Back from a Coast to Coast trip, on what we affectionally call the “mom’s tour” – coinciding with Thanksgiving weekend (Canadian). Grateful to still have mom’s.
While away, Vancity credit union’s online banking — and I gather inside the bank as well — so their entire banking system — shut down. Completely, for like 3 days. A bit of a disaster to say the least. We do about do 50% of our banking there. Hedging our bets agains the big banks:)
I followed along on twitter — at times aghast, at times amused, at times angry, and overall in general flabbergasted at how it was handled.
It was a tragicomedy intermingled with a Samuel Beckett play unravelling in real time.
Waiting and waiting and waiting.
One key takeaway — on how not to handle a crisis:
Keep tweeting the same generic message over and over again for 2 days. Delete tweets that have replies in the them, and disable comments on your CEO’s youtube public update.
Eventually, they started responding more personally. I wonder if it was too late. Many customers said they would leave , loudly, online at least. I wonder how many who said they were going to switch did in fact do so? It takes a lot of energy to switch.
While all this was going on we happened to be decluttering some old family stuff, largely boring paper intermingled with a few precious photos and letters.
Old obsolete tax returns – shred.
Old bills from an address and account that no longer exist, just rip up. The sound of shredding and the callouses on my fingers will linger.
What was intriguing were a few letters that were business correspondance – to do with taxes, correcting errors, banking and whatnot. The tone of them was so civilized! Almost over the top.
Now the writer of these letters was British, and from a different era. So right off the bat, they were more formal.
Phrases like “Yours most sincerely,” “Please take note that…”, “It has come to my attention”, “Best Regards”
Compare this to some of the tweets I saw Vancity get:
More or less “F*CK you and $*%&($*!~” And “You g-d** incompetent” and so on and so on. (Without the polite *s)
Basically extremely vitriolic and lacking completely in sensitivity for the receiver of these tweets. Who after all, is not a corporation (at least I’m assuming they don’t have a bot answering their tweets -hmmm….), but a person.
Regardless, the contrast between the level of politeness, attention to detail (on both sides of the correspondence – the replies to those paper letters were equally civil) and the way the tweets spiralled out of control was immense.
Now, I’m not saying customers should not have been angry. Vancity’s screwup was immense, and IMHO, has been showing cracks in its system since they “upgraded” in ways that they generally glossed over in the past. I got riled up too.
It was an excellent reminder that online communication has it’s own type of informality, that can get out of hand, and that, although no one in the future will develop callouses shredding the tweets and posts of today, it might be a good idea to think about that what you are sharing is public.
Side Note – Also Noticed:
Travel takes you out of your preconceived notions. You witness others behaviour (critically, if with compassion, it must be confessed) and it opens your eyes to your own mis-behaviours and foibles. I think it’s because when you aren’t in your own daily routine, your habits get opened up. You can’t quite be on auto-pilot. Goal for November: be more compassionate.