Service Credit Union (SCU), a member-owned organization established in 1957 to provide financial services to U.S. military personnel, today has approximately 86,000 members in every U.S. state and 10 countries, with the highest concentrations in the New England region. Because of its considerable geographic reach, SCU must utilize Internet technologies to deliver educational offerings to its members and employees.
“We have a very geographically diverse field of membership,” said Ray Springsteen, SCU’s vice president of member services. “We also have a very geographically diverse employee base. We have employees based in Europe and New England. We’re not down the street from each other: There’s a six-hour time difference between the two. We try to use a lot of Internet tools to be able to get training to all of our employees and members.”
SCU delivers many different kinds of learning to its members to educate them and develop their relationship to the organization. The company has partnered in the past with businesses like H&R Block and RE/MAX to deliver specialized seminars to members, many of which have been recorded and archived on the Web for repeat viewing. “Say we have 50 people that will attend this webinar,” Springsteen said. “We’ll put that link up on the Internet, and we’ll have another 50 click on it each month to listen in. You might get 50 attendees, but that grows exponentially every month because of the people clicking on it later on. We’ve done an H&R Block seminar two years in a row now, so there have been some tax changes, but there are some questions in both seminars each year that you could get value from at any time. We also might push those a little bit higher on a page because of the time of year.”
The company also employs e-learning to conduct training sessions for its employees when appropriate, such as for courses around regulatory compliance in the financial services field. “The Internet is one of the best modes to do it in.” Springsteen said. “One of the things that we get out of using it is we can hold a conference call anytime we want. It gives us additional visual tools to use. It also gives us the ability to communicate in other methods, like using some of the chat tools. It makes some of the sessions more interactive and gives us the chance to hold their attention longer.
“We have a couple of different ways to provide continuous knowledge out to our employees,” he added. “Webcasting is one. A lot of this compliance-type training is perfect for webcasts. We also added other types of training sessions. We have other types of online tools that our employees can use. Our own intranet has several training tools on it as well. We’ve incorporated these webcasts as another method in which to do remote training.”
One of the greatest advantages of this modality is the ability to rapidly update content according to changes in the organization and the industry, Springsteen said. “Certainly, Internet training allows us to make adjustments to our own (learning) products based on market conditions. The key to that is making sure our employees know what those changes are. In the past, it had to be through much more traditional methods, and we would not be able to move as quickly with the market. With our new methods of training, it gives us the opportunity to react quicker to what’s going on in the marketplace.”
In addition to delivering more up-to-date content, the adoption of e-learning has brought savings in SCU expenditures on learning, Springsteen said. He calculated that the costs involved with each webinar amounted to between one-third and one-fourth of the expenses of a seminar delivered through traditional means, and dispensed information to a much more sizable audience.
At SCU, which measures the effectiveness and efficiency of learning at the individual, branch and corporate levels, perhaps the most notable metric for employee and member education is the growth of the company. “Over the past 10 years, our average growth in asset size has been 15 percent,” Springsteen said. “There are not too many credit unions growing at that pace. We would attribute that, in some ways, to our ability to make sure that we have educated and knowledgeable employees and members.”
–Brian Summerfield, firstname.lastname@example.org
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