers want done. I love that quote, because it's customer centric.

Secondly, they talk about a pattern when it comes to new technologies: optimization often results in a drop in quality.

So that's the early honeymoon period of a technology shift. Generally, we see, as these technologies mature and CX, the drive for optimization becomes industry wide. And as the drive for optimization becomes industry wide quality standards drop, you get you wrote answers because things are becoming industrialized, things are becoming standardized, you're getting the same answer over and over again, you feel like the customer service agent isn't empowered anymore, because you're not winging it and making it up like you were in the early days of web 2.0.
And so this pattern repeats in each of these phases, right? Volume, increase quality, increased cost reduction turns into flat volume, basically, or slightly increasing volume, reduction in quality, massive reduction in cost.

Give the entire conversation a listen. It's worth your time!

Authentication end users with messaging

Zendesk published a nice video on Messaging Authentication on their YouTube channel.

⚠ Major Changes

One major change that's coming is the aforementioned shift to Resolution Based pricing. You can use the new Automated Resolutions dashboard in your Admin Center to keep an eye on current usage.

Article Attachments

Small change to the way the  Article Attachments API handles URLS and filenames:

To increase the persistence and reliability of our attachment URLs, we are modifying the response structure to remove the file name from the content_url while still providing it in the file_name attribute. 
Announcing a URL structure update for the Article Attachments API
Announced on Rollout starts Rollout ends April 2, 2024 July 2, 2024 July 2, 2024 We’re announcing an upcoming update to the URL structure returned in responses from the Article Attachments API…

📝 Articles this month

Preview of the new generative search for Zendesk Knowledge Base and Agent Workspace
The new generative AI search features for the Zendesk Help Center and Agent Workspace turn search results into Quick Answers with custom generated responses.
Zendesk Relate: What’s available now and show floor impressions
In this final article of the Zendesk Relate 2024 series I’m doing a review of what Zendesk features are available today, and how they fit in the bigger Zendesk product approach. And I wrap things up with some impressions of the show floor.
What’s new from Zendesk Relate: WFM, QA and Zendesk’s new vision.
In today’s newsletters I’ll write about the to remaining topics: Workforce Management (WFM) and Quality Assessment (QA), and wrapping things up with some comment on Zendesk’s new product vision.
What’s new from Zendesk Relate: AI Agents and Copilot.
Today was the first day of Relate, Zendesk’s flagship event where they announce new features, give insights in customer and employee experience trends and showcase their products and customers. This article shows the new Agent Copilot and AI Agents.
Beyond triggers. Moving to queue only assignment in Zendesk
What happens if we trust queues for assignment and remove any assignment triggers from a Zendesk instance?

And Finally...

We won a Zendesk Award at the office, and the announcement article on Zendesk's blog has a quote from yours truly on it. 😎