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Keesler Federal Credit Union

Training mimics real life

Keesler Federal teaches new tellers in a replica branch environment.

January 15, 2020

At Keesler Federal Credit Union in Biloxi, Miss., new teller trainees no longer learn by observing experienced tellers in action.

Instead, they learn by doing in a controlled environment that mimics real life.

“This is a fairly new concept in branch training,” says Felicia Augustine, director of training at the $2.9 billion asset credit union. “This is a first-class operation.”

The Teller Training Class Room inside the credit union’s innovative Keesler Federal University Training Center allows trainees to experience tellers’ everyday functions, including using the credit union’s core system, handling and balancing cash, using calculator tape, and interacting with members.

Trainees each have their own “window,” which is equipped with a monitor, teller software, money for transactions, a calculator, phone, signature documentation pad, and all other essentials.

The room also features a vault with simulated money—it’s so realistic it must be audited daily to ensure the money doesn’t make it into circulation—and three 80-inch flat-screen televisions that allow live, online training from other branches.

Felicia Augustine

‘What we provide mimics a real-life environment at a branch.’

Felicia Augustine

“What we provide mimics a real-life environment at a branch. You are going to learn every process of that job from A to Z,” Augustine says. “When Keesler Federal University trains a teller, it is a whole and integrated approach.”

During training, new tellers learn all aspects of the job—technology, member service, product knowledge, and accounting—simultaneously so the experience flows efficiently and consistently regardless of branch, she says.

“Team members don’t leave here until they are ready to report to a branch, go to a window, and start working,” Augustine says.

The credit union also uses this “whole job training” approach for key branch and call center positions, she adds.

The Keesler Federal University Training Center opened in 2018 and has conducted more than 400 classes for new team members. The idea came to Augustine after she saw how Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College trained nurses in an area that replicated an actual hospital.

“When a trainee leaves here,” she says, “they are ready to roll.”