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Guide to integrating Zendesk and Salesforce

Connecting Zendesk and Salesforce can make life easier for your sales and support team members.

By Victoria Yunger, Product Marketing Manager

Last updated November 5, 2020

Implementing a CRM is the best way to ensure that your customer support efforts yield the greatest return for the business and enable your team to deliver the best possible customer experience. With a CRM, you’ll be able to service customer enquiries quicker and reduce customer churn, ultimately leading to an increase in sales and customer engagement.

A robust CRM also includes integration with customer support tools and multiple communication channels, so that your teams have software access to data from the company’s marketing collateral, pricing, website, chat history, customer purchase history, phone records, emails and social media. This all boils down to enhancing the customer experience and making sure that you’re able to meet customer needs and beyond.

Customer support and CRM are a powerful combination. Together, they’re the best way of giving your sales and support teams a comprehensive view of your customers. When sales and support are in sync, you can give your customers a great experience, improving satisfaction and increasing conversion. That’s why we‘ve built a dynamic, two-way integration between Zendesk Support and Salesforce Sales Cloud. Zendesk’s new connector with the Salesforce platform is the first of many more valuable integrations to come.

The Zendesk for Salesforce integration has been designed with your needs at the forefront. It’s flexible based on what you want to accomplish and which functionalities make the most sense for your business.

Using this guide

The Zendesk for Salesforce integration was designed to be flexible. You can choose to implement only the functionality that makes the most sense for your business. This guide describes common use cases and links to the detailed documentation you’ll need to complete the process.

You’ll find this guide most useful if you work in customer service, sales, are a business owner or are in charge of your company’s Zendesk or Salesforce administration.

You’ll learn:

  • Benefits of the integration

  • Common use cases available out of the box and how they best meet your needs

  • What you can do with the integration

  • How to set up everything up with links to detailed documentation

Zendesk-built integrations

Our goal has always been to deliver a holistic view of your customers or your Support and Sales teams by providing more open, flexible and consistent integrations. Our connector with the Salesforce platform is a prime example. Building integrations natively on Zendesk empowers us to bring this platform vision for customer experience to life, particularly with integrating Support to Salesforce.

This integration closes the loop between your Sales and Support teams by enhancing visibility into customer information and support activities between Salesforce and Zendesk. We have integrated Support and Salesforce by building on Zendesk’s infrastructure using Salesforce public APIs, giving the integration greater flexibility.

Before we begin: Terminology

It’s important to understand from the get-go how data from Zendesk and Salesforce will be mapped once integrated. (Zendesk and Salesforce “speak” are naturally a little different, but we think we’ve learned to play together rather nicely.)

Common terminology used in Zendesk and Salesforce relate in the following way:

organisation (org)Account
ticketZendesk ticket (not case)

You may want to consider whether your Salesforce data will benefit from some clean-up or restructuring before integrating with Zendesk. For example, if there are multiple accounts with the same name in Salesforce, these accounts cannot map over to become multiple orgs with the same name in Zendesk. This is because Zendesk requires:

  • Users (Salesforce Contacts or Leads) to be unique by email address, and
  • Orgs (Salesforce accounts) to be unique by organisation name

If you have the resources, restructuring how data is stored in Salesforce can improve Zendesk’s ability to create more direct mappings when you’re pulling data into Zendesk.

Benefits at a glance of the Salesforce integration

Built on Zendesk, by Zendesk

At Zendesk, we are committed to maintaining an open platform and allowing integration with any business system through our APIs. After much thought and consideration, we’ve designed this integration so that the platform is more open, flexible and consistent for the best user experience.

Some of the benefits include:

  • A centralised admin experience to set up and manage the integration in the Zendesk Admin Centre
  • A beautifully simple Zendesk Support UI in Salesforce

  • Seamless, automatic updates

  • Full support for Salesforce Lightning

  • Multi-language support

  • Customisable and extensible

Sales and Support teams unite

The Zendesk for Salesforce integration closes the loop between your Sales and Support teams by enhancing visibility into customer information and support activities between Salesforce and Zendesk.

Continuous product improvements

We are committed to continually investing in the improvement of this integration. The end goal is to make it a feature-rich experience for you that can be used with extreme ease and efficiency. This includes incorporating new use cases overtime, integrating with other Zendesk products and enabling customisation and extensibility that meet your specific needs.

Spoiler alert: There are limitations

It’s important to note that not all integrations can do everything. Out of the box, the integration does not support:

  • Salesforce organisations without API rights

  • Fields not supported by the Salesforce Streaming API are not available in data syncing

  • Syncing tickets to Salesforce custom objects

  • Bi-directional real-time data sync (it is one way from Salesforce to Zendesk)

  • Person accounts in Salesforce

  • The hierarchy of Parent/Child accounts in Salesforce (All data transfers but does not retain its hierarchical structure once in Zendesk.)

