And so the RBS, Nat West and Ulster Bank saga rumbles on; reports now suggest that 2m Ulster Bank customers will continue to suffer the effects of the computer glitches into next week. RBS has now taken decisive action and….cancelled its corporate hospitality at Wimbledon, action its customers will surely see as a sign that either a) the bank knows what it is doing and is in full control, or b) the bank has gone into headless chicken mode and is grasping at any PR straw it can find to try and minimise the damage.
The bank has said corporate hosting at Wimbledon would be ‘inappropriate’ and it has also cancelled its one-day golf tournament at Gleneagles on Wednesday that was to feature Jack Nicklaus. All very commendable, but what about their poor customers; the man now in jail as he failed to post his bail, those small business owners now forced to pay wages from their own pocket as the end of the month approaches. What cold comfort will they get from knowing that the corporate hospitality boxes at Wimbledon will not be chiming to the sound of RBS-funded Champagne flutes clinking together?
One of the major issues, and one we covered yesterday, is that the bank has been very secretive about what has happened and it is still unclear just what the botched software upgrade was, or actually what its effect was. Nat West says it has cleared 99% of its backlog of 100m transactions, but that still leaves around 1m transactions to be processed and so the end is still not in sight.
Now that the worst of the crisis is over there have been calls from the governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King, for a full investigation by the Financial Services Authority. Will this really go far enough? The bank needs to open up about what has happened, surely it should also review its outsourcing of IT, a call many would back as is it obvious that whatever savings may have been made by that move are now being dwarfed by the prospect of compensation payments so big they will make the RBS chief Stephen Hester’s eyes water.
So this is a call to RBS, and also the rest of the banking industry, to open up and be more honest and straight forward with your customer when things do go wrong, there may be a small PR glitch if you host corporate hospitality, but what the customers really want is to see that you are taking action when and where it matters, not papering over the cracks to save face.
Tom Kirk is a writer and editor with nearly 10 years experience in the media, business and PR sectors. Passionate about the possibilities of social networking and the future of business communications, Tom also enjoys discovering new gadgets.
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