How One CU Puts Data Culled From Live Chat To Work

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Live chat data doesn't go wasted at General Mills Federal Credit Union (GMFCU).

Members and CU representatives generate a multitude of frequently-asked questions-and frequently-given answers-at the CU's website during more than 250 live chat sessions every month.

This summer, the $175-million CU will launch an online knowledge base built from those questions and answers, according to Phebe Koha, member connections supervisor at the CU.

"I go into our live chat records and review the chats," Koha explained. "I look for the kinds of questions members are asking, and I look to see what their concerns are."

Koha used the same approach to write the canned responses representatives use now to answer FAQs during live chat sessions.

In fact, the knowledge base could be perceived as a more formalized and extensive version of the CU's existing canned response database.

General Mills CU's integration of live chat and knowledge data is fueled by New York City-based LivePerson Inc.'s Service Edition Platinum Series. LivePerson provides real-time sales and customer service for Internet-based business.

The knowledge base will simply add another layer of member service to the CU's existing delivery channels, Koha continued. "We're always trying to expand the number of ways we can serve members. The knowledge base will be available to members when we're not."

GMFCU's Member Connections representatives, which include operators handling phone, live chat and email inquiries, are available Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The CU's website visitors will be able to click on a knowledge base link to access and search categories of questions and answers related to a full range of financial services.

"Members can search for information on car loans and every possible option for car loans will pop up. If the information listed is not sufficient, then the member can easily go to live chat," Koha said. "The knowledge base is going to serve credit union employees as well. Employees will have more knowledge about products, which will make it easier to cross-sell. In turn, the member will understand more about the benefits of a product."

Koha gathered questions and answers for the database for about four months before going live with the knowledge base. "I looked for the top questions that come through every department in the credit union. I am trying to include every imaginable scenario."

The knowledge base and live chat work together to help members complete their financial transactions online, Koha added. Previous to the availability of live chat, website users had to switch to the telephone to speak to Member Connections representatives about website services.

"Instead of 'John' logging off the website and calling us, we can now talk to him directly from the website if he has any more concerns," she said. "We can provide the same one-stop shopping service to those who choose to connect with us electronically as we do to those members who come into a branch."

The 22,000-member CU's live chat module has increased in popularity since its inception in June 2002, Koha said. Representatives field more than 250 live chats per month, up from about 50 per month two years ago. "And every month the number of chats rise steadily," she said.

In contrast, Member Connections representatives handle about 5,300 inbound phone calls per month, she said.

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