First National Bank Takes a Server Downtime Hit and Consumers Are None Too Happy

In a day and age when consumers do almost everything online, including banking, it can create a bit of havoc when a bank’s online services go down. Especially when that bank is as large as First National Bank (FNB). Early in the morning on Monday the 18th, FNB’s website was down for the count, as was its mobile app and the ability to use FNB credit cards. However, this bout of downtime caused more than the typical inconvenience that website downtime usually results in. Consumers didn’t simply have to wait to place an order, as they would if it were an ecommerce site in question. This server outage caused a serious interruption in banking services and left the Twitter community abuzz with rumblings of discontent.

Online Banking and Credit Card and Mobile App Usage at a Standstill

When the FNB site went down, so did its mobile app. Customers who are accustomed to being able to bank online, check balances, send payments, and perform other online banking tasks on the go found that the FNB servers were down, the mobile app wasn’t working, they couldn’t use FNB credit cards, and the website was giving “connection timed out” errors. ATMs, however, seemed to be working properly. As a result, customers were thrown back a couple of decades and were told by FNB to use ATMs to do their banking business, which wasn’t exactly what consumers had wanted to hear at such a time.

Merely Stating the Reason Does Not Equate to Transparency

According to Mo Hassem, FNB’s chief information officer, intermittent connectivity was the reason for the downtime. While the issue was corrected within hours, those were some very frustrating hours for many FNB customers with Twitter members such as @RashaadAsmal tweeting, “Wife tried to swipe #fnb credit card 5 times with no success.#embarrassing. Twitter says Systems apparently down...What's new Fnb?”

Other social media users were also using Twitter to vent their frustrations regarding the FNB outage with comments such as:

“So #FNB systems are still all down. Lovely way to attempt to conduct business on a Monday morning!” said user @JustinAllison52.

User @Rbjacobs stated, “Once again failing to see that total silence in times of website downtime doesn't help calm customer's fears.”

Communication Is as Important as Fixing the Downtime

As we have said in the past, transparency during downtime is crucial from a public relations perspective. As can be seen by the comment from @Rbjacobs, customers did not appreciate being left in the dark while the FNB website, mobile app, and credit cards were not working. While FNB did work to get the downtime issue resolved quickly, they missed the mark in regards to keeping customers informed during the outage, which doesn’t go far in the way of garnering consumer trust and confidence.

While consumers may be willing to look the other way if this happens once or twice, if this occurs more frequently FNB stands a good chance of losing its customers to other banking institutions with more reliable technology.
Of course, the banking industry isn’t the only industry in which communication is crucial during an outage. No matter which industry your online business operates in, if your site goes down, communicating the outage, what you are doing about it, how soon you expect it to be resolved, and the reason for it is just as important as getting your site back online. The recent FNB outage is just evidence of this fact.