Nicole Granucci is a Senior Director of product marketing at Salesforce. An experienced service leader and customer advocate, she leads strategic programs for Service Cloud across the ecosystem of Trailblazer community, content, and events.
People and industries are rapidly adapting to change – and perhaps none as quickly as customer service and higher education. While social distancing and safety measures have changed service and education delivery, new opportunities for human connection in the digital age have emerged.
The need for customer service agents to skill up in the booming remote service sector has escalated. Service teams are playing catch-up with digital-first customers as service cases across digital channels like email, chat, SMS, and in-app messaging are at an all-time high. Our research shows 30% of Americans contact customer service more than they used to prior to the pandemic. Additionally, organizations like McKinsey claim that consumers are accelerating adoption of digital channels across the globe, especially during COVID-19.
Today, Salesforce, together with the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Extension and Santa Monica College (SMC), helps prepare students for the new reality in customer service careers. Instructors will use Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform, to teach students key skills for today’s in-demand customer service jobs.
Since Trailhead launched in 2014, Salesforce has worked with more than 700 colleges and universities to reimagine their curriculums to teach Salesforce skills needed for the current job market. The Salesforce economy is expected to add 4.2M new jobs worldwide by 2024, with many roles paying six-figure salaries.
The first-of-its-kind, this service-focused college curriculum by Trailhead will prepare students for a job in customer service and the Salesforce economy. Using Service Cloud’s successful Trailblazers for the Future program, new courses now integrate the technical, product, and soft skills necessary to build brand loyalty with successful customer interactions. These courses create career path opportunities in customer service by building skills and expertise in running a contact center. This program ultimately redefines traditional service agent norms. It gives way to customer service “superagents” — those who have the cross-skills necessary to build success for the customer, the business, and their career no matter what the future holds.
Sal Veas, Business Professor and Department Chair at SMC, was initially drawn to Trailhead because of its ability to couple recorded lectures with online learning content to engage students through unique instruction techniques — conversational and problem-solving. He was also drawn to Trailhead’s gamification, which has hands-on challenges and multiple-choice quizzes to demonstrate expertise, as well as ranks, badges, and points that illustrate students’ progress in real-time. Veas noticed that Trailhead’s “gamification breaks the boredom barrier” for students.
SMC also chose to adopt Trailhead into its curriculum because of its easy and low-cost implementation. Trailhead already had the online learning platform and curated content immediately available to guide SMC’s curriculum development.
Online learning is accessible for more communities and underserved students, breaking down cost and location barriers. For people who work several jobs and try to earn a degree simultaneously, commuting back-and-forth to campus isn’t just an obstacle; it may extinguish an education. But with lectures and coursework online and available at any time, opportunities for well-paying careers become possible for more people. According to our latest research, online learning is needed more than ever, with 59% of people who wish they had access to free training, and 48% of people report they are more interested in online learning since COVID-19.
“It’s been well documented that you don’t always need a four-year degree to attain skills that are in demand.”
Some careers, such as those in customer service, may not require a traditional BA or BS degree. As Sasha King, Director of Business Development at SMC says, “It’s been well documented that you don’t always need a four-year degree to attain skills that are in demand.” Credit-based programs at community colleges are a pathway to good jobs in a shorter amount of time. Local community colleges also impact a more diverse student body, and therefore, a more diverse workforce.
For students who may have been discouraged in the past and maybe struggling to find a new career path, Sasha says, “If you stick it out, your life could potentially change … Salesforce skills will get you in the door.”
The Service Cloud for Future Service Managers Trailmix was created for any college or education team to tap into as they see fit. It includes topics that range from virtual collaboration to administering Salesforce’s customer service features. As a template, this Trailmix points educators towards various digital service concepts to personalize for their lectures and audiences. The Trailmix is broken into four parts:
Manage a Contact Center
Become a Service Leader
Cross Train as a Technical Lead
Accelerate as a Service Cloud Specialist
What does the future hold for such courses? Sal says, “When we come out of COVID, students will demand more opportunities to learn in-demand industry skills. This is just the beginning.”