The existing training system consisted of on-site events conducted by corporate trainers. They found their technical support division spending a tremendous amount of time on the phone or on-site training on the basic technology operations. American Pacific Mortgage knew it needed to find a more viable solution.
“The choice to go to live e-learning was driven by the desire to enhance our value proposition to our clients and employees,” said Kurt Reisig, president of American Pacific Mortgage. “We saw a need for our branches to acquire a great deal of information and decided to create diversified means of delivery.”
Live e-learning was the answer, and America Pacific Mortgage University was founded. The company partnered with a training provider to establish its own live e-learning environment. By surveying employees and performing a job analysis, the organization was able to identify key learning needs and technology capabilities. This information helped its team create customized content and have its own trainers deliver the courses.
“American Pacific Mortgage University was conceived as a way to convey information more conveniently, expeditiously and economically, in an environment that would create as much resources as additional staffing would require,” said Reisig.
American Pacific Mortgage knew its employees could not afford to repeatedly attend full-day training events, so it designed one-hour modules. The live e-learning solution offered the ability to record the live sessions for later playback, which was a crucial job aid for referencing the material back in the workplace and alleviating questions to support staff.
The company assessed its employees’ knowledge base and launched several pilot events to make sure the training met the needs of the branches and then revised content based on input. When it took the training out to the masses, the main obstacle was getting users accustomed to this new forum for learning.
“Traditionally, mortgage brokerage is not very ‘e-savvy’ and has been slow to adopt change,” said Reisig. “We have stepped up and recognized that e-learning is another powerful technological medium that we can benefit from.”
At the beginning, attendance rates were high because everyone was excited about the new endeavor. As users struggled with the technology and the novelty wore off, attendance rates dropped.
“We understand that we cannot just flip the switch and have live e-learning implemented,” said Reisig. “As we worked out the kinks—and in any organization initially there are going to be some hiccups—enrollments skyrocketed. Over the next five months, we will go from what was 100 percent traditional instructor-led to almost 90 percent e-learning.”
American Pacific Mortgage also developed a creative solution to have the university operate in the black from day one. It offered lenders the opportunity to sponsor a session, which covers costs, gives the lender a very customized and cost-effective advertisement and further strengthens their relationship.
“The quality of the work that is being impacted by this technology is already manifesting itself,” said Reisig. “One of our key lender partners presented us with performance reports that are dramatically exceeding some of the industry standards in the areas that they measure.”
As the quality of branch support is enhanced, both the corporate office and the branches realize the benefits.
“We expect to increase our branch support staff by 200 percent instead of the anticipated 300 percent,” said Reisig. “We have reduced our staffing of branch support with the creation of American Pacific Mortgage University and leveraged our resources in a very effective way.”
Robyn Thorpe is the communications manager for New Horizons Computer Learning Centers Inc., the world’s largest computer training company.