What keeps you up at night?
Baxter CU’s Carey Price participates in the COO Exchange Sunday at the CUNA Technology Council/Operations & Member Experience Council Conference in Phoenix.

What keeps you up at night?

COO Exchange identifies top issues facing operations leaders.

October 2, 2017

What work issues keep you up at night?

If you’re a credit union chief operating officer (COO), those issues are likely to be cybersecurity, staffing shortages, disaster recovery, and competition from big banks, according to responses shared during a COO Exchange Sunday at the CUNA Technology Council/Operations & Member Experience Council Conference in Phoenix.

Moderated by Tum Vongsawad, COO at San Diego County Credit Union and a member of the CUNA Operations & Member Experience Council executive committee, the session identified COOs’ biggest concerns, including:


Fueling fears of cybersecurity risks is the recent Equifax data breach, which gave hackers access to the personally identifiable information of 143 million Americans and credit card information of 209,000 people.

Failing to protect this highly sensitive data means credit unions may bear the brunt for damages in replacing members’ cards, covering fraudulent purchases, and taking measures to reduce the risk of identity theft and false loans.

Some credit unions and CUNA are filing lawsuits against Equifax as a result of the data breach.


Phishing attempts are still plague credit unions, and conference attendees are stepping up their training efforts as a result.

This includes sending false phishing attempts to staff to see who bites.

One attendee offers training and makes this a performance issue. After multiple training sessions and five verbal warnings, an employee may be fired for failing a phishing test.

Another attendee may block all outside email and internet access for staff, even though doing likely will cause inconveniences.

Contact centers

At one credit union, 30% of all incoming calls go to voicemail, causing service issues.

Also, high staff turnover at contact centers causes problems for many credit unions.

Some attendees provide bonuses to contact center and teller staff to improve retention.

Disaster recovery

Credit unions should examine their disaster recovery plans in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

Reaching employees in the wake of the storms was especially difficult. Communication and access to cash and fuel for generators was also challenging.

“We’re operating as if we’re in 1950,” one attendee said.

Many credit unions are helping affected members with emergency loans and deferred payments.


The megabanks are investing heavily in digital services, and credit unions need to keep up or become irrelevant.

Interactive teller machines (ITMs), which offer personalized service through automation, can help somewhat. The machines centralize teller and related functions.

By delivering teller services through ITMs, branches can focus on building member relationships.

They also can reduce branch costs.

Click here for more conference coverage from CUNA News, and get live updates on Twitter via @CUNACraig@cumagazine, and  @CUNACouncils, and by using the #TechOpSS hashtag. Learn more about the CUNA Councils, a member-led professional society for credit union executives, at cunacouncils.org.