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Community advocacy tools

Zendesk instance

Mentions in Zendesk

The Community Advocates team use a dedicated Zendesk instance to centralize the management of mentions in the social response channels.

The majority of the response channels' mentions are routed to Zendesk via automation. Generally through Zapier or a native Zendesk integration.

Each mention is then converted into a ticket and filtered into a View, ordered by channel priority. As part of their daily workflow, Community Advocates process each one of these views and manage the ticket lifecycle.

A typical ticket lifecycle is as follows:

  1. A wider community member mentions GitLab in one of our social response channels
  2. The social response automation routes the mention to Zendesk and converts it into a ticket.
  3. The ticket appears in one of the View as New
  4. A Community Advocate scans through the views by priority or expertise, and opens the ticket
  5. The Community Advocate decides the type of response. Typically, this will be either replying on the social channel, [involving experts] or marking the ticket as NOOP (no action required).
  6. After the action for the ticket has been taken, the ticket will be closed by the Community Advocate, either manually or via a macro.

Zendesk subscription

After a discussion with the GitLab Support team, it was concluded that for the specific Advocate workflows and metrics it would be best to keep the Community Relations Zendesk instance separate from the Support team's Zendesk instance.

The Community Relations instance runs on a Professional Zendesk Support subscription, with one seat per Advocate plus an extra seat for the team manager.

Zendesk access

Zendesk access is provided for every Community Advocate and their manager via the Zendesk admin. Once access is set up, Advocates can log in as "Agent" via SSO and their GitLab Google Suite account.

Zendesk views

View limits workaround

Views in Zendesk

There is a limit on the number of views that can be displayed on the main "Views" panel on Zendesk, regardless of the type of subscription:

If the number of views exceeds these limits, the additional views are moved to the Settings > Views panel. As the Community Advocates make use of the shared views feature, and as the number of response channels already exceeds the limit of 12, this poses a hindrance on ticket visibility and effectivity.

As a workaround, the team has decided to standardize the personal views for each Advocate, thus effectively increasing the number of visible Views to 20. If the number of response channels exceed the count of 20, an alternative approach could be to consolidate some of the existing views –a practice already followed where it makes sense (e.g. E-mail view).

The workaround is based on two steps: creating a shared view, which then every advocate can clone as a personal view.

To create a new shared view:

  1. Navigate to Settings > Views
  2. Click on the Add view button or clone an existing shared view
  3. Set up or modify the filter conditions if necessary
  4. On Available for, choose All agents
  5. Inform the rest of the team about the availability of the new view

To create a personal view from a shared view:

  1. Navigate to Settings > Views
  2. In the views list, hover over the right hand side of view you want to clone
  3. Click on the ellipsis to open the context menu
  4. Choose Clone
  5. Do not modify the filter conditions
  6. On Available for, choose Me only

Zendesk macros

A macro is similiar to an email template, but consists of one or more actions that modify the values of a ticket's fields. Macros are applied to tickets manually by Advocates. For example, we use macros for mentions or questions requests that we can answer with a single, standard response. Please keep in mind, though, that the goal is to personalize each response as much as possible.

Macros can perform the following tasks:

Creating macros

There are two types of macros: personal macros (created by an agent or administrator for their own use) and shared macros (created by an administrator with permission for multiple users).

Please make sure to focus on creating shared macros since we want to keep all the info transparent and available to the whole team.

Creating personal macros

Although only administrators can create the macros that are shared by all Community Advocates, Advocates can also create personal macros for their own use. A personal macro is only visible to and can only be used or modified by the creator.

  1. Click the Admin icon in the sidebar, then select Macros.
  2. Click the All shared macros drop-down menu and select Personal macros.
  3. Click the Add macro button.
  4. Enter the macro name, and add actions for your macro as described in Building macro action statements.
  5. Click Create.

Creating shared macros

Administrators (and agents in custom roles with permission) can create macros that are shared by all Zendesk Support agents or macros that are shared by only agents in a specific group. Administrators can also create personal macros for their own use.

A personal macro is only visible to and can only be used or modified by the creator. Administrators can create shared macros, and can modify all shared macros, regardless of who created them.

  1. Click the Admin icon in the sidebar, then select Macros.
  2. Click the Add macro button.
  3. Enter a Macro name.
  4. (Optional) Enter a Description.
  5. Select an option from the Available for menu:
    • All agents, available to all agents.
    • Agents in group, available only to agents in the group specified. A drop-down menu to choose the group appears when you select this option.
    • Me only, available only to you.
  6. Under Actions, use the drop-down menus to add actions for your macro as described in Building macro action statements.
    • If you choose the Comment/description macro action, and you have rich text formatting enabled, you can add formatting and inline images and you can add attachments to your macro comments.
  7. Click Create.

Applying macros

You can manually apply one or more macros to a ticket at once. Just as you can make bulk updates to many tickets at once, you can also apply a macro to more than one ticket using your views.

A typical use case is a ticket that contains more than one question or issue, let's say two in this example. You might have set up two macros that both insert a comment into a ticket to answer each issue separately. By applying each macro to the ticket, you add two comments and address both issues in a single response.

  1. In a ticket , click the Apply macro button in the bottom toolbar.
  2. Typically, your five most commonly used macros from the past week appear at the top of the macros list.
    • You can select one of these, begin typing the name of the macro, or scroll through the list to find the one you want to use.
  3. The actions defined in the macro will be applied. If the macro updated the ticket comment, you can edit the text before submitting the ticket.
  4. To apply another macro, click Apply macro again and select another macro.

Previewing macros

There is an option to view a description of a macro, and preview the update it will make to a ticket, before applying it.

  1. In a ticket, click the Apply macro button in the bottom toolbar.
  2. Scroll through the list to locate the macro you want to use.
  3. Hover your cursor over the macro to display its description tooltip.
    • If the macro does not have a description, the tooltip does not appear.
  4. If the description matches the macro you want to apply, click on it to use it.

Zendesk ticket lifecycle