Banks try online games, role-playing games to teach soft skills

Technical skills such as using Excel are easy to teach online. More general skills, such as clearly explaining pandemic relief programs, defusing tense customer interaction, or demonstrating empathy, are more difficult to transmit from a distance.

Financial institutions such as Bank of America; JPMorgan Chase; OceanFirst Financial at Red Bank, New Jersey; and PlainsCapital Bank in Dallas used various techniques during the pandemic to tailor customer service coaching digital realm – including gamification, video role-playing and testing different answers to questions.

Social distancing required these experiments, but many have proven to be so successful that banks may choose to continue using these methods.

In some cases, banks have preferred digital tutorials: online courses are available everywhere, employees can fit short online lessons into their schedules without running out of staff at the branch, and businesses can follow along more easily. scores and completion rates.

But keeping employees engaged often means varying forms of education beyond regular webinars and video calls.

“You can only be engaged for a very long time on a webinar and then you lose people,” says Jennifer Williams, head of banking education at PlainsCapital Bank.

PlainsCapital, a unit of Hilltop Holdings with $ 17.7 billion in assets, has turned to gamification. Because the bank was in pre-pandemic talks with LemonadeLXP, a company that teaches employees of financial institutions about digital products, it was able to quickly roll out game-style courses when in-person training went digital.

LemonadeLXP, whose bank and credit union customers have grown from six at the start of the pandemic to 26 now, is normally used by frontline staff, such as those in the branch or contact center. Its core game encourages players to create a virtual bank by providing excellent customer service.

Financial institutions can create their own content, including technology demonstrations and role-play scenarios. A game that teaches how to demonstrate mobile check deposit, for example, can ask questions that cause players to win or lose customers based on their answers.

Jennifer Williams, head of banking training at PlainsCapital, saw it as an attractive way to build knowledge in short periods, when employees would not be removed from their main tasks.

“You can only be engaged for that long on a webinar and then you lose people,” she said.

Before the pandemic, PlainsCapital largely conducted its training in person. LemonadeLXP games break the monotony of webinars that have largely replaced face-to-face gatherings. They also break complex topics down into digestible chunks. For example, the individual games cover separate scenarios in which a bank might place holdbacks on certain check deposits and what the limits for those holdbacks are under the CC Regulation.

Games can also teach soft skills for everyday conversations. For example, PlainsCapital is working on a role-playing game to defuse a difficult situation with a client.

This turn of learning was well received by employees. “We got emails saying, ‘I had a customer with this situation, and I played a Lemonade game last week, so I knew how to handle it,” said Williams. The bank has organized lotteries with prizes for the top scores, while individual branches have organized their own informal contests, where winners can choose a catering service for lunch or the right to retire an hour earlier.

“You don’t want to see your name at the bottom of the list,” Williams said. “It makes people replay games or a game they haven’t played yet to increase their score.”

Recently, she found that novice gamers got an average of 63% on all games, while regular gamers got an average of 91%, meaning they looked for the right answers in bank textbooks.

As life returns to normal, Williams predicts that LemonadeLXP and other virtual sessions will replace some traditional in-person training, so people don’t need to spend so much time away from their branch.

Bank of America has also made an effort to teach soft skills at a distance over the past year. Her empathy training series, titled Life Stages, examines the needs of clients at different stages of their lives. Life Stages is offered as part of The Academy, Bank of America’s onboarding, coaching and development organization for employees in direct contact with clients.

“We hire people from all backgrounds and generations who may or may not understand what our clients situation would be, ”said John Jordan, director of the Academy. For example, a recent graduate may not yet have married, had children, bought a house, or lost a loved one. This program helps employees understand what it’s like to take these milestones by reviewing digital assets such as real customer stories and role-playing games (which are currently played via video).

The pandemic has introduced a whole new set of life experiences where no model of empathy has yet been defined. “It’s constantly changing,” Jordan said. “We try to respond to feedback from the team and listen to what they need. We are constantly asking them what customers are asking for, what do they need in terms of resources.

Other banks rely on forms of video that go beyond regular Zoom calls.

JPMorgan Chase has been using Allego, a sales tool co-founder Mark Magnacca likens to a secure corporate YouTube channel, for more than five years with their bankers. Allego, based in Needham, Mass., Also has Citizens Financial Group in Providence, Rhode Island; Comerica in Dallas and First Horizon in Memphis, Tennessee, among its customers and saw a 40% increase in the number of bank customers from June 1 to December 31, 2020.

Businesses can use Allego to produce video demonstrations, such as using DocuSign; film and share videos for onboarding and training; and let employees check in while giving a presentation or explaining a product for their manager to review.

JPMorgan uses Allego in two main ways: for managers to share information with employees (which may be faster to do via video communications than text) and to create role-play scenarios for potential interactions with employees. clients.

During the pandemic, “We are using Allego to help us stay better connected with our teams and to better understand how our team members interact with their clients remotely,” said Jesse Jackson, Head of Learning and Talent Solutions. company-wide. at JPMorgan.

He finds that using Allego is “materially different” from training employees on Zoom. On the one hand, it does not embarrass the employees. “If you are a banker and you model discussions you might have with clients, it may take you a few times to do this in a recorded setting to build trust before sending it to your manager for review,” he said. he declared.

In other cases, the pandemic has called for a solution that consolidates existing courses into a central source.

OceanFirst, with $ 11.6 billion in assets, has been offering online training courses for years. He also designed his own Certified digital banker program to teach all customer-facing employees the ins and outs of financial technology, from account activation to digital wallets.

In January, she formalized these offers with OFB University. The comprehensive online training portal contains both local content, such as the Certified Digital Banker program, and third-party courses (for example, on topics such as lean management or ethics of motivation), through the CyberU online marketplace. (CyberU is a subsidiary of Cornerstone OnDemand, the company that provides the platform for OFB University.)

The company is also currently integrating bank-wide regulatory courses at OFB University.

“We were probably going in that direction anyway, but like a lot of things in the pandemic, it accelerated our need to wrap up and expand the course content and make it universally accessible to all employees,” Chris said. Maher, President, President and CEO of OceanFirst.

A section of the website will track employee progress in various certifications and programs. They will also receive automatic reminders. In addition to viewing videos and slides, employees can be tested on their knowledge before they can take a course.

Certified Digital Banker training was a mix of in-person and remote instruction before the pandemic, but has now become entirely remote. OceanFirst has found workarounds for some situations that have benefited from face-to-face learning. For example, rather than asking a group questions about using Venmo and seeing the answers people have found, the online version can ask the same question and offer a sample of answers, such as a choice question. multiple.

“It’s a little less dynamic but it’s very effective,” said Maher.

Certain types of courses are effectively taught online and are likely to remain so. Maher recognizes that other topics, such as diversity and inclusion, benefit from personal interactions.

“When we talk about culture, supervision and management tasks, I think these will come back in person because you can enrich a session by getting different views of the room,” Maher said. “But if you need to learn more about combating money laundering, it’s pretty straightforward. “

Maher examines a variety of metrics to measure the impact of training on the bank’s performance and culture, including employee engagement surveys, Glassdoor reviews, mobile app reviews, and net scores promoter.

“These should all move in a direction that validates your training program,” he said.


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