Navigating Zendesk to Salesforce Integration

January 31, 2024


Zendesk or Salesforce? 

How about both? 

In an age where technology drives growth, having the right tech stack on hand is crucial. Imagine a world where your sales and support teams work in perfect harmony, each action and response seamlessly informing the next. This is not a distant dream — it's the reality of integrating Zendesk with Salesforce.

With Salesforce commanding a significant 23.8% slice of the CRM market pie and Zendesk holding an 8% stake in the live chat domain in 2023, it's clear that these platforms are powerhouses in their respective fields. However, their true power is only unleashed when they are combined. 

In this guide, we’ll break down the exact steps you need to take for a Zendesk to Salesforce integration so you can level up your business.

The Importance of Zendesk to Salesforce Integration

You can’t reach your full revenue potential without customer support. The capacity to deliver top-tier customer support is inextricably linked to the effectiveness of your CRM system. It's the crucible where customer data is not just stored but transformed into actionable insights.

But, if your sales team is on Salesforce and your support team is on Zendesk, you’ll miss out on crucial data transfer.

Some people choose to migrate from Zendesk to Salesforce. Others choose to keep support on Zendesk and sales on Salesforce.

Some organizations might contemplate a full migration from Zendesk to Salesforce, while others may see value in maintaining distinct platforms for sales and support. 

Nevertheless, the integration of Zendesk with Salesforce is a pivotal move for those committed to providing unparalleled customer service. It's about unifying customer data across platforms, breaking down silos, and setting the stage for heightened customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Benefits of Integrating Zendesk and Salesforce

If you want to grow, you need to get your teams aligned.

When your customer support and sales teams don’t have properly integrated tech, you’ll end up with silos that create chaos, not clarity. And without a clear vision, your teams will often work against each other.

Here are a few benefits of integrating Zendesk and Salesforce:

  • Ramp up productivity: Without proper integration, your teams will copy and paste everything between platforms. This takes hours. An integration will speed up productivity by cutting down on menial tasks.
  • Stop confusing customers: If your sales team reaches out via Salesforce but then your customer support team reaches out via Zendesk, you’ll end up with two threads that confuse customers. If you’re confused, you lose.
  • Reduce errors: With integrated platforms, you’ll reduce inaccuracies and data errors that prevent closed deals and customer loyalty.
  • Better visibility, better strategy: With clear data, you’ll have better visibility on how your customers are doing and what they need. Accurate insights will help you craft better strategies to reach new customers (and keep current ones coming back).

Use Cases for Zendesk and Salesforce Integration

Integrating Zendesk with Salesforce is not a universal solution, but for organizations that thrive on customer data and interaction, it can be a game-changer. The integration can create a cohesive relationship between customer service and sales, ensuring that the insights gained in one area can be utilized for growth and retention in the other. 

Here are some practical use cases that illustrate the benefits of a Zendesk to Salesforce integration:

  • Sales teams use Zendesk data in Salesforce: For sales professionals managing key accounts, the ability to access Zendesk's support interactions within Salesforce is invaluable. This visibility enables them to understand customer issues and tailor their sales approach accordingly, fostering stronger relationships and identifying opportunities to upsell or cross-sell.
  • Create Zendesk tickets within Salesforce: When a sales representative identifies a client issue, they shouldn't have to switch platforms to initiate support. With an integration, they can create a ticket in Zendesk directly from Salesforce, ensuring a swift response and demonstrating to the client that their concern is being taken seriously.
  • Customer support sends Zendesk tickets to Salesforce: Sometimes, customer inquiries that land in support are actually opportunities in disguise. With an integration, support staff can easily pass these potential leads to the sales team in Salesforce, creating a seamless handoff that can lead to new sales.
  • Proactive support based on sales data: By having access to sales data in Zendesk, support teams can anticipate customer needs and proactively reach out with solutions, often before the customer even recognizes the issue. This preemptive approach can significantly enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Setting Up Zendesk to Salesforce Integration

Integrating Salesforce with Zendesk support is powerful.

The Salesforce integration connects the two platforms and enables you to streamline customer support and sales processes. But it takes a handful of steps. And a bit of technical knowledge.

Here’s how to do it.

Prerequisites for Integration

Ready to integrate the two platforms?

