The Importance of Online Customer Service and the Consequences When Done Wrong

Social media has brought forward customer service to the front end of a business and is no longer behind the scenes – if you have an unhappy customer; everyone is going to hear about it.

If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might tell 6 friends


If you make customer unhappy in the social/ online world, they can tell 6000 friends

See my point?

The internet, particularly social media has amplified the effect of telling 6 friends to reaching 6000 and I have an example to prove it. Remember back in 2011 when Gasp clothing shop was shunned over the country after its poor customer service?

To refresh your memory, one customer received bad customer service at 1 of 6 Gasp stores in Australia. This upset shopper went home and wrote a formal complaint email to Gasp management telling of her negative experience, however it wasn’t just this experience that made news, it was the response that she received back that created a social media sensation.

GASP area manager Matthew Chidgey responded offending the customer, writing such things like “As I am sure you are aware, people whom are talented (referring to the sales assistant who was rude to the customer) generally do not tolerate having their time wasted, which is the reason you were provoked to leave the store” and even went on to say “It is probably fair to assume a lot of what I have said in this email either doesn’t make sense to you” and we “respectfully ask that you side step our store.”. Rather than resolving the incident and simply apologising, Gasp management added fuel to the fire and what a fire it grew into!


This email went viral (I myself remember receiving it via email); friends forwarded it onto friends who forwarded it on to more friends, people (including celebrities) Facebook, Tweeted and blogged about it. Gasp’s Facebook page was flooded with derogatory posts to the point where it needed to be shut down.

Facebook pages titled ‘We Hate Gasp’ and ‘Boycott Gasp’ were created on the social networking sites (both which still exist today). The email spat even made news in Britain and the United States! Within a few hours it was everywhere, and everyone online and offline was talking about it. Gasp later went on to apologise three months later but it was all too little, too late.

The backlash? Well the store which received the complaint no longer exists, the store continues to have sales all because people are not buying and refuse to support the brand anymore, and with good reason.

Now I understand this Gasp incident was an extreme example and their behavior was out of the ordinary for normal retailers (or so I hope) so you may be thinking “yeah but I’m not that stupid”. What this does though is demonstrate that when something goes wrong it can spread, very far and very quickly. Be aware that people will not tolerate bad service – Whether it’s something simple like, you took 48hrs instead of 24hrs to reply to a customer query or to the extreme like the Gasp incident, people are going to hear about it –  they are going to Tweet, Facebook, email and blog about it. People are going to stand behind and support other customers over your brand.


 Customer service is the new marketing


We can get as fancy as we want with non-traditional media however if the customer service is not up to standards, your business will not perform well. When I thinking about purchasing an item from you I am going to take into consideration the comments people are making on social media and the bad always outweighs the good in my buying decision.

Customer service is capable of making your company a success story or simply destroying it.


Here are some important stats to consider:


86% will stop doing business with your company because of bad service experiences


51% will only give you one chance


Companies only hear from 4% of unhappy customers


Is this information still not getting through to you? Here is a fancy infographic to help get my point across.

The True Cost Of Bad Customer Service

Infographic courtesy of HelpScout.

copyright FRANk Media 2018