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TAMPA, Fla. – The smoke has literally cleared from the stage at the Tampa Convention Center. The yellow bus has pulled away. Now MacDill Federal Credit Union will begin assessing the payoff from its decision to close all of its 15 branches July 14 for a day-long employee training program aimed at beefing up MFCU’s focus on Total Member Experience. In order to measure the impact of the session, MFCU will look at the results of its mystery shopper program which uses member volunteers to rate service. The 250 to 300 “Penny for your thoughts” service cards the credit union receives each month will also be studied as will growth figures and penetration of specific products and services. “We feel we’re good right now. We want to be great,” declares MFCU CEO Bob Fisher. “We want employees to see we’re serious about our Total Member Experience culture and where we’re going. We want them to recognize we want everyone in this organization to be a leader in everything they’re doing. “A lot of these things go right into their personal lives. We think creating better employees will in the long run mean better service to the membership,” he adds. The MFCU training director, Maria Franco, is a former Disney employee, so it isn’t surprising the event had its share of glitz including fog rolling over the stage to enhance Fisher’s entrance as he introduced presenter Joe Gilliam. Of course that fog, or “haze” in theater terms, did call for some planning. The fire alarms had to be turned off and a fire marshal hired to be on the scene throughout the program. Gilliam’s message focused around choosing to be in the service business, having fun at work, and being attentive to members. He stressed leadership, taking responsibility, and – yes – going from good to great as Fisher emphasizes. Gilliam not only lives in nearby Valrico, but has been an MFCU member for 14 years. A member of the American Society for Training & Development and the National Speakers Association, his clients have included the U.S. Navy, Phillips Petroleum, Mutual of Omaha, Volvo, McDonalds and Dominos Pizza. A montage of photos showing the entire credit union staff at award ceremonies and other events appeared on large screens a half hour before the actual program started and during lunch. Upbeat music played to get everyone in an enthusiastic mood. “The way it was pulled off was spectacular,” Fisher says. “There were other events at the convention center, and people knew we were there!” The entire day was filmed so the credit union can eventually put together a five-minute video to share with board members – who were not invited – and new hires. Fisher sees the event as the latest initiative in the credit union’s Total Member Experience effort. “TME was developed out of us sitting down and looking at where this credit union is going in the future, how we’re going to grow and how we’re going to survive. We’ve always felt our growth and our survival is going to be tied to our members and them telling other people what a great place this is to do business,” he says. “I think this (all-day training) is one of the most important things the credit union has ever done. Joe talks about getting on the bus. Where are you on the bus? Are you in the front or the back?” That message was reinforced as the credit union’s 385 employees arrived at the convention center. They were greeted by a yellow bus bearing “Get on the bus” signs. The idea of using Gilliam to motivate employees started when the MFCU vice president of human resources heard him at a conference. He was invited to present a one-day seminar to the MFCU management team. “We were so captivated by this guy I had him come in a couple weeks ago to our annual all-employee meeting. It’s held in the evening for about an hour and a half. I had him talk for an hour. The employees were fascinated, just as I was when I first heard him.” The idea of closing down the credit union for a day did require a major effort to alert members. As vp/marketing, Lisa Moerchen launched that effort with newsletter articles starting in May. Word that branches wouldn’t be open July 14 was also carried on the MFCU Web site, voice response, and notices on the doors at all branches and at the drive-up locations. Moerchen hesitates to use the word “challenge” in describing any aspect of the event. “We made it a fun project,” she declares. “We did need to plan well in advance to handle details such as finding photos of all departments.” “We have not had a single negative comment,” Fisher reports. “Members are very interested in what we’re doing. We’re thinking about doing something like this every year, not necessarily shutting the credit union down but perhaps doing it during a holiday when we’re closed then giving everyone a day off of their choosing.” -

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