What Lessons Can Be Learned from TSB’s IT Meltdown?


It has emerged that TSB could be facing £16 million in fines for the catastrophic meltdown of its online banking software which prevented customers from accessing their bank accounts and using their debit cards. On the back of our Your Thoughts this week, Yaron Morgenstern, CEO at Glassbox Digital, discusses the important lessons we can learn from this ordeal.

Almost a month after the crisis emerged, mortgage account holders are still unable to access accounts online, while business customers continue to face problems making online payments.

TSB’s response to its customers’ fury is more revealing, with customers unable to get through to customer service teams, even after fraudsters have drained their accounts. Any financial organisation that truly values its customers can learn a number of lessons from this meltdown. Providing a positive and consistent customer experience is vital in today’s digital environment – and this is likely to get even more important as your clients move away from human interactions, such as in bank branches and via call centres.

In the aftermath of TSB’s IT disaster, the question is: how can organisations create digital engagements that are responsive to clients’ needs and at least as successful as human engagements?

Be ethical

A digital footprint is the only way to understand the issues your clients are experiencing, whether they are on a similar scale to the TSB crisis, or as tiny as a minor frustration. However, the Cambridge Analytica scandal has reminded business of the importance of considering ethical data collection when measuring your customer’s experiences.

These recent events, and the distrust that surrounds tech giants and data collection, have showed that financial organisations must inform their online users how their data is collected, stored and used. More importantly, it must be remembered that customer data is on loan to businesses for a given period of time and not owned by the organisation. As such the data collected must be relevant to the individual customer and be able to offer them a distinct advantage in the customer experience.

Be helpful

In light of this mistrust it’s more important than ever that you demonstrate the advantage your processes offer to customers and clients. We are now in a world where there are all kinds of service users, devices and operating systems operating in the financial services environment. This landscape will only become more complicated as the amount of IoT-enabled devices continues to increase. How organisations connect with customers will also evolve in line with these technological advances.

Digital mapping allows businesses to know precisely what browser, device and operating system each online user is operating on, and therefore to know more about the experiences users are having than ever before. The upshot for customers is that these organisations can offer an improved digital journey at every touchpoint in return.

Be responsive

In this digitally-enabled world, organisations should be more capable of staying in touch with their customers. Digital processes need to identify customer pain-points and solve these problems before they begin to mount up like they did at TSB. And instead of operating in complete silos, IT and customer service teams must work together. When considering the TSB disaster, you cannot help but wonder how prepared other parts of the business were for the back office switch.

How can you react immediately to any issues that emerge? Customisable alerts can be set up that go out to IT, customer service, marketing and web development departments that warn about problems on the website and app. With these alerts in place, all teams have full visibility of digital problems and there are no nasty surprises. Similarly, if a user then approaches a customer service representative with a problem, the handler of this complaint should be able to effortlessly tap into the online session data and identify what the issue is and where it lies.

Be pre-emptive

The TSB fire was stoked by Sabadell’s development team, who before the IT crash were publicly toasting what they thought was a successful migration of customers to a new platform. Whilst this is a PR disaster, it also demonstrates how little they understood about the potential pitfalls they were facing. With such a heavy reliance on online experiences, it’s important your teams consistently prepare for failures, in order to best react.

Financial services firms must put in place processes that prevent online glitches (however small these may be). If they do so, businesses will enjoy increased customer loyalty and retention. Rather than simply employing digital mapping when moving legacy systems over or updating a customer portal, it should be engaged day-to-day.

Can you do it?

The finance industry is more reliant on the online experience to retain and win customers than ever before. Despite this, not all banks and insurers are doing it well. Making sure that your IT and business processes are ethical, ongoing and integrated will help guarantee customer loyalty and retention. This approach will insulate businesses from IT disasters like the TSB fiasco – or at least allow them to respond properly in the event of a crisis.