Training APEX Awards Best Practice: One Nevada Credit Union’s SUCCESS Class

During the four days of SUCCESS classroom sessions, employees immerse themselves into what it means to provide memorable member service.

Designed for all its employees, One Nevada Federal Credit Union’s (ONCU) SUCCESS Class aims to increase member loyalty by coaching employees on just how valuable and ever-lasting the intangible aspects of member service can be.

Program Details

SUCCESS Class is a four-day (eight hours a day) classroom session that can best be described as a service culture experience. During the four days of SUCCESS, employees immerse themselves into what it means to provide memorable member service. The motto for the class is: “SUCCESS is not owned, SUCCESS is rented—and payment comes due every day.” This slogan sets the tone for the week, reminding employees that complacency and stagnation is the leading cause of member attrition and the feeling of indifference.

The class starts by accentuating the “We’re in the Band” philosophy. This viewpoint introduces the mindset that internal service must come before external service. “We’re in the Band” is a teaching metaphor that shows employees the characteristics of being in a successful musical band and, in turn, being on a successful team:

  • We must come to perform.
  • We must connect with our audience.
  • We must pick each other up when needed.
  • We control our attitude.
  • We control our effort.

After internal service is cemented as the foundation, ONCU then starts building a solid member experience by reviewing the “Hierarchy of Service.” This model educates employees on the historical expectations of the credit union’s membership base. This four-tiered hierarchy outlines the most expected service standards:

  1. Accuracy: Are we accurate? Is what we do and say truthful and correct?
  2. Availability: Are we available when our members would like to do business?
  3. Partnership: Do our members truly feel we are “in this together”?
  4. Advice: Can I give members accurate, partnered advice about their finances?

Participants must master each step before having the privilege to advance to the next one.

Next, participants dive into the fact that seemingly small things are the things people will remember. ONCUreminds employees—who sometimes feel like their jobs are tedious and monotonous—that everything they say and do can turn a “moment into a memory”—even though, on certain days, it seems like turning around a battleship in a bathtub.

This is where the credit union encourages employees to become a “trim tab” (a sailing term). A trim tab is a small rudder attached to a large rudder that essentially turns a huge ship. By maneuvering the trim tab just slightly, it causes the main rudder to kick into action and start to turn massive ships. This trim tab philosophy helps employees realize their small daily actions can, indeed, turn a battleship around in a bathtub.

ONCU also educates employees to plan for the unplanned by becoming Service Prophets. By knowing what issues members have endured in the past, ONCU can predict future problems. Knowing these issues will arise again, employees can have the solution readily available and transform into service heroes.

SUCCESS Class also introduces service maps to employees. Service maps are class exercises that take procedural banking processes and transform them into the “member experience perspective.” This exercise teaches employees what members experience through every procedural step. Looking at things through members’ eyes opens the door for many positive and memorable moments of opportunity. For example, if a step in the process is “acquiring loan approval,” the same step through the eyes of a member might be “nervously waiting for approval.” When employees see anything like “waiting” or negative adverbs appear on a service map, this is their opportunity to replace it with something positive or productive. An example of a trim tab suggestion for this example is to replace “nervously waiting for approval” with “sincerely discuss anxieties with the member.”

Recently, as members are driven more toward digital banking these days, the credit union added segments to SUCCESS that include the ONCU mobile app experience, online computer shadowing, and cell phone technology assistance.

Throughout the SUCCESS experience, ONCU employs the most fun and memorable feature of training retention: storytelling. The stories create what ONCU calls its own “Secret SUCCESS Language” that reinforces the lessons learned and that only SUCCESS graduates recognize and appreciate.

The entire senior management team is present for the graduation ceremony. One part of the ceremony is called the “Pride Portion.” During this time, each graduate shares what they have learned and the personal transformation they have experienced.


Current branch managers have stated that they see an overwhelming change in confidence when it comes to member service in SUCCESS graduates. One District AVP said, “I see graduates of the program who now don’t do it for the income, but do it for the outcome.”

ONCU also measured a 1 percent total net increase in membership growth in 2021.


Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine, owned by Lakewood Media Group. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training Top 100 and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 29 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.