NCR might not be a household name like Chase, Walmart, or Starbucks, but customers of these and many of the world’s largest banks, retailers, and restaurants interact with NCR technology every day. NCR supplies and services the point-of-sale and self-checkout machines that keep retail and restaurant businesses across the globe running, as well as more than 80% of the ATM machines worldwide.
To keep all that equipment working properly, NCR operates one of the largest training organizations in the world. Every customer engineer who begins a career with NCR goes through an extensive educational program. Many receive additional training as their responsibilities increase. Near the center of that training is Promethean’s ActivPanel.
Promethean interactive displays and whiteboards have been a mainstay in the education space for decades, but their value as a teaching tool extends beyond K-12 classrooms. Businesses like NCR have discovered that the ActivPanel can be an essential component of a training program designed to be efficient, effective, and a source of real value.
From middle school classroom to high-tech training room
Before joining NCR 13 years ago, Lead Instructor Ed Becker was a middle school math and science teacher, so he was familiar with front-of-classroom technology. For Becker, the biggest difference between the educational and corporate arenas was the need for a uniform, consistent lesson plan.
“Everything we do with NCR training is highly standardized. Every lesson that comes out is very much scripted, very much orchestrated, very much organized in a very specific manner,” Becker explained. “We’re teaching it to 3,000 technicians in a very short amount of time. So what we teach has to be very, very standard.”
According to Becker, the ActivPanel has been key to achieving that level of uniformity and quality control.
Incorporating the ActivPanel into our standardized lessons means every instructor will teach using all the assets and capabilities that the ActivPanel has to offer
he said. “It’s a standard part of our development process.”
Promethean blows the competition out of the water
While NCR has no shortage of resources, the decision to purchase interactive panels for its training program was not taken lightly. Becker and his colleagues wanted to ensure that the new equipment would be put to good use and not just sit in a corner. They also needed to make sure there would be a significant return on investment. “Training is a cost center in the company’s financial statements, which means we don’t generate any revenue for the company whatsoever,” said Becker. “Every dime we spend, we have to be able to justify in terms of value creation for customer service.”
Once the decision to invest in interactive panels was made, NCR was intent on choosing a model that offered both high quality and value. While the team considered a wide array of products, it didn’t take long to zero in on the ActivPanel.
“Promethean just basically blew everybody else out of the water,” said Becker. But it wasn’t just the features and ease of use of the panel that sold NCR, it was the commitment and attentiveness exhibited by every member of the Promethean team. “We’re in the service industry, so service means a lot to us. We were taken care of from the start. We had people wanting to come in and share, and they’ve given us a lot of support and a lot of help throughout it all. It was almost over the top.”
Panel’s polling feature helps ensure training yields results
Bringing technicians to NCR’s central training facility in Peachtree City, Georgia, for a three-week course is costly. Beyond the expense of air fare, lodging, and meals, the opportunity cost of employees not serving customers is also considerable. So it’s imperative that technicians come out of the training fully proficient and able to make an immediate impact.
Becker and the rest of the team discovered that Promethean’s polling feature—which allows for instant assessments and quizzes—was the perfect way to assess technicians’ progress throughout the course and ensure they are staying on track. “We know instantly rather than at the end of three weeks whether somebody understands something,” explained Becker.
Once technicians are out in the field, the company follows up on their performance, comparing pre-training and post-training stats. “Did it take them six hours to repair something? And then after training, does it take two hours?” said Becker. “That means I can get more calls done in a day, take care of more customers in a day. We’re trying to get the quantity as well as the quality.”
New technology infuses excitement into routine lessons
While the ActivPanel has been an indispensable investment for the company, it’s also a welcome addition for instructors and students involved in training courses. “When they see the technology and they see how it’s interactive, they all seem to really like the ability to have that engagement,” said Becker.
They’re not just sitting back being lectured to, they actually get to contribute. The poll taking, the assignments—it’s very spontaneous. It’s something that will keep drawing everybody in.
According to Becker, technicians in particular need the type of interactivity the ActivPanel can provide. “Technicians are kinesthetic, they’re tactile. They don’t like just sitting listening because they don’t learn anything—they learn by doing stuff,” he explained. “Everybody loves to touch the board one way or another. So quite often I will have a student come up, particularly a struggling student, and I’ll have them walk through stuff on the panel.”
There are teams of people throughout the organization—along with external development companies—working on finding new, innovative ways to incorporate the panel into the curriculum. “We have one instructor who found a way to hook the ActivPanel up to an ATM,” recounted Becker. “We were trying to show them how to navigate through an ATM, and now they can actually do it from the panel.”
The many ways NCR has put the ActivPanel to use is already impressive, but it’s only the beginning, according to Becker. “We’re really just scratching the surface of what we’re capable of doing,” he said. “A lot of us have been teaching so long in the same way. So to get this infusion of new technology and new possibilities of how to really connect with students is very exciting. We’re all very much looking forward to learning more.”