How NatWest handled their banking crisis on Twitter

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On the 21st June 2012, The RBS group suffered a computer failure which knocked out much of the banks group’s ability to process payments through their computer system. The problem lasted almost a week in which time over 11 million NatWest customers were affected.

In this report, we look at when consumers flocked to the NatWest Twitter account for answers, and how NatWest handled their Twitter account through this process.

The data was analysed using BirdSong: Social Media Reconnaissance.

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How NatWest handled their banking crisis on Twitter

  1. 1. How NatWest failed to support customers onTwitter during the computer crisis of June 2012.The NatWest Banking ‘Crisis’On the 21st June 2012, The RBS group suffered a computer failure which knocked out much of thebanks group’s ability to process payments through their computer system. The problem lasted almosta week in which time over 11 million NatWest customers were affected.In this report, we look at when consumers flocked to the NatWest Twitter account for answers, andhow NatWest handled their Twitter account through this process.MethodologyThe key account for @natwest_help was analysed to identify key trends over the period.The following elements were analysed in this report:1. Frequency of Tweets2. Mentions of NatWest3. Day of Week Twitter Presence4. Daypart Twitter presence5. Profile of Tweets6. Message Content7. Identification of Support GiverThe data period for this analysis was the 20th June 2012 to 27th June 2012. The date range covers theimmediate run up to, during and the end of disruption. www.birdsongdtt.com02 / How NatWest handled their www.birdsongdtt.com / July 2012June 2012 banking crisis on Twitter
  2. 2. How NatWest failed to support customers onTwitter during the computer crisis of June 2012.1. Followers of NatWest 2. Mentions of NatWestKey Insight: Overnight, the number of Key Insight: In line with follower growth, thefollowers to @natwest_help leapt by almost mentions of @natwest_help leapt 8.5 fold200% indicating a desire for customers to between the 19th of June and its peak of theengage with the bank. 22nd June 2012.Before the crisis, NatWest had a respectable Before the crisis, the number of mentions2681 followers, leaping by almost 200% to 7,970 @natwest_help had barely reached doublefollowers. The growth continued until the 28th figures every day. On the 19th Mentions of theof June when the major banking issues were bank were in line with standard ‘chatter;’ andfixed. Looking slightly further, the number mention of a Blackberry app coming soon.of followers to @natwest_help plateauedthen slightly dropped as the demand for help On the 20th June when the bank issues becamedecreased to normal levels. apparent, the number of mentions more then doubled, leaping to a peak on the 22nd of June.During this time, no other bank saw aboveaverage growth in followers. 3. Day of Week Analysis Key Insight: At a time when most NatWest branches were open for the weekend, the NatWest Twitter account was not manned, sending out automated tweets linking to bank help pages. NatWest maintains a regular stance of actively tweeting Monday to Friday. A handful of tweets are scheduled for weekends but are not replies, simply automated tweets.Number of Twitter followers for key banks during theperiod of NatWest disruption.The surge in followers to Natwest compareddrastically with the near static growth infollowers to rival banks, taking the NatWestaccount to become the most followed of theidentified banks. www.birdsongdtt.com03 / How NatWest handled their www.birdsongdtt.com / July 2012June 2012 banking crisis on Twitter
  3. 3. How NatWest failed to support customers onTwitter during the computer crisis of June 2012. Average day part pattern for @natwest_help On most days of disruption, the NatWest team maintained a fix tweeting pattern, knocking off between 16:00 & 17:00. Only since the 30th June has the account actively been tweeting until 19:00. Considering the key periods of follower growthDespite opening more than 1,00 branches and brand mentions peaked around the 22nd offor the weekend 23/24th June, the Twitter June, the extended presence seems out of syncaccount was left unmanned – tweeting standard with customer expectations.messages across the weekend, picking upreplies again on Monday morning. 5. Profile of Tweets Key Insight: NatWest seemed slow to react to the crisis. The initial boost in tweetThe 850 clicks this link received from Twitter on volume was a mixture of standard messagesthe 24th shows the level of interest or demand and links to website help. Apart from thethe Twitter account was generating that could 20th June, the bank was slow to activelyhave been directly supporting customers. respond to customers, peaking with 57 responses on the 28th June4. Day Part Analysis The sheer volume of @natwest_help tweetsKey Insight: At a time when branches were recorded on the 22nd seems to have caughtstaying open until 19:00, the opening hours the bank aware. The initial reaction was a boostfor the Twitter account rarely extended to the number of tweets with key messagesbeyond 17:00. Only towards the end of the such as “We continue to experience technical issues with our service this morning and wantbanking disruption, did the Twitter account to apologise to all customers who have beenstay active until 19:00. impacted“Before the disruption, the NatWest accountstuck firmly to tweeting during office hours. www.birdsongdtt.com04 / How NatWest handled their www.birdsongdtt.com / July 2012June 2012 banking crisis on Twitter
