Andrews FCU, Suitland, Maryland (www.andrewsfcu.org) uses a Web-based help system to support its online services products, primarily home banking, account aggregation and credit card account information. The software program AFCU uses is from a company called RightNow Technologies, Inc. (www.rightnow.com). A second interface is for general inquiries and allows members to find answers to questions and receive assistance in real time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to Jennifer Pace, project manager for the home banking program and administrator of the system. Usually, those queries provide them with information that answers such common questions like "How do I get online?"
This approach to knowledge management is founded on a self-learning knowledge engine the company calls Revelation, which is customer-driven, whereby member interactions drive the content and structure. The answer to a member's question can be provided immediately -based on the content of the question. The technology predicts what information the member desires and leads them to it by clustering and matching suggested solutions, thus enhancing the ability to effectively find information with clickable links to take them through the process.
"It's very intuitive," said Pace, who monitors the exchange and can help the effectiveness by adding key words or providing additional answers if necessary. " The member always gets what they need, and most often, without my having to do anything else," said Pace.
Pace sees reports in real time and the system maintains a history of every threaded discussion. For the week beginning June 16, there were 383 sessions, with 201 answers viewed and 120 searches conducted. Only 35 Web questions came through after the system responded, and most of those were from to people who didn't realize their question had already been answered. "That happens, sometimes," said Pace. "Maybe they are just beginning to use home banking or don't read the responses fully."
Pace said that nearly 50% of inquiries are about how to use home banking, 25% involve the location of a form and 25% are "other." Many of the suggested solutions that are returned with the acknowledgement of the inquiry resolve the problem. "People sometimes think they are receiving individual responses, and they really are, but I'm in the background and the system is responding. But occasionally, I get an email from someone trying to reach Susie at the credit union, but her line is busy. Or they'll say, 'I'm sorry my payment was late.' They always get an answer from me. I'll say that I'll have Susie call them back or, "Thanks for letting us know about the payment or whatever it may be."
The system has allowed AFCU to publish an email address for member use without it resulting in staffers getting inundated by answering messages all day. It saves money and staff time, said Pace. "Personally responding to inquiries only takes up a quarter of my time," Pace noted, yet members' questions are answered and they are being educated in how to use the online products. AFCU bought a two-year license for $30,000 and renewed for $50,000. Compared to the cost of full staffing to provide the same service, it's very economical, she said. "It makes sense and works smart." Pace added that she hadn't yet tapped out the other capabilities of the software, either. "I'm still finding things I can do with it."