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Customers Turn to Twitter to Ask NatWest, “Where is my money?”

Marie Rose
By Marie Rose on Jul 4, 2012 10:08:00 AM

After over two weeks, the technical glitch that has prevented payments to and from the accounts of millions of NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank customers has still not been fully fixed. And as is the standard for any major corporate blunder today, consumers are taking their anger to Twitter, firing tens of thousands of tweets detailing their frustrations straight to NatWest.

I’ve been monitoring the bank’s handling of the crisis, and although the social media team has been trying to respond to the ambush, there are a few social customer service principles which could have helped them out. 

Consider how clear your Twitter Handle is
...And if it’s not straightforward, make sure information on how to contact you is readily available. When customers took to Twitter to ask NatWest why they were unable to access their money, hundreds of tweets were directed at the wrong account. Instead of contacting @NatWest_Help - the official account of NatWest’s social customer service team - customers were sending their angry tweets at a schoolteacher from Newcastle. Some proactive monitoring and intervention to respond to these customers anyway would have satisfied more angry customers.

Provide the very latest information
Customers began contacting the bank via Twitter on 20 June when they first started experiencing issues with their accounts. Although NatWest was aware of the computer glitch on 19 June, their Twitter account was responding to customers the next day stating that there were no reported incidents. This only worsened NatWest’s reputation. It’s important that the social customer service team is given the very latest news on potential customer problems, as they are often the first point of contact for new issues, and Twitter is perceived to be a first go-to for up to date information. 

Don’t redirect customers to the company’s website
The reason that people contact a business through Twitter is because they want to talk directly with a representative through that medium. But a large proportion of tweets during the NatWest crisis simply directed customers to the call center and the FAQs page of their website. First contact resolution is the most important route to customer satisfaction, and customers turn to Twitter when they’ve exhausted other channels or need specific information. Twitter isn’t a real communication channel when simply used as a message board; companies should respond individually to upset customers, or risk giving the impression that problems are going unheard. 

When a company is hit with a disaster, its reputation is put on the line, but communicating directly with their customers really can undo some of the damage. The more serious the service disaster, the more important it is to deliver exceptional support and prove that customers’ are being listened to. In the Twitter age, you just can’t afford to do anything else.


What are your thoughts on the way that NatWest has been using Twitter during this disaster? We’re interested to hear your opinions in the comments below.

 Got any suggestions for what you’d like to hear from us? Send your thoughts to marie@conversocial.com, or @Conversocial. We’re always looking for new ideas.

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