Creating Custom Lookup Fields - Online Help | Zoho Desk

Creating Custom Lookup Fields in Zoho Desk

This feature is released in a phased manner and will be available only to those who request for it. To request early access, click the registration link and provide your details. We will enable the feature for your Desk account. 
The ability to establish connections between different sets of data is crucial in any business. For example, in the hospitality industry, departments like sales, marketing, and bookings can derive essential insights from customer data if it is linked to details like type of service, location, and date and time of booking. Linked data provides a 360-degree view of the customer, and helps employees make informed decisions and align their marketing activities more effectively.  
Support agents can provide better service when customer details are displayed within a ticket. This way, they have convenient access to the contextual information they need to resolve a ticket quickly.
In Zoho Desk, a customer's email address, contact number, date of purchase, and other essential details are stored in fields. While most fields stand alone, Lookup Fields correlate data across modules. A Lookup Field can establish a one-to-many relationship between standard modules, such as Contacts, Accounts, and Tickets. For example, a field called, Industry Type, present in the Accounts module can be viewed inside the Tickets module. In addition to standard Lookup Fields, Zoho Desk empowers Admins to create custom Lookup Fields to address their business needs. 

Permission Required

Users with Support Administrative profile permission can create custom Lookup Fields. 
  • Professional edition: 3 custom Lookup Fields/module and layout.
  • Enterprise edition: 5 custom Lookup Fields/module and layout.  

By default, standard Lookup Fields, such as Contact Name and Account Name, are available in Zoho Desk. In addition to these, Custom Lookup Fields can be added to a layout to suit different business needs. Custom Lookups can only be created in the Contacts, Accounts, and Tickets modules. 


Some benefits of creating a custom Lookup Field:  

  1. Streamlined data selection: By setting up filters based on specific criteria, users can limit the results displayed when searching within a Lookup Field, making it easier to find and associate the correct records.
  2. Efficient creation of related records: Create records in a related module directly from the layout. Users can seamlessly create and associate relevant information without navigating away or switching screens. 
  3. Automated related value prefilling: Automatically prefill other fields with values from the related module. This automation saves time and simplifies data entry by populating relevant information for users. 

Here's how you can create a custom Lookup Field:

Let's say you're creating a relationship between the Tickets and Contacts module. A lookup field called "Supervisor" is added to the Tickets module. While creating custom lookup fields, basic and advanced configurations can be set to allow users to search the desired records quickly. Mentioned below are the details on the same:

Choose a module that will be related to your custom lookup field. You can choose either Accounts, Contacts, or Tickets. Based on the above example, the related module is the Contacts module.  

Using fields to search for records in the custom lookup field

When creating a new record in a module, an appropriate value must be set in the custom lookup field. Admins can select the fields upon which lookup field search results will be based. This is useful for narrowing down results and helping the record creator select an appropriate value. Note the fields displayed in the Search Records By are based on the related module.


For example, when a ticket is created, the supervisor's details need to be filled. Users can search for a supervisor by last name, city, and zip code. During configuration, Admins can set these fields as parameters to filter records. Say a user enters "Boston" as a search filter. All supervisors from Boston will be displayed in the results.  

Using fields to sort records in the Search Suggestion pop-up 

Records displayed in the Search Suggestion pop-up can be sorted based on created time, [related module] name, or modified time to ensure the most relevant results are displayed first. The available sorting options are based on the related module selected. For example, if contacts are sorted by "created time," then the most recently added contact will be displayed at the top of the list.

Other fields to show in the Search Suggestion pop-up

Additional information can be displayed in the search box to help users find the most appropriate record. For example, when the user is searching for a supervisor using the city (Boston), the system will display all the supervisors from Boston. To provide more context to the search result, other field values, such as the supervisor's email address, first name and last name, and company name can also be shown.  

A subtab of the parent module can be added to show the related records in the child module.  For example, if you are creating a custom lookup field in the Tickets module and you select Contacts as the related module, you can create a subtab named Associated Tickets in the Contacts module, which will display all the tickets associated with the contact. So, if you are viewing a record for the contact, "John," within the Tickets module, all tickets associated with John can be viewed inside the Contacts module as well. 

From the subtab, Agents or Admins can easily associate or disassociate tickets and even create new tickets. Note that when a record is associated from the subtab, the value in the custom lookup field will be auto-populated. It cannot be dissociated if the lookup field is marked as Mandatory.

Marking a field as Required and showing tooltips

Additional options allow Admins to set a custom lookup field as Mandatory, and display a tooltip to provide hints or instructions to users while they're entering a field value.

Setting Help Center access permission for the lookup field

You can define the access permissions for end-users in the Help Center. This functionality gives you the ability to hide a custom lookup field in the Help Center, preventing customers from viewing it.

Other fields of the layout (where the custom Lookup Field is added) can also be auto-filled with values from the related module. For example, in the Tickets module, other fields, like supervisor's email address, product code, and discount value, which are present in the Contacts module can be auto-populated. 

