Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Blended E-Learning, F2F, and Mobile Learning in Banking

New developments in e-learning are enabling corporations to find new ways to train and support employees to enhance the organization’s effectiveness, efficiency, productivity, and profitability.

As a result, the nature of training has changed. Instead of being considered a one-time event to be completed upon hiring, training is now viewed by the organization as continuous, ongoing, and flexible. Further, in an environment that requires offices and people to coordinate from different parts of the globe across time zones and cultural differences, the new approaches to online training and support can assure consistency and continuity.

To illustrate, it is helpful to take a look at a case that is representative of the experiences of many banks that have made it their goal to increase value-added services in order to maximize revenue streams and to build customer loyalty.

A Success Story -- 24-7 Banking: ABC Bank wanted to offer its customers the opportunity to call in and speak to a live banking associate in order to conduct a wide range of banking functions 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. By offering this service, ABC Bank would be able to provide their best and most complex services for which they charged a fee that was, while modest, an important revenue source for the organization. In addition, they could gain new customers and assure customer loyalty.

The idea was not without risk, however. Processes and procedures constantly change, and the customers who called in would be very likely to have complicated problems, or need urgent, time-sensitive assistance.

In the past, ABC Bank was hesitant to offer the services. They realized that if their employees were not very highly trained, and did not offer the highest quality of service to their customers, the entire corporate image could be damaged. On the other hand, by being able to open accounts, research transactions, conduct transfers, work with legal documents (escrow, letters of credit, trust documents), the bank could have a significant edge over the competition.

ABC Bank wanted to make sure that 24-7 banking service employees had the same information and access to databases as those located in all the branch locations. Further, upper management wanted to make sure that if 24-7 customers had questions outside of normal business hours, the 24-7 banking center employees would be able to find accurate answers to complex questions, and to provide them in a secure environment.

Hybrid Training Solution: F2F, E-Learning, Mobile Learning

A hybrid web-based training solution and ongoing support database provided the ideal solution for the bank. The first step was to provide online content modules to enable the employees of the 24-7 banking service to obtain the training in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

The delivery of the training was of critical importance. In the past, the employees were issued a procedures manual and then asked to click through a Powerpoint presentation.

However, that would not be sufficient for 24-7 banking training because the employees would need to be able to perform more tasks. Further, a static presentation is simply ineffective for employees who have different learning styles, and who need hands-on practice, or who may be auditory or kinaesthetic learners.

Modules in a Web 2.0-friendly LMS

ABC Bank’s management decided on a multi-pronged approach. The learning modules, available on-demand , and repeatable as needed, consisted of multimedia presentations and audio presentations that could be downloaded and listened to on portable devices such as an iPod.

Using a platform such as Haiku, (, or Nfomedia (, the courses were easy to assemble, and could incorporate Web 2.0 interactivity.

They also provided interactive practice and review, and “smart” assessments that immediately diagnosed where a learner needed further reinforcement, practice, and training. After diagnosis, the program automatically directed the learner and opened access to additional content modules.

Quizzes and Reviews Via Cellphone / Blackberry

After initial training, weekly interactive quizzes and reviews were made available. They were enjoyable and affordable – the links to content were provided via e-mail, and also appeared in an instant message in the corner of the employee’s screen.

Using software for mobile learning such as Hot Lava ( , it was possible to design and develop mobile learning components very quickly.

Review Documents in Repository

A repository of FAQs was made available and it utilized a very convenient key word search so that employees would have answers to their questions at their fingertips. The FAQ pages had links to the training modules so that individuals would go back and review the specific training elements as needed.

With a multi-pronged approach to e-learning, with continuous availability of content modules and support information, ABC Bank was able to launch 24-7 banking and to obtain positive feedback from customers. In addition, the volume of fee-based banking services increased dramatically, making the 24-7 banking one of the most profitable branches in the entire enterprise.


Using Elluminate, Adobe Connect, and Webex, ABC Bank is able to bring employees together to review and update new procedures.

Virtual World Role Play

In the future, ABC Bank will expand its e-training by making it possible for employees to role-play and engage in interactive simulations. They have already developed a world in Second Life for customer service.

In the virtual world, employees design their avatars and then they practice greeting customers and make sure that they follow a certain bank-prescribed protocol or checklist of behaviors. Did they greet the customer by name? Did they offer new services? Did they explain the new services?

Leadership and Vision

By using a customized approach to e-learning and training, and integrating the new techniques and technologies to meet the unique needs of the organization, companies will enjoy the added benefits of enhanced communication across the organization. Individuals in a position of leadership will find that it is much easier to assure that employees across the organization feel a sense of commitment and personal dedication to the company mission and vision. Further, employee morale and motivation are enhanced as individuals feel empowered and eager to share ideas about how to enhance profitability, respond to customer needs, develop new business, and to propose process improvements.

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