In Brand Marketing Strategy

Why a broken Sony strengthens the brand…

I’ve known plenty of people that called themselves ‘Sony men’. That is to say, they bought in to the brand in a big way, particularly years ago. They’d only buy Sony hi-fi gear or their TV had to be a Sony. Personally, I’ve never considered myself a Sony man, but you’ve really got to respect the strength of the brand that makes someone want to only buy Sony products.

I discovered one of the methods they use to maintain that brand strength.

A slight contradiction here, but I’ve always owned Playstations. I had two of the first version (one got stolen), and two of the PS2s (one scratched discs until they were unusable) and Father Christmas kindly brought my son and I a PS3 this year.

So here’s the brand lesson; the PS3 was bought from Amazon and yesterday, it just stopped reading discs altogether. After searching a few forums, I established that it’s probably a problem with the laser. I called Amazon, who took a whole bunch of details and then said I needed a reference number from Sony and gave me their telephone number.

The number turns out to be a generic one, and there’s another, dedicated number to speak with the Playstation team. A tiny bit irritated, I redial the Playstation team.

Another guy takes a few details about the fault, I’ve already tried all the options he suggests, so he registers the unit and then simply says:

“That’s fine. We’ll have our courier deliver a replacement to you tomorrow and collect the faulty one at the same time”. No repackaging the box with the accessories and cables – just the unit on its own.

What a pleasant surprise. No grief whatsoever! I really don’t mind stuff breaking down if that’s the service I’m going to get.

The Other Side of the Story….

The alternative version of this story, full of grief and endless form-filling, tests, paying for shipping it back, being without the unit for days or weeks, would almost certainly have affected my decision to buy the next generation of Playstation. As it happened, the outcome of it breaking has actually made me even more likely to buy Sony again.

It’s a sad state of affairs when this level of service is extraordinary – surely this should be the standard level of service anyway?

So the lesson is this: your customer service doesn’t have to be extraordinary, it just needs to fulfil (or exceed) expectations – and you’ll have a customer for life.

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