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The value of agent education and training during economic slowdowns

With rising customer expectations around better service in today’s macroeconomic environment, it’s important to lean on customer education programs to boost agent knowledge and productivity—and to help your business retain customers.

By Lilia Krauser and Lauren Jumper, Staff Writers

Last updated February 23, 2024

With 74 percent of business leaders saying that customer service has become even more important due to the economic downturn, companies must ensure that their service teams are set up for success.

Meanwhile, customers want better service—especially since the pandemic—and they’re growing impatient for it. In fact, according to our CX Trends 2023 Report, over a third of North American customers (37 percent) are willing to walk out the door after a single bad service experience. So, how can companies ensure good customer service?

The best way to guarantee a positive service experience is by training your customer service agents. In fact, as we’re entering a period of uncertainty, customer education programs can play an important role in the longevity of an organization, and its customers. By establishing an ongoing relationship focused on helping customers, trust is built that can weather the most turbulent of times.

With that in mind, discover the best practices from Zendesk’s customer education program, and learn how training your agents can ultimately help your business ride out the economic storm.

The importance of customer education programs

In today’s economic environment, companies are definitely feeling the pressure to deliver even greater customer service. So, a strong focus on enhancing the quality and content of your customer education programs can—and will—help your service agents at any given moment and also empower them to deliver experiences beyond industry standards, known as immersive experiences.

By having interactive, up-to-date content in your education programs, you enable your agents to refer to these while handling complex requests or challenging customers. To make the most of the programs, ensuring that they are interactive and engaging will be key. These can range from quizzes, videos, and even made-up scenarios where agents have to solve specific customer inquiries and situations.

At Zendesk, we’ve developed customer education programs, providing learning across the various budgets, skill levels, and use cases of our customer base. Zendesk offers:

  • Online training: First announced in 2020, Zendesk continues to offer an array of free online training. With courses available for administrators, agents, and developers, learners can consume training at their own pace by taking a single course or learning path consisting of multiple courses with short lessons.
  • Certifications: Our offering in seven different exams, our affordable certification program is the best way for users to prove they have reached a Zendesk-verified level of proficiency. We provide both expert and specialist-level certifications.
  • Private training: For customers who are looking for a tailored curriculum with the inclusion of custom examples, private training with Zendesk experts is available at an affordable cost.

Agent learning leads to happier customers

Most of us have heard the saying ‘Happy employees, happy customers.’ And it couldn’t be more accurate when it comes to service agents, as they’re directly responsible for how customers view an organization.

Providing agents with quality, interactive training means that they are much more likely to solve challenging customer inquiries. For instance, when trained on how to deal with angry customers, agents are equipped to turn unhappy customers into happy ones—and even loyal ones. However, when agents are not properly trained, customers may get even more frustrated, end up tossed between multiple service agents, and may not receive a satisfactory resolution. The latter scenario can negatively impact an organization, especially as customers are very likely to share negative reviews online and inform their friends and family about a frustrating experience.

So, providing your service agents with the right training will directly impact your customers’ service experience. And with 72 percent of customers saying that they are much more likely to make another purchase after a positive service experience, organizations across the world must ensure they set their agents up for success.

At Zendesk, the availability of free online training removes barriers, gets new hires up and running faster, and ensures customers new to Zendesk can deploy their solution the right way. In addition to helping anyone new to Zendesk, online trainings include resources to refresh the skills of existing employees who might not be leveraging the latest Zendesk features.

In addition, Zendesk program managers assist customers with mass enrollment for entire agent and admin teams into various online training courses and learning paths, and provide the reporting needed to chart progress against a customer organization’s highest priorities.

How training programs contribute to business performance

As previously stated, trained agents are the key to retaining your customers, especially as customers are looking for meaningful service experiences. According to our research, over half of business leaders (60 percent) say that customer service has had an impact on customer retention. 65 percent of these leaders also believe customer service has had a positive impact on business growth.

And while service agents support customers with their queries, they can also be responsible for driving revenue for many businesses. Provided they are given the right training, agents can identify cross-selling opportunities while conversing with customers. In fact, nearly half of business leaders report an increase in their ability to cross-sell in 2022.

Your service teams are becoming solely responsible for increasing revenue through cross-selling opportunities, customers’ perception of your organization, and the loyalty they have towards you. Investing in the training of your customer service agents puts the odds in your favor when it comes to emerging from this economic downturn successfully.

Zendesk’s certification program is designed for managers, top performers, or those eager to advance by testing and showcasing their CX solution knowledge and Zendesk product mastery.

It’s more cost-effective to improve existing employee learning experiences than it is to continue losing seasoned employees and hiring new staff. And since customers leveraging Zendesk have CX expertise in-house, leveraging a customer education program keeps teams knowledgeable and engaged.

Across all industries and geographies, Zendesk has customers who are investing in their own success by investing in training. Customers who have incorporated Zendesk’s training and certification into their practice see a 43 percent increase in product engagement/adoption.

As of 2022, Zendesk’s customer education program includes localized learning content in Portuguese, Spanish, French, German, and Japanese. That means 55 courses, 7 learning paths, and 3 certification exams can be leveraged by global users, who can expect the same experience previously only offered in English.

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