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6/7/2011
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Help Desk Shuffle: Will New Standard Help?

Zendesk teams with Atlassian, SugarCRM, and others in an attempt to help teams exchange support tickets, not pass the buck.

Help desks that have customers in common will be able to pass support tickets back and forth (rather than passing the buck) to collaborate on solving problems using a data exchange standard introduced Tuesday.

The NetworkedHelpDesk.org standards group was founded by Zendesk in partnership with Atlassian, New Relic, OTRS, Pivotal Tracker, Service Now, and SugarCRM. Other companies endorsing the ticket exchange standard include Coherence Design, Connect2Field, CustomWare, Freshbooks, GroundWork, PagerDuty, Pervasive, Rypple, Twilio, and Wildbit.

Zendesk and Atlassian introduced a beta version of an integration between Zendesk and Atlassian's JIRA software issue- and project-tracking software at an Atlassian user conference in San Francisco. Zendesk also introduced a ticket-sharing feature for its help desk service, based on the same technology, that will allow different organizations that use Zendesk to share information about customer issues.

"One of the things we've observed, now that we're growing and attracting larger and larger customers, is that the type of customer service and support required often goes across organizational boundaries," Zendesk COO Zack Urlocker said. "We also started to see a similar phenomenon among our customers, where issues were crossing organizational boundaries or departmental boundaries within a company."

Most of us have found ourselves calling for help with a product, only to be told that we've called the wrong company, or maybe just the wrong department, to get our problem solved. Then we get transferred, or make another call, or go to another website, and have to provide all the same details all over again. That's where support can break down, particularly when different organizations use different software to track customer issues, Urlocker said. "We want to let you deliver an awesome customer experience, regardless of how it's implemented."

With ticket sharing, organizations that are willing to make the effort can pass off the basic data about a customer inquiry or complaint to another organization and another software system at the same time that they pass off the responsibility for it, he said. Even though Zendesk might track slightly different information than JIRA, with its emphasis on software engineering issues, basic user and support ticket data can be shared across many systems that include some sort of issue tracking, he said. Information that doesn't fit within the defined fields can be passed between systems or organizations as a binary attachment.

The restaurant reservations service OpenTable is an example of a joint Zendesk and Atlassian customer that has created its own custom integration with JIRA because some customer support issues need to be turned into software bug tracking issues, Urlocker said. "It's a pattern we see quite often."

Urlocker also sees a potential "network effect of collaboration across all the different Zendesks that are out there," as the more than 10,000 companies who use the hosted help desk system learn to use the ticket sharing feature to solve customer problems together.

Employees have more ways to communicate than ever, but until the mishmash of tools gets integrated, productivity will suffer. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek: A buyer's guide to enterprise social networking. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

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Tom LaSusa
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Tom LaSusa,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/8/2011 | 7:19:30 PM
re: Help Desk Shuffle: Will New Standard Help?
Social Networking for the help desk...who'd have thunk it? Seriously, this sounds absolutely amazing!
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