Online Account Opening Boosts Sales At Keesler

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BILOXI, Miss.-Keesler FCU is adding 300 more products and services a month since adding online account opening, according to the CU that credits not only the technology but how the new tool is deployed.

Keesler FCU recently deployed the Costa Mesa, Calif.-based MeridianLink platform to its main website to give consumers and members the ability to join and add new products without having to stop by one of its 14 branches. The CU already had online lending.

"Online account opening has helped us extend our reach, whether that be within the communities we are located in, or across the country," said Vicki Bush, AVP of branch operations. "We are getting more products from our membership and more people are joining. For example, our checking penetration was 36% before we had online account opening, now it's 50%."

Adding the web access coincides with KFCU's push to let residents know they don't have to be affiliated with Keesler Air Force Base to join the credit union, a common misperception, Bush explained. "And we have members across the country, since many are military and are redeployed. We wanted to still be able to serve them, plus, if a member has relatives who live in another city, now they can join."

Member retention was another issue. The latest numbers indicate that retention on deposit accounts per household has increased from 97% to 107%.

Benefits from online account opening would likely not have been as big without careful website engineering, explained Edward Guerin, VP of MeridianLink. "Many credit unions, unfortunately, take the attitude of 'build it and they will come.' A piece of technology and delivery channel is only as good as the compliments you surround them with, and Keesler has done a wonderful job of marketing and engineering their website to make the new tools work."

Guerin said Keesler's website invites members to join, apply for loans or buy other services. "In the upper right corner of the home page, where eyes wander to, they have a delineated yellow tab that's broken apart from the rest of the color paletting, and it is moving. It says 'Become a Member,' 'Apply Here,' 'Get a Loan,' etc. It's eye-catching and I don't have to search hard to find out how to enroll."

Guerin noted that website research indicates that people have about a six-second attention span when searching for information on a web page. "Then they are clicking on. Advice I would give to credit unions hoping to get these same results as Keesler: Build your site for performance. Make meaningful clicks prominent-like join, apply, open, and fund. Use your website real estate wisely."

Guerin added that credit unions should also adhere to the rule that 80% of the CU's homepage should be geared toward non-members' eyes. "Your website is a sales and marketing machine, and only 20% of the real estate should be for existing members. Face it, most existing members want to just log in to do home banking, check rates, or apply for something."

The MeridianLink platform is web-based, and easily plugs into any website, said Guerin. It facilitates the entire end-to-end new account opening and funding transactions, including credit reporting and ID verification, and has cross-selling applications. Mobile applications are available, including one for iPhones.

Costs for the MeridianLink platform include a one-time setup fee that can range from $5,000 to $35,000 depending on the number of applications and credit union size, and a monthly recurring usage fee, Guerin reported. For info: www.meridianlink.com

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