  4. 4. How NatWest failed to support customers onTwitter during the computer crisis of June 2012.It took until the 26th June for the bank to start 7. Identification of Support Giveractively engaging with their audience. This wasafter the weekend of 23/24 June when the bank Key Insight: Using HootSuite, NatWestposted automated tweets with links to online was able to assign support giver ID’s to ithelp, at a time when branches were open and responses adding a small ‘personal touch’ toNatWest advisors were working. the customer response messages. The majority of NatWest tweets were handled through HootSuite, with the occasional update from the Twitter website. A number of support givers were identified using the standard initial ‘tag’. CM, AF, DS & DP seemed to handle the majority of the responses during this time.Number of Tweets, Replies & Retweets from@natwest_help by day6. Message ContentKey Insight: The bank moved quicklyto make a corporate statement on thedisruption and ensure regular apologieswere delivered. However, active engagementwith customers and responses via Twitterdid not kick in until late into the crisis, wheremost responses directed customers to a callcentre or website link.The bank quickly reacted with a number ofstatements as to the crisis. These includedapologies, and links to FAQ’s. Despite the leapin mentions the bank did not actively replyto Tweets until the 26th June. During theseresponses, the majority of suggested actionswere to call an 0800 number of visit a definedwebsite.The bank also reminded customers not to sharetheir personal details on Twitter. This will bea significant reason why we cannot identifyfurther support provision through Twitter. www.birdsongdtt.com05 / How NatWest handled their www.birdsongdtt.com / July 2012June 2012 banking crisis on Twitter
  5. 5. How NatWest failed to support customers onTwitter during the computer crisis of June 2012.ConclusionsWhilst this is only a snapshot of the NatWest Twitter activity over this period of disruption, it is clearthat customers actively followed the bank and mentioned the bank during the key days of disruption.The leap in mentions, and extension of branch opening hours was not matched with an extension ofTwitter presence until the crisis was almost over.Tracking over 800 clicks [through Bit.ly] for one help message tweeted at the weekend suggestsan active audience on Twitter seeking help. The lack of increased action by the bank was a missedopportunity to further support the customers who had made their presence known through followingand messaging.This lack of active response on Twitter could be detrimental to long term customer engagementand customer loyalty. Research from BirdSong suggests an overlap in the number of Twitter usersfollowing more than one bank. Whilst the number of overlapping customers is small, the potential forcustomer engagement from and migration to a rival bank is something not to be ignored. 151 Twitter users follow both Natwest and Barclays. 76 Twitter users follow both Natwest and Santander. 208 users follow both Natwest and Lloyds TSBIn future, NatWest could benefit from a quickerand more visible reaction to the socially engagedaudience. A quicker reaction, more visible presencepast office hours and more engagement could helpNatWest to maintain Twitter as a more valuable[for the customer] support channel and decreasethe potential for additional negative publicity andcustomer migration. www.birdsongdtt.com06 / How NatWest handled their www.birdsongdtt.com / July 2012June 2012 banking crisis on Twitter
  6. 6. How NatWest failed to support customers onTwitter during the computer crisis of June 2012.About BirdSongBirdsong is a social media reconnaissance tool delivering on demand insights and analysis of whatbrands are doing on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest It has been designed to help agencies and clientsin marketing, advertising, digital, media and PR identify strategic opportunities for optimizing their useof these important social channels.Our report suites are tailored to each platform:Birdsong Facebook offers updates on activity on any Facebook fan page by brand. It gives acomparison of the number of fans with other brands in the same sector and analyses posting behaviorand activity in detail.Birdsong Twitter provides key metrics for any Twitter account including follower profiles, tweetingpatterns, tweet mix and activity timeline.All reports are available on demand on a cost per credit basis.Learn more at www.birdsongdtt.com www.birdsongdtt.com07 / How NatWest handled their www.birdsongdtt.com / July 2012June 2012 banking crisis on Twitter

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