What is Zendesk Sunshine?

Zendesk Sunshine Custom Objects

Not a week passes without one of our customers asking us about the new Zendesk Sunshine framework and what it can be used for. To be honest, for some time we did not have a good answer ourselves. Only after actually getting our hands dirty building solutions based on Sunshine for clients we can now give a proper answer.

Let’s give it try.
If you ask Zendesk, they would say Sunshine is “…an open and flexible CRM platform. Sunshine is built on AWS and lets you seamlessly connect and understand all your customer data—wherever it lives. It’s fast, powerful, and gives you the freedom to build whatever you want.”

Open and flexible through Custom Objects

Before Sunshine, in Zendesk you had a fixed set of entities.
Tickets, end-users, agent, admins, organizations and groups come to mind.
But what if you wanted to add your own entity?
What if your organization sells a product or a service? What if you’re company is called “DoggoGo” and you are walk-sharing service that provides on-demand and scheduled dog walks for pet owners? Where do you store and manage dog walks? Where do you register which users own which dogs?
Wouldn’t it be great to have an entity called “Dogs” and “Dog Walk” and “Pet Owner”?

Zendesk Sunshine lets you do exactly that. With Custom Objects, one of the three pillars of the Sunshine framework, you can create whatever entity you have in mind and connect them between each other and with any other already existing Zendesk entities.


Custom Objects allow you to extend Zendesk with your own entities and relate them to each other.

Your dog entity can now store attributes like Name, Breed, Birthday and medical conditions. If a pet owner or a dalk walker opens a ticket, they can directly select which walk or which dog the ticket is about. An agent working on a ticket can directly see which dog or which dog walk is about and also gets an overview about past walks, which pets are owned, when a walk was booked, etc.

Instead of developing your own dogwalk management system and investing in databases and server infrastructure and hundreds of development hours you can now store your data inside Zendesk.

The possibilities how to enrich and improve the customer experience with custom objects are endless. Take Zendesk Guide for an example. If a customer, in the example above, a dog walker is logged in and you know that she, for the first time, is soon walking a dog with a medical condition you can now customize Zendesk Guide to show relevant articles to her, such as “What do I need to be aware of when taking a dog with a medical condition on a walk?”.
Using a retail use case: Since thanks to custom objects your Zendesk know what products your customers own, customers can now select the product the ticket is about in the “Submit a request” form and you can give the customer an individually customized guide experience based on the products the customer owns. Imagine how many tickets you can deflect and how much faster your agents can find a solution for the customer.

A CRM Platform through Sunshine events

If you look up the definition of CRM, it’s something like:

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a technology for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers.

With Sunshine Zendesk is going into the direction of being an open CRM platform. In the example above we already outlined how you can now manage more entities than just tickets and users from within Zendesk. You can create your own. But what about actions customers take on your own website? What about an interaction which does not necessarily create a ticket? Let’s say a customer who was only close to booking a dog walk but didn’t finish the check out process? What about a pet owner who just registered a new dog? Wouldn’t it be great to know all those things your customers do even when it happens outside of your Zendesk?

Events – A customer specific history of Interactions History. A timeline showing all interactions with a customer in Zendesk but also across external apps and services.

With “Sunshine Events” you can do exactly the above. Whenever a customer or a potential customer does something outside or inside Zendesk this action can be logged against the customer in Zendesk so that next time an agent engages with the customer she or he can directly see what was going on.
A customer puts an item in the cart while browsing your online shop? Send it to Zendesk Events! Next time the agent talks to the customer he/she can use the info that Jamie placed that Canon camera in the card but did not place the order.
A customer resets her password? Track it in Zendesk events!
A customer just bought a product in your Shopify? Create a Zendesk event for it to let your agents know what product the customer just bought!

No matter where a customer does something, you can now track it in the Events so that your agents have all info available when engaging with the customer.

Know more about your customers – Sunshine Profiles

Let’s be honest, the “360-degree view of a customer” is a myth. It’s definitely a myth to think you can have all info about a customer in just one system. Customers use many different systems all the time and Zendesk can not stop that. The idea behind Sunshine Profiles is that for each service/app you know your customer uses you there is a profile in Zendesk which links to the external app or service. Think about the basic user profile with name, email, phone numbers, etc. but now enriched with links to the users LinkedIn account, their job position they published on LinkedIn or the profile your customer has in your online store.
With Zendesk Profiles you can now create profiles for all apps or services your customers use outside of Zendesk.

Sunshine is built on AWS

Zendesk Sunshine is built on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and by that makes it easy to connect your Zendesk Sunshine Apps and data to other data sources and services which already connect to or work with AWS. Building an application based on sunshine using custom objects, profiles and events automatically means that you are building them on AWS, which gives you all the reliability, scalability and openness of the popular amazon service.

How can Zendesk Sunshine improve the way YOU do customer service?

Why don’t we find out together during a call?

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