Print is not dead: NAB takes out newspaper ads to apologise for outage

Brands still turn to 'trusted' print to apologise and build connections with customers

NAB has followed the lead of Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, KFC UK and other high-profile brands looking to gain back customer trust and used a full-page print ad to apologise for a weekend server failure that left customers without access to bank accounts for five hours.

The outage downed ATMs, EFTPOS and online banking across the country and occurred at a time when Australian banks are already suffering serious brand damage through the Banking Royal Commission.

In an effort to ‘make it right’, NAB has promised to compensate business customers who suffered losses.

In its printed apology in News Corp newspapers today, NAB CEO, Andrew Thorburn, said sometimes things can go wrong. But, if they do, the commitment is at NAB to always make it right.

“Our promise to our customers is to be about more than money," he stated, echoing the bank's brand campaign. "Inherent in that promise is the expectation that, as your bank, we get the fundamentals [the “money” bit] right. On Saturday we failed to do that.

“Many of our services didn’t work for several hours because of a nationwide NAB outage. This affected and deeply inconvenienced many of our customers and others just trying to get their Saturday shopping done. We’re truly sorry this happened and apologise.

“To our business customers who lost money as a result of this outage, we’re committed to compensating you for your loss. We’d like you to know we’ve found the cause of our outage and have acted to prevent that particular problem happening again.”

Commenting on the choice of print advertising, Carat Media CEO, Paul Brooks, said print remains a trusted, authoritative medium with consumers. This is despite the digitisation of media and decline in despite in print readership across mastheads.

“There is a degree of finality to it that works well from a trust perspective. Once something’s printed in black and white, there’s no going back on it or changing the narrative, which shows readers – and customers – a willingness to stand by what you’ve said,” Brooks told CMO.

Brands will make mistakes, like anyone. It is how they handle those mistakes which can make or break them, Brooks continued.  

“In situations like this, where trust has been compromised, people are generally looking for three things: Transparency, action, and empathy,” he explained.

“Naturally, they want to know what happened, why, and what you plan to do – or ideally are already doing – to rectify the situation. Where brands can often fall down though, is on in the final aspect – empathy. Without acknowledging the impact or ‘cost’ to the customer in a genuine way, you’ve really only gone part of the way.

“NAB has done well on that front here.”

NAB customers have been directed to visit nab.com.au/outage and lodge their complaint.


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