11 October 2013 | Team Tamar

How to turn disaster into opportunity – pay attention Asda!

800px-An_ASDA_Mercedes_Benz_Sprinter_delivery_vanMany of you will have witnessed the very public cock-up by supermarket giant ASDA yesterday. In case you didn’t, here’s a tweet-sized summary: A rogue £50 discount code somehow got released, brought their site to its knees and was quickly removed – and followed up by a statement saying they wouldn’t be honouring any outstanding orders which used the voucher. Cue red faces all round.

Here at Tamar, we’re amazed that Asda don’t seem to have acknowledged the situation in any of their main social channels – they have been tweeting replies from https://twitter.com/AsdaServiceTeam, but even there they don’t seem to have really accepted what the cause of their “IT Problems” were.

So what could Asda have done to turn a voucher-based, social-media-fuelled, disaster into an opportunity? Here’s our take on it:

Obviously not much could be done to deal with the immediate overload of their servers that took place during the sh!tstorm yesterday – but an official representative could easily have jumped on Twitter and Facebook to say that the rogue code had been discontinued and that there was no point in trying it. Well into yesterday evening, the site was still down and there was no official word anywhere.

Given the amount of noise and speculation on Twitter, an official tweet and post to their press centre website would have been retweeted quite quickly and would have taken some pressure off them;

Should they honour the orders of the people who managed to successfully get through? According to The Independent, they’re not going to. Whilst we can only speculate about what exposure this glitch gave them, we suspect the loss of ‘legitimate’ business for most of a day was more than the costs of honouring the orders that did get through.

A well worded “mea culpa” statement, explaining “Hey, it was our screw-up, we’ll do the right thing by those who got through, even though it’s going to costs us a fortune” – would give them an opportunity to get across their core proposition: “At Asda, we’re focused on saving you money every day”.

With a well thought-through response, they could turn this incident into something positive. They must have also had a lot of new registrations for their delivery service yesterday who weren’t able to get through and complete a transaction – all of those should be followed up with an apology email and a more sensible voucher. Maybe, £10 off on your first shop over £50. Maybe send an @tweet to everyone who tweeted about the incident yesterday with the same.

As embarrassing as this is for Asda, there are plenty of examples of brands who have taken a potentially negative piece of publicity and turned it into a positive. Having a “Crisis management” plan in place can be a great way to identify a mole hill before it turns into a mountain – and they’re fairly simple to work up (Tamar often work on crisis management planners with our clients).

Whatever Asda decide to do, we’ll be watching with great interest to see whether they manage to rescue the situation at all.

Team Tamar