TSB and The Remainers

If we work in Banking in the UK, or even if we are involved with Digital Banking anywhere, we can’t *not* talk about the TSB debacle. I’ve been called by various publications from the most obscure to the BBC for comment over the past week and with it still not having been resolved this is certainly un-ignorable.

I’ll admit this one is a difficult one for me because I see both sides clearly and I have empathy for both. Typically, I can find myself firmly on one side of the issue or the other. With TSB, it’s hard to be my usual fanatical-about-experience customer self, exasperated with the dismal amount of service the bank provided when they could have easily done better because there is no clear-cut “easily” about this.

Now don’t get me wrong, the migration, however necessary (and not simply to cut 100M of cost as the press claims) was certainly botched. No contest about that. Not even Mr. Pester claims otherwise. Irrespective of the objective tangle level of the legendary “back-end spaghetti”, there must have been ways in which this nightmare could have been prevented.

I think this instance raises interesting questions in general about the expectation of availability of digital services and whether or not perchance, the regulator has a duty of care for the visibility of data if not for the availability, but this is by no means the last time this will happen no matter how much more cautious other banks will be when they replace or improve their respective disastrous back-ends.

When the Facebook data debacle happened, I could see how that will provide an excuse for banks not to investigate and use data for the benefit of the consumer, this scandal won’t provide any excuses for banks not do away with their own spaghetti simply because the former was a business growth strategy paused, the latter is a sine qua non condition of business-as-usual.

What I’m most curious about is how TSB will raise from this. How much trust was objectively lost, how many clients have truly switched, how they plan to ultimately rebuild.

Compensation has been mentioned – there have been declarations that no customer will be out of pocket as a result of this and to a degree, that may be achievable where everyone will claim for genuine expenses caused by this but what about intangible matters such as loss of opportunity for business owners?

Worst still, what about the shock some of the customers have went through? Seeing your mortgage balance at 13M may be erring on the absurd and the amusing but seeing (what appears to be) some other John Smith’s account information is instantly frightening and makes you think your information is at risk as well.

Between the customers that had the above happen to them, and those that couldn’t log in at all, there will be inevitable loss. Having followed the dismal rate of switching in the UK over the past few years, I’m very curious what the % of total customers that eventually amounts to.

If the percentage is not significant, it will be a price TSB may just find was worth paying to have the right foundation. Short term, that is clearly inevitable, but is it inevitable long term?

My bet is that long term, this is not the disaster it looks today. Once the first wave of heavily disappointed, significantly spooked or heavily annoyed customers take their business elsewhere -and it will be very interesting to watch carefully whether the “elsewhere” is incumbents or challengers-, the remaining ones who opt to “wait it out and decide later” will not leave.


I would urge TSB to focus on their “Remainers”. Really focus.”Truly, Madly, Deeply”. Investigate how exactly they feel and acknowledge it in every interaction. Find out what they always wanted and give some of those services or experiences to them. FAST. Be transparent and honest about what happened and why it won’t happen again. Recall why they value them and fight to communicate that, then re-commit. Be all in.

This is a classical marital crisis. The contract was severely breached. The options are divorce or working on it and studies show that couples that got help to rebuild the respect and reignite the connection have greater longer term satisfaction and a much stronger bond as an outcome.

TSB and its Remainers will need loads of therapy sessions to encourage honesty and a conscious effort to build new ways of meeting needs and expectations and unquestionably,  if the bank wants to really make it work, they will have to put their best foot forward but this negative, No-Service-Money-Moment could also be turned into a positive defining occasion to give their customers the Emotional Banking™ experience they deserve.


P.S. For those of you who read me regularly I have a “Mea Culpa” to offer. I’ve slacked on publishing at the same time every week. If you’ve ever had to wonder if I’m still alive since I haven’t posted anything, I apologise. It wasn’t out of arrogance but ill understood modesty, when my dear friend Jim Marous pointed it out to me, I thought “ah but how many people could have possibly subscribed and expect me to write” and then I checked the stats and I owe quite a few people an apology for the lack of consistency. This will change. I can’t promise brilliance but I can promise every Tuesday. 

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