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A new online banking and bill payment platform featuring built-in tutorials is freeing up call center reps at Purdue Employees Federal Credit Union, said Gail Koehler, vice president of technology and retail delivery at the $344- million credit union.

"The online tutorials have been exceedingly well-received." Koehler said. A staff survey showed that 96% of the respondents would recommend the modules to other CUs, she said.

"Members have told us that the tutorials are wonderfully helpful and we've seen how the tutorials are decreasing call times for our call center staff."

Call log data has yet to be formally analyzed, she continued. However, Koehler noticed that since the March launch of PEFCU Online and ePay with Online Training Modules and Demonstrations, call times have been cut by an average of about 45 seconds on one representative's call log, a "significant" reduction.

That representative's experience has made an impression on the other call center reps, Koehler said. At first, call center reps and chat assistants were hesitant to use e-learning themselves, much less recommend the training modules to members.

"We had a difficult time getting staff to adopt and realize what a tool e- learning would be for their own learning experience as well as for members'," Koehler said. "But when two or three agents saw their call times shorten, the rest of the agents were all over the training module."

Many of the CU's 57,000 members didn't need any goading-they immediately started clicking through the training modules with the launch of the new platform, registering 130 hits during the first 12 hours, according to Sharlee Lyons, PEFCU training manager. "We were very happy," Lyons said.

Koehler said that the training modules offer members a chance to learn more about PEFCU's emerging technologies, including topics "as basic as how bill pay works, which may help alleviate members' concerns, to actually practicing bill pay."

Call center representatives now encourage members to try the e-learning platforms for answers to their questions, Koehler added. "We also send members to the modules through our Online Chat service. And, if necessary, the Online Chat assistants can stay live with members as they use the training modules."

Although one of the original goals for the e-learning initiative was to increase bill pay penetration, it's too soon to say whether more members are using the product, Koehler continued.

Indeed, PEFCU has just finished rebuilding bill pay enrollment on the new platform to its original penetration of 19,000 members. "As this is not our first online banking product, we are actually re-enrolling members who have probably been using PEFCU Online since we rolled out the first version in 1998," Koehler explained.

PEFCU spent about nine months developing the e-learning platform in association with Praxis Learning Networks, a unit of Indianapolis-based consulting company Praxis Management International, LLC.

With the initial success of self-guided electronic education, PEFCU may extend learning module concept beyond the online banking and bill pay platforms, Koehler said. For example, the CU may provide an online training module on the installation disk for the employee portal platform it offers to other CUs, she told The Credit Union Journal.

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