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Custom Object Use Cases

Zendesk expanded its platform with Custom Objects. These objects allow you to expand the classic ticket-user relationship with additional objects. In this blog post, we tackle how you can make more out of it.

Zendesk at its core has always resolved around tickets, users, groups, organizations. A user creates a ticket, it’s assigned to an agent in a group and that user might belong to an organization.

These four objects provide a solid foundation to build your customer care setup. You can sort tickets by group, you can get insights on all requests by a specific user, or an organization can get an overview of all interactions their employees have had with your care team.

Sometimes you do need more information. This is where, originally, custom fields appeared. You can categorize a ticket, tag a user as VIP or log a reference to a product or service in a custom field. This makes it easier to get context when looking for a ticket, or allows you to raise priority for important customers among many other use cases.

But sometimes the data linked to a ticket is more complex than just a textfield with a serial number. SLA contracts have expiration dates. Assets in your company have vendors, contracts, owners. Because the information that should be linked to a ticket is sometimes complex and can’t fit in just a few ticket fields, Zendesk expanded their platform with Custom Objects. These objects allow you to expand the classic ticket-user relationship with additional objects.

Let’s start with an example. 

Note: All examples below are taken from actual customers and are used in production.

Facility and IT Use Case

The Facility and IT team of a company uses Zendesk to track requests related to all the assets in the company

If a coffee machine, water dispenser or printer breaks down users reach out to the IT or Facility team by filling out a Help Center form in Guide, or by contacting the team over Messaging. They enter the ID of the device and log an issue like “out of coffee beans”. This way the facility team knows which coffee machine needs to be refilled.

Zendesk for Facility teams

System Setup

In Zendesk we created a custom object “Assets” that contains a list of all assets in the company. These contain the following custom fields:

Object Field Type Description
Asset ID
System Field
Unique ID of the device in the company
Printer, Vending Machine, Coffee Machine, Badge Readers, Water Dispenser, ...
Lookup Field
Linked to a filtered list of users in Zendesk with the tag “vendor”
Restaurant, meeting room A, reception,...
Physical address
SLA Contract
Description of the contract
Serial Number
Device ID provided by the vendor
Product Name e.g. MacBook Pro 16”
Lookup Field
(Light) Agents

We also created triggers that assign tickets to the right team based on the device type. Printers are assigned to the IT team, Badge Readers go to the Security team, and all vending machine items go to the Facility Team.


User Experience

We then used a custom integration in Zendesk Guide to make all these Custom Objects available in the request form. So instead of the user typing some variant of the ID, they can search and select the object directly from a list. To make it easier we even filter by Type based on the selected issue or form. So the Food and Drinks Issues form will only show coffee machines and water dispensers and no printers.

Since the object contains all related information to the device, the user only needs to enter the Asset ID and doesn’t need to add location, type or any other information.

Agent Experience

For agents we build a Sidebar app that shows an overview of the selected device based on the data in the custom object. The agent can immediately identify the device and take the right actions.

This could be used with the Slack Side Conversation feature to ask someone of the Facility Team to go refill the coffee beans. Or they can use the Knowledge Panel to find the article explaining the Refill steps, and send the article to the colleague requesting assistance.

But, since we also store the vendor as a linked attribute, we can also quickly escalate to the right vendor if something is really broken. Whenever an escalation is needed we can leverage the linked Vendor user to quickly get their email address and escalate a request to them via side conversation. The app automatically includes the SLA contract number, the location and address as well as the device serial number

And finally, if that agent needs to get approval for a quote for repairs, we can use the Approver Lookup Field to automatically add that person as a Follower on the ticket. 

All inside a single app.

Agent and Admin Training

Similar Use Cases

This use case uses custom objects to refer to physical objects. You could easily use this approach to refer to a list of events or concerts, stadium seats, hotels, rental bikes, meeting rooms or any kind of object that can be linked to a ticket and then show a wealth of contextual information to your agents or end-users.

And thanks to Explore you can also report on the amount of tickets made for a given item and pull in the category field to report on e.g. the amount of times customers complained about bad wifi in this meeting room in the last month.

Support Contract Use Case

A different use case has been created for a software developer. They sell Support Contracts to their customers on which they offer a certain set of support types. Since it’s important to know what the customer owns they also needed a place to store product licenses to reference.

Since this customer had no existing tools to store the data, and the data was used primarily by the Support team for reference we decided to store the data within Zendesk. This removed the need of yet another SAAS tool and made sure we could implement it quickly.

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System Setup

They ended up with three custom objects.

