How Delta Dental Created a “Power Skills” Training Program with Results to Smile At

Our teeth are important, yet most people with dental insurance don’t think much about their policies until they run into a health issue — and having dental problems can be a stressful time, to say the least. It’s a time when good proactive customer service is most needed.

Delta Dental, the U.S.’s leading dental insurance provider, understands this struggle and strives to ensure they’re working for the maximum benefit of their clients. Since 1954, Delta Dental’s core purpose has been to advance oral health in the U.S. through dental insurance and philanthropic efforts. To date, they protect the smiles of 80 million Americans. Delta Dental’s contact center Customer Advocates understand that when clients reach out, they’re looking for answers and solutions to significant issues.

For a long time, the enduring customer service philosophy in business has championed the notion that speed and efficiency are the primary aspects of good service. And, while that’s still true, it is equally vital that consumers feel like their questions are answered thoroughly and honestly, and that their patronage is important to the organization. Speed alone will never satisfy all customer needs.

Delta Dental’s in-house learning and development team worked closely with Skillsoft to add “power skills” training to the roles-based training that was already in use. As a result, contact center Customer Advocates learned how to tap into those power skills: communications skills like empathy and emotional intelligence to build stronger, more supportive relationships with callers.


Delta Dental Plans Association is a not-for-profit brand that connects subscribers with the largest network of dental practitioners nationwide. Their core customer service goal is to provide quick answers and personalized whiteglove service. Delta Dental offers coverage in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and other U.S. territories through a national network of companies, providing groups and individuals with quality, cost-effective dental insurance, and superior customer service. The Delta Dental brand that many recognize is made up of quite a few different organizations spread across the country to provide better regional service.

With such an expansive network, Delta Dental of California and affiliate companies thought it imperative to invest in learning for both incumbent agents and new hires to keep Delta Dental of California — which operates in 15 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico — a modern and competitive company.

Creating a learning culture is an effective way to navigate a business through ever-changing times. Over the last few years, Delta Dental has taken strides toward strengthening its learning culture, and as those efforts bore fruit, it became clear to the leaders at Delta Dental that investment in employees’ skills is a significant investment in business operations.

Ben Sieke, Director of Talent Development and Learning for Delta Dental of California, adheres to the maxim: “What gets measured, improves.” Ben has since championed using data to pinpoint what actions would be most beneficial for Delta Dental’s learning and development mission.

Delta Dental of California’s learning and development team wanted to go beyond simply tracking their Net Promoter Score when looking at customer service performance to focus on closing gaps in what the industry used to call “soft skills” — competencies like communication, empathy, resilience, change management, agility, and emotional intelligence. Companies like Delta Dental of California recognize these “power skills” as essential to their business. By adding power skills training to the existing roles-based training, Customer Advocates build stronger, more supportive relationships with callers. By introducing, building, and nurturing power skills, Delta Dental changed company culture.


To properly execute this shift, the L&D team began by asking themselves how to bake learning into their corporate culture. A customized learning and development process was the answer they came up with. Previously, training focused on core customer service skills. But with training in power skills, their contact center agents would have the tools to provide top-notch service and drive business outcomes — proactively tackling customer problems and asking thoughtful questions that extend the care and quality of service.

When the learning and development team went searching for a program to help them build upon the skills their employees already had, they were struck by how deep the content was that Skillsoft had to offer. Through close partnership with Skillsoft, Delta Dental of California’s learning and development team partnered with contact center leadership to build out the program. And because the leaders at Delta Dental understand there is no one-sizefits-all solution in customer service, their learning and development team worked to develop a customized blended program for specific areas and cases. Before long, they had created a personalized learning experience for Delta Dental employees by Delta Dental employees.

In July 2020, they rolled out the customized, blended learning program with assets from the in-house instructional design team and Skillsoft’s Business Expert solution and Customer Service curriculum, powered by Skillsoft’s immersive, AI-driven learning platform. Through the program, Delta Dental’s contact center Customer Advocates learned to focus on the client’s journey and look for issues the customers might not realize they need answers to, making the contact center a crucial interaction point between the
organization, members, and providers. Now their Customer Advocates routinely use power skills like empathy, personalization, and communication — things you wouldn’t necessarily tie to contact center metrics. This transformed Delta Dental of California’s customer experience by empowering the reps with the skills to go above and beyond their role.

As a result, the L&D team saw an aggregate learner satisfaction score of 94.4% for contact center new hires and a 13-point increase in the NPS scores of low performers. Employees began to perform at higher levels, and customers were happy — helping Delta Dental maintain its status as a premium brand that successfully meets customers’ expectations.


  • “Keeping the customer and their needs first.”
  • “Having tools to help me laser focus on ensuring every customer has the greatest experience before the end of the call.”
  • “The commitment to customer service that is built into how Delta Dental functions.”



Point increase in NPS


Learning Satisfaction score among new hires


Increase in CSAT score among lower performers


What do our customers have to say?

Skillsoft’s high-quality customer service learning content has been critical to upskilling our staff and improving the customer experience. The value of flexibility that on-demand content offers to a team like ours — one with staff across the country answering millions of customer calls each year — cannot be overstated.


Director of Talent Development and Learning, Delta Dental of California and Affiliates


Has Delta Dental's story inspired you? Learn how you can unleash your organization’s edge by working with Skillsoft.


As the nation’s leading provider of dental insurance, Delta Dental’s core purpose is the advancement of the oral health of their customers, partners and consumers through dental insurance and the philanthropic efforts of Delta Dental companies.

Delta Dental Plans Association is a not-for-profit organization. Through their national network of Delta Dental companies, they offer dental coverage in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories, with a local presence in communities across the country, providing groups and individuals with quality, cost-effective dental insurance and superior customer service.

Delta Dental serves more than 80 million Americans, protecting more smiles than any other dental insurance company, with the largest network of dentists nationwide, quick answers and personalized service.