Computer Based Training

Most credit unions’ successes depend on the knowledge and motivation of their front line staff. However, keeping staff informed of the myriad of product and service changes is a never ending challenge. Moreover, training in the traditional classroom format or via three ring reference binders doesn’t easily address different learning needs and capabilities.

 
 

Most credit unions’ successes depend on the knowledge and motivation of their front line staff. However, keeping staff informed of the myriad of product and service changes is a never ending challenge. Moreover, training in the traditional classroom format or via three ring reference binders doesn’t easily address different learning needs and capabilities. For some time we have been looking for a more effective way to meet this continuing need.

Although it is not exactly new, we are using computer-based training in a way that is helping us to achieve training efficiencies. With a full range of product offerings, keeping up on product features and benefits is difficult for seasoned as well as new employees. We have a reference manual that has all the information in it, but it is about as much fun to read as a telephone book.
We looked for a new way to make product updates interesting and effective. We found a vendor to help us produce a CD ROM that was totally customized for our use. It comes with a script to help employees gain a deeper understanding of features, benefits and suggested strategies for matching needs.

All employees are issued headsets so they do not distract others while the training is underway. The module takes about six hours to complete and is followed by a test.

Testing: A Key Step
Testing has helped employees at all levels identify gaps in understanding. Because it is self-paced, it is available when the employee has time to look at it, and it does not require an instructor to be present to deliver the material. It gives a consistent message with further help screens for additional explanation and understanding. It also incorporates concepts from the CUNA Mutual Business Development Sales Training (BDST), which we adopted several years ago.

To deliver the full benefit, a number of people must be involved. Several years ago we formalized the role of “resource employees” who were selected by their peers. They are resident experts and are available to answer questions on the spot.

Besides the student and resource employees, other areas are affected. All updates to the product manual are made by the marketing department and training sends them to the vendor who then produces a new CD ROM. Branch managers and training coordinators work together to schedule training, and information services coordinates the technology.

Our use has been limited to the product knowledge module. Other applications would include new employee orientation, teller training, consumer education and leadership training.

Branch Assistant II Program
We are piloting a program to create a career path for front-line staff members through demonstrating competencies. Our compensation system is under review to reward employees based on their demonstrated competencies. As that program develops, computer based training and testing can be useful for employees qualifying at each of the competency levels.

What’s Next?

PCs must be equipped with the proper software to handle the audio and visual portions of the program. We are using a thin client approach and pushing out the information through a server to the PCs at all branches and front-line positions.
The next level approach is web-based training. Updates can be more efficiently incorporated and PCs will only require Internet access and web browser capability. We will use a vendor to host the system rather than manage it ourselves.

Stephan Winninger is President of State Employees Credit Union in Lansing, MI. SECU is a $523 million credit union with 220 employees, nine branches and forty ATMs serving 73,500 members in South Central Michigan. Steve has been with SECU for ten years.

 

 

 

Feb. 4, 2002


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