Tuesday 24 April 2018

Four Lessons Learned from the ‘Gasp’ Customer Service Gaffe

Melburnians along with the rest of the country waking up this morning couldn’t help but notice the uproar against the clothing shop Gasp based in Chapel Street, South Yarra. Within 24 hours coverage had appeared in most major local publications along with a ten minute feature on the Channel 7 Sunrise show this morning about the consumer uproar rolling out over Twitter.

For those that aren’t aware of the customer service gaffe – Gasp sent an unapologetic response to a genuine customer complaint and then stood by the comments during the (not surprising) backlash. This was a classic example of ‘when customer service goes bad’ and the fact that the owner stood by their original response just added fuel to the fire.

We were interested in seeing how this looked graphically so did a quick piece of research using Radian 6 and got the following graphs.


What you can see in the two graphs is just how quickly the story took hold – in the space of 24 hours mentions of the store had increased 1,600% and were almost solely on Twitter as the second graph shows. The third image shows the impact this has on search – as you can see, the second highest mention is negative and (as we know from the Edelman Trust Barometer) Google is the number one place people go when first looking for a brand.

So what does this actually mean in the real world?

  • Firstly, that the speed in which a negative story can spread is frightening – as news spread across the Australian Twitterverse it was soon picked up across the world as they woke up and went online.  Within 24 hours it was featured on the biggest morning show in Australia
  • Secondly, that traditional media is using Twitter as a regular source more than ever – whereas five years ago Twitter users would re-tweet the news, now, Twitter is creating the news
  • Thirdly, thanks for mainstream media reporting the news it’s likely to have another burst in mentions from those that didn’t mention it first time round
  • Finally, that any negative stories can quickly impact heavily on the quality of your search results acting as a constant reminder to new customers of your hubristic downfall

Whether this is a PR stunt or genuine customer complaint has yet to come out in the wash.  Whilst the owner is claiming that the number of shoppers has increased in the short term what isn’t clear yet is the long term damage to the brand over time. What is clear however is that this is yet another demonstration of the power of social media and how underestimating its power (for both good and bad) can be a big mistake.


Alex Lefley is a Digital Account Director in Edelman Melbourne