June 24, 2020

How Trailhead Helped Two Customer Service Agents Skill Up and Steer Sun Basket Through COVID-19

Samantha Philip and Daniel Boggs were both customer service agents at San Francisco-based meal delivery service Sun Basket when they discovered a passion for the Salesforce platform.

They started learning on Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform, and today are an Admin & Developer duo who combine first-hand support experience with technical expertise to deliver new apps and services.

Sun Basket has experienced an influx of new customers and service requests as a result of COVID-19. To meet growing demand while continuing to deliver outstanding customer service at scale, Samantha and Daniel turned to Salesforce to innovate fast.

We sat down with Samantha and Daniel ahead of TrailheaDX to discuss how Trailhead empowered them to transform their careers and how they’re using their new skills to help Sun Basket navigate the pandemic.

What first inspired you to learn Salesforce skills, and what motivated you to keep going?

Samantha: When I first started at Sun Basket as a customer service agent, I was lucky enough to sit directly next to our CS Operations manager, Shawn. I looked at this as a golden opportunity to learn from him. I was eager to understand the technologies and operations he worked with everyday, so asked if I could get involved in his work.

He paired me up with our Salesforce admin at the time and the rest is history! In addition to learning on the job, he showed me how to use Trailhead to supplement my growing skill set. I instantly fell in love with the whole aspect of earning badges and achieving ranks – and it was free! I saw a great opportunity ahead of me and this was constant motivation to keep learning, even after my shifts at work ended. 

Daniel: I’ve always been fascinated by the behind-the-scenes of how things work. Like Sam, I got my start at Sun Basket as a customer service agent and adopted Salesforce as our CRM platform. My curiosity led me down a path of “how does this platform work?” This led me to Trailhead, where I began to truly learn how processes and operations were built, how they work and how they’re utilized. I was hooked. 

The freedom to choose different trails at my own will, rather than being tied down to one course was everything to me. This also kept me engaged and motivated because there was always something new to learn.

 

 

How did others support you on your career transformation journey? 

Samantha: Sun Basket was the first job I ever had where my manager was truly invested in helping me advance my career. Whether it was advice on where to improve or simply setting aside time each day to answer questions, I always felt empowered to grow. Even outside of my customer service responsibilities, while I was learning Trailhead on the side, Shawn always made sure I was on the right track and set up study groups with the Salesforce admin at the time.

Daniel: Once I realized all the nerdy (but really cool!) things Sun Basket did on the CS Operations team, I knew it was where I wanted to be. The team was incredibly supportive of my career transformation journey, simply because they could see my excitement and potential. I don’t think you get that at all companies.

When I first started learning on Trailhead, everyone around me at Sun Basket was invested in my success. At a point when I thought I might leave the company to pursue a career in tech elsewhere, a simple conversation with my manager showed me how valued I was and that I was part of the team’s plan for the future – in a way that aligned to my career goals.

How has Trailhead helped change your life for the better?

Daniel: Trailhead redefined my career path. I studied film in college, but left school before I graduated and felt lost. I didn’t know if I was going to end up continuing to work at Jamba Juice or do something completely different with my life. At the time, I felt no direction or purpose careerwise. 

When I found my way to Sun Basket, I had hopes of managing the customer service team – and working with Salesforce gave me the purpose I was looking for. Trailhead empowered me to no longer view my job as “work.” Instead, everything became really fun! I was free to learn, develop and focus on what I wanted to achieve in my career. Looking back at what could have been, I know I made the right decision to come to Sun Basket and take hold of my life and my career through Trailhead.

Samantha: I was in a similar position to Daniel coming out of college. After graduating, I didn’t have a strong sense of where I wanted to take my career. I knew I was interested in IT and went back to community college to learn Java. However, I only got halfway through the semester because the class was in the middle of my shift. After that, I didn’t know how to pursue my interest in tech. 

In college, I had no idea what Salesforce was. I’m envious of the students today who get to learn these skills before they enter the professional world. Looking back, if it wasn’t for coming to Sun Basket and getting introduced to Salesforce and Trailhead, there is no way I’d be in the position I am today.

 

 

What is your biggest win thanks to something you learned on Trailhead?

Samantha: When I first started on my team as a Salesforce Admin, we were working with a company that was building a service ticket bot for us from scratch. Essentially, the bot would handle customer product issues, like a damaged food container, and would be able to provide a credit or refund. But with the skills I learned on Trailhead, I was able to look at how they were building the bot and determine that my team could do it more effectively and efficiently. Turns out, it only took us three months to build a high-performance bot and it’s been improving ever since! 

This is quintessential Trailhead in the sense that it opened up a world of new skills and ideas for me to conceptualize the best way to solve a problem.

Daniel: One trail that helped me land my biggest win was the Automate Your Business Process with Lightning Flow. This empowered me to successfully build a flow that would locate the customer and transfer their order details into our self-service center from Salesforce.

With the knowledge I gained from the trail and with the help of my team, I was able to put together an effective foundation for our self-service portal – something which became extremely useful when the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing. It was exactly what I hoped the skills I learned on Trailhead would help me to accomplish. 

How did you help Sun Basket innovate fast in the face of COVID-19?

Samantha: When the pandemic hit and our daily lives changed, it was only a matter of time before our work lives followed suit. It didn’t take long for our company to begin seeing drastic spikes in customers because people were no longer going out to the grocery stores. 

We realized we needed to boost our efficiency quite a bit to handle everything, and we felt that having our agents text customers to handle inquiries would be the most effective method of communication. Previously we were interacting with customer inquiries via email, so my team and I worked quickly to lead this innovation.

I’m proud we helped so many customers during the span of time that nobody was leaving home.

Daniel: The other side of this story is that we also needed to reduce the amount of inbound customer cases. So many customers needed support that our bots and service center had trouble keeping up with the demand. 

To reduce that volume, we re-engineered the system to allow customers to add comments to their already opened cases, rather than creating news ones. This allowed our agents to handle inbound customer cases way more efficiently, and it drastically reduced the pressure to keep up our great customer service. 

Nobody could have planned for the pandemic, so it's a fantastic feeling to work for a company that could help people in the face of so much uncertainty. 

To support Sun Basket's latest philanthropic efforts, check out this story and donate here. To learn more about Trailhead’s latest innovations, including how it’s bringing AI to learning with Einstein Recommendations for Trailhead, head here.

 

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