RBS reboot communications

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Oh dear, RBS is back in the news for all the wrong reasons.

The bank, which is 80% owned by us – the Great British taxpayer – has gone into PR meltdown following a ‘technical glitch’ that froze all payments into and out of accounts, this left thousands of people unable to access their own money or make payments.

During the time that the computers were down, we were told a backlog of 100 million transactions had built up – this means that even when they did start working again, there was so much data to deal with, its systems couldn’t cope.

Ten days later, some customers can’t get at their cash, make, or receive payments. All this has created hundreds of personal tales of misery and unnecessary stress around unpaid bills, mortgage chains collapsing, cancelled holidays and, in one case, a man spending a weekend in the cells as he was unable to post bail.

The RBS press office has issued daily updates and cancelled corporate hospitality at Wimbledon, with the bank opening for extra hours and doubling call centre staff. Despite this, the media reports have continued unabated. There are now stories stating that people’s credit ratings could potentially be affected, with calls in the national media for people to switch their accounts to other banks.

Share values in RBS have dropped, the Financial Ombudsman Service is receiving 500 calls a day – it’s been suggested the whole affair could cost the bank as much as £100m. On top of all this, Sir Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, has called for an inquiry, with calls from certain quarters for the resignation of RBS boss Stephen Hester.

And all because of a computer glitch.

The problem has been compounded by unconfirmed reports (which have been widely covered), attempting to point the finger at an IT technician based in India, where RBS has outsourced work.

We can only speculate at the source of this report, but it’s certainly not helped to shift or minimise the issue.  In fact, it has actually escalated and opened another can of worms that has significant implications on the entire banking industry – the subject of outsourcing to more ‘cost-effective’ areas around the world.

Inevitably, that means the subject of banks chasing profit over customer service, has risen its ugly head and, as many of the banks have also outsourced work abroad, they are now all in the firing line.

The RBS press team has done its best in getting the bank’s messages across, but due to the snowball effect the story has created, they face an uphill battle rebuilding customer confidence and minimising ongoing reports about the issue over the next few months.

My tip: probably best to just switch the computer on and off again at the mains next time.