Training APEX Awards Best Practice: Michigan State University Federal Credit Union’s Internal Chatbot—Gene

Instead of expecting employees to memorize answers or processes, MSUFCU reinforces a culture of “knowing your resources,” including its newest artificial intelligence chatbot, Gene.

APEX Awards

Every decision Michigan State University Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU) leaders make serves two interests: those of members and those of employees. The credit union created its second artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot, Gene, to support these two needs by making member experiences more consistent and timely and giving employees faster and more direct access to information to support member needs. MSUFCU is one of the first in the credit union industry to leverage this type of AI technology.

Program Details

With increasing consumer demand, rapid organizational growth, and staffing limitations, the ability of employees to have reliable, relevant information when they need it is essential. For many years, MSUFCU employees relied primarily on a knowledge warehouse or library called CU Info with a Microsoft SharePoint infrastructure. Though this resource is searchable, it contains sometimes lengthy documents and manuals that require time and a discriminating eye. This then causes employees to look to one another for support, which also creates disruptions and inconsistencies.

Based on these factors, as well as a desire to be a leader in innovation throughout the industry, MSUFCU implemented its second artificial intelligence chatbot, Gene (its first one is member-facing chatbot Fran). Gene is housed in the lower right corner of MSUFCU’s intranet page, The Loop. Employees click on Gene and ask questions. Initially, Gene could help with basic questions, such as MSUFCU’s current rates. This allowed employees to quickly respond to member questions and avoid hunting down the information or seeking answers from a colleague.

Now, Gene answers more complex questions and can walk employees through a multitude of member needs and processes, such as accounts, cards, credit union information, general questions and support, innovation, loans, payments, and more. In the future, Gene will develop more search functionalities and integrations, allowing the chatbot to search the Loop and CU Info if it doesn’t know the answer.

Instead of expecting employees to memorize answers or processes, MSUFCU reinforces a culture of “knowing your resources.” All new employees practice using Gene throughout their New Employee Program. Following an employee’s initial onboarding with Learning and Development, department trainers also reinforce utilization of Gene in trainings. Member-facing employees receive continuous department trainings throughout their first year and beyond. Reinforcements and reminders regarding Gene’s utilization also appear in company-wide intranet articles, as well as in the employee newsletter.


In 2022, at the end of new hires’ first week, 100 percent of new employee groups identified Gene as one of the key resources they go to for questions and support. By leveraging Gene as an internal knowledge resource, MSUFCU has been able to provide 24/7 support to employees, reduce wait times, and improve accuracy of information to almost 99 percent. Gene also saved roughly 2,000 employee-to-employee interactions each month. In 2021, this contributed to the organization’s 80 percent member satisfaction score, which was 5 percent over the goal.

Edited by Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.