The Art of Ignoring. Why @XboxSupport Convinced Me to Leave Microsoft.

There is such a thing as too much Social Media.  I’m talking about the art of ignoring.  We see accounts such as @comcastcares and @richardatdell and various other accounts on Twitter that do an excellent job at handling customer support and actually gaining, as well as retaining customers as a result, all while maintaining a great PR front for the company.  Such media arms require a fine art that includes customer support, PR, a little technical support, and often a little power to make decisions at the executive level.  When you create a customer support channel on Twitter you are, in essence, exposing yourself, and your customers, to the world when it comes to support.  This is a very delicate line to cross. Some times it means you have to ignore certain irate customers to maintain that brand image.  Today, the @XboxSupport team, to me, showed me how not to manage a customer support channel on Twitter.  In fact, they’ve convinced me to leave Microsoft altogether.  Let me share why.

A few days ago on Twitter I mentioned my frustration (note that TweetBoard didn’t archive that entire conversation for some reason, so some of my responses are missing), after my 4th Xbox 360 received its red ring of death, and after taking it through the Microsoft diagnosis tool, it would soon become the 4th Xbox 360 I owned to be replaced by Microsoft under my extended warranty.  4 units!  (I should note, in full disclosure, that one of those is a separate unit that my brother now owns after I replaced it once, so it would be one unit replaced once, and another replaced 3 times)  I paid full price for the unit, and full price for the extended warranty.

I loved my Xbox 360.  I was okay going through the replacement process a couple times.  It was, as I’ve said here before, my entertainment center more than anything.  No other unit, in conjunction with the Windows 7 machine that I own, can allow me to stream and record live TV in as efficient, cheap, and as powerful and flexible a manner as my Xbox 360.  Not only that but I get great games like Halo, and my kids get great family games like Viva Pinata and others that go with it.  I was getting excited for the Kinect product which had been lauded for years as the next generation controller.

Yet at some point having to replace your console over and over again for similar problems, it starts to nag on you.  It especially nags on me as all my friends are starting to buy the PS3 and are trying to convince me to switch after years of defense of the Xbox 360 by myself.  So I complained on Twitter. Sure enough, the first tweets that come in are from friends of mine, asking me if it’s time I let the 360 go.  Some mentioning the return rates of the PS3 are extremely low.

Tempting.

But after someone pointing them to me, in swoops @XboxSupport on Twitter, suggesting, without my asking, that I try out their diagnosis tool online that I’ve tried a million times.  I told them I wasn’t interested, in fact suggesting the only thing that could make me feel better would be a refund or one of the new Xbox 360s that is supposed to have these Red Ring of Death issues fixed, and they proceeded to argue with me.  It got to the point that I was suggesting that the Wii wasn’t giving me these issues and they were in essence saying that the Xbox produced more heat (yes, that’s the problem) which is why it was breaking and the others weren’t (duh).  In all the messaging I got from them, the message that came through to me was that I was wrong, and they were right.  All this in their public stream for all their followers to see, without me originally asking for their help.  You can see part of the conversation here (again note that a lot of it is missing):

They finally stopped the conversation and we both went on our separate ways.  In fact, I was starting to calm down a bit and was actually considering just buying the new Xbox 360 after I replaced this one and perhaps sold it on Ebay or something (or maybe just destroyed it on Youtube for everyone to see).  It was at the same time MG Siegler, of TechCrunch, was mentioning problems he was having with Xbox Live making him want to kill his Xbox 360 as well.  I pointed him to the @XboxSupport conversation I had earlier, and evidently someone else at @XboxSupport caught wind of that too.

