Training Top 125 Best Practice: Ascend Federal Credit Union’s Product Knowledge - Service Boot Camp
Service is a critical aspect of each employee’s role at Ascend Federal Credit Union. Belief in the motto, “Sales are a result of service,” leads the organization’s workforce and fuels its sales culture. Employees are dedicated to serving members, developing relationships, and matching needs to product offerings. This consultative environment requires a great commitment to personal service and an intimate knowledge of the credit union’s product offerings.
Workshops, referred to as Service Boot Camps, are conducted to ensure members are assisted by a highly trained salesforce. Service Boot Camps hone service skills, strengthen product knowledge, increase cross-sell proficiency, and create fluency in explaining products and services to members. These efforts have proven to increase sales, strengthen member relationships, and uphold Ascend’s promise.
All Boot Camp sessions begin by focusing on the importance of service, reinforcing it as the foundation of all sales activities employees engage in. A group discussion on how service interactions affect relationships is led by employees as they share with one another how the right and wrong types of service impacts sales opportunities.
Product knowledge is gained as a result of a blended learning experience. Prior to reporting to Boot Camp, employees complete online product knowledge modules on key products and services. These self-paced modules include extensive information on the product and utilize simulations to demonstrate effective communication and member education.
In the workshop, trainees are asked to share their knowledge of key products and how they currently offer them to the membership. This allows participants to collaborate, highlighting best practices and areas that can be refined. Group discussions are fostered and generate new ideas for opportunities to educate members about products and services.
These discussions and activities culminate in a structured experience that allows employees to demonstrate what they have learned. Facilitators are able to gauge employee comfort levels and provide feedback that promotes effective communication.
Training surveys indicate that 84 percent of employees leave training more knowledgeable about product offerings, and an average of 87 percent say the training has enabled them to be more service oriented. Skills practice activities indicate 100 percent of participants leave training prepared to communicate product and service information to members. Managers report employees return from Boot Camp excited to educate members about product offerings and have a renewed commitment to providing excellent member service.
Through a Mystery Shop program, Ascend gauges its employees’ communication skills and product knowledge levels. The increase in employee product knowledge is indicated in the organizational average from the Mystery Shop program: At its implementation, this average was 83 percent, while the current average is 94 percent.
Utilization of methods learned in Boot Camp has resulted in increased sales and use of several key products and services:
- E-BRANCH users are up 15 percent.
- e-statements enrollments are up 11 percent
- Ascend has seen deposit growth of 3.6 percent and loan growth of 20 percent since the previous year.
- Sustained member satisfaction can be seen in Ascend’s member loyalty index of 98 percent.