Let's say you are creating a custom lookup field in the Tickets module and choose the Phone field as the related module field and Contact Number as the current layout field using the Prefill Values from Related Module option. By doing this, you can pre-populate the Contact Number field in the Tickets module (current layout field) based on the corresponding data in the Phone field of the Accounts module (related module field).
This is only useful if you have similar fields as the related module in the layout. 
You can create a maximum of five Prefill Values from Related Module criteria.

Filtering the records displayed in the lookup

Use this option to set an additional filter layer and show only a limited set of records as value suggestions. For example, Supervisors from "Boston", who belong to the company "ABC Constructions" with the job title as "QC inspector". Likewise, you can also filter the records based on a specific account name and so on. This filter will fetch only those records that match the above criteria further narrowing down the list of records displayed in the lookup value. 

Add new records directly from the layout.  For example, In the Tickets module, a custom lookup field called, Referral Contact, can be created with Contacts set as the related module. When a new contact name, such as "John Smith," is entered in the custom lookup field, it is possible to create a corresponding record for John Smith in the Contacts module. This can be achieved by clicking the plus icon within the custom lookup field, which opens the Add Contact pop-up page. From there, you can directly add the new contact name and create a new record in the Contacts module.

  • The layouts for Accounts and Contacts module are organization specific and not specific to a department. However, layouts for the Tickets module are department-specific. 
  • In the Add Lookup Field window, the Search Records By and Record fields in Suggestion Popup will automatically fill in the name field, which is mandatory. This is based on the related module selected in the Add Lookup Field window.
  • You can select only six fields in the Search Records By field.
  • You can select only six fields from the Record fields in Suggestion Popup field.

To create a custom lookup field

  1. Go to Setup ) > Customization > Layout and Fields.
  2. Choose the desired module and department from the drop-down list.
    You can choose from the Tickets, Accounts, and Contacts module only.

  3. Click Add Layout or choose an existing layout.

  4. From the Add Field tray, drag and drop the Lookup field in the desired section.

  5. On the Add Lookup Field window, do the following:
    1. Enter the field name.

    2. Choose the Related module from the drop-down.

    3. Select the fields from the Search Records By drop-down list by which you want to lookup.

    4. Select the desired Sort Records By option from the drop-down list.

    5. Choose which fields from the Record fields in Suggestion Pop-up list should be displayed in the suggestion pop-up.

    6. Specify the subtab name in the Subtab in Related Module field.

    7. Toggle the Mark as Required option to mandate the custom lookup field.

    8. Toggle the Show Tooltip option to display short information on your custom lookup field.
      You can choose to display the tooltip either as an info icon or a static icon and preview the same.

    9. Choose Hide from Help Center permission for the end-users.

  6. On the Add Lookup Field window, do the following advanced configurations, if needed:

    1. Toggle Prefill values from related module option to pre-fill values in the current layout field from a related module field.

    2. Toggle the Filter Settings option to display records separately in the suggestion pop-up based on the filter criteria. 
      Note: You can create a maximum of five filter criteria. You can also choose the Show Only Filtered Records checkbox to show only the records that satisfy the filter criteria.

    3. Toggle the Create New Record In Related Module option to add new records to the related module from the layout.

  7. Click Add.
    The configured settings in the Add Lookup Field window will be saved and the window will close. 

  8. Click Save & Close to close the layout.

Editing Custom Lookup Field 

Editing a custom lookup field allows to modify various aspects of the field, such as the filter criteria and prefill options. With the ability to fine-tune these settings, you can ensure that your custom lookup field displays the data you need in a way that is most useful to you. 

To edit a custom lookup field

  1. Go to Setup (  ) > Customization > Layout and Fields.
  2. Choose the desired module and department from the drop-down list.
    You can choose from the Tickets, Accounts, and Contacts module only.

  3. Select any of the existing layouts.

  4. Click the setup icon next to the custom lookup field.
  5. Select Edit Properties from the drop-down list.
    The Edit Lookup Field window appears.
  6. On the Edit Lookup Field window, make the necessary changes.

  7. Click Update.
  8. Click Save & Close to close the layout.

Disabling and Deleting the Custom Lookup Field 

Custom lookup fields can be useful in many scenarios, but there may be times when you need to disable or delete them. Disabling a custom lookup field will not delete the data already associated with it. 

To disable a custom lookup field 

  1. Navigate to the desired custom lookup field in a layout.
  2. Click the setup icon next to the custom lookup field.
  3. Select Remove Field from the drop-down list.
    The custom lookup field will be moved to the Unused Fields tray on the right.

To enable the unused custom lookup field, drag and drop the desired custom lookup field back onto the layout. The field will be restored with its previously configured settings, so you won't need to set it up from scratch.

Deleting a custom lookup field, will permanently remove the field and all of its associated data such as related module field, subtab in the related module field, filter criteria from the system. It is important to note that deleting a custom lookup field cannot be undone and the action cannot be reversed. 

To delete a custom lookup field 

  1. Navigate to the desired custom lookup field in a layout.
  2. Click the setup icon next to the custom lookup field.
  3. Select Remove Field from the drop-down list.
    The custom lookup field will be moved to the Unused Fields tray on the right.

  4. Click the Delete icon next to the unused custom lookup field.

  5. Click Yes, Delete Now to confirm the deletion.


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