By now, you have heard about the Southwest Airlines major network outage that happened this year. The outage lasted about 12 hours and 2,300 flights were cancelled, which caused a waterfall of customer service and logistical problems. A critical piece of networking equipment failed and the backup to that equipment
also failed. Now Southwest Airlines is doing damage control to retain angry customers, but there is something that we can learn from Southwest’s disaster. No one in the IT department at Southwest Airlines knew the primary piece of equipment would fail and the backup would not work in its place. Outages happen when you least expect them, and no one can test every scenario. Severe weather, ice storms, excessive heat, equipment failure, flooding, humidity, construction equipment cutting lines: these are all conditions that can cause downtime and occur at a moment’s notice. It is very important to have a continuity plan for when they do.
STI has a business continuity plan that is tested regularly for the hardware piece, but there are many scenarios that involve the customer contact that can be practiced or tested. Often times, I have been on the phone with a teller when a network outage happens at a given branch and heard them tell a customer, “I’m sorry, I can’t help you. The system is down.” This is just wrong! I will say it again, wrong! It wasn’t very long ago when banking didn’t depend on computers that much. We have become spoiled by technology as a culture and sometimes it seems like we cannot function without it. So what is there to be done? Train and prepare. If you don’t have one, or currently are not using a training plan for what to do if a network goes down or a server is not available, it is time to start thinking about it. The good news is we are here to help if you need it. We can even turn off the network at a branch one at a time and let you train employees for a few hours or an entire day. These make for good disaster tests for your audit program, plus arm your front line staff with practical knowledge of how to handle the customer. It should be natural to call another branch for balances, use other PC’s in the branch if only the terminal server is down, etc… While not ideal, you can still hand write
tickets. Work can be taken to other branches to be scanned. The list could go on and on.
At STI, we want to make sure that your customers are still happy with the service you provide even when the unexpected happens.