USAA employees go to “basic training” to better understand customers

Screenshot from WFLA news video:

Employees at USAA,  the financial services company that works with  military members wanted to better understand what their customers go through.

So, early this morning at Commerce Park in Tampa they participated in a basic training camp. More than 100 USAA employees took part in the exercise to feel more “connected” to their  customers and be able to better serve them after the experience.

And connect they did… Well, they sure did try anyway doing sit-ups, mountain climbs, jumping jacks and more. Before the sun came up this morning, the participants were surrounded by fog from a fog machine– as well as loud chants and explosion noises.

At a similar event in March, USAA’s IT Director, Brian Parks told an ABC15 reporter, “Most these people [USAA employees] are on the phones, so when our members call in and say I’m Sgt. Jones or I’m Lt. Smith…they can now go back to this experience and understand what it was like when they arrived in the military.”

News Channel 8 reported that after about two hours of working out and getting yelled at by sergeants, the USAA employees finished with a mile-and-a-half run.

Some of them admitted they did not realize what they were getting themselves into. USAA employee Derek Norton said, “I may take a half day. I might work for a few hours but around 2:30 I might be sleeping at my desk.”

Others had a much brighter outlook. “Just like anything else you can get great advice and training and be able to empathize, but you’ll never be able to fully appreciate the circumstance until you share experience,” USAA employee, Tom Migliaccio, said.

The sergeants leading the training didn’t want to make WFLA’s Adrienne Pedersen feel left out so right in the middle of her live shot – they demand she ‘get down on the ground and “push…”  All the while they’re screaming in her ear. The reporter drops her mic and starts doing push-ups, gets right back up– not sounding breathless at all– and finishes up her live shot.

One of the veterans helping out with the event said: “Exercise just happens to be the vehicle for the lesson. It’s about discipline, leadership, and teamwork.”

Video from March’s basic training event in Phoenix below.


  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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