For Coastal employee Adam Scofield, new skills means new ways to help Coastal members.
How learning new skills leads to better banking at Coastal Credit Union.
The day Coastal closed its lobby doors was unseasonably hot. While the COVID-19 pandemic was sweeping the world, a heat wave was sweeping the Triangle. In fact, the last time March 20th was this hot in Raleigh was in 1948. And while it took over 70 years for record highs to return, it took only days for many Coastal employees to return to work, helping members. The pandemic may have shut our doors, but it opened up new ways we help our members, thanks to the power of reskilling.
Reskilling, the process of learning new skills to do a different job, has become a huge benefit to Coastal. While our branches were closed to the public, our members’ financial needs continued, especially during a dramatically shifting economy. “Because members couldn’t come into a branch, we were getting increased volume to our secure message center and call center” said Maria Moore, VP of Member Call Centers at Coastal. “We saw an opportunity for branch employees because they were already used to speaking with members”.
There were, of course, challenges in making this happen. The majority of employees who have been reskilled already had the skillsets of knowing how to close loans and talk to members, but they didn’t know the call center software and environment. Justin Brown, VP Retail Sales, recalls, “The urgency of the situation forced us to go live, and we did so knowing there would be mistakes. But we went live with built in reporting so we could capture those mistakes and address them immediately to improve.” Employees were trained on specific tasks instead of an entire process. This empowered employees, helping them do that one task well.
As the pandemic swept the nation, we were facing very little time and limited training to get this done right. For employees typically working 8:30am-5:30pm, training was needed before or after work hours to make sure it did not impact member service. Many employees needed to work weekends just to keep up with demand. There were also technology hurdles as many employees were now working remotely from home.
Reskilling also goes beyond just learning the technical skills of a new role. It involves having the right mindset. According to Brown, “We had to set new expectations for employees about their goals, while managers had to adjust quickly to the restructuring of their entire team.”
Overcoming these challenges has been worth it as there were immediate member benefits. With reskilling, Coastal as been able to address member needs a lot quicker. Before the pandemic, Coastal’s call center may have 7 people responding to secure messages. Now, thanks to the power of reskilled employees, we have over 20. Brown added, “If we had not done it, we’d still have unanswered messages from 4 weeks ago. In a time of crisis, every minute counts.”
But the benefits of reskilling go beyond helping our members. Coastal employees are also seeing rewards. According to Moore, “It keeps them motivated. By doing something a little bit different, it keeps their mind engaged on helping members and not on the pandemic. It also gives them a stronger sense of teamwork and a better appreciation of their co-workers.” Marketing Product Specialist, Adam Scofield, is just one example. Adam was one of almost 60 employees reskilled across various departments to assist Coastal’s Member Assistance Program (MAP). This is a program focused on providing members financial relief due to hardships. And with the increased volume they were facing because of the pandemic, every reskilled employee mattered. “In the time I’ve spent with the MAP team, I’ve seen how much their hard work is helping our members. It’s nice to be a small part of that.” said Scofield.
Relationship Manger, Sean Patel, was working at our Creedmoor branch when the pandemic hit. He then moved into a role of helping members that goes beyond face-to-face. “All the things we were being reskilled to do, from picking up phone calls, to mortgage modifications, means so much to our members.” said Patel, “Now more than ever.” As the future leaders of Coastal, it’s important our employees understand the value of being able to shift priorities. It’s not about telling people they have a new job; it’s about showing them how it’s going to make a difference. According to Patel, “At the end of the day, that’s what I’m here for, helping people.”
So what is the future of reskilling for Coastal? It means Coastal will continue to be that much more prepared for the next crisis. We’ve proven that we can effectively handle member transactions with a fraction of people in the building. According to Maria Moore, “Because of the success we’ve had, I think it’s something you will continue to see. We’re going to cross-train a lot of employees and not put them into boxes. Just because you’re a branch employee, or teller, doesn’t mean you’ll only be learning that skill set. You can learn above and beyond that to assist others.”
As a credit union, that’s what matters the most, people helping people. With the advantage of reskilling, we’re able to help both our employees and our members though these difficult times. Reskilling is giving us the tools we need to fulfill our mission, of helping people bank better to live better.