TSB’s poor communication could cost the bottom line

TSB crisis communication

TSB crisis demonstrates the needs for public relations to be integrated within all elements of the business

After two days of down time, for a major system upgrade, Friday 6pm until Sunday 6pm, TSB crisis hit and it came under attack (yesterday, Tuesday, 24 April), as it still didn’t have the system up and running.

The major upgrade was to upgrade the online banking and the mobile app how most users access funds. TSB has 1.9 million customers using this service according to most news sources yesterday and those customers took to Twitter to voice their concerns and anger.

I was one of them.

I’ve banked with TSB Business since I started Aura in 2008. I’ve only ever found TSB to be helpful and efficient. Yesterday, however, showed a completely different side. It showed their incompetence in effective communication and caused a meltdown on Twitter, with (from the feed I set up to monitor @TSB), nearly every second tweet was a threat to take their custom elsewhere.

TSB crisis left people and businesses not being able to access funds

Businesses being unable to pay wages, customers unable to transfer funds and in some cases, complaints of children being left without money for their lunch, child minding, and some poor guy away on a stag had to borrow money from other people to be able to go.

I wonder of those who run tight ships as it is, where cashflow is everything, how they are getting on? It wouldn’t surprise me if some businesses were now in a crisis of their own due to TSBs system issues.

One of the worst cases I read was someone actually managing to log into their account, only when they got in, it was someone else’s account and there was £35k in the account, ready to be accessed!

Had there been a TSB crisis communication strategy developed?

Yesterday, not Sunday night or Monday, but Tuesday afternoon, TSB’s CEO, Paul Pester, issued a statement saying sorry. It was badly written and too little, too late for most.

Customers were given a couple of weeks’ notice of the upgrade and that’s fine. I knew. But there was not one piece of communication to any customers from Friday until the statement issued yesterday afternoon and even then, unless you were on Twitter and part of the discussion, you could have easily missed it. No email, no text, nothing.

Crisis communication 101 – staff on Twitter were obviously bombarded with questions which they could not answer. One standard response was used time and again. It got boring to read. They then stopped responding to people for a couple of hours as I imagine they were overloaded and under resourced.

Phones were jammed and people on Twitter were complaining customer service staff were just hanging up on them after queuing to speak to an advisor for 45 minutes.

Saying nothing exacerbates the situation but if you say something, make sure it’s authentic

I wonder what the PR and communication director had planned for the strategy around the upgrade? I wonder if they had done a risk analysis and put support plans in place in the eventuality it all went wrong? I don’t think so!

TSB crisis impact

The damage has been done. Damage to reputation, damage to trust and damage most certainly to the bottom line. Only time will tell the impact of this disaster for TSB.

I’m still waiting for a text or email from TSB with an apology. I’m still waiting for them to tell me it’s now working. Are they just relying on social media to tell people?

Surely a channel audit and audience profiling tells them that purely relying on social during a crisis isn’t right?

An hour ago, the CEO announced the system was now up and running. I’ve just seen the 5Live news tweet.

@BBCBreakfast is talking about “top tips if you’re affected by the ongoing TSB banking failure. What you can do and how you could get compensation”.

Someone has just tweeted that they have accesses their online account and four days worth of transactions have been triplicated!! Other complaints saying people can’t access their account and if they can, they can’t make any transactions. Apparently the helpline is now engaged, too. It’s just not getting any better…

It also goes to show and underlines the need for public relations to be all over the business. It needs to know everything so it can manage issues and certainly be ready when a crisis hits.

Image courtesy of flickr user Elliott Brown

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