IT hits the fan at TSB

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When TSB chief executive Paul Pester finally released a statement on the debacle of the bank’s migration to a new platform over the weekend of April 21, he declared that “the engine room of the bank is working as it should”, though its internet banking and mobile app “isn’t functioning as well as it should be”.

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The comments followed the chaotic migration to its new banking platform, which had resulted in customers being unable to access their money online and the entire system being taken offline just days later on April 24. 

The UK media was flooded with stories of tearful TSB branch employees working round the clock to try to keep things going, only to be faced with constant system error messages – reportedly in Spanish.

This is not how it was supposed to be. 

When Banco Sabadell bought TSB from Lloyds in 2015, the challenge of integrating IT was immediately identified. The reality could hardly have been worse. 

Sabadell had set aside £71 million for the TSB migration, but the costs of damage mitigation will be far higher. 

The bank attempted to hide the bad news inside its quarterly earnings report: the news section of its website was entirely bereft of any mention of it until the quarterly statement went live at lunchtime on Thursday April 26. 

Prior to this, the only chat in the ‘Who’s talking about us?’ section of the website was from the newspaper the Daily Mirror, in an article about UK national pride, and TSB COO Helen Rose, talking about gender balance. 

Screaming

Meanwhile in the real world, five million customers were screaming down the phone that they could not get into their accounts. 

Disaster management is always difficult, but radio silence is never the answer. 

It is also very telling that Pester separates “the engine room of the bank” from digital access, as though troubles with the latter are a subsidiary concern. 

Today, digital access is the number-one priority for many customers, and increasing the interest rate on deposit accounts as a way of keeping them (as TSB has now done) sounds like shutting the door after the horse has bolted.