RBS has left customers 'panicked' over IT glitch

RBS has failed to reassure customers with accurate information over its IT glitch, according to PR professionals.

Sunday opening: NatWest opened around 1,200 branches on a Sunday for the first time ever to try to cope with a backlog of payments
Sunday opening: NatWest opened around 1,200 branches on a Sunday for the first time ever to try to cope with a backlog of payments

NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank customers are facing more uncertainty as IT problems continue to affect payments and access to funds.

RBS chief executive Stephen Hester issued a public apology on the RBS website on Saturday, admitting the bank had let down its customers.

The bank has also used RBS director of customer services Susan Allen as its main spokesperson. She has been heavily quoted in the media, used for TV appearances and has also written updates for the bank’s website.

Yesterday Allen said: ‘I’m cautiously optimistic that RBS and NatWest customer account balances will be largely back to normal from tomorrow [25 June].’

Lexis corporate head James Thellusson said he believed RBS had made the right move in using a spokesperson who is ‘the most senior and closest to the problem’.

‘She [Susan Allen] is at the epicentre of the IT, legal and customer service problems and in the best place to deal with the hour-by-hour interrogation from customers and media. She can ensure a consistent informed position and a lead voice on the issue.’

However, Ketchum Pleon MD of corporate and public affairs Jo-ann Robertson said she believed the failure to fix the problem quickly had resulted in the bank struggling ‘to say anything accurate or meaningful to reassure customers’, leaving customers ‘panicked’.

She said: ‘It seemed on Friday evening that everything was under control with the message coming out loud and clear that the issue had been corrected. Three days later and neither of these statements seem to be true, with customers complaining to national media outlets.

‘If NatWest is to have any chance of rebuilding confidence it needs to start communicating accurately and regularly across multiple media channels, and apologise. Not just for the original incident, but for the ongoing inaccurate and slow communication updates which have left many customers panicked.’

RBS Group media relations manager David Gaffney declined to comment on the bank’s handling of the issues, saying: ‘I think most PRs would understand that we're too busy handling the issue right now to talk to people about how we're handling the issue.’

The company’s Twitter and press office sites have been besieged with comments from angry customers who were unable to access cash or pay bills. Although the bank has replied to customers on its official Twitter feed, it has left comments on its site unanswered. RBS has issued updates to its site on a daily basis.

The problem with the bank’s computer software started on 19 June and while RBS has said it has been rectified, customers are still reporting problems today.

Parent company RBS opened around 1,200 branches on Sunday for the first time ever to try to cope with a backlog of payments. It has also announced trading hours will be extended to between 8am and 7pm today.

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