As someone who has experience of socialising customer services for banks, I watched the fallout from the
Natwest/RBS technical outage yesterday with great interest.
In particular I was struck by how quickly and strongly the customers reacted on social channels.
Natwest have a ticker on their
homepage that shows recent customer comments from their Ideas Bank feedback section, and yesterday’s selection did not portray them in a very positive light.
In a way this public censure saddens me; it is precisely this fear of a social media backlash that stops banks from engaging more fully (if you tell a risk team that they can expect negative opinion on their public spaces they tend to panic a little….)
And this is a shame, as the benefits of opening dialogue with customers on social spaces far outweigh these perceived risks.
So, all credit to Natwest for riding out the storm and not removing the negative comment stream from their website.
Banks have a tough job (no really!); they have millions of customers, they are heavily regulated (so have to be very careful about how they talk with customers and what they share) and they are being threatened on every side by supermarkets, mobile providers
and online start-ups that are encroaching on their business and who do customer service better.
On top of this, customer trust in banks has been eroded in the wake of the financial crisis – a recent
YouGov poll found that only 28% of us trust high street banks.
They are scared to open the floodgates of public opinion and have it reflected back at them.
However, the same poll revealed, “62% of consumers strongly agree that brands behaving fairly and transparently with their customers would encourage trust”.
In the case of yesterday’s issue with NatWest/RBS, it is certainly the case that customers were inconvenienced and their anger was, in many cases, legitimate. Why shouldn’t they rail against the institution that created these problems?
It is an important lesson for Natwest and RBS to realise the significant impact that such issues have on their customers and, at least in theory, it should give them insight on what is of key importance to customers so that they can prioritise their service
In fact, this is exactly why
Natwest opened its branches early this morning to help customers who had been affected.
If this very public response to the banks failure means that RBS Group review their systems or pump more resources into their QA processes and eliminate the risk of such a glitch happening again, then everyone benefits.
This is the real value of transparent customer service engagement for banks, it’s not just about amplifying the positive aspects of your service, it’s about providing space for negative feedback and using this insight to understand and offer a better service
to your customers overall.
Let’s hope that RBS Group recognise this and turn a lousy week into a long-term improvement for their customers.