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As we read about the recent flooding in Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma, we are reminded that credit unions must be prepared to assist their members in any situation. They must be on a constant watch for disasters. Failure to do so adversely affects the institution’s image with its members and community.
There are three areas of focus for a credit union that uses shared branching as part of its disaster recovery program: Staff Training, Member Training, and a Back up Plan.
Staff Training A sure-fire way to avoid member misconceptions is staff training. If staff can calmly and confidently assist members during an emergency situation, members gain confidence in the overall institution’s brand.
Staff should have a steadfast understanding of the shared branching product andbe able to answer any member questions regarding locations, transactions, and hours. In past emergencies, members spoke of the credit union saving their lives and how the staff was essential in their recovery. Getting them the information they needed--when they needed it-- was the key.
The emergency or disaster may not just be physical or large-scale. An example recently occurred when a new participant to shared branching had a member whose identity was stolen. The member was able to halt any fraudulent activity by shutting down the cards; however, her husband was on a business trip in Florida and needed access to cash. The staff of the credit union informed the member that her husband could get access to the funds through shared branching…and there was a location within a mile of his conference. Now that’s superb training!
Member Training Just as it is important for your credit union to educate your members about the products you offer, it’s equally important to ensure they know how to best utilize those products. This is especially true for shared branching.
The largest public disappointment regarding credit union service during the hurricanes of 2005 was the false perception that if you have your money in a credit union, then access is restricted in times of need. Members need only to know where to go. If members know what to expect and where to go during an emergency, then comfort replaces anxiety.
In shared branching, members can readily access directions to more than 2,650 locations worldwide through an audio response and web locator service. Ensure that your members understand your procedures in time of emergency;direct them to either www.cuservicecenter.com, or 800-919-CUSC (2872).
Back up Plan Shared branching was a lifesaver to many during the hurricanes in the Gulf. Still, if the credit union’s data processing system was inaccessible, shared branching had limited power to help the member. There were special services that offered members emergency access to some of their funds…but not all.
A financial institution must be confident that any disruption to your data processing system does not impact your members’ access to their accounts. Now there is back-up plan for shared branching —CURe.. This service improves your members’ ability to access their funds regardless of the environment, even if your data processing system is down.
How does CURe work? The shared branching participant need only provide a positive balance file at a predetermined frequency to CUSC. If disaster ever strikes, CUSC’s Next Generation switch stands in for the credit union and ensures that the teller at the acquiring location has access to the members’ most recent account balances.
If your credit union addresses these three areas while using shared branching in your business continuity plan, then you will not be caught unprepared. For more information on CURe, please contact CUSC at www.cusc.net
July 16, 2007
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