Tesco Bank announced today that its website is “Fully operational” after 4 days of disruption, which left many customers unable to access their accounts on-line. The problems began after a planned move of the accounts from computers run by RBS last weekend, and were still affecting customers yesterday. The bank has also announced that it will compensate customers who have suffered financially.
However, many customer complaints were as much to do with communications issues as with the actual loss of service. Unsurprisingly, the disruption to the on-line service led to a huge increase in the volume of calls to the bank’s call centres which they have struggled to cope with. One customer complains on the BBC News website of waiting on the phone for 4 hours and not getting through.
Shortcomings in crisis communications have been a theme of many recent incidents. One could be forgiven for concluding that if the likes of Tesco makes mistakes then there’s no hope for the rest of us but the outlook doesn’t have to be so bleak. Simply taking a little time to identify your key stakeholders and to plan how you would communicate with them during an incident will pay enormous dividends. As Tesco Bank and NI Water have both illustrated, an inability to communicate effectively with an important stakeholder group (customers) can seriously impact on the overall handling of an incident.