Brand loyalty during a service crisis

May 17, 2011

As the PlayStation Network (PSN) returns from its offline status, Sony consumers can breathe a sigh of collective relief. The dark night has finally ended, and a new dawn of Internet gaming can commence. But how has Sony fared during those long three weeks of media attention and consumer ridicule?

PlayStation owners and other gaming enthusiasts were quick to declare Sony a failure, for not protecting their servers and software adequately enough to fend off hackers. Some went so far as to trade in their PS3s for XBox 360s. A majority of the rest migrated to non-online games while waiting for progress updates from Sony.

Rumors abound about Sony’s lack of preparation for cyber attacks, lack of responsiveness when the attack occurred and even lack of organization after the attack, as they posted several vague and repetitious blog posts about the problem and when the PSN would be brought back online.

The short-term effects of this security breach were a noticeable drop of consumer trust in the Sony brand, their products and their customer service. Now that service has been brought back, consumer ire has burned out.

But for those who’ve already switched to the XBox 360, it’ll be a long road for Sony to win them back. And if Sony’s security is breached yet again, even if it’s a year or two down the road, the backlash could be even worse than it has been this past month.

Building a trustworthy brand requires more than just patch jobs on software and reliable products. It requires constant vigilance against cyber attacks and consistent communications to their customers of any significant changes being made to their services, products or security measures. Transparency will help them move forward.

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