What You Can Do to Help Wildfire Victims

Map showing large fires in Washington, Oregon and California
ArcGIS Northwest Large Fire Interactive Map (Current As of 9.18.17)
While Texas and Florida have been dealing with catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, the West Coast has been dealing with the worst wildfire seasons in the U.S. So far, over 8 million acres have been burned, with 2 million currently in flames. In some areas, including Portland, OR, public health authorities are recommending that people stay inside because the air quality is so poor.

To see how you can help some of the affected states, visit the links below :

Do you know of more ways to help? Let us know in the comments. 

Why FIs Need Resilient Call Centers in a Self-Service World

Call center employee with money
In a survey, 71 percent of consumers said they would use entirely computer-generated support for financial services. With the majority of consumers preferring self-service options, should your financial institution (FI) still prioritize traditional service delivery methods, including calls, in your business continuity program? In short, the answer is yes.

Here are two reasons you should.

Customers Prefer Phone Calls for Certain Situations

Self-service solutions work for everyday transactions, but customers still pick up the phone when they’re in the research phase of a major financial decision. For example, 65 percent of people are more likely to take out a loan from an institution they had spoken on the phone with. That number jumps to 73 percent for loans of $100,000 or more. In other cases, customers prefer to pick up the phone to get a quick answer without having to fill out a web form or to discuss a complex situation.

Paying attention to the wants and needs of consumers is crucial as customer loyalty drops. If your call center experiences an extended outage and you’re not available by phone when a customer needs you, they won’t hesitate to do business with a different organization.

There Are Compliance Requirements for Call Center Availability

In many cases, the accessibility of phone service is tied to compliance. The FFIEC, for example, requires FIs to perform vulnerability assessments for critical support areas and interdependencies such as telecommunications. It also stipulates that the backup site should mirror operational functionality, including call centers. To ensure the business continuity plan works in practice and not just on paper, the FFIEC recommends stress testing critical functions that might experience increased customer volume during a crisis. These functions include online banking, phone-based banking, ATMs and, of course, call centers.

If phone calls precede large transactions, that’s all the more reason to ensure you have agents ready to assist customers.  

To learn more about why call center resilience is important, join us in Phoenix, AZ at the DRJ Fall World Conference for Solutions Track 7 on Sunday, September 17. 

A Quick List of Hurricane Irma Resources

In August, Texas was faced with the wrath of Hurricane Harvey, and now Florida is feeling the sting of Hurricane Irma. Already we’ve seen the community rally together to help those impacted by Harvey. We’re optimistic that we’ll see a similar response to Irma.

Google Crisis Response map of Florida
Google Crisis Response Map
 Whether you’ve been affected by Irma or looking for ways to help, here are some useful resources:

  • Airbnb — Locate a place to stay or open your home up to someone in need.
  • Federal Trade Commission — Get tips for avoiding scams when donating to relief efforts.
  • FEMA — Find a list of surrounding shelters that haven’t reached capacity by downloading the FEMA app or texting SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA). Avoid falling victim to misinformation and scams by visiting the Rumor Control page.
  • Google Crisis Response — Locate shelters, gas stations, evacuation routes and traffic patterns.
  • LifeSouth or American Red Cross — Find a blood drive near you.
  • Waze — Check for closed roads and accidents.
To get a peek at how communities and businesses are working toward recovery in the wake of Harvey and Irma, check out our ongoing storm coverage.  

[INFOGRAPHIC] From the Board Room to the Break Room

Every business has different priorities and challenges, but one thing all businesses have in common is the need for cybersecurity. While people tend to point the finger at hackers for security breaches, human error is one of the top causes. Unfortunately, there’s often a breakdown in communication between top-level executives and end users when it comes to basic security hygiene, which increases an organization's chance of a cyber attack. This infographic by Delta Risk offers practical tips for creating a culture of security within your business.

"From the Board Room to the Break Room" Infographic

For more information on how prioritizing cybersecurity helps your business, read our post “How Can Cybersecurity Help Grow Your Business?

In the News: Helping Flooded Businesses Get Back on Their Feet

Video still of Steve O'Neal speaking to Kathleen Witte
Steve O'Neal, Rentsys account executive, speaks to KBTX's Kathleen Witte.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and its catastrophic flooding, countless businesses are striving to get back on their feet. Business owners need to get back to serving their communities and customers. Employees need their next paychecks so they can start their families’ personal recoveries. Everyone affected by the storm just wants to get back to normal as soon as possible. Our goal is to help businesses do just that.

KBTX, a news outlet in College Station, TX, stopped by our headquarters yesterday to get a behind-the-scenes look at our Hurricane Harvey response efforts. To watch the video, visit KBTX's website.

Hurricane Harvey: How to Get Help or Get Involved

Over the weekend, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas as a Category 4 hurricane, making it one of the worst disasters in Texas history. As Harvey lingers, the threat is still present. FEMA is predicting 30,000 people will be driven to shelters.

#HarveyRELIEF Map
#HarveyRELIEF Map

Whether you and your family have been affected by Harvey and need assistance or you're looking for ways to get involved in relief efforts, here are some helpful resources:

Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by Harvey. If you know of additional opportunities to help, please let us know in the comments. 

Don’t Forget the Human Side of Business Continuity

Man grieving over destroyed house
When Hurricane Katrina struck, it left entire cities along the Gulf Coast devastated. Those who hadn’t evacuated were forced to find food when groceries and restaurants were closed, a cool place to sit when the AC was out in the sweltering South, and a place to bathe when there was limited to no running water. What are the odds of successfully implementing your business continuity plan after that? Surely employees aren’t going to work under those conditions, right? Not so for the employees of a bank branch in Pascagoula, MS.

The company’s building had flooded, so it had a Mobile Banking Center deployed. Employees showed up to work to help customers cash their FEMA checks. This service was critical to a community in need, and the branch was the only place in town providing it. The employees even brought their families to work to take advantage of the air-conditioned space. When your business experiences a regional disaster, how do you activate your business continuity plan if your employees are busy dealing with their own personal emergencies? Should you expect them to come to work? The human element of business continuity can’t be ignored.

To ensure your business continuity plan is compatible with your employees’ and community’s needs, make sure you know the answers to these questions:


  • Which of your services do they value most?
  • How can you help during a crisis?
  • Will you help a community in crisis even if your business is not in crisis?
  • If yes, what would that look like?


  • Which of your services do they value most?
  • How far are they willing to drive or wait to get this service if your community is in crisis?
  • How long would they wait for the service before they went to a different company?
  • Do they have any family who would be impacted as well?

The ideal business continuity plan will merge the goals of the business, community and employees to create a situation in which everybody wins. The bank in Pascagoula was able to successfully implement its business continuity strategy during a massive catastrophe because its business continuity planners weren’t just focused on the business’s goals — they knew what the bank’s employees and community needed and found a way to meet those needs. Employees were happy to come to work because they knew they were providing their neighbors with a critical service and offering a sense of stability in the midst of a volatile time. The bank was able to keep its doors open, the community received desperately needed FEMA money, and employees didn’t have to neglect their families to perform their duties.

Does your business continuity plan accomplish your goals as well as those of your employees and your community? Let us know in the comments.

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