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A Bank’s 'Systems Issue' Ignites Anger Online




You again, Wells Fargo?

For the second time in a week, Wells Fargo customers became exasperated when they faced problems trying to log in to the bank's mobile and online banking channels. Reports from around the US verified the impact of what the bank indicated were systems problems. Predictably, some customers took to Twitter with a blast of complaints after Wells Fargo tried, in vain, to calm nerves. 

The bank has been trending on Twitter all day. One customer tweeted:

A bit later, the bank tweeted:

That fell flat, and negative reactions multiplied. One customer reported an incident that's likely to need several steps to unravel:

An hour later, the company said it was experiencing a "systems issue" but said the outages were just intermittent. ABC News then confirmed "a systems-wide problem causing outages on [Wells Fargo's] online banking platform and mobile banking app."

As the bank tried to paint a picture of what caused today's problem, some customers became alarmed. By early afternoon, the bank tweeted for a third time and said that "smoke was detected at one of its back-office facilities." The mental image of a bank on fire with customer cash inside was undoubtedly hard to handle for some.

The cryptosphere gave its two (virtual) cents. One crypto fan tweeted:

Unsurprisingly, the IT crowd began to weigh in with explanations and suggested fixes. One cheeky observer offered sage advice: "Have you tried turning it off and then back on again?"

Angst and levity aside, this mess is surely a giant headache for an institution most recently noted for charging its own customers for accounts they didn't authorize. It may be time the bank revisited its crisis communication game plan, especially in an era when customer blow-back is fast, furious, and digital.

Mary Driscoll

Mary Driscoll covers finance and business trends as a staff writer for ETHNews. She formerly served as an editor for management and finance at the Economist Intelligence Unit and a research principal at APQC. In addition, she has written for The Wall Street Journal CFO Report, HBR-online, and strategy + business. Her book on corporate treasury management was published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Mary enjoys hiking and skiing in the Sierras with family. Her goal in life is to win big on Jeopardy.

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