Credit Union Crisis: Responding When Technology Fails Members
Over the last few weeks, we have seen what should have been seamless transitions to new software platforms, turn into member (and public) relations disasters for two credit unions. Ask most credit unions if they are ready for a crisis and they immediately answer, “Yes, our disaster recovery plan is up to date.” That’s nice, but does that disaster recovery plan provide strategy and steps on how to respond via Twitter to an enraged member that can’t immediately access their checking account online?
As Casey Boggs, president of LT Public Relations explains in the July issue of CU Management Magazine, because of social media, crises are now more polarizing, evolve faster and are far more damaging than in years past. According to a recent article in Credit Union Times, the Kern Schools Federal Credit Union system upgrade left members unable to access their accounts online and unable to reach service representatives by phone. As a result, members notified the media, and soon the credit union found itself the subject of multiple negative stories both online, in broadcast and print. Locally, First Tech Federal Credit Union recently experienced a similar scenario. As the credit union integrated systems with Addison Avenue, many members lost access to their accounts online and were faced with 45 minute wait times to speak to a representative over the phone. While the credit union did release a statement asking for patience, it was too late. Members had already taken to Facebook and Twitter to vent in expletive-filled detail, their wait times and frustrations, each feeding off the next person with angry, toxic postings. The Oregonian was also notified, and the credit union was featured in an article that likely was not part of the merger community relations plan.
The recent Michaels retail data breach that affected credit union members in Oregon also demonstrates the challenges that organizations face when member or customer privacy and financial information are compromised. Because there is a third party involved, in this case Michaels, it may be impossible for a credit union or bank to immediately answer questions in detail about exactly what happened. Meanwhile, the media, members, customers and regulators are all impatiently awaiting a response. Even so, in these three examples we can gather a theme: delivering rapid and direct messages through multiple channels (Facebook, Twitter, home website, etc.) showing empathy, and providing a solution or answer as to when the problem will be solved is critical. The longer it takes to react effectively, the greater the damage, and the “moment of crisis” is the absolute last place at which crisis planning should start.
The worst thing an organization can do is nothing, and since we have been afforded such excellent examples of crises, there is no excuse for not having a comprehensive social media crisis plan in place.
Tags: Casey Boggs, credit union management, Credit Union Times, credit unions, crisis communications, crisis management, crisis preparation, Facebook, Michaels data breach, Oregonian, social media, twitter