Support Contract

Field Name Type Description
Contract Number
Unique ID of the contract
Start Date
Date Field
E.g May 4th 2023
E.g. 12 (months)
Support Contract Type
Linked to a Support Contract Types Object.
Organization Name

Support Contract Type

Field Name Type Description
Gold, Silver, Bronze
Explains what the Support Contract covers
Does this Support Contract offer phone support
Does this Support Contract offer 24/7 support


Field Name Type Description
Name of the product developed
Lookup Field
Links to Organizations
Text Field
Short Description of the product
LinkedIn Support Contract
Lookup Field
Support Contract linked to the product
Sold by
Lookup Field
(Light Agents) who sold the product

User Experience

When an end-user contacts the company they often have to do nothing. Zendesk already links users to organizations based on email so a users’ organization is known in advance.

If they bought a single product from the company they don’t really need to tell them what this is. Otherwise if they log the ticket via a ticket form and are logged in to the portal, we provide a custom dropdown of bought products for them to choose from.

Naturally, whenever they email the user should provide some context, so the notification trigger that fires upon ticket creation asks them to provide product name, clear description of the issue and screenshots if they haven’t already done so.

Since we linked the Support Contract to the end-users’ organization, we can also create triggers that set the priority of a ticket based on the linked Support Contract type. This way a gold customer knows they’ll get help fast(er) than a bronze customer. We even differentiate the confirmation email based on the SLA type explaining what type of support they can expect.

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Agent Experience

This customers’ Zendesk environment has Zendesk SLA’s. This means we can influence the first reply time of all tickets based on the priority set to the ticket (among other factors).

All agents work from a view that has New and Open tickets sorted by SLA Time, meaning the ticket where the SLA expires first is the top most ticket. This combined with Omnichannel Routing means we can make sure that agents will handle the most urgent ticket first.

This could be the ticket of a Gold Contract customer, or an older ticket of a Bronze user. Since the sorting happens automatically we can make sure all tickets are handled within the set SLA time.

Agents can handle the request and jump to the organization tab of a ticket to see all linked products for that user. Or they can refer to the SLA policy lookup field on the ticket to validate that “yes, this customer can be assisted over the phone”. We also created a simple sidebar app that only appears when the SLA contract is about to expire or has expired so the agent knows to be careful with the support given. 

Since custom objects are a native Zendesk product we gave the Sales team direct write access to the SLA and Product objects to add, delete or modify those objects for their customers.

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Similar Use Cases

This use case turns contracts into references that live alongside tickets and users and can be updated independently of tickets.

You can use this approach for tracking tickets sold, store reservations for your bike rental company, create work orders or track any other kind of information across tickets. And whenever you update the objects, any linked SLA policies or automations will be automatically updated too.

Escalation Use Case

So far we’ve covered custom objects being used to reference physical objects and policies. The final use case we’ve deployed a lot is an easier way for agents to find the right team or person to escalate tickets too. This use case is especially useful for contacting outside vendors with rapidly changing phone numbers or contact persons.

The use case here is e.g. an Airport that needs to contact emergency services, representatives of different airlines, local security, other airports or any other person from a long list of external contacts.

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System Setup

In the past this customer used to have an Excel sheet with organizations, names and contact information, loosely shared and copied between agents.

We moved all the information into Custom Objects by creating one called Escalation Paths.

Field Type Description
Name of the escalation path
Responsible for
List of reasons why to contact them
Primary Contact
Lookup Field
Links to end-users in Zendesk
Secondary Contact
Lookup Field
Links to end-users in Zendesk
Explains how/when

Agent Experience

By creating a stable list of objects for each escalation type (e.g. On Prem Firefighters) agents handling support tickets for the Airport can always search and find the same object for a given issue.

When the contact information for a service changes, they update the linked users to the record, but the main object name stays the same. This kind of consistency can be the difference between an escalation that happens in seconds, or a frustrated search for the new name of the contact person.

To make this process even easier we made a sidebar app available for the agent that allows them to search for name, responsibility or contact name. We show the contact information in the sidebar, and allow for one click actions that “create a side conversation, add as a follower, call (via Talk) or whatever options are available for a contact. 


Similar Use Cases

You can use a similar setup to make looking up people in big organizations easier. Create an object that contains Finance, Sales, Marketing, … and add the manager, direct contact or preferred channel as record fields to make internal escalation faster.

Or create a database of external vendors and contracts and make those searchable while also giving an overview of services they provide.

Wrap Up

Custom Objects creates a wide range of opportunities to expand the Zendesk ticketing system and give more context to agents while making the automation of tickets easier.

The examples above might seem complex since they cover a lot of different Zendesk areas. But luckily the onboarding of Custom Objects is fast and codeless. You can create objects and enter data without having to code a single line. And by leveraging lookup fields on users and tickets you can even make those items available to agents without resorting to custom applications.

If you do want to integrate Custom Objects with apps, help center forms or other tools, reach out to our Sales team to discuss your project!