A Wealth of Mobile Solutions Helps Cabrillo Credit Union Prepare for the Unexpected

About Cabrillo Credit Union

Cabrillo Credit Union is an award-winning San Diego financial institution owned and operated by its 24,000 members. Founded in 1955 as Border Federal Credit Union to serve U.S. Border Patrol agents, the credit union has since expanded its charter to include employees of some federal, state and local agencies. Cabrillo has grown by acquiring other credit unions and attracting new members with a winning combination of affordable financial services, convenient locations and excellent customer service.


Although San Diego has an almost ideal climate, residents regularly face earthquakes, wildfires and other adverse events. Cabrillo Credit Union had to cope with these challenges which could cause occasional service outages. It needed a way to keep staff informed and communications systems secure, as well as redirect calls as needed to maintain outstanding customer service. In addition, Cabrillo wanted a way to safeguard corporate information on mobile devices.


Cabrillo enhances its business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities with an array of mobility solutions. AT&T Messaging Toolkit lets Cabrillo disseminate information via text, email and voice to notify employees of unexpected situations. In the future, this capability will be able to support the credit union’s targeted marketing campaigns to its members. Cabrillo also uses RingCentral Office@Hand from AT&T to redirect phone calls, as needed, and MobileIron® VSP from AT&T to help prevent unauthorized access to credit union information on employees’ corporate and personal mobile devices.

Customer Service Makes the Difference

San Diego residents have many choices when it comes to managing their finances. For more than half a century, thousands have opted for Cabrillo Credit Union, a small financial institution serving individuals as well as employees of the U.S. Border Patrol, Sharp Hospital and the City of Carlsbad. Cabrillo distinguishes itself by offering members an outstanding customer experience.

Integrity has always been a core value of the credit union; in recent years Cabrillo has twice received the Award of Merit from the San Diego Better Business Bureau for its ethical business practices. The credit union makes a point of being involved in the communities it serves, sponsoring and participating in numerous events to raise money for and increase awareness of worthy causes.

Its insightful and experienced leaders set a steady course that has helped Cabrillo avoid the pitfalls that have endangered other financial institutions. At the same time, it has always been progressive in introducing technology to improve members’ lives. Since the 1980s, Cabrillo has given members access to bill payment services and since the mid-90s it has enabled them to manage their finances online. Within the past year, Cabrillo upgraded its core processor in anticipation of members’ growing reliance on Internet banking services and launched mobile banking to give members highly secure remote access to their accounts.

Staying Connected During Emergencies

Cabrillo Chief Technology Officer Frankie Duenas notes that infrastructure upgrades are important to provide good customer service to current members and to attract new business. “We use technology to create an even playing field with the larger financial institutions that we compete against,” he said.

San Diego residents have many choices for managing their finances. A number of area financial institutions have billions of dollars in assets. “At the $200 million mark, we’re much smaller than some of them and we may not have as many branches, but we offer a robust online presence to manage our members’ needs,” Duenas said. “We utilize technology to service members without their noticing that we’re a smaller institution.”

As part of disaster recovery planning, the credit union wanted to improve internal and external communications. “With the exception of conventional email, we really didn’t have a way to communicate with our members and staff,” he said. This was important because San Diego County, like many areas, is vulnerable to unexpected occurrences that could affect operations.

In 2011, for instance, a massive blackout closed thousands of California businesses and schools. Without power for 12 hours, the credit union had no way to let members know which services were still available to them, or to tell employees whether they should report to work. Cabrillo Credit Union needed a tool that would facilitate rapid communication with members and staff during disasters and routine business operations.

The Right Tool for the Job

Already a longtime user of AT&T mobile, data, Internet, network and security services, Cabrillo turned to AT&T for advice about enhancing its communications capabilities. “We’re pretty full-service when it comes to AT&T products and offerings,” Duenas said, “so whenever I’m faced with a challenge I always talk to AT&T.”

