Top 15 post: Bruce Ulrich

Mobile Technology 

These days, you have but a moment to catch someone’s attention. After that moment, you may never get another chance to even turn their head. One way to grab their attention is by using mobile devices and technologies in branches as well as out in the field. Right now, when we visit one of our select employer groups (SEGs), it is a very cumbersome process to help someone become a member of the credit union. They must write us a check or sign up for payroll deposit, furnish a copy of two different IDs, complete our application form and sometimes more. This process can take upwards of 15 minutes per person joining. What if this process could be streamlined through the use of mobile technologies? What if, rather than the current 15 minutes it takes to have a person join the credit union, we could cut that time to 5 minutes? The credit union could benefit from another two people joining that would not have otherwise, and more people would benefit from being able to take advantage of the credit union’s saving opportunities…all in the same amount of time. 

In reading about other industries' utilization of mobile technologies, such as iPads, they have shown that they dramatically increase the customer experience (in our industry, that would be our members). For instance, some high-end hotels are using iPads imbedded in their registration desks for the customer to agree to the terms as well as sign the agreements. In the hotel industry, it is revolutionizing the check-in process. This minimal approach leaves a lasting impression on the customer because of the exceptional experience and helps that business serve more of their customers in the same amount of time. So, in the case of credit unions…lasting impression left on the member + member takes advantage of more credit union services in same amount of time + more members served = a stronger credit union with more educated members.

Since a credit union is a business entity, it is always trying to cut its costs of operation. One way to do this would be to more efficiently use mobile technologies to eliminate redundancies and make-work. Some credit unions in the industry that are already utilizing iPads during sign-up events at the SEGs have shown that their total sunk expenses will drop precipitously over their previous methods of using laptops, scanners and printers. One credit union estimated it would take 4 years of using this new mobile method to equal the upfront sunk expense of the previous method.

By using mobile technologies in conjunction with other technologies already in place, the credit union can operate more efficiently. As mentioned above, this could eliminate redundancies which in turn would eliminate expenses. When less of the employees' time is spent on any particular process, they are freed up to serve more members and undertake more projects. This could allow more members to have a loan underwritten that day, or it could even allow one more member to qualify to buy a house they want and need. This better serves the needs of the members as well as the credit union.

Many executives might say in regard to using an iPad and other mobile technologies as outlined in the previous paragraphs, “Well, sure the iPad looks cool, but that is not enough to justify using it.” I totally agree. However, just as Steve Jobs himself said, “Design is not what it looks like. Design is how it works.” To design new plans of action using iPads and other mobile technologies is not to show how ‘cool’ we look (even though that can be an added benefit), but rather to improve how we work…for the members to have a heightened experience with their credit union…for the credit union to cut costs…and for our overall efficiency to improve drastically.

Bruce Ulrich, Statewide Federal Credit Union