Assuming you’ve jumped off the Sony bandwagon given everything that’s happened and how it was handled, what would it take to get you back on board? Sony says it will evaluate compensation options after they get PSN back online, so now is a great time to give them some suggestions. When Xbox Live went down for a couple days around the holiday season 2 years ago, Microsoft gave everyone a forgettable XBLA game. Of course, the PSN downtime and the fallout from that is much more catastrophic.
In discussing the issue with various friends, family and colleagues, the question came up, what would it take to turn this negative into a positive? Obviously, the answer would be different for everyone, with some people actually defending Sony to the bitter end. I’d call those people foolish, but to each their own. Anyway, let’s take a look at some ideas Sony could use to “win back” and even earn some loyal customers.
From what I understand, some US states actually require companies to pay for a year (or even two?) of credit monitoring when personal data is stolen. So an easy one would be to provide this service for all of their customers. This should be a no brainer. ArsTechnica has already posted some reports of credit card fraud that could be linked to the Sony breach, but in actuality, there is no way to verify those claims. Whether it’s true or not, expect to see more stories like that for months and years to come. At least Sony offering monitoring services will help quell customer complaints and provide an nice PR image boost for them, as a gesture of showing they care. That last bit is important, since the general perception, valid or not, is that Sony does not care, as implied by their poor communication and perceived tone taken in their updates.
Other options that people will look for is some sort of financial compensation and/or free content. Giving users free PSN games, or even going as far as giving everyone a free year of Playstation Plus should be fairly easy for Sony to do, would quiet most of their customer base and allow many to quickly forget this whole unpleasant experience. Current Playstation Plus or Qriocity subscribers should most definitely get some sort of partial refund, no question.
While the options I’ve listed so far are nice, when you boil them down, they are just PR stunts to help boost a tarnished image. The one area I feel that Sony could really make a difference and go a long way into (re)building a loyal fan-base is to take this experience and use it to become a champion for customer privacy and security. They would do their customers a great service by taking the lead in providing customers greater control over their own data. Let customers delete and permanently purge their accounts from Sony’s system, if they choose to do so. Let customers permanently delete their stored credit card data from PSN. Lead the industry in system security and privacy by having users opt-in to data gathering services that are currently in place. Ditch the arcane and purposely confusing EULAs and provide clear language agreements. By becoming a dominate player in consumer rights, they can start to build a reputation of a company people can trust, and gain customers who will fiercely loyal.
While I’m on my soap box, since they are rebuilding PSN from the ground up, fix the painfully slow PS3 update process that is way too frequent and often provides no new features. Don’t forget that the past few months we saw numerous firmware updates all to bolster the security of the PS3 & PSN in their seemingly pointless war with hackers. In the end, it was their customers who got caught in the crossfire, not to mention the inconvenience of loading 30 minute updates on their consoles before they can even start to use it.
Is this all pie-in-the-sky over optimism? Probably. But that’s how I’d answer the question. Sony would win me back and keep me as a customer if they proved they were serious about security and privacy, let users control their own data, and throw a few freebies our way for good measure. What other ideas do you have that Sony could do to make things right?