Chicago-based MB Financial Bank is one of the largest independent banks in the city and prides itself on providing financial services to customers with a personalized, relationship-oriented touch. This operating style is taught through MB University (MBU) using a variety of learning delivery methods, but technology plays a prominent role in course customization, delivery and cost control.
“Our philosophy is to provide high-quality training and education that will not only enhance job performance, but also job satisfaction with the bottom-line result of creating more value to the company,” said Barbara Low, director of MB University. “We have e-learning available primarily for compliance, but we’re looking at development in other areas, primarily for pre- or post-work for instructor-led courses. We also have some webcast capabilities and a couple of facilities that are set up to do videocasts.”
In banking, compliance is a required component of training, and there are multiple courses in the MB University curriculum dedicated to compliance, including the Bank Bribery Act, Check 21 and fair lending regulations. “We also provide classroom training for compliance, but it’s supplemented with the e-learning because we find that with the number of branches that we have, it’s more effective and time-efficient because we have varying sizes of branches and needs, and it’s very difficult to pull people out of the branch and bring them in for classroom training. Through our e-learning, we also have the ability to develop customized coursework in house,” Low said.
Despite a strong e-learning presence and a performance management system that tracks overall improvement and performance, the majority of courses at MB University are instructor-led and facilitated. Courses include core skills areas such as business fundamentals, technology, management and leadership, and sales and service. Classroom training can be expensive, but Low said MB University controls costs by using its internal training staff to facilitate courses. “Where we need to go outside the organization for certain areas of expertise, we go through a proposal process,” Low said. “All of the training comes through MBU so we have the opportunity to assess the quality of the program and the vendor or consultant. We check references of all of the consultants that we use in the organization, and where we have the opportunity to utilize them in multiple sessions, we negotiate pricing with them. In the past, before we had this structure, different functional areas would hire a vendor or consultant to provide training and maybe other areas of the bank would have a similar need but didn’t always know about it. Now, we have it under one umbrella, and we’re able to control our costs better because of that.”
In-house training efforts also include a substantive quality control process where all internally or externally facilitated programs provided must go through Low’s department for review and approval. “Frankly, that’s made a huge difference in not only the quality of the facilitators, but in the quality of the programming provided to our employees,” Low said, adding that while measuring bottom-line ROI is challenging, MB University has some measures in place and plans to implement more metrics in the future.
“First, course evaluations are completed after every course. So we get immediate feedback on each course and its quality. We also try to assess transfer of skills back to the job. We do that through conversations with managers to make sure that employees are transferring those skills, and we do a bi-annual employee attitude survey. There are questions on the survey related to training and education so we can gather some information that way. Also, we have a secret shopper that visits various branches to assess specific employee customer service skills.”
This year MB University conducted a company-wide initiative requiring every employee to attend a customer service program facilitated by an outside organization, and developed a bi- or tri-annual survey specifically related to the customer service initiative. “In addition to that company-wide program, we have regular communications about customer service called Super Service,” Low said. “We have asked our managers on an ongoing basis, preferably at monthly meetings, to discuss customer service. We have a CD-ROM that (employees) use to reinforce what they learned in the class. Everyone received a book in that class, and we’ve asked managers to show videos for the various segments of Super Service.”
–Kellye Whitney, firstname.lastname@example.org