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  • Writer's pictureNouran Smogluk

Best practices for building and using Zendesk macros

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Time is a precious commodity, especially. in the fast-paced world of customer support. Delivering quick and effective help to customers is a way to set your customer experience apart from your competition. That’s why so many common customer service metrics measure efficiency, such as time to first response or average handle time.

Using Zendesk macros can dramatically speed up your support team and create a better experience for your customers.

But they also come with some risks.

Applying these Zendesk macro best practices will enable you to reap the benefits and create a more efficient support team, while also avoiding common missteps.

The benefits of using Zendesk macros

If you’re not familiar with Zendesk macros, think about them as predefined responses.

It’s important to note that Zendesk macros are different from triggers and automations (although Zendesk triggers are incredibly powerful). Macros are defined and created ahead of time, but they’re always triggered by a human action. A team member evaluates a ticket, then applies the appropriate macro. As such, you’ll never need to define conditions for Zendesk macros.

Because macros are predefined responses, your team can take all the time they need to make them great. And creating great macros is an art form. You’ll get better at it with practice, but you’ll see the benefits of using macros from day one.

Leveraging Zendesk macros will:

  • Increase your team’s efficiency and productivity

  • Provide a consistent tone of voice to represent your brand

  • Reduce the likelihood of error to create a high-quality experience

Increase efficiency

Using a Zendesk macro dramatically reduces the time an agent needs to craft an excellent response to a ticket. If you can type 120 words per minute, you’re in the top 1% of typers in the world. But a macro means you can produce those 120 words in just a few seconds.

That’s why working with macros is a game-changer in managing high ticket volume. Your team can answer far more tickets in a given period if they’re using applicable macros.

Have a consistent tone of voice

Consider the effort your company goes through to design a branded experience on your website. How much time is spent selecting the colors, writing CTAs, figuring out the navigation, and writing landing page copy?

Your customer support team’s interactions also reflect on your brand.

If you want your customer to feel like they’re interacting with the same entity and to associate your brand with a specific identity, maintaining a consistent tone of voice across all channels is paramount. While there’s always room to express individuality and personalize responses (more on this below), macros help ensure that the core elements of your ideal brand voice are always present.

In short, you can create macros so that they encourage a consistent style of communication with your customers.

High-quality responses

Working in support means keeping track of a million pieces of information while finding a way to work efficiently and still connect with every customer.

Zendesk macros can be a safety net that takes some of that cognitive load away from your team. For example, rather than every agent having to remember and write up the five steps involved in merging an account or changing a payment method, they can use a macro that accurately shares the relevant info.

Customers who have great experiences with a brand can spend up to 140% more. Making it easier for your agents to create a great experience pays off in the long-run for your business.

But what about personalization?

The biggest risk of working with Zendesk macros is a lack of personalization.

80% of consumers are more likely to purchase a brand that provides personalized experiences. On top of that, 76% of customers get frustrated when a company fails to deliver a personalized experience.

Hear this loud and clear: there is such a thing as relying on macros too much. It’s easy for teams to develop bad habits, such as:

  • Avoiding tickets that cannot be answered with a macro

  • Using a macro that doesn’t completely match or answer the customer's question

  • Not adapting and personalizing macros sufficiently

As a result, customers can get angry because their concerns aren’t heard. They get upset about receiving low-quality responses. It’s understandable.

That’s why figuring out how to work with macros properly for your team makes a huge difference.

5 best practices for mastering Zendesk macros

Ultimately, the proof is in the pudding. The only way to see how effective macros can be is to create them, use them, and apply your practical experience to continually improve them.

Applying these best practices can give you a headstart:

  • Develop a macro strategy

  • Provide training on how to use macros

  • Make macros convenient and easy to use

  • Reduce extra clicks via automations

  • Measure macro usage and performance

Develop a Zendesk macro strategy

Every support team has its own way of using macros.

You need to decide how to use macros and what the process will look like for your team. Some critical questions you should answer for your team are:

  • What does a great macro look like?

  • Do you have a quality standard that each macro has to follow?

