Microsoft makes things right

So apparently I am little slow on picking this up, but xbox 360 bottomI heard about the story of Nathaniel, a passionate Xbox gamer who suffered a serious loss when he sent his Xbox 360 into Microsoft for repair.  You can read the whole story here, including the amazing response by Bungie Studios (Makers of Halo) and the equally cool response by Microsoft.  The short of it is that Microsoft suffered a major breakdown in Customer Service 101 by making a promise and then not living it up to it.  However, thanks to the power of blogs and the connected economy, they redeemed themselves and then some.

Now this story really rang true to me because of my own bad experience with Microsoft customer support.  In Fall 2006, I went through my own brush with the dreaded red ring of death with my Xbox 360.  Over the course of 4 months, I sent my Xbox 360 in for repairs 5 times and spent probably 20 hours on the phone with customer support.  Things were so bad that I sent emails to guys I know on the Xbox Brand Team (no response) and thought about starting a blog about my problems.  In the end, things only came to a resolution when I suggested to Customer Support that the problem might be in the power system not the box itself (something they never even considered).  Needless to say, Xbox received no positive praise from me on the experience.  It is sad to see that their Customer Service hasnt improved in the 18 months since I last dealt with them.  However, as a Brand Manager, I realize the struggles the Xbox marketers are going through with getting a bad rap from a Customer Service group they have no control over.  It is great to see them taking control of the situation in the only way they can and making it better for the consumer.  And I’m hoping the fact they got the autograph of Bill Gates on the new system will lead Bill himself to check into the Customer Service problems.

On that note, during the MIX 08 Keynote, Guy Kawasaki made a comment to Steve Ballmer that 14 year olds don’t know about the OS wars or the anti-trust issues of Microsoft.  They know about Xbox, Zune and Halo.  In the eyes of 14 year olds, Microsoft is cool.  The story of Nathaniel, while horrible at first, came to a great conclusion.  More importantly it shows that the new Microsoft (at least the marketers at Microsoft) really does care about it customers.  If they keep it up, it won’t just be 14 year olds who think the company is just as cool as Apple.  Now if only they get can their outsourced Customer Service group to act the same way…

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