What Microsoft Needs To Do With Its Customer Support

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Usually, when it comes to a company’s customer service team, we rarely run into problems when it comes to sorting out something with our hardware, peripherals, or games. We get someone on the phone, chat with them a bit, tell them what’s up, and then get the answer we’re looking for so we can move merrily along our way.

Every once in a while, you get an instance that makes you sit back and wonder, “THIS is their customer service standard?!” Such a situation occurred today with, of all people, Microsoft. Now, don’t get us wrong, we’re not going to throw away our Xboxes, party like the PlayStation fanboys, and curse out Major Nelson’s existence. Sorry, we’re keeping our hardware and continuously sawing people in half in Gears of War 3. Nothing will change that, but we just couldn’t resist bringing up this situation.

It started with the release of the 320 GB Gears of War 3 console. Now, being the avid gaming fans we are, we needed this system, not just because of its exquisite design, but also because of its expanded hard drive space. (Call it a necessity, especially with all the XBLA games and Rock Band 3 songs we possess.)

However, there’s a problem. We currently have a 250 GB system, slim model, and the current data migration cable that’s on the market only supports transferring from the older model 360 to the new one – there’s no way to transfer from 360 S to 360 S.

So we began checking up with Microsoft for answers. Our first stop? The Twitter team over at @xboxsupport. They’ve helped us in the past, so things possibly couldn’t go wrong with them, right? Well, after a few replies, they felt that they couldn’t provide us with the answer we wanted, in this case locating the cable needed for the job. So we called Microsoft Support at 1-800-4-MY-XBOX. The first thing we heard, “Well, we have a data migration cable that can be used for that.” When we explained it wouldn’t support that model, they explained that it would.

Now, this is where we had to check the back of the system, and, sure enough, there’s no place to connect it. So we called back at that number and asked for another rep, and after explaining what was up, he offered to transfer us over to the hardware department for further answers. Somewhere in the midst of all that, we got hung up on. Nice.

Going back to @xboxsupport, we asked if there was any way for them to look up a link for the hard drive cable, after explaining our poor phone experience. They said to check out Microsoft’s Store, in which case we were referred to…again…the old data migration cable that, in the description, clearly indicates it’s not for 360 S to 360 S transfers. We sent a message back and were once again referred to the phone number.

So we called again and asked about the cable. We were told that it would be “in stores” on October 11, but it was available now on Microsoft Store. We explained that we checked and it was the old cable, and at this point were asking for a supervisor. We were put on hold and – click! Disconnect. What do you know?

Referring back to @xboxsupport, we again explained that phone support wasn’t quite helping out, and at this point, things began to get weird. They completely misunderstood our inquiry and asked about us purchasing the console and what we could do to register it. They forgot about the cable entirely and instead opted to try to sell us the system. To which we responded, why would we buy the system if we had no way to transfer the data? And with that, they answered…well, try phone support again.

So we called phone support once more and got another rep. He explained that there was actually a way to transfer data between two systems using a USB-to-USB cable between them – like the PlayStation 3. Before trying this out, however, we checked with @xboxsupport just to be sure, and they shot down that theory, indicating it wouldn’t work.

This is now two something hours going into the matter. We called one more time, just about an hour ago, and spoke with a lady who, for 30 minutes, tried to direct us to three links to sites for the cable – the older one, again. So we asked for a supervisor, fearing for a cut-off – and, hey, we actually got one! Finally!

So here’s the gist: the data migration cable isn’t available to the public. In order to gain access to buying one, you need to first purchase and register the Gears of War 3 console through Xbox.com. Once registered, you’ll be taken to a side site where you can purchase the cable – yep, buy it – for $19.99. No word on how long shipping will take, but hopefully not long.

So, aside from the run-around; the suggestion to hook the two systems together; the multiple suggestions to transfer data via a flash drive (not happening, we have too much stuff); redownloading (again, not happening, thanks to 195+ worth of data); and being misled left and right by BOTH teams (and hung up on!), we finally had the answer we were looking for. It appears to be solid, though we have yet to test out the theory on an actual piece of hardware. Guess we’ll have to roll the dice and take our chances.

Before we do, we should note that Microsoft has some serious customer support clean up it needs to do. While some folks we talked to were very nice, others were downright pushy, getting to the point that if they were hassled in even the slightest way, they terminated the call. This, folks, is how you lose potential Xbox 360 owners who defect to the PlayStation camp – or turn into those fanboys that do nothing but complain how Microsoft sucks.

What’s more, the Twitter team needs to get on the ball a little more. While they are efficient in getting back to people, some of the random answers they give in regards to situations aren’t that well researched. We do appreciate the speed, but now we just need to work a little bit on quality. Just saying…

Having strong customer service is ideal for a big game company. Just ask Sony, who had agents backing them like crazy over the several weeks that the PlayStation Network was down earlier this year. Despite the worries of what the “hack” did and the lack of downloadable games for that time, people continued to stick by them because they had patient, helpful folks who tried to assure them of what was going on. Microsoft’s got a few good people, but it really needs to iron out some kinks to make everything run smoothly. Also, they need to get everyone on the same page.

Then again, some of you may never forgive them for getting an account ban. Must be the fanboys acting up again…

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Robert Workman
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