When I woke up this morning, in swooped @XboxSupport again, thinking they could save the day, but this time the 3 tweets I received from them were accusing me of not cooperating, again, in front of all their 35,000 followers.  The latest message being, “We do understand your frustration, but for us to provide the best support possible we do need some customer cooperation”.  This after I had done all they asked in my previous conversation with them.  After that they started saying they had done all they could do “if my console was out of standard warranty”.  Again, i was wrong, they were right.  Even though I had the extended warranty they were assuming I didn’t have.  All in their public stream, to their 35,000 followers.  I then suggested they stop arguing and leave it alone, and then they proceeded to defend why they engaged customers on Twitter. 12 Tweets to their 35,000 followers later, they stopped.  At this point my entire Replies column was filled with arguments from @XboxSupport (and one person telling me the PS3 was superior):

My Replies column full of Tweets, in my perception, telling me I’m wrong

When is enough, enough?  I think when the customer tells you they don’t want to hear from you any more that should definitely tell you to just let it go.  Especially when you’re representing one of the biggest brands on the planet, and potentially damaging or hurting that customer’s reputation in front of all the other people following your brand.  When approaching customer support in a public environment, the rules change.  You absolutely cannot give any hint that your customers are ever wrong. Take it to DM.  Take it to e-mail if you want to do that.  Encourage immediately for those customers to e-mail you or call you when it comes to that.  Assumptions can never be made, because you can be held liable.

Instead, I got to tell my 26,000 followers, and now a blog post that will go out to more, how frustrated I was with Microsoft, over and over again with them only fueling my fire each and every time.  The Twitter XboxSupport account has told me, to their 35,000 followers, that I’m wrong, over and over again.  It’s lose-lose, and nobody wins.

Again, I’m wrong, even though that’s not what they were informing me considering they know I already knew.

Now I’m forced to stick to my decision.  I’ll be selling my replaced Xbox 360 on Ebay, and using the money to purchase a PS3.  Or maybe I’ll save the money and just stick with the Wii I currently own.  Microsoft has convinced me with their continual pressing that I’ll always be wrong in their opinion and because of that I can’t stick with them.  Therefore I won’t buy an Xbox 360 again.  Not only that but their other followers also see that.  Also, as a result, that Xbox 360 was the only reason I was still on Windows 7 – my Windows 7 machine was my media center, and Windows Media Center powered my entire Xbox 360-controlled media experience.  Now I don’t need that any more either.  Unfortunately in a world of interconnected devices, killing one device causes a ripple effect to the others.  All this very possibly could have been stopped by a single support person keeping their mouth shut and letting bygones be bygones.

There is a time when Social Media can be too much.  It’s important you train those representing your company on Twitter and elsewhere to realize this.  Customer Support is no longer just a support role any more.  It’s a PR role as well.  There are legal repercussions.  There are reputation repercussions.  There is much more to this position.

It’s important, as you’re approaching your customer support approach to social media that you have a way to get to the bottom of the situation as quick as possible, and preferably in private.  You should recognize the problem, contact the person individually, and determine if in the end they can ever be right.  If that’s not the case, it’s a moot point to try and convince them otherwise.  The customer is always right.  They should especially be right in public.  To this customer, unfortunately in Microsoft’s public perception, I’ll always be wrong, and that will never be deleted.  That’s just bad support, and the exact opposite of what a social media campaign should produce.  There’s an art of ignoring, and at least Microsoft’s XboxSupport team has proved to me they don’t get that art.  Goodbye Microsoft.  I hope you can sway me back.

So, who’s got a good deal on a PS3?

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31 thoughts on “The Art of Ignoring. Why @XboxSupport Convinced Me to Leave Microsoft.

  1. You could have just replied “I have an extended warranty and I'll be sending it in for repair, thanks.” I don't get all the drama and arguing from your side. Yes they clearly took it too far but so did you.

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  2. Noleaf, I'm the customer. I asked them to leave me alone. They kept it
    going while continuing to say I was wrong.

    Frankly, I didn't want to send it in for repair again though – this was the
    4th time I had sent it in for repair! I wanted a new Xbox or a refund.
    Beyond that it's no longer worth it to me, and that's why I kept arguing
    it.

    Like

  3. This still does not negate the points I made. (and you're not entirely
    accurate. Anyone visiting the xboxsupport profile can also see those
    messages, which I vouch could be similar in number)

    Like

  4. And that's something for them to be proud of? It's not helping their
    support case, I can promise you. The impression I got was they were
    intrusive and noisy when I never asked for their help in the first place.

    Like

  5. Oh AND reading your actual replies to them, you were practically demanding a new Xbox or a Refund for a product you'd had for years? Riiiiight. Totally reasonable. Sheesh

    Like

  6. A product I had to replace 4 times – I think that sounds reasonable. In
    reality, I only suggested that because they approached me though. I was
    just going to sell the replaced box and move on. It was them that pushed
    the issue and kept the conversation going, even after I asked them to leave
    it alone. (and btw, you have a lot of time to feel the need to go through
    and read that whole conversation – this must be important to you)

    Like

  7. I did Jesse to try and see the tweets for real and after hitting 'More' 10 or 12 times I gave up. So I'm still not sure 35,000 people saw them as you claim, like I said overdramatic.

    I don't agree you have to put up with a shitty product that sucks I just don't see that they actually acted in the severely unprofessional manner you portray in this post.

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  8. I asked them to leave it alone and they kept pushing it. I never asked them
    to approach me in the first place. IMO that's bad service, plain and
    simple.

    In all their Tweets, the tone was “Jesse is wrong, and we're right”. The
    correct approach would have been, “you could be right – why don't you call
    us or e-mail us or DM us and we can figure out what's going on”. Instead
    they assumed I wasn't cooperating (when I was). They assumed I didn't have
    a warranty (when I did), and they assumed my product was overheating because
    it wasn't in a ventilated spot. A public Tweet stream is not the place for
    this. Occasionally you can do it in e-mail or phone or elsewhere, but never
    in public. In public, the customer is always right.

    If you really want to get down to it that should be the case in private as
    well, but that's an entirely different matter. Even when I e-mail my
    customers, I'm always prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt, even
    without records, and I always assume they're right, even if I need more
    information to give me that comfort. And in the end, even if that comfort
    isn't satisfied, if their request is affordable I'll still give them what
    they're asking for. That's what customer service is. It's my opportunity
    to serve the customer, respect them, and make them always feel appreciated.
    And you know what – I bet my customers are happier with my service than
    they are Microsoft's.

    Microsoft did the exact opposite, and in public for all to see. While I
    don't really care if they gave me a refund or new Xbox or not, what I do
    care is that they assumed I was wrong, and they did so for the whole world
    to see. It's why I'm leaving Microsoft, and why my taste for Microsoft will
    always be bad from this point forward. The customer is always right,
    *especially* in public. I'm not so sure this Social Media support tactic of
    theirs is really working for them – I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one
    this has happened to.

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  9. OK I didn't want to get into a debate but I guess you just attract them 😉

    So in your dealing with Social Media you advise customer support channels not to engage? Approaching someone who is dissatisfied about their product is bad service? What!?

    Maybe you read that tone as negative and against everything you said I didn't but as I wasn't pissed off with Microsoft at the time of reading it then maybe I didn't have your eyes. Sure maybe they could have handled it different but I sure don't see the totally negative connotations in their tweets that you see.

    In the words of Jimmy Greaves 'It's a funny old game' engage get shit don't engage get shit, you have to realize and they should too that not every one has the same tolerance maybe they said too much to you, well obviously they did but for others they won't have said enough.

    I'm sure if they ignored you after your first statements then this post would be complaining that you were ignored.

    It seems we have some differing views should we be discussing them in a public forum or as you would prefer take it in private? (thats not an invitation just pointing out)

    You seem happy to discuss your problems in public but not for them to answer you in public?

    I'd love to agree with your 'The customer is always right in public' bit but I can't, not in the sense you are claiming it as I still don't see the negativity in their tweets that you see. The only thing I do see is that they kept tweeting at you (not in a negative way) after you told them to stop, a simple OK Jesse here is an email address xyz if you want to discuss it further would have sufficed.

    Anyway we live and learn, good bad and ugly things move on, hope you enjoy your PS3!

    Like

  10. “In all their Tweets, the tone was “Jesse is wrong, and we're right”.”

