Diminish Your Training Frustrations: 4 Tips for Improving Employee Performance

December 5, 2011 at 1:18 PM Leave a comment

Customer Appreciation Program

If your financial institution is like most these days, you’re taking a hard look at how you can drive employee performance with minimal training expense. As part of that consideration, you might be trying to maximize the partnership you have with your insurer to leverage their subject matter and industry expertise when preparing your teams to sell insurance. While leveraging your insurer relationship to train your employees can help, you aren’t alone if your FI has had some frustration with the insurer training experience.

A recently published research report entitled Bridging the Cultural Divide Between Financial Institutions and Life Insurers(sponsored by Affinion Group and conducted by Effron Company) aimed to identify the characteristics of a successful FI/insurer partnership, and also highlight opportunities for improvement. While the study was based on a pair of almost identical surveys sent to insurers and financial institutions, one of the most interesting sets of results highlighted the perceived inadequacies of training by both the FI and the insurer. To wit, there were dramatic splits between the “importance” and the “satisfaction” of the following for FI’s:

  • Customer service training
  • Back office support
  • Training for new product roll outs
  • Training for technology at point-of-sale
In each case, the financial institutions said these training programs were very important, but that the programs were not being effectively executed.

It’s not surprising that training is a point of contention, because quite frankly, it can be hard without appropriate performance support in place.

When any of your FI’s product partners are providing training, consider these tips to not only make your roll-out more successful but also make learning stick:

  1. Define mutual expectations for the training initiative: Your partner should provide guidance on what you can expect from their training efforts (from drafts of materials to post-training support). Determine who within your FI will make sure that the knowledge shared is institutionalized across your organization. (Often this responsibility is spearheaded by your internal training department, but it can also include representatives from marketing and sales.)
  2. Provide training context: Adults learn best when they understand why they are doing something – how will the training they’re participating in help them perform their job better?
  3. Establish specific objectives: What do you want to measure? Sales? Account holder satisfaction? Remember that training should support your FI’s goals and not just be for the heck of it.
  4. Create a culture of success: This goes beyond training and speaks to what type of institution you are (or aspire to be!). One 2-hour training session can’t develop an employee from an order-taker to a sales person. Rather, it takes a carefully crafted plan that is reinforced throughout the institution, for training to truly stick. Consider the skill sets of employees you are hiring, the expectations you have for your managers, and the messages you are sending – in the end, a long term strategic plan (with training included as one of the elements of employee support, rather than the only element!) will drive the best results.
Training doesn’t have to be a frustrating experience – with the right considerations early on, it can be a highly motivating, educational, and (dare I say it?) fun experience for both your institution and your insurer.

Erin Evans is the Director of Affinion Group’s Performance Solutions team, which has conducted more than 1,500 training sessions at over 160 financial institutions in the past 6 months.

As a global leader with over 35 years of experience, Affinion Group (www.affinion.com) enhances the value of its partners’ customer relationships by providing comprehensive customer engagement and loyalty solutions that enhance or extend the relationship of millions of customers with many of the largest and most respected companies in the world. For more information about Affinion Group contact Misha Bleymaier-Farrish.

Misha Bleymaier-Farrish
Senior Manager l Sales Administration
Affinion Group
Telephone: (615) 764-2492
Cellphone: (615) 796-4981
Fax: (615) 764-5492
Visit the Affinion Group web site.

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