Zendesk is a highly regarded helpdesk platform that offers a wide range of features to streamline customer support operations for businesses.  When it’s integrated well with other core customer and business systems, companies benefit from cost savings, better data between apps, and scaling on processes that may have previously been manual or caused expensive mistakes.

However, integrating Zendesk into existing systems and processes can pose challenges, and it’s important to have a strategy and plan to address them. 

As a company that’s heavily focused on connecting your most important customer and ERP data, we’ve identified some of the most common challenges in this domain. These challenges include:

Integration Complexity

Integrations of any nature can become overly complicated due to a few things:

  • Not knowing what you want the business process or flow to look like. This is more of the decisions about the processes that need to happen.  It is essential to get the right people on your team – the people who are the leads on your systems, understand your processes, and oversee your line of business teams, such as your customer experience lead and VP of sales (in the case of your CRM).) Together, they can make decisions on flow.  For example, which fields are important to map between the systems?   How do you want the data to flow?  Does your team need access to the data in real-time?

  • How you plan to implement the integration. Any developer will be quick to want to write code.  While the Zendesk API is pretty straightforward and well-documented, writing custom code poses a lot of risks for companies – it’s considerably more expensive to create your integration and maintain it, and you run the risk of the developer walking out the door.
We’re partial, but we have a solid track record with our tools Popdock, which lets you embed real-time data from anywhere in Zendesk, and SmartConnect, which allows for generating data where you want at the right time between apps.  The right tool for the job will accelerate your progress towards your desired outcome, provide you with the level of flexibility you need, and lower the risk for your company with a strategy to manage integration.

  • What you don’t know about the other API. Knowing your data and the business processes that need to be handled is pretty important.  For example, data formats, types of lookups for how data is linked, and what processes happen when you bring the data in needs to be accounted for with what data you decide to integrate. While some systems keep this pretty simple, others have additional processes or create more data when the first set is created.

  • Overcomplicating the process. Take the time to get to know the options for your scenario.  For example, if you are working with a lot of data that needs to be synced, is there an option to synchronize changes-only? (Guess what? SmartConnect offers this feature!) It’s great for just running the integration on the new data and is easier on resourcing/efficiency.  Another example is how real-time integration is handled…we have a simple solution for that too: Popdock. In all reality, people do a lot of funny stuff to achieve real or near real-time integrations, but with Popdock, the process becomes much simpler.

  • What’s your definition of success? Start by identifying your outcomes and work backwards from there.  Implementing integrations requires change management and good internal communication.  Without these, the solution rollout can become a headache. Apart from having the right stakeholders involved to make decisions and implement, identify the people in your company that will be directly affected.  Ensure that this group understands what’s now available and how the integrations will benefit their work. 

Data Migration

Migrating historical data from a different helpdesk platform to Zendesk can be challenging, and there are some decisions that need to be made.  A big question to be answered is, “How much data should be moved?”  The answer to this question has significant bearing on the cost of your migration project.

When it comes to data and its migration, it’s important to recognize that data types are often interconnected, establishing relationships. It’s highly recommended to preserve any of these relationships for your data when you bring it into a new system.  For example, when you’re moving tickets, there will be associated individuals with corresponding email addresses, along with potential custom fields, notes, and attachments.  You will have to determine how you want to handle these pieces.

For all the data that you do want to move, it is crucial to ensure a secure and accurate transfer of customer data, including tickets, conversations, and contacts. Thorough planning, data mapping, and utilizing an import tool, like SmartConnect, can expedite the process of importing data into Zendesk while setting the right relationships along the way.

Now, for the data you don’t want to migrate to Zendesk, but still need!  Our general recommendation is to archive that data to a more cost-effective storage location. Data lakes in Microsoft Azure, Wasabi, or Amazon Web Services S3 storage are great options because you can store a large amount of data there for a fraction of the cost compared to maintaining your old environment.  With Popdock’s archiving feature, you can move historical data to a data lake location, and Popdock itself provides a user-friendly interface to quickly access the data.  If desired, you can even embed a dedicated section within Zendesk, allowing users to look at the historical data.

Customization Requirements

It’s very common for companies to have custom fields in their systems, along with processes and reports that rely on them.  Thus, when you’re integrating data, ensure you have a strategy to handle custom fields that need to be populated or used and the way the process needs to happen for your business.  Many “out-of-the-box”-type solutions don’t handle custom fields well, so ensure that your integration strategy does this.  Both eOne’s tools, SmartConnect and Popdock, play nice with custom fields in Zendesk.  However, we’ve seen scenarios where companies have been on tools that were limited, so they paid developers a lot of money to write code to make it all work with their custom requirements., which gets expensive quickly.  This is mainly because the initial tool they were using didn’t give the level of flexibility and control needed for the solution requirement.

Training and Adoption

Adopting Zendesk internally was a breath of fresh air for our team.  Along with being a super simple ticketing system, what made it really powerful and better for our customers was the integration.

Training and adoption, while seemingly straightforward, are project rollout phases that are sometimes rushed or overlooked.  However, with a little bit of training, there is a lot of power for your agents to understand how they can be even more efficient.  One of the key benefits of integration is that it reduces the level of manual entry and time spent on research.  Your agents will love it, and as the communicator of such efficiency, you will make them happy.

Conducting a quick internal training session and providing ongoing support will help ensure a smooth transition to the new process.

Errors Management, Maintenance and Updates

Errors happen, data is sometimes bad, and business processes sometimes change.  These scenarios can pose major challenges and become costly if you rely on a developer to write custom code for your integrations or if your chosen integration solution lacks the necessary options to manage changes.

Ideally, the solution you use to create and manage your integrations should include an interface within to troubleshoot any errors that occur, alert your team, and then go fix the issues.  Generally, having an interface to modify the integrations and apply changes is important.  This functionality will save both time and money, allowing either your Zendesk administrator or IT team to make the necessary updates without the need to outsource or navigate through someone else’s code to resolve issues.

Despite the challenges, integrating Zendesk offers numerous benefits that can significantly enhance customer support operations. At the end of the day, we highly recommend taking the plunge to integrate your most important business data about your customers into Zendesk, so your agents are more informed, can solve problems faster, and allows you to create better experiences for your customers.

Just getting started?  We highly recommend exploring these helpful links on delivering Zendesk integrations: