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NEW YORK – The $2 billion United Nations FCU has membership all over the world, so when it wanted to enhance member service it needed a global tool. What better ubiquitous tool than the Internet? UNFCU offers a host of online features for its members to do business anywhere in the world, such as online banking and bill pay, but last year it rolled out an interactive WebChat service to help answer member inquiries in a real-time environment. The CU is using WebChat functionality from its call center software provider Apropos. Apropos has received seven US patents for call center related technology inventions, including a patent on the concept of blending multi-channel communications into a single, universal queuing system. Based in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., it serves over 300 clients worldwide. “Members see an icon (at www.unfcu.com) that says Web chat and they click on it they get us here. A lot of our members are overseas,” said Yee Lew, UNFCU Call Center Manager, so services like Web chat are essential. The CU can serve all United Nations employees and their family members, retired UN employees, and employees and family members from a host of UN-related organizations. The CU’s call center offers WebChat sessions from 4:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturdays. These hours are critical to give the CU good coverage in all its time zones. “The people in Europe are six hours ahead of us, and the people in Asia have an 11 to 12 hour difference,” said Yew. And with membership up over 13% last year, it wanted tools to make its call center reps more productive. The average length of a chat session is 10 to 15 minutes. Most occur in the early morning from overseas members in Europe. Volume decreases as the day goes on, and then picks up again in the evening from Asian members. UNFCU reps can interact with members in both English and French (one of the official languages of the UN). Typically five UNFCU reps are available to handle WebChat. Since rolling out the service last year, the CU has seen the number of sessions steadily increase. It now takes approximately 1,000 a month, which has reduced its phone inquiries. One major advantage of WebChat is the session is logged in an archive that both the member and call center representative can access to verify information. Call center reps also have a library of frequently asked questions they can reference to answer member questions. By using the FAQ list during the WebChat sessions, the reps ensure they are giving consistent answers. It also speeds up the session and reduces repetitive typing for the reps. UNFCU developed a matrix to ensure member satisfaction. It includes a WebChat Observation Checklist with communication skill standards and follow-up action steps. WebChat also reduces overseas telephone costs. Lew said UNFCU employees like it because it keeps them on the cutting edge of technology. She said about 80% of the CU’s 25 call center reps have been trained on dealing with members via WebChat, which is a different discipline than conversing with members over the phone. A downside is the WebChat sessions can take longer than phone calls, depending on the typing skills of the parties. The WebChat feature is just one aspect of UNFCU’s multi-channel call center. It also handles voice, fax and e-mail inquiries. No matter how they come in, Lew said Apropos’ software allows the CU to put then in a single database and call center reps can access any form of inquiry in their queue. “When a member faxes requests overseas, it’s captured in our fax server, and pushed into Apropos for the call center. Faxes to our wire department we can see as well. So if a members calls us about a wire, we can give the status,” said Lew. Lew said while WebChat sessions and e-mail inquiries are growing, voice traffic has leveled off. The CU’s success with Apropos’ WebChat functionality helped it win NAFCU’s 2004 Innovation Showcase Award. [email protected]

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