Before embarking on the technical steps to integrate Zendesk with Salesforce, it's essential to lay the groundwork. Improper planning can lead to an integration that's not only ineffective but also costly in terms of time and resources. 

Here's what you need to do before you start the actual integration process:

Laying Out Your Integration Needs

Understanding why you're integrating Salesforce with Zendesk is crucial. Begin with a clear vision of your objectives. What benefits are you expecting to gain? What specific functionalities do your teams need to perform better? 

Here are some of the pre-launch steps to consider:

  1. Define your integration objectives: Clearly articulate the reasons behind the integration. Determine if you're aiming to enhance customer service, streamline communication between teams, reduce response times, or all of the above.

  2. Identify key processes and data types: Map out which processes will be affected by the integration. Understand which data types will need to be shared between Zendesk and Salesforce. This could include customer contact information, support ticket histories, sales activity records, or product usage data.

  3. Assess your technical environment: Examine your current technical infrastructure to ensure it's equipped to handle the integration. This includes checking API limits and understanding data flow.
  4. Consult stakeholders: Engage with team members from both sales and support to understand their needs and concerns. Their insights will be critical in shaping an integration that truly serves the end user.

  5. Compliance and security: Ensure that the integration complies with all relevant data protection regulations and that the necessary security measures are in place to protect sensitive customer information.

  6. Select the right tools: Determine if you will use native integration tools provided by Zendesk and Salesforce or if third-party integration platforms might serve your needs better.

Once these prerequisites are addressed, you're in a stronger position to proceed with the actual steps of integrating Zendesk with Salesforce. 

Integration Terminology You Might Expect

Not every platform will use the same terms for the same things.

For example, in Salesforce, you might use the term “account,” while Zendesk calls it an “organization (org).”

Before you integrate, understand the terminology to prevent any confusion:

  • Salesforce: Contact
  • Zendesk: User
  • Salesforce: Lead
  • Zendesk: User
  • Salesforce: Zendesk ticket
  • Zendesk: Ticket
  • Salesforce: Account
  • Zendesk: Organization (org)

Preparing Your Systems

Next, it’s time to dive into your two systems.

First, you’ll want to back up data in both of them. There’s always the chance an integration creates a data leak. Backing up your data can mitigate the risk of losing the data forever.

Once you’ve backed up your data, go through both tools' configuration settings to ensure they align with your goals.

Choosing the Right Integration Tools

Integrating Salesforce into Zendesk is pretty straightforward, as Zendesk offers a native Salesforce integration.

But, integrating Zendesk into Salesforce (which is what most sales teams are after) requires a few more steps.

One crucial step is choosing your integration tool. Some options available are Zapier, Exalate, Skyvia, or Boomi.

Steps to Integrate Zendesk and Salesforce

Once you’ve chosen your integration tool, it’s time to get to work. If you are a Zendesk Support Administrator and a Salesforce Administrator, you can follow these steps to complete the Zendesk to Salesforce integration. 

Inside Salesforce: Connecting Zendesk and Salesforce

To initiate the connection between the two platforms, do the following in Salesforce:

  1. Check your Salesforce session settings
  2. Establish integration preferences
  3. Connect Zendesk to Salesforce
  4. Set up user access to Zendesk tickets

To check your Salesforce session settings:

  • Click the cog in the upper right corner
  • Click “Set Up”
  • Go to Settings
  • Click on “Security”

Important Note: to make sure Zendesk and Salesforce can connect properly, unselect the option: “Lock sessions to the IP address from which they are originated.”

Inside Zendesk: Connecting Zendesk and Salesforce

Now that you’ve done the work in Salesforce, it’s time to head over to Zendesk.

Do the following:

  1. If you haven’t already, create a Zendesk account. To do this, visit Zendesk’s website.
  2. Once you create an account, you’ll have a username created for you.
  3. Once you have your username, get your domain from the login page.

Back to Salesforce:

  1. Now, head back inside Salesforce. You’ll see an app launcher allowing you to open a few different apps.
  2. In the app launcher, select the “Sales app” option.
  3. You’ll see a few options along the top, like “leads, accounts, home, files, tasks, campaigns, opportunities, and more.”
  4. Choose an option where you want to display your Zendesk tickets.

