The technical glitch and NatWest's split Twitter personality

Dan Martin
Former editor
BusinessZone.co.uk
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Social media is playing a key role in the technical glitch that has hit the RBS Group with thousands of customers turning to Twitter to ask questions of the banks involved and to vent their frustrations.

NatWest already has a Twitter presence with customer services tweeting from @NatWest_Help. The bank promotes this account as the place to ask service-related questions on its website.

But interestingly, that is not where the bank is engaging with customers.

The main dialogue to taking place via @NatWestBusiness, an account linked to an advice website aimed at small business owners:

All @NatWest_Help is doing is tweeting generic links and advice:

@NatWestBusiness is the kind of account that is usually run by marketing professionals, either in house or by an external agency. I've attempted to ask by posting on Twitter but all the bank would tell me was: "We're the feed of NatWest Business Sense, updating in-house, also trying to answer queries."

I've contacted the NatWest press office about the tweeting policy and I'm waiting to hear back.

So what is the point of all this?

For me, the way NatWest is tweeting is the wrong way wrong. It's the customer service account which should be responding to customers, not a marketing account aimed at a particular group which doesn't offer service support. All this kind of activity does is add confusion to an already confusing situation.

It's possible that a marketer has taken it upon themselves to respond to customer issues and the bank's management are so busy sorting out the problems that they haven't noticed.

The story of how Eurostar handled the Twitter fallout from the breakdown of several trains in 2009 is relevant here. At the time, the company didn't have a customer service presence on Twitter and two marketing accounts were forced to deal with the complaints. Although NatWest has a much more established customer service presence, maybe marketing is being tasked with taking the flak.

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