My Confusing Experience with @AskPlayStation Customer Service

By Sida Li In late April, the Playstation Network was hacked and the account information of over 70 million users was stolen. Interestingly enough my customer service experience took place in early June, after the PlayStation Network had been turned back on. I’ll take you through the sequence of events before I give my opinions – this way you can form your own judgments.

It’s the beginning of June, PSN service had just resumed, and although many users were experiencing problems logging on or changing their passwords, I didn’t have any of these issues. Instead, all I wanted to do was create a second account to play Call of Duty: Black Ops (depending on who you ask, either the best or the worst video game ever made). Here’s the ominous screen that popped up when I tried to create a new account:

I had been trying to make a new PSN account for a couple of days, so I went on the internet for some answers. I stumbled upon a PlayStation Network team member through the PlayStation blog and decided to contact (or ambush) him on Twitter. Here’s our conversation:

After getting no response from @AskPlayStation, I decided to kick it old school and call PlayStation’s customer service line. After 15 minutes on hold, I hung up and found their customer service email form on their website. I sent off my question: “I'm trying to make a new account on PSN, but I'm getting a down for maintenance error. I also can't sign in on my computer, but for some reason I can sign in on my PS3 on my current account. I thought the downtime period was over?” Here’s the email I received:

I’m sure you noticed a few oddities.

1) The reply I received from “Sarah K” contained multiple spelling errors. I hope this automated message didn’t get sent to anyone else.

2) It recommended that I make a new account, even though I asked my question because I couldn’t make a new account.

After reading the email, I became frustrated and spent about an hour combing online forums to see if any other users had the same problem. I found someone else who did and followed his instructions; I had to do it through my PlayStation 3 using a controller to fill out the entry form.

Later I found this DM (I check @mentions more often than I check DMs), but that didn't explain the email I had received.

The account was made and things were busy for the next week so I forgot about the event until yesterday. I decided to follow up and get some answers (please note that I took these screenshots yesterday, not 8 or 9 hours ago):

I called customer service again and this time hung around for 20 minutes (the system told me the wait time was over 12 minutes). @MorganHaro has been very responsive and kind, but unless he can bring this matter to someone else’s attention within the PlayStation Network, I don’t think he can help me any further.

At this point I’m not even angry or annoyed – I’d just like some sort of explanation for the email I received. I’m sure Sony has their hands full dealing with the aftereffects of the PSN crisis – and I’m sure they must receive so many questions and complaints that an automated response system is a necessity – so I’m hoping this blog (and you, the reader), can help me test the power of social media and grab someone’s attention at the PlayStation Network.

Here are some of my takeaways from this experience as it relates to brands:

  1. Twitter users check @mentions more often than DMs. Respond publicly using an @reply, even if it's just to inform a user that you are going to follow up with a DM. This way others can see you're dealing with the issue and the user  knows to check his or her DMs.
  2. Customers on social media can be very persistent if their questions aren't resolved.
  3. Sometimes standard customer service channels aren't enough. If an issue isn't being fixed, someone within the brand should escalate it further up the chain of command.

How do you think PlayStation Network should have responded? What do you think they can do to follow up with me? Share in the comments below!