Train and Retain Service Agents

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Identify the qualities that make good agents.
  • Create a plan for training technical skills to agents.
  • Make a plan to reduce turnover.

Modern customer service is aided by many different technological advances. Automation, bots, and online self-service all make the customer experience better, but there are still times when a customer really wants to speak to a person. Some issues just need more attention. That’s why finding great agents for your contact center is so important. In this unit, you learn how Salesforce hires and retains some of the best agents in the industry. 

Hire for Character

In our success center, we hire for character first. At Salesforce, trust is our number one value, so we look for agents who understand how to build and maintain the trust of our customers. When we interview candidates, we always ask for examples of teamwork, collaboration, and respect for diversity, because the people we hire become part of our Ohana (that means family in Hawaiian). 

While we want someone who has Salesforce values, an ideal candidate has a basic level of technical expertise. We feel strongly that we can grow an agent’s technical expertise, but not character. Salesforce hires agents with emotional intelligence. That means people who are aware of a customer’s emotional state, and their own. Agents with emotional intelligence are better equipped to communicate in an empathetic way so customers feel understood and appreciated, even in difficult situations. We call our contact center a success center because we want to support success for both our customers and our agents. We always look for good, well-rounded people who value professional growth for our customers and themselves.

Train for Technical Expertise

Working in the Salesforce success center requires technical expertise, and there’s no way around that; ongoing training is a really big part of what we do. To get agents up to speed when they first start, they take a series of certifications with a goal of having the base level of certification within 90 days. We have an ongoing requirement of monthly accreditations for every agent, and require product readiness training for each of the three releases we put out annually.

Tackle Turnover

We believe that the biggest thing we can do to reduce turnover is to promote a fun, family-like atmosphere in our success center. There’s a huge focus on volunteering and giving back to our communities. This aspect of our culture comes from our 1-1-1 model. Salesforce gives 1% of our profits to charity, 1% of our product to nonprofits, and 1% of our time volunteering for causes. Another way we keep our workplace fun is by encouraging agents to decorate their desks and express their full selves to work. And we make time for recreation and shared team meals to encourage relationship building.

Show Agents Opportunities

We work hard to make sure our agents know they have a future at Salesforce and show them the variety of opportunities that exist. Ongoing training and development are both important for tackling ongoing turnover. After their first 90 days, there’s a learning path for all employees designed to provide them with opportunities to dive deeper and expand their horizons. In the success center, agents are encouraged to move around and try new skill groups which helps them stay engaged with their work.

To grow out agents’ skill set even more, we created superbadges on Trailhead to certify advanced training, including our Service Cloud Specialist Superbadge. This experience was so positive for everyone involved that we took it to the next level by creating Trailblazers for the Future, a series of live, in-person seminars that provide training for agents who work in our customers’ contact centers. We were inspired by the training we provide in our success center, and we started bringing that to other contact centers around the world. We now have soft-skill and business skill training to help contact centers everywhere embrace service in the Fourth Industrial Revolution through workshops, Trailhead content, and communities. Companies can also help their agents learn the ins and outs of Service Cloud with our Service Cloud Specialist Superbadge, just like our customer support reps at Salesforce.

Conclusion

In this Module, you learned a lot about the technical aspects of a modern contact center, but people are at the true center of customer experience. We described how we train and retain great agents in this unit. Hopefully, these tips will help you find more success in your own contact center. 

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