Crisis Management 101 — Who was the G.O.A.T of the #Wirecard Crisis

Matt Dyer
4 min readJul 1, 2020


Wirecard has been the talk of the #fintech world as it collapsed last week due to a fraud scandal that some are saying could be in the region of 2 Billion dollars, and we await the wider implications it’s fall from grace may have on the banking industry.

Spike in Customer Contact

From a customer service perspective, the Wirecard crisis has caused a massive headache for associated customer-contact centres, because they were over-loaded with inquiries from customers who could no longer access their money. I was amongst those inconvenienced. Sorting out my problem, however, proved a valuable lesson in how approaches used to manage expectations can have a significant impact on the consequential load, costs, and customer-satisfaction on contact service centres involved.

Damage Limitation Strategy

The bank I use began to address the problem of spikes during crises of various kinds some years ago because the CEO has prodigiously used social media as a means of updating customers on the company’s direction of travel, informing them what was happening with the platform, commenting on any outages being experienced and so on, engaging with clients on Twitter, and running a public AMA (Ask Me Anything) session every quarter, so that the customers felt engaged with the brand, thereby building confidence in it. Of course, as a crypto bank it is under greater pressure than more conventional operators to be easily accessible to maintain the confidence of their 2 million plus global customers, but it does appear the approach has succeeded. Thus, its culture and structures were well-positioned to address the Wirecard fiasco.

Crisis Management Strategy

The moment the Wirecard scandal broke the senior management team got on the front foot and started communicating about the situation on social media, which immediately eased concerns, my own included, because it indicated they were already addressing the crisis in a manner previous experience and propaganda suggested they would.

Clear Messaging

In the messaging on the 25th of June, the very day the news broke, there was reassurance and a clear statement as to what the outcome would be for the customer: your money is safe, and we are going to reimburse the money quickly.

The second message on the 26th June highlighted that the money was going to be reimbursed within 48 hours, and irrespective of any action by the FCA in terms of embargoing peoples money in prepaid accounts, was going to credit customers accounts.

In undertaking to credit all their customers at their own risk, immediately cemented and enhanced the strength of their customer relationship and took the heat out of the situation. At no time did I, personally get in touch with the contact centre due to confidence in the messaging coming from a management team acting in a way consistent with previous experience. (I believe other customers behaved similarly). Trust was confirmed by the end of the day when my balance was reimbursed. Furthermore, we were informed that work was now going to refocus on getting a new payment provider, which further minimised the likelihood of a surge in customer-contact due to enhanced customer anxiety.

On the 29th they provided some good news regarding FPS transfers, using the highly-respected Starling Bank to broker this arrangement in the UK, which constituted a clear statement of intent that they are not going to vanish as a result of the Wirecard saga, and marked their emergence as a credible alternative to conventional banks.

Then on June 30th the CEO communicated once more, stating that the visa debit card could be used again, and that to avoid reliance on a single payment provider, moving forward, and the chance of a replication of the Wirecard problem, the company would work with more than one provider.

Fig 1. Twitter Timeline

Even during the crisis updated its customers that they were extending the time-limit of their on-going promotion, and the CEO sent out a tweet for the next AMA, thereby underscoring the consistency in the message the community has come to expect, that demonstrated they would not hide from their customers, and that the leadership were getting ahead of the curve.

Thus, with a mix of clear and timely messaging on social media allied to the use of well-written blogs, FAQs, and some automation in the contact centre, signposting customers around what was happening, I suggest that significantly reduced the amount of customer contact and, therefore, cost, but at the same time significantly enhanced the brand and customer experience over the crisis; and is an object lesson to everyone in the power of a clear, reliable, and trustworthy culture of transparent communication in good and bad times. As Amy Scott reminded us in my Podcast: “Even when the situation is bad, the way it is handled will determined how you feel about the company.”

In this case, however, it was much more than a matter of public relations, because the severe threat also occasioned the start of a financial partnership with Starling that left the company more secure. As Rahm Emanuel, a recent mayor of Chicago remarked: “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.”

Key Takeaways

1, B2C — CEO’s and Leadership teams to be more open/available on Social Media and become a strategic component of your contact deflection strategy.

2, Consistency in reliable messaging in the good times and the bad times instills confidence that will improve your NPS.

3, Entrenched culture from the top down reduces the pressure on the contact centre because they anticipate customer needs and concerns.

4, Sign up for and use my referral link 😉

5, Lobby Kris to come on the Sabio podcast to hear the story 1st hand 😉



Matt Dyer

Interested in Innovation