    Sorry, simply can't agree here. Just from the tweets you've captured above:
    a) the offer of the troubleshooting tool was helpful, in my opinion.
    b) “We want to be helpful where we can, if your console is indeed under an extended warranty you can have it repaired free” – seems helpful to me.
    c) In fact, I found almost all the tweets you offered fairly helpful, although towards the end the frustration perhaps takes over. But up until that point it looks, to me, like they were acting reasonably.

    I think the issue here is that you're too close to it. If you could step back, you might see things from a different point of view 🙂

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  11. Roger, I don't think you read through the entire article. I'm not here to
    debate with people that don't read. My opinions of Microsoft aren't what
    this article is about.

    And as far as “dealing with Social Media”, I don't advise anyone about this
    stuff. I'm a developer. I advise on technologies, not strategy. I'm
    simply sharing my observations here on a case I don't think is good strategy
    to be using Twitter for. If you disagree that's fine, but this is my blog
    and my opportunity to share that opinion. You're welcome to agree to
    disagree.

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  12. Wow, you know I think its a mistake to try to resolve all issues with Twitter. Its disingenuous at a certain level. I think customers feel that when they have reached a level of disappointment that there needs to be a communication type that shows more empathy. Typed messages dont really do it. I think you reached a point where they almost immediately asked for your number and REACHED out to resolve the issue in a more personal manner. There is a hierarchy where customer service needs to ratchet up to the a higher level of intimacy if you will. In all the business' I've owned there have been rare times where we had to give a product or service away to save the client relationship, but usually most times by doing so we would keep the client for future business and income. Many times we kept our clients over 13+ years doing business with us. It was a long term big picture issue. Jessie might have bought Microsoft consoles and the games, upgrades forever, even if it meant the cost of one xbox gifted from Microsoft. Would that have helped Jesse if early on they had just called you instead of arguing on Twitter?

    Chris Voss

    Like

  13. Wow, you know I think its a mistake to try to resolve all issues with Twitter. Its disingenuous at a certain level. I think customers feel that when they have reached a level of disappointment that there needs to be a communication type that shows more empathy. Typed messages dont really do it. I think you reached a point where they almost immediately asked for your number and REACHED out to resolve the issue in a more personal manner. There is a hierarchy where customer service needs to ratchet up to the a higher level of intimacy if you will. In all the business' I've owned there have been rare times where we had to give a product or service away to save the client relationship, but usually most times by doing so we would keep the client for future business and income. Many times we kept our clients over 13+ years doing business with us. It was a long term big picture issue. Jessie might have bought Microsoft consoles and the games, upgrades forever, even if it meant the cost of one xbox gifted from Microsoft. Would that have helped Jesse if early on they had called you?

    Chris Voss

    Like

  14. The wise thing for XBox Support to do would have been to take the discussion out of the public eye.

    First, they'd benefit from a chance to interact with you one-on-one to solve the issue, allowing you to share info privately (purchase date, contact details) which would get you closer to a resolution.

    Secondly, you would both be free from the shackles of 140 character riddles. It's nearly impossible to express ourselves properly in so few characters, so messages often come out sounding a bit wrong. It's an art to be clear in such short messages and it isn't suited to troubleshooting.

    Good customer care online is tough, but it's essential to be patient and take a deep breath. The tiniest smidge of frustration looks much worse to the frustrated customer, as this case has shown.

    Like

  15. It's funny to me that every reply to the comments left by readers give off the same sentiment – “I'm right you're wrong” – that you spoke about in your article.

    Jesse, I'm not arguing with your initial assessment, I too think that XboxSupport was essentially dismissing your dissatisfaction with the 360 as just another stupid customer complaining about something they don't understand – the 🙂 and 😦 emoticons did it for me.

    That being said, don't you think that your replies to your readers give off that same tone? As a member of the public, able to see the public stream, that's the impression that I got. Though I'm sure that wasn't your intention just as I'm sure XboxSupport would not go out of their way to prove their customers wrong.

    As far as the customer service via Twitter issue I believe that XboxSupport's biggest failure was in not addressing the issue with you directly after your initial tweet. Even without a reference to their twitter handle they should be watching the terms related to their product. They should have opened the conversation with “Sorry for the problems with your Xbox360, here's a number, here's an email address, reference this ticket# and we'll get you taken care of”.

