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Aussie bank NAB, shamed and named

On the one hand, I applaud them for trying.

On the other, how darned stupid can you get?

What am I talking about?

National Australia Bank, or NAB as they’re now known.

I just got wind of what’s going on down under from the Better Banking Blog, who summarise the situation quite
well.

NAB launched a social media
experiment on a website called myfuturebank.org, a website that is no longer
available.

Why have they taken it down?  Because they totally shot themselves in the foot with it.

This came to light when Cheryl Gledhill, a consultant with web design firm molt:n, posted a critique of
the website stating that it was all bank employees writing as ‘users’.  She had to take down
her posting, as bank executives got to hear of her affront and
assaulted her with various threats.

Luckily, Innovation Feeder captured most of what was going on and kept all of her original posting which,
just in case they get taken down under threat of action, here’s the score.

Cheryl’s original blog post went something like:

Nice to see the latest experiment in Social Media
at myfuturebank.org.

 

The site claims to be sponsored by Ubank, the latest
spin-off company from NAB and asks visitors to write about “what frustrates you
about your bank, and more importantly, what you would do differently to improve
your banking experience.”

 

As Cheryl says, “so far, so good. Except the
majority of the commenters are obviously either the agency or NAB/Ubank
themselves.

 

It may well be that “they are just trying to get
the conversation going – after all, there is nothing sadder than an empty site
with no comments. But it’s once they start getting real customers that things
get interesting. People start getting negative (because let’s face it, the
majority of us hate banks, plus they asked for ‘what frustrates you about your
bank’).”

 

Apparently the online head of Ubank responded to
this negative feedback with a request to keep things positive which received
another negative reply:

 

“The instructions to the left say ‘Please share
with us and our visitors what frustrates you about your bank’ – so I don’t know
why you are suddenly turning around and saying ‘let’s keep it positive’. At
least try to be consistent, hey, chum. Personally – I think that this site is a
pointless piece of junk. The banks already know what customers WANT – it is
hardly rocket science. The only question that banks ask themselves is how to
most economically deliver on these customer wants just a little better than the
other banks on the high street, for that is the profit maximising approach. I
have very low expectations for UBank.”

 

Cheryl liked this: “Bloody fantastic, he/she
summed up my sentiment perfectly. Banks always know what consumers want,
they’ve done enough research into it. I can sum it up right now by saying less
fees and charges, and try to not be greedy bastards.”

 

However, instead of Monty replying a new ‘user’
pipes in with:

 

“attitude 10/8/2008 11:36:14 PM
“the last poster obviously is an aggitated employee from a competitor bank,
UBank is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale banking world, i set up a
TD with them, i didnt have to speak to a robot 1st, i got professional service
from them and this is at 3:30 in the morning, go UBank, i love you”

 

Cheryl provides some more insight:

 

“Really, honestly Ubank, how stupid do you think
we are? It is so obvious that this has been written by someone internal to your
company. Let’s break it down here.

 

  • You can’t use capitalisation at the beginning of sentences or for “I”, yet you manage to capitalise the name Ubank every time.

     
     

  • A TD? That is internal bank shorthand for Term Deposit. A consumer wouldn’t know this, or refer to it as a TD. Only someone who uses the term every day (such as an employee of NAB) would refer to a Term Deposit as a TD as they use the word hundreds of times a day.


     

  • a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale banking world“? Get your hand off it guys, is this how you think consumers speak? Especially consumers that can’t spell. A breath of fresh air? What exactly is it doing that is so different to other banks? Your website sure as hell doesn’t say why it is different.


     

  • i didnt have to speak to a robot 1st, i got professional service from them and this is at 3:30 in the morning, go UBank, i love you“. Despite the user posting at 11pm (which we can overlook for now), is this what the “breath of fresh air” meant? That they were professional? Isn’t this what you’d expect from a company? I love you is a bit strong for a bank
         offering term deposits. I have an account with ING and they give me good
         interest and they have always been professional and never screwed me over but I would never claim I loved them. Especially if they only launched last week. I think the strongest emotion I could say is “I like them”. Ubank, people don’t love their bank. They really don’t.


  • the last poster obviously is an aggitated employee from a competitor bank“. Ummm why is this exactly? Sounds damn like a normal everyday consumer to me – someone who has no faith in this bank being different. Why would a competitor bank post that he/she hates ALL banks, surely if they were a competitor they would claim that X bank rocks and this bank sucks. This is a pathetic attempt from Ubank to discredit a consumer with a genuinely interesting point to make??

“So shame, NAB, shame. You could have actually
made a difference by listening to people (which you are claiming to do) but
instead you try to discredit and silence your users that don’t think you’re
amazing. You have shown no honesty or transparency in this and I hope your
users eat you alive.

 

“A dishonest and not-very-clever attempt to harness
the wisdom of the crowd.”

 

The result is that website, myfuturebank.org, was taken down.  NAB even had the audacity to claim that this was planned (it wasn’t).

Equally, Cheryl’s blog was withdrawn as her firm were worried about the repercussions.

Shame.  But we got the message Cheryl!

We got the message.

The message is that you, me and many others have been involved in social media and networking for so long that we know YOU CANNOT CONTROL THIS SPACE. 

So it amazes me that some
banks can be so dinosaur as to try to do just that .

Actually, it doesn’t amaze me at all. It just disappoints me.

 

At least some banks know what they’re doing, but
NAB – you just shot yourselves in the foot with that one. I mean, I’m writing about it and I’m not even
Australian. I just found it, sitting on
the net, naked for all of us to see.

 

I found it not only at the links I’ve already
posted, but also here,
here, here, here and here, just to name but a few.  In fact, it’s all over the web.

 

Enough said ya’ dumb schmucks. Lesson learnt I trust, and next time, ask
someone who knows what they’re doing before you try this.

 

Open up to the crowd, engage them, respond to
them, talk to them, address their concerns and have a conversation with
them. Don’t be afraid of rocks being
thrown or negative vibes, just deal with them.

 

That’s why banks who know what they’re doing with this
stuff have learnt, now it’s your turn.

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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  • “Except the majority of the commenters are obviously either the agency or NAB/Ubank themselves.”
    I believe that young persons refer to this as “astroturfing”, with reference to the popular substitute for natural grass in public locations.