For example, let’s say you selected “Account:”

  1. Click on “Account” and then select Page Layout.
  2. In Page Layout, you’ll see a few options like canvas apps, report charts, visual force pages, components, and related lists.
  3. Choose Visual Force pages and add “Zendesk account” to the edit layout.
  4. Save your layout.
  5. Refresh it.
  6. Go back to the “Zendesk account.”
  7. Click on Settings in your Zendesk account.
  8. Once you’re in Settings, click Extension. Click CRM.
  9. Click Connect to Salesforce.
  10. Finally, refresh the page.
  11. You’ll automatically be taken to the Salesforce account to connect Salesforce and Zendesk.

Mapping Data Fields 

Here’s a step-by-step guide to mapping data fields:

  1. Identify the source and destination systems for data mapping
  2. Analyze the data fields in both systems and determine which fields need to be mapped
  3. Create a mapping document that outlines the source and destination fields and any transformations needed
  4. Test the mapping by importing a small set of data to ensure accuracy
  5. Refine the mapping as needed based on the test results
  6. Once the mapping is finalized, import the data using the mapping document as a guide

Best practices for data mapping:

  • Ensure that all data fields are mapped accurately
  • Use consistent naming conventions for data fields across systems to avoid confusion
  • Consider the impact of data transformations on downstream systems and processes
  • Test the mapping thoroughly before importing large sets of data
  • Keep mapping documents up to date as changes are made to source and destination systems

How to import Zendesk tickets into Salesforce:

  1. Install the Zendesk for Salesforce app from the Salesforce AppExchange.
  2. Configure the app by entering your Zendesk API credentials and selecting the data fields to import.
  3. Map the Zendesk data fields to the corresponding Salesforce fields using the app's built-in mapping tool.
  4. Set up a schedule for importing new Zendesk tickets into Salesforce.
  5. Monitor the import process and troubleshoot any errors as needed.

Salesforce Integration Use Cases and API

One of the coolest things about using an API for integration is that it allows for real-time data transfer between Zendesk and Salesforce. So, any updates made on one platform will instantly be reflected in the other. APIs are also a secure way to integrate the platforms, so you don't have to worry about data breaches.

To automate Zendesk processes, there are some tips and tools available that can help. For example, you can use Zapier to set up automated workflows between Zendesk and other apps. You can also use Zendesk triggers and automation for tasks like assigning tickets to specific agents or sending auto-responses to customers.

Integrating Zendesk and Salesforce is an excellent way to improve customer service operations. Using API for integration and automating Zendesk processes, you can streamline workflows, ensure data consistency, and provide better customer experiences. 

Troubleshooting Common Integration Issues

Any integration comes with potential technical issues.

Here are the two common Zendesk to Salesforce integration issues and how to resolve them.

1. Integration Keeps Disconnecting

Your Salesforce session settings are likely set to a locked IP address. If this is set up, your integration will disconnect after every session.

To fix this:

  1. Log in to Salesforce
  2. Click on the cog in the upper right corner
  3. Click “Set Up”
  4. Go to Settings
  5. Click on “Security”
  6. Unselect this option: “Lock sessions to the IP address from which they are originated”
  7. Make sure the box is not checked

2. Data Isn’t Syncing Accurately

If you’re finding that data isn’t syncing up correctly, go through the following checklist:

  1. Check your Salesforce API settings requirements are correct (from when you initially set the integration up).
  2. Sync field mapping: Go through your field mapping—Name to Name. This is crucial as organizations can't be created in Zendesk without a name.
  3. Sync filter: Check that you’re not using unsupported Salesforce fields (i.e., Lookup, Text Area, Formula Field).
  4. Sync filter: Use the right syntax inside the sync filter values. It must match the Salesforce field value exactly (i.e., commas, case-sensitive, etc.).

Get the Most Out of Your Tech With Operatus

Effective Revenue operations require your sales and support teams to work hand in hand. But, without the proper integrations between tools, they’ll be working as silos. You need to ensure their tech is integrated to get them on the same page and aligned with your business goals.

Integrating Salesforce with Zendesk is a pivotal first step to aligning your teams so you can give your customers the best experience (and generate the most revenue). Ensuring your integration from Zendesk to Salesforce is a quick, accurate, and smooth process can be a real challenge, especially if you’re not the most technical person.

If you want a helping hand with integrating the platforms, contact our team at Operatus today. Our team of Salesforce experts brings specialized expertise to the table to simplify the integration process

Reach out to us for help today.