Pittsburgh, Pa.-based PNC Bank is one of America’s largest banks. With more than 700 branches, the organization’s Regional Community Bank (RCB) offers lending, deposit and online investment services to approximately 2 million households and 190,000 business banking customers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. The Regional Community Bank serves customers through a network of traditional branches, online banking and telephone banking.
In 2000, training executives at PNC Bank saw problems with the way the organization educated its workers. For example, the bank often leaned on a cadre of managers to train employees. And the results were as varied as the instructors’ styles. Keeping tabs on the results of tutoring was tough to do, too. Simply put, there was no standardized way to do this. And while everyone was mandated to take certain types of regulatory training, pulling people out of production to take these classes stole a lot of time from serving customers.
Lastly, roadblocks linked to training caused PNC to let some newly hired employees slip away. For instance, when the bank hired a new teller, the person couldn’t always start immediately. Instead, the new teller would have to wait until the bank took on enough people to fill a new-hire class. Sometimes the wait took weeks. And in the interim, some people with offer letters from PNC ultimately found other jobs.
That same year, the bank’s brass chose to upgrade technology throughout the RCB. What spurred the decision was a desire to see the bank’s employees build stronger bonds with customers. So among other things, executives bought a new customer relationship management (CRM) system. Savvy training executives at the bank saw this purchase as a chance to solve their challenges. In the process, training staff could play a part in arming workers with the skills to run the new CRM tool. Training executives at the bank knew that the technology underpinning the new Web-based CRM tool would also accommodate e-learning at each branch.
So PNC’s training team proposed running connections from a Pathlore Software learning management system (LMS) to each of RCB’s branches. In that way, the LMS, which PNC calls its “e-kNowledge Network,” would deliver, analyze and report on training over the same network tapped by the new CRM system.
With the e-kNowledge Network (eNN) in place, PNC Bank could standardize the delivery of training, augment classroom instruction with e-learning and reduce the amount and cost of education.
During the first six months of 2001, the bank’s training staff tapped the eNN not only to teach 6,000 employees at RCB’s branches how to use the CRM system, but also to manage the behind-the-scenes logistics of scheduling classrooms, courses and instructors. PNC’s executives say the savings gained from the LMS exceeded $500,000, which paid for the original investment in the system. That savings came from a mix of productivity gains and reduced training fees. Without the LMS, training on the CRM system would have taken each worker three days of classroom training. By tapping the eNN, PNC’s executives were able to cut classroom training on the new CRM system from three days to one day, augmented by two two-hour computer-based tutorials.
With help from the LMS, new-hire training at the bank is now a combination of e-learning and classroom training. Before the eNN was installed, new-hire training took 11 class days. Now new hires get five days of training in class and the rest online at a PC in their branch. The bank’s executives say training can come closely after offer letters go out to applicants. And that means that new tellers can report to PNC once they’re hired, instead of waiting, in some cases weeks, to join the bank.
The bank also notes that online enrollments for training have skyrocketed from 17,000 in 2002 to more than 60,000 last year. While executives say e-learning won’t replace classroom instruction, online training is playing a role in standardizing the quality of education. Indeed, an online loan documentation program seems to have had an effect on efficiency. PNC says that the loan documentation error rate has gone down 10 percent or more in some areas of the RCB.
Paul Dickerson is an e-learning manager at PNC Bank’s Regional Community Bank in Pittsburgh, Pa. A banking industry veteran with more than 12 years of training experience to his credit, Paul is a specialist in designing, delivering and organizing e-learning. For more information, e-mail Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org.