The credit union’s account team recommended AT&T Messaging Toolkit to support disaster response planning. “Most communication tools require power, so during a power outage the only way to reach people is by cell phone,” Duenas said. “We can use the Toolkit to reach everyone in one fell swoop by voice mail or text to inform them of any issues.”

Cabrillo installed the Toolkit within a day, and staff began using the web-based portal to sign up subscribers and design and distribute general information broadcasts. “It’s really well thought out,” Duenas said. “All the tools are already there so it’s easy to use and easy for the IT staff to support.”

In the near future, Cabrillo plans to use the mobility solution to let its members opt-in to receive mobile notifications. “We want to be able to accommodate members’ preferences by using tools they use,” said Duenas. The credit union will then be able to design and launch special promotions and hopes to replace a legacy system that is currently used to email its members. “AT&T Messaging Toolkit is definitely more robust,” Duenas said. “It should save us money in staff time and effort required to maintain two different databases.”

The solution may also replace some mailings, including the welcome card all new members get from Cabrillo CEO Robin Lentz. “Now we will be able to use the Messaging Toolkit to deliver an electronic welcome text as soon as they leave the branch,” Duenas said. “We can also congratulate our members on their new loans and see if they have any questions. That’s the personal touch that this tool can provide.”

Remote Phone Line Management

Enhancing its mobile capabilities gave Cabrillo Credit Union officials the peace of mind that comes with being prepared for emergencies. Even as they were deploying the Messaging Toolkit, wildfires were racing out of control in northern San Diego County, reminding the credit union of the many natural and manmade disasters that can disrupt business.

When phone lines are down, it makes life difficult for members who use Cabrillo’s toll-free phone numbers. In case of a call interruption, Duenas and his staff had to be onsite to transfer calls to another location. “We wanted to be better prepared for the unexpected,” he said.

Cabrillo opted for RingCentral Office@Hand from AT&T, a service that enables the credit union to redirect its customers’ toll-free calls almost instantly when the needs of the business change. This further extends Cabrillo’s disaster recovery capabilities, enabling staff to use cell phones, tablets or laptops to manage calls and address customer needs, even when they’re offsite. When disaster closes certain branches, calls are easily redirected to other locations or to individual employees. “I could even redirect them to my cell phone,” Duenas said.

Safeguarding Sensitive Information on Mobile Devices

Another area of concern for Cabrillo was the many mobile devices that credit union employees use. Protecting sensitive corporate information is vital, especially considering that some employees access company networks with their personal phones. The “bring your own device” trend led Cabrillo IT officials to look for a way to manage employees’ use of personal mobile devices on corporate systems.

The Credit Union chose MobileIron VSP from AT&T, a mobile device management (MDM) solution that lets the IT staff monitor employee access, identify threats and enforce policy to safeguard its resources.

While most mobile devices are supplied by the credit union, Duenas said, many staff like to use their personal phones to access their company email accounts. “MobileIron gives us the ability to remove sensitive corporate information from a smartphone or any other smart mobile device with access to our information. This is true whether it’s personal or company-owned, if an employee leaves the company or a device is lost or stolen,” he said.

Cabrillo used the solution recently when an employee returned his phone to the retailer because of a repair issue. “He got a new phone, but we could see that the old phone was still in use,” Duenas said. “We used the MDM capabilities to wipe and lock the device.”

Duenas believes the need for MDM will increase as employees continue to embrace mobile devices. “Tablets are outselling laptops now,” he said. “We see that trend and just have to be prepared for it.”

Building on a Relationship of Trust

“The credit union’s long history of using AT&T services has created a relationship of trust,” Duenas said. “AT&T is a great solution provider. They also do proactive management and call us to see how everything’s going. That’s a really nice feature as well.”

That support ties in well with Cabrillo’s customer service philosophy. “We’re a smaller credit union, but we compete with the big guys,” Duenas said. “We use technology to blur the lines between the large banks and our credit union.” And AT&T helps Cabrillo do just that.

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