Updated: Co-operative bank ‘losing customers’ through system problems

Bank 'investing heavily' to replace system

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Co-operative Financial Services has severe system problems that are causing it to lose online customers, according to reports.

Customers told the BBC they were unable to access their accounts at times, and that transactions online often do not work. When the system hits “130 simultaneous users” it starts “to fall over”, one customer was told by a Co-operative call centre employee.

The bank is now set to upgrade its systems in response to the complaints of customers, who vowed to move to a competitor, BBC Radio 4’s Money Box programme found. The problem is understood to primarily affect business customers.

The replacement system will be implemented in Spring 2010, and the bank is employing 20 additional call centre staff in the mean time.

In April, the Co-operative bank said it was replacing online banking, back office and customer relationship management systems with the Finacle product from supplier Infosys.

Co-operative Financial Services did not say which system was affected by the current problems, but added that the Finacle software from supplier Infosys, which it announced in April would be implemented, was not at fault.

The new system will provide "improved performance and experience for our business banking customers", the bank said.

John Hughes, director of retail products at the bank, told the BBC there had been a problem with a “fundamental design feature of the system” that is experiencing the difficulties. He apologised for the “inconvenience, difficulty, frustration and irritation we've caused our customers".

Marc Palmer, from Gloucestershire, who runs a small business, told the BBC: “A lot of the time you can't even log in. Other times, you can't see your bank balances or any of your accounts listed. There comes a time when it's damaging to your business."

Another businessman, Christopher Dowson, added: "Having no way of finding my balance for three days, except by an 0845 number and waiting on hold for up to 10 minutes to talk to someone, isn't exactly what I would call sparkling customer service."


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