  • Do you have guidelines for intros, outros, or other terminology?

  • Will you allow agents to create personal macros?

  • How will your agents suggest a new macro?

  • How can agents suggest edits or flag macros that are outdated?

  • How will you organize your macros so they’re easy to use and maintain?

Some argue that macros should be relatively general so that every agent is forced to personalize them to the ticket at hand. Others argue that the best macros are written for a specific use case.

Some feel that allowing your agents to create and use personal macros results in a much more efficient team. Others say that defeats the whole purpose of macros. leaving you open to wildly different communication styles by each agent.

Some teams want a standardized, branded intro to each ticket. Others always personalize the intro.

There is no general right or wrong answer to these questions. Every company has to experiment and find a style that makes sense for its team and its customers.

For what it’s worth, I’d suggest starting by creating a centralized repository of standardized macros that deal with your most common ticket scenarios. Use those to get your agents familiar with using macros within Zendesk and to begin reaping the benefits of macros. From there, use your best judgment on how to evolve your macro usage over time.

Provide macro training

Have you heard of the saying, “It’s easier to prevent bad habits than to break them?”

You can avoid many of the potential issues with macro usage by training your agents up front about how to use Zendesk macros properly. That might include teaching them how to find the right macro, how to personalize it, and when it’s inappropriate to use a macro.

The key lesson to get across is this: It’s always better to personalize too much than not to personalize enough.

85% of businesses believe they offer personalized experiences, but only 60% of consumers think that. That gap in perception could be bridged with good customer service training.

Make macros convenient

If you’ve worked with the native Zendesk interface for macros, you already know how inconvenient it is. Macros are hard to find and challenging to organize.

Macro adoption in your team depends largely on how convenient and easy it is to use them. You can improve the native Zendesk experience and increase the likelihood of macro adoption by:

  • Taking the time to organize your macros manually. Exporting your Zendesk macros can help dramatically with this.

  • Using macros for shorter text snippets. For example, if you repeat a set of instructions often, create a macro that can be used independent of the rest of the response.

  • Using longer, more descriptive titles so agents have an easier time searching for the right macro based on the title.

  • Making it possible to search for macros based on the content using an app like Macro Search.

  • Investing in a tool like Miuros Assist to provide automated macro suggestions and make macros more visible in your Zendesk ticket interface.

Reduce clicks via automations with macros

Some teams use macros only to add comments to the ticket.

That severely limits the time you save, because your agents still have to do everything else manually. Selecting the right ticket form, tagging the ticket, choosing the ticket status, assigning it to a group, or adding certain tags — each of these steps add up.

Instead, you can use Zendesk macros to:

Measure macro usage and performance

The final best practice to level up your macros is to measure their performance.

Zendesk offers very little when it comes to measuring macro usage. If you add a tag to the ticket as part of each macro you can build reports to see how often macros are used. This data can then be connected to other KPIs, such as CSAT or average response time.

Using analytics on your macros means you can:

  • Deactivate macros that don’t get used, decluttering your macro list.

  • Identify macros that often lead to more replies per ticket or a lower first contact resolution rate. You can then rewrite these and see if there’s an improvement.

  • See which macros perform the best to develop an internal set of best practices and improve your quality standard.

  • Change macros that lead to a lower CSAT rate or offer training to agents who use these if it’s due to a lack of personalization.

Zendesk macros that work for your customers and your support team

Zendesk macros are a fantastic tool for the majority of support teams — as long as they’re used in the right way.

Creating a series of processes that support your team and continuously improve your macros can level up your support quality across the board.

At SwiftEQ, we’ve developed a number of apps for customer service teams working within Zendesk, including Macro Export and Search. Both of these apps help make support teams more efficient and effective.

Book a free demo with us today to find out more!


Nouran Smogluk

​​Written by Nouran Smogluk

Nouran is a passionate people manager who believes that work should be a place where people grow, develop, and thrive. She writes for Supported Content and also blogs about a variety of topics, including remote work, leadership, and creating great customer experiences.


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