Online Chat Leads to Marketing Opportunities

Envision Credit Union of Tallahassee, Florida, launched a successful live chat capability on its Web site that lets members get answers to their questions in real time without logging off. Envision also has a popular e-newsletter that combines folksy neighborhood news with financial tips, discounts at local businesses and valuable Web links.


Since March, members of Envision Credit Union in Tallahassee, Florida have been able to ''talk'' to a credit union representative while on line at the CU's Web site, ( This ''live chat'' service is provided by LivePerson, and Leslie Hantman, E-Systems coordinator for the CU said members just love it.

''A lot of people don't have a DSL line or even a second phone line. So if they have a question while they're on our site, they'd have to log off and make a phone call, and that's a bother. They want answers, and we want them to get them quickly,'' Hantman said.

When a member types a question into the pop up box, an answer comes back fast, because ''operators are standing by,'' laughed Hantman. Most times, members only need to be directed to the right place on the site to find the answer, but they still love that there is a real person telling them how to find it, said Hantman. And as a result, traffic to the site is way up, she added. At the end of each chat, the member is asked if they'd like to receive an e-newsletter.

Hantman started the monthly e-newsletter, called e-Vision, and members have taken well to it. Sent in HTML format, with photos and graphics, it is personalized for each member and has a different ''homey'' welcome message opener. Two or three financial management and/or investments stories follow. ''One month, we did a piece on getting car insurance. Another time, we wrote about our auto advisor service. We also feature stories on local member businesses that offer discounts to credit union members,'' Hantman said. E-vision also contains some nifty Web-related material, like links to sites where you can download free virus scan software.

In January, when Envision changed its name from North Florida Education CU, the CU reprinted all its forms to reflect the new name, and wisely included a request for members' e-mail addresses, said Hantman. And a CU-wide campaign to obtain addresses continues, with little ''blue slips'' available at all teller stations. ''The CU's home banking program, called Personal Branch, has some 7,500 users, who get advance email notices when the system is scheduled for an upgrade and will be off-line. Beyond that, Envision is careful not to send too much mail too often, said Hantman. ''We do it two times a month. I reserve one message for something that might come up, then the newsletter. Too much mail will just irritate people.''




Oct. 22, 2001


  • Live Chat...this one is truly a Killer App!!
  • Love the stories about CU innovation. Keep publishing them!
  • Great to hear that credit unions are now doing this!! Excellent!