After Hours

A review of Sony's PlayStation 3 repair service

Video game systems are computers designed for a very specific purpose. What can support techs learn from Sony's PS3 service process?

Video game systems are computers designed for a very specific purpose. What can support techs learn from Sony's PS3 service process?

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One of my hobbies is playing video games, so when my PlayStation 3 started acting up I was pretty devastated. To make matters worse the PS3 is the center of my home entertainment system, so when it began crashing frequently I wasn't the only one inconvenienced. My fiancée couldn't reliably watch a DVD movie on our television anymore, since I had long ago gotten rid of our standalone player in favor of the PS3's ability to play DVDs and Blu-ray disks.

After some hemming and hawing, I decided to look into getting my PS3 serviced. Mine is one of the original models, so it's long outside of the manufacturer's warranty. I never seriously considered purchasing a new PS3 as a replacement because the unit I have has some features that current PlayStations do not (backwards-compatibility with my extensive PlayStation 2 software library, specifically). I was a little apprehensive about contacting Sony for support, since I've heard horror stories from friends who had to have their Xbox 360s serviced. The process of repairing my game system worked out great, though Sony didn't hold my hand as much as I wanted.

  • Going in, I wasn't sure whether my request for service would result in my machine being fixed or not. Sony reserves the right to replace a system sent in for service with a like model. At least I had some assurance that I would get back a machine that had the features I had paid for.
  • Sony's instructions for preparing my machine for shipping to the service center were clear, and my shipping box arrived quickly. The Web page that they directed me to in order to check on the status of my repair never showed any details about the work being done on my machine.

I got updates about where my PS3 was as it traveled, that just was not the kind of information I wanted. While the e-mail alerts I received from UPS and Sony to inform me that my system had arrived at the service facility were nice, I wanted more information. I wanted Sony to tell me exactly what was wrong with my system. I was curious whether my diagnosis (failing graphics/logic board) was borne out or not. Not one word came directly from Sony during my repair, except to say that they received my system.

Now, having some customer service experience myself, I would normally say that the customer deserves more status updates than I was given. In this case, however, I'll make an exception. My repair was finished fast. My PlayStation arrived at the service center on a Monday. On the following Wednesday I received an e-mail from UPS informing me that my system had been shipped back to me the day before, and that I should have it by the close of the week. On Friday my PS3 was waiting for me when I got home. And it was working again. So, what grade would I give Sony's service? A-

They get high marks in the important areas. My repair was done accurately, and it was done fast. Even factoring in all the shipping time—they sent me an empty box, I sent them the PS3, they sent it back—the duration of my service was 13 business days from complaint to resolution. And I don't know if my repair could have been turned around any faster. According to the UPS time stamps, my PlayStation was at the Sony service center for less than 24 hours.

Would I have liked more detail about what was going on in the service facility? Sure. I'm a PC tech who likes fixing machines; I'd love to know if my assessment of the problem was accurate. I was also promised that I could get updates by looking up my repair on Sony's Web site. But ultimately, weighing more detailed status updates against a same-day repair, I prefer having my system fixed and back on my shelf.

Consider that fact when you're trying to budget your time during a support interaction. Customers will appreciate accuracy and speed over almost anything else, number one and number two. Get those things right, and you're well on the way to leaving your clients satisfied.

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