The following story was shared by Heather Wyatt, director of learning and development at E*TRADE Financial.
Client: E*TRADE Financial, a financial services company.
Problem: E*TRADE Financial sought to align training efforts with its business goals of increasing customer confidence, enhancing call speed-to-answer time, and creating a more efficient workforce.
Cause/Diagnosis: The head of customer service asked the learning and development team (L&D) to incorporate training on Series 7—a comprehensive financial securities licensure—into onboarding to ensure that representatives were highly knowledgeable when resolving customer concerns. In 2006, L&D partnered with customer service to launch an improved new-hire training program using an integrated talent management approach.
Methods: L&D worked with recruiters and leveraged its relationships with local colleges and universities to identify high-potential prospective new hires. The selection process began with an onsite behavioral interview followed by a Series 7 predictor intelligence exam and a general service DNA exam. Candidates who passed the initial interview moved on to take the exams, and those who passed the exams were hired.
The subsequent onboarding program included three parts, beginning with five weeks of Series 7 classroom training. Students completed a series of exams at the end of each week to ensure that they acquired the necessary knowledge. The instructor provided individual coaching to students who didn't pass or received a low score on any exam.
After successfully completing the Series 7 component, students embarked on a three-week new hire training program where they received in-depth instruction on the company's products and services, web platform, and information center database. Finally, four weeks of "incubator training" completed the program: New hires fielded the most basic customer calls (for example, "How do I reset my password?") while managers listened in on the calls and provided feedback and coaching. New hires who passed this final component became official customer service representatives and moved on to work on a customer service team within the company's call center.
The L&D team also partnered with human resources to create a career pathways program for customer service employees by mapping the various career paths across the company and providing structured ongoing training experiences to increase knowledge and skills. This allowed representatives the opportunity to move into more senior-level roles and positively affected employee engagement and retention.
Results: The average pass rate for the Series 7 training in 2010 was 80 percent, compared to competitor programs, which average less than 60 percent. The new-hire graduation rate increased from 74 percent in 2006 to 82 percent in 2010. The average call speed-of-answer time decreased from 3 minutes and 21 seconds (2006) to 53 seconds (2010).