That said, we have a few tricks up our sleeve. We want your integration to be a success. Talk to your account manager about customisation and guided implementations.

Common use cases

When considering which of the use cases below are relevant to your business, begin by asking yourself which tasks and business needs you hope to achieve by integrating a CRM with Zendesk?

The answers to these questions will determine which features to implement, and which can be skipped. They may also help you identify where and why you may want to go down a custom route.
Given that nearly all of the functionality within the Zendesk for Salesforce integration can be implemented and used independently, you have the flexibility to choose which features of the integration will benefit your particular business use case.

The scenarios below represent the most common reasons why customers are interested in the Zendesk for Salesforce integration, and how they benefit.

  1. Share Zendesk data with your Sales teams – inside Salesforce

    Your sales reps live in Salesforce, but they want to know whether their accounts have open tickets in Zendesk. That’s because, these days, the line between sales and support is thin.
    Accessing Zendesk data in Salesforce is a nice way to help sales reps access a customer’s temperature before making a call. Sales reps may only need a quick snapshot of a customer’s activity in Zendesk, or they may benefit from the ability to create or edit Zendesk tickets from within Salesforce. Adding an extra level of support may just help to close a deal.
    This integration actually provides a couple different options for accessing Zendesk data inside Salesforce, so you’ll need to see which is right for you.
    Option 1: View, edit and create Zendesk tickets on Salesforce Account, Contact and Lead pages

    This option queries Zendesk in real time from the Account, Contact, Lead and Opportunity pages, and does not store any data in Salesforce. This allows you to give all of your sales reps a view of tickets. Your Sales reps will also have the ability to create and edit Zendesk tickets from Salesforce by linking each Sales rep to an agent seat within Zendesk.
    This may be a good option if you do not have a need for using the ticket data stored in Salesforce, or if you are worried about running up against API limits, as this method does not use any API calls.
    To view Zendesk tickets in Salesforce using this method, refer to Setting up ticket view in Salesforce and Using ticket view in Salesforce.
    Option 2: Send Zendesk tickets into Salesforce

    This is the most powerful of the two options for viewing Zendesk data in Salesforce. This option uses tickets in your Zendesk to create new records in the Salesforce case object. The ticket requester is automatically matched to a contact, and the ticket’s organisation is automatically matched to an account.
    If Salesforce doesn’t find an existing account for a user, a contact and account will be automatically created for that Zendesk ticket user. This enables you to easily see tickets from the Contact and Account pages.
    One advantage of this method is that Zendesk ticket data will live in Salesforce, so you can use Salesforce reporting to analyse your Zendesk Support ticket data based on different Salesforce criteria, and track trends across all of the points of interactions your Sales and Support teams have with customers. Custom workflows can also be created by using this data.
    To view Zendesk tickets in Salesforce using this method, refer to Setting up ticket sync from Zendesk to Salesforce.
  2. Service teams are armed with important customer information while interacting with customers

    While addressing tickets, customer service agents can quickly access relevant information directly in Zendesk without having access to Salesforce. The integration is able to pull in any CRM data, including custom objects, so that your Support team has visibility into the full Salesforce customer profile in real time, right next to a live ticket in Zendesk Support.
    To view Salesforce data in Zendesk,, refer to The Salesforce app in Zendesk.
  3. Sync Salesforce account, contacts and leads to Zendesk for data consistency and workflows

    Many customers store valuable information in Salesforce related to the companies they do business with, such as subscriptions, support-level entitlements and locations. By enabling this sync, you can add this information to your Zendesk organisations to keep data consistent and help drive workflows.
    For example, you could set up a trigger to automatically re-assign tickets from companies with “Gold” service entitlement to a different support group.
    This is a one-way, real-time sync from Salesforce to Zendesk that keeps organisations in sync with your accounts. The sync is highly configurable, so you can bring over only the data that is relevant.
    To automatically create new organisations in Zendesk based on new accounts in Salesforce, refer to Configuring data sync from Salesforce to Zendesk.

Note: Syncing is an advanced feature. New Salesforce installations or smaller Salesforce organisations with clean data can go ahead and give this feature a try. However, for more complex Salesforce organisations, we recommend contacting your Zendesk account manager to help determine whether this is the right feature for you to implement.

Future roadmap

The Zendesk for Salesforce integration is one of the first to have been built natively on the Zendesk platform. And it’s just the first of many more to come. The integration is already being used by many of our largest enterprise customers to add a valuable layer of customer insights during the sales process, whether it’s for customer acquisition or retention.

At Zendesk, we are committed to continually investing in the Salesforce integration. In the future, you can expect to see continued enhancements that will benefit your teams and customers.

Want to learn more?

Contact us to learn more about this integration.

We know this integration is critical for your daily business operations. You can always contact your Zendesk account manager with any questions you have about this integration.

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