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How volunteering helps build customer service teams that care

The WOW customer support team participating in a variety of volunteer activities.

Valentine's Day is all about caring for other people. Did you know that volunteering can help you build customer service teams that care? Here at and Salesforce, we’re encouraged to spend a percentage of our working hours volunteering for local and global causes. Volunteering is part of our 1–1–1 philanthropic model, which means every year we give 1% of our time, 1% of our product, and 1% of our equity back to the community. Giving back is part of our culture and built right into our goals — not just at a team or company level, but at an individual level; and every one of us loves having this opportunity to help others!

As our fiscal working year came to an end, we decided to reflect and share some of the experiences our Customer WOW team had in the past few months, as well as how they impacted the people, charities, and nonprofits we’ve spent time working with. These acts of service outside of our daily work have influenced the team, bonded us together, and contributed to a more empathetic, caring, and well rounded support staff.

And now we share a few with you. Here are some of the highlights from our Volunteering Time Off (VTO):

Suzanne - Customer Support - Los Angeles

“I volunteer at a local school in downtown LA. My husband and I have both volunteered many hours of our free time to help with administrative tasks, fundraising, and donor relations. It’s indescribably amazing knowing that our help actually does make a difference. The last event I participated in was a mural painting. The principal sent me an email afterwards describing the students reactions when they saw the mural on Monday morning upon arrival. I was thrilled to know I had a small hand in it and was able to be part of the change they’re going through. Volunteering means a great deal to me — it was one of the main reasons I joined — and I truly appreciate the opportunities we have to spend a portion of our working hours volunteering and helping others!”

Thomas - Partnership and Integrations - San Francisco

“I've been volunteering with high school students in Redwood City for the past few months and it's unbelievable how much progress I'm able to see in the kids. This experience shows me how much is possible and how fortunate I am to observe it. It makes me want to make the same kind of progress in my personal life, and gives me so much daily inspiration.”

Mike - Support Engineer L3 - Boston

“I volunteer with a charity that raises money to fund breast cancer research. I started by helping with their website, and it spiraled into helping them with their annual events. They get restaurants and bakeries to participate and sell items during a specified week, then the restaurants and bakeries donate their proceeds to the charity, which disperses them into various research funds. Now I proactively look for ways like this to help.”

Minjun - Technical Consultant - San Francisco

“I recently volunteered with Project READ Story Hour at the Redwood City Library. It’s a bi-monthly event in which Project READ families come to enjoy a child-friendly, interactive performance, make crafts, and pick out books to build their home libraries. We help with setup, book distribution, snacks, crafts, and clean up. It's great to spend time with those kids — they are absolutely adorable. And it's so rewarding to see them leaving at the end of day with big smiles on their faces.”

Wyatt - Technical Consultant - San Francisco

“One memorable VTO event I did was with Project Homeless Connect here in San Francisco. It involved handing out food to members of the homeless population and giving them information on food banks in the area. It was truly amazing to play a part in helping these people in need. I love that the Salesforce 1% model lets me participate in these events and witness the corporate philosophy of giving back to the community.”

Sarah - Customer Support - Dublin, Ireland

“I'm currently undertaking VTO monthly with a group in Dublin called Citywise. We help kids who’ve been failed by the system and prep them for the working world. The classes involve various activities from presentation skills to writing your resumé. One of the best moments so far was during a resumé writing session where we had to encourage kids to think about their unique skills. These kids haven’t really had anyone foster or encourage their talents, so it was great to see their confidence grow the more we brought their uniquenesses to the forefront. Salesforce has also donated to Citywise this year to build a new computer lab, which is just an amazing step forward and a fantastic opportunity for these kids to grow and take on the world!”

Since we started putting a “giving back” ethos front and center of everything we do, we’ve seen some of our best work shine through. As the hours volunteering has increased, so has the overall satisfaction of our customers; we hit a whopping 98% satisfaction recently; and we believe these amazing results go hand in hand with our volunteered time.

Why do we believe that? The answer is simple. The more time we dedicate to volunteering, the more we increase our own patience, understanding, empathy, positive communication, and humility. In short, we care more about *everything* around us, especially with you, our customers.

Participating in VTO events together as a team has helped us build closer relationships with each other and encouraged greater collaboration. Meeting a VTO challenge or sharing and dividing activities and tasks fosters team-building and partnership. This in turn has translated to us coming together more to resolve a customer issue or other challenge; brainstorming, providing support, and sharing product knowledge and technical  skills. The end result is usually a quicker resolution for our customers overall and sometimes discovering a workaround that’s both creative and ultimately a better solution for the customer’s needs.

Can every customer service team reap personal and professional benefits by spending a percentage of their time volunteering to help others? We certainly have!

Learn more about the Salesforce 1% model and take the pledge here.


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