    I don't understand why companies, or individuals for that matter, open themselves up to criticism by attempting full blown customer support/service through a text based channel that is inherently interpreted by the reader, in terms of emotion, subjectively.

    Like

  16. Chris, it would have totally helped. I didn't even need a new Xbox
    (although I would have asked for it). It was the public argument, without
    my prompting (and my requests to leave it alone later on, which they
    ignored), that turned me off. When you don't have all the info, rather than
    starting a public discourse, offer to call them or e-mail them and get all
    the information you need. 140 characters just isn't enough, and a public
    environment simply isn't appropriate.

    Of note, I have a few messages on my phone from yesterday of them trying to
    call me. I'm going to call them today and we'll see if we can finally work
    this out. I'm hoping there's a happy ending out of all this.

    Like

  17. Rob, the difference is I'm the customer. They're the big company. There
    are different responsibilities in each. I'm sure I'm not the only one with
    these problems (as I've gotten comment in a few places), and as a consumer
    with the problem and an audience, I have a responsibility to make these
    issues known on behalf of other consumers with similar issues. That is the
    right of the consumer. At the same time I think there is a learning
    opportunity for other companies looking to take their support efforts to
    Twitter. My hope is others can learn from this. That's why I'm so vocal
    about it.

    Like

  18. Again, I'm in agreement with your assessment that XboxSupport screwed the pooch, at least initially, when communicating with you. I was hoping my comment alerted you to a similar tone I got from your replies to your readers (not quite customers but close). I think Chris said it best below that attempting to solve problems entirely through Twitter is very problematic, not to mention very public!

    Like

  19. Jesse,
    1. Quitting XBox all together because of 1 support person seems a bit rush. For a product you have to return 4 times, completely agree. The new XBOX now have heat warning and much cooler and quieter. Plus your kids would love Kinect.
    2. Any policy that required someone to do the same thing regardless of situation is idiotic. E.g. a. Xboxsupoprt must response to every mentions and tweets about xbox. b. All tweets must be out in the open (I don't agree with this).
    3. As a Msft employee, I have a yearly personal monetary allotment to buy company products for pretty good discount especially softwares. If you decided to try the new XBox (Kinect) or any Msft software (Mac Office 2011 when it's out?), please let me know, I would be happy to purchase one for you and you'll pay what I (employee) pay.

    Like

  20. Thanks Meng! I may take you up on that offer. I also have another good
    friend that works at Microsoft and I might approach him first, but if he's
    used his allotment I'll definitely let you know. I appreciate the offer!
    (your offer is much better than any of the support guys could give)

    Like

  21. It's funny to me that every reply to the comments left by readers give off the same sentiment – “I'm right you're wrong” – that you spoke about in your article.

    Jesse, I'm not arguing with your initial assessment, I too think that XboxSupport was essentially dismissing your dissatisfaction with the 360 as just another stupid customer complaining about something they don't understand – the 🙂 and 😦 emoticons did it for me.

    That being said, don't you think that your replies to your readers give off that same tone? As a member of the public, able to see the public stream, that's the impression that I got. Though I'm sure that wasn't your intention just as I'm sure XboxSupport would not go out of their way to prove their customers wrong.

    As far as the customer service via Twitter issue I believe that XboxSupport's biggest failure was in not addressing the issue with you directly after your initial tweet. Even without a reference to their twitter handle they should be watching the terms related to their product. They should have opened the conversation with “Sorry for the problems with your Xbox360, here's a number, here's an email address, reference this ticket# and we'll get you taken care of”.

    I don't understand why companies, or individuals for that matter, open themselves up to criticism by attempting full blown customer support/service through a text based channel that is inherently interpreted by the reader, in terms of emotion, subjectively.

    Like

  22. Noleaf, I'm the customer. I asked them to leave me alone. They kept it
    going while continuing to say I was wrong.

    Frankly, I didn't want to send it in for repair again though – this was the
    4th time I had sent it in for repair! I wanted a new Xbox or a refund.
    Beyond that it's no longer worth it to me, and that's why I kept arguing
    it.

    Like

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