After a raft of downtime from various banks in the past 12 months, affecting the ability of tens of thousands of UK consumers to access their money, Dave Ogden, a customer engagement expert, has suggested that long-overdue yet extortionate rip-and-replace projects of the ageing, underlying IT that is causing it, will not come for some time.

 Ogden, Account Executive at customer contact specialist Aspect Software, said that blaming legacy servers and boxes doesn’t offer a solution or level of comfort to customers; instead, banks need to be proactive in how they deal with the fallout of such inevitable crashes.

He said: “It’s easy to blame the banks’ core IT because it’s old, and it’s definitely creaking under the pressure of the billions of transactions made through banks every year, simply because it wasn’t designed for more than a few tens of thousands. However, the task to replace it is so complex that it becomes almost unthinkable to act on.

“Consider any system that has been used for the past 20 years or more, and then consider the amount of data that stores. It’s going to be a lot. Now bear a thought for how much additional data and the number of transactions that a bank would need to store almost endlessly; this happens every time a payment is made, money taken from a cashpoint, or money coming into the account,” Ogden explained.

“Banks are actually great because they’re leading the way in terms of adopting modern technology, with social media, incredibly fast storage and fully functioning websites and applications, but they are all just sitting on top of a delicate spider’s web of decades-old IT. Banks immediately blame the IT because customers are angry that they can’t get their money; it’s a completely reactive response. This doesn’t offer comfort to Mr Bloggs as he is stuck at a petrol station because he can’t pay for the full tank of fuel he just put into his car. Again, with the customer engagement capabilities, multiple channels and the new sexy technology available to them, it should be easy to be proactive and placate the customers without using excuses.

“We live in a fast paced world, where the mobile phone and tablet have unquestionably changed the way we communicate. This evolution has provided more ways to contact individuals than ever before, yet most banks are still not proactively engaging with customers. While it’s frustrating that a service we rely upon daily then goes awry, almost all of us live with ‘digital money’, rather than pay with coins and paper. If we were aware that we’d experience issues, that moment of embarrassment and mass panic within the bank’s customer care centre could be avoided and other plans considered. Most banks have our email address, most have a home, mobile and work number – some even have access to us on social media, so with this plethora of communication points, why do they not use them? Why is it that we don’t find out through our mobile banking application, instead it’s our news app giving us breaking headlines, or through Twitter or Facebook?” added Ogden.

Ogden concluded: “Yes, problems will always occur, no matter how many systems are in place to stop them. But it’s how they’re dealt with that truly defines an organisation, and how important their customers are to them. Those who are proactive and inform us will be the ones who garner the most sympathy and experience the least public damage.”


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