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A newly launched website may leave the staff and the CEO of one credit union patting one another on the back-while the member's experience remains a mystery.

To discreetly capture members' regard of the website it launched in the Fall, Chevron FCU purchased and hosted its first electronic survey, Inquisite, according to Steve Lopez, systems administrator. Inquisite is provided by Austin, Texas-based Catapult Systems, which offers e-business products and services.

"We wanted feedback from our membership," explained Lopez.

By requesting member feedback, Chevron FCU hopes to get "more members to use the Net and visit our site."

The online survey facilitated feedback without the hassles and time lapse of snail mail. Use of electronic surveys by CUs is expected to sharply increase this year, according to a recent Callahan & Associates study.

Inquisite enabled the 46,000-member CU to design and launch its own survey in just a couple days. "We used the software to control the layout and implement the survey," he said. An offline survey builder allows for increased flexibility over Web-restricted models in changing survey questions or in designing new surveys. Though Inquisite is also offered as a hosted or online model, CFCU opted for the fully licensed copy.

"We wanted to have control of the content and ask our own questions," Lopez reported. "Purchasing Inquisite allows us to use the survey anyway we want to."

For example, the $575-million Chevron FCU was able to limit member exposure to the survey during its one-and-a- half-month run.

"We wanted to avoid having the members take the survey more than once," Lopez said. "When they hit our main page, a small pop-up window asked if they wanted to take the survey. Members weren't prompted more than once, because we then stored a cookie on their browsers."

The credit union also worried about members without Internet access. With a third party-hosted survey, which requires users to link to external sites, webless members would be kept from participating.

"You have to think of the members who don't have Internet access," said Lopez. "We wanted to avoid forcing a tunnel to the Internet. Now, everything will reside on one site."

To keep surveys entirely self-contained within the Chevron FCU site, the CU hosts its home site and the survey and retrieves the survey data from one server.

Hosting and retrieving real-time survey data requires quite a bit of labor. "If you're a smaller CU and don't want to maintain the site, then the hosted version takes out a lot of the work," Lopez advised.

Responses are collected from a directory and are then viewable in HTML, Microsoft Excel or Adobe Acrobat PDF file formats. "You can get pie charts and bar graphs, and the program breaks down each response," Lopez illustrated. "It's also compatible with survey analysis software. The analysis is pretty cut-and- dried stuff."

With an upfront cost of $8,000, and $2,000 per year for support and upgrades, Lopez is satisfied with the software's performance. "We were able to get 1,000 responses in one month," he said. "Between that and the way the data was broken down, we feel the survey did its job."

Sam T. Goodner, CEO and founder of Catapult Systems elaborated: "Our survey system is geared toward enterprises and businesses that require a scaleable, multifaceted survey solution-one that will give them the strategic intelligence they need to make critical business decisions."

Lopez said the "favorable" survey responses have confirmed the success of Chevron FCU's new site: 92% of respondents indicated they were either very satisfied or satisfied with the site overall. Surveys will also soon be developed to anticipate member response to future initiatives and for internal use to garner employee feedback.

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