You could say Brett Wooden, business development manager at Unitus Community Credit Union, jump-started a credit union iPad movement–and he’d be thrilled.
"The biggest challenges for business development are getting members and educating consumers about the credit union as well," said Wooden, an admitted Apple enthusiast. "So that is where iPad came into play. Instead of heading back to a branch to finish up an application or ask members to follow-up with a branch visit, we can do it all there on the spot, creating this excitement about the experience itself."
The idea came when he met with a business client who did not have time to come into the branch.
As he helped her open accounts, check savings and loan interest rates, and view the Unitus website and its new personal finance tool, he realized it could be a great way to bring banking to the people.
Wooden has used his iPad for everything in the field and in the office, from taking notes, giving presentations and opening accounts to taking surveys and even just showing it off. He said the iPad has helped drive the Portland, Ore.-based credit union’s promise of convenience while creating a positive member experience.
"We’ve got to adapt and meet the changing needs and expectations of our members," said Wooden. "That means going beyond the thousands of ways we can position the same old products to really delivering a unique, meaningful and valuable experience."
The business development team has a goal of adding 1,032 new members in 2011. So far the team is 44% to goal with 459 new members at the end of April. According to Wooden, half of those were open on the iPad, averaging 3.05 products per member with a goal of 3.30.
According to Wooden, business development is sales and it’s time for credit unions to stop shying away from the term. In addition to having a force with the ability to sell, a mix of a positive attitude, adaptability and technique are the keys to success in business development.
"Credit union people are still resistant to the word ‘sales,’" said Wooden. "The reality is that if you truly believe in your credit union and its products and services, then not recommending products that could help someone become more financial stable is actually a disservice to your members."
He said that shift in mentality to helping find the right product that can help consumers save money makes a difference for those who equate sales with pushy car salesmen.
Sales remain top of mind at Unitus Community CU. The business development team meets every Monday morning for 45 minutes and Wooden sits with each business development officer to discuss their weekly activities report. The team uses a formula of ‘activity times effectiveness equals results’ to help ensure their time is well spent.
"The goal is to have the perfect week which is three on-sites, five new members, and three decision maker meetings," said Wooden. The team also gets together for one full day a month to review selling techniques and best practices.
He said a sales pitch addressing HR’s pain points has been more effective than just listing products and services.
"Our job is 80% relationships, so we listen and use those pain points they identified to let them know here's what we can do to help," said Wooden. "Our mantra here has always been ‘let your questions show your intelligence, not your answers.’"
He added that he would love to see every credit union have their own in-house creative task force.
"We run the risk of having too much of a cookie cutter approach, when we could be innovating," said Wooden. "If the whole financial industry is viewed all the same, then we should be looking within for ways to make our own path. For example, at 3M staffers are given two hours once a week to just be creative, which can take whatever form. Credit unions can use their size to be nimble and implement new solutions to everyday challenges."
Also on Wooden’s credit union industry wish list: a CUSO dedicated to developing apps.
"I think credit unions are still being modest about what they have to offer especially to young professionals," said Wooden. "I’m surprised more young professionals aren’t lining up to work at a credit union. What I tell anyone who’ll listen is that credit unions offer more opportunity to have a direct impact on what happens in the organization and it’s inspiring to me that you’re not limited by your field of expertise. There’s always an opportunity to learn and volunteer for different projects."
As for the iPad team, it has expanded to include four business development officers and two mortgage business development officers. The entire Unitus Community CU leadership team and the board are currently testing out implementing the iPad as well. Wooden still feels like he has still only scratched the surface of the tablet’s potential.
"I think it’s important to create unique solutions for your SEGs’ employees that address their current needs," said Wooden. "If the competition is doing it, stop now and do something else. Each credit union has its own unique selling prop, mine is that I can open your account on my iPad. It gets the conversation started."
For Wooden, a laptop just won’t deliver the same experience, because of the difference in speed and the fact that the device can be held in one hand, which creates a more personal interaction.
"I can open an account in 15 minutes, whereas with the laptop it’s a lot of extra steps just to get you to the point to be able to open the account from waiting for it to start up to getting the wireless card to work," said Wooden. "In two seconds, with the CO-OP app I can show members who say they need more ATM locations, here are 50 right around us. One of my favorites are members who say they belong to our credit union because they have a car loan with us. My response is always ‘well you’re not using your full membership,’ and that sparks their interest and a conversation about what they’re looking for."
He added that the iPad itself generates interest and helps reinforce the image that Unitus Community CU is a modern, hip financial institution.
"The last thing you want is to be labeled as ‘your grandfather’s institution’ by consumers. It’s hard enough breaking through the misperceptions about credit unions. Whether they love it or hate it, the iPad is the sexy new gadget that people are talking about so there’s a curiosity factor built in–sort of like a guaranteed ice breaker," said Wooden. "I’ve always been a huge Apple fan from the beginning so I’m biased but I think consumers want to be able to do business with their financial institution their way and for us to make what’s basically viewed as a chore easy and fun makes a difference. The idea is to engage people and to me that laptop is just another barrier."
Wooden has a voracious interest in social media, innovation, the latest gadgets and apps.
"I’m constantly networking to learn more and I’m on Twitter, read a lot of blogs including the Crash Network blog and of course CultofMac.com and 9 to 5 Mac.com," said Wooden. "I also recently got this really cool Flipboard app that takes all my twitter feeds and makes it into a social media magazine. I think it’s important to expand your network beyond just credit unions. You never know where you’ll find inspiration and ideas."