Nobody’s perfect. Stuff happens. Systems go down. Things break. Information is lost or stolen. This month, Bank of America’s retail banking website has had some issues with customers’ passwords. According to the beleaguered customer service associates we’ve spoken with, there was a July, 2012 system upgrade that did not go well at all. Maybe the upgrade was really necessary. Checking online at sitedown.com reveals that there have been 85 downtime reports by consumers on BofA.com since July 5, 2012 and 3,350 downtime reports on BofA since sitedown.com started reporting in 2010. The 3,350 “all time” number of downtime reports compares to many other banks with totals of downtime reports in the low hundreds for the same period. We don’t know who frequents sitedown.com. Maybe it’s skewed towards BofA customers?
Two weeks ago, Ronni Marshak tried to log into her bank account at BofA and discovered that it didn’t remember her password. Having trouble with your password doesn’t count as the system being down, but it IS really annoying. As Ronni and the BofA customer service associate dealt with her problem, she discovered that she was not alone. There had apparently been lots of customers who were suddenly unable to log into their bank accounts. Since most of us now rely heavily on online banking, this lack of access can be paralyzing and hugely frustrating.
What should a company do when there are unexpected glitches that disrupt customers’ lives, cause them to take extra steps, and sow doubt in customers’ minds about the viability of your brand? You need to do more than fix the problem, apologize, and offer an appeasement.
“Customers have a 'way' that they want a crisis and its aftermath to be handled. Customers tell us:
- I want to understand what went wrong
- I want empathy and support
- I want to be reassured that everything will work out
- I want to be able to see how things are being handled
- I want to be assured that it won’t happen again
- I want a great story and to be the hero of the tale”
Don't Blindside Your Customers
Bankofamerica.com Neglects to Warn Customers of a Glitch that Requires Customer Attention
By Ronni T. Marshak, Executive VP and Senior Consultant, Patricia Seybold Group
July 26, 2012
NETTING IT OUT
Bank of America (BoA) recently did a systems upgrade that impacted a large number of customers—customers’ online passwords were lost so they couldn’t logon without requesting to change their passcode. This, in itself, in a major annoyance to customers, but the bank didn’t warn customers that this was happening. As a result, customer service was bombarded with calls, and customers were frustrated and confused.
Although the upgrade was planned, the interruption in service may not have been anticipated. The bank should have approached the problem by a) testing the system upgrade better before they rolled it out and b) dealing with the unexpected loss of customers’ passwords with a customer experience-optimized contingency plan. As soon as the glitch was recognized, BoA should have implemented a service interruption contingency plan ensuring that even when bad stuff happens, they keep customers informed and provide a fast path to mitigate negative impacts on their customers’ experience.
I present my take on what BoA should have done to prepare for and to remedy the situation, such as notifying customers who might have been affected by email, putting an explanation and instructions on the site’s sign in page, and providing a fast path through the customer service IVR system.