Media and Corporate Communications Tel: 07802 584536   Email Jools Payne

The NatWest nightmare

I’m a NatWest customer. You’ve probably guessed already the PR issue I’m exploring in this blog post. As I write, NatWest’s computer systems still hadn’t cleared the backlog of customer credits following its catastrophic IT failure 7 days earlier and the bank’s internal IT systems were also down. I know; we had our annual review with our local Business Relationship Manager this afternoon and the screen on his desk was black and lifeless – he was unable to access any account information on his business customers.

Quite apart from the huge compensatory payouts the bank will have to make, the reputational damage to NatWest in the wake of this disaster is incalculable. After all, is it not the purpose of a high street bank to facilitate access to our money?

The NatWest fiasco is massive and the ramifications will be significant and long lasting. When the reputation of RBS is at an all time low the timing of this incident could not be worse. That said, I have been quite impressed by the bank’s crisis management plan, which kicked into action pretty quickly. But there is precious little the bank can do in terms of damage limitation here. You cannot defend the indefensible.

Every business, no matter how small, should have a crisis management and business continuity plan in place. Some businesses are more exposed and vulnerable to crises than others; those operating in the food and drink sector for example or organisations that care for the sick and vulnerable. Just look at the issues that have put the care sector in the spotlight recently. Food and drink crises are legion.

There are four very simple basics you can put in place to ensure your business is in the best position to survive a crisis should it hit. Just think of the four P’s – prepare, plan, practice and perfect. A crisis can come out of a clear blue sky. The more prepared you are the better equipped you will be to whether the storm. Ask me if you need help to prepare your plan.

What do you think NatWest can do to recover its reputation following this catastrophic failure?


  1. What sage counsel, Jools. You’re absolutely right about having a crisis plan. It’s as simple as sitting around the table and doing a “What-If Session.” It’s what I don’t allow my kid to do, ever…”are you what-iffing me?”

    That said, the world now governs on crisis; no region or market or vertical industry is without some sort of crisis which affects all businesses as a result. Power outages are rampant when these freak storms roll through and you guys are pummeled with rain and we’re dying with heat.

    How short sighted if one doesn’t care to think into the future. This bank has a debacle; hopefully, it’s marketing team is top notch to begin to rebuild the brand and recover.

    Now, what think on this amazing website? I am so flippin’ impressed with its freshness, clean presentation, sophistication, bells and whistles, imagery and branding. You’ve knocked the socks off of many a site…congratulations, Lady!

  2. Oh, P.S….will you add social sharing options for your blog posts? I’d love to tweet and FB this post and G+ it too!

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