User experience in warranty registration

I recently bought a Sony α6000 mirrorless camera, which I like a lot. Sony suggested doing the warranty registration, which sometimes has value on bigger purchases (especially those that may have firmware updates), so I decided to do it.

First issue: entering the model number. One might think (at least, I did) that the model number here is going to have something to do with "a6000", since that is on the box, the product literature, and so on. So I typed "a6000", and the very helpful completion gave me half a dozen matching model numbers, none of them exactly "a6000", and only one of them with a label saying what that model actually was. So I dug out the camera itself, squinted at the model number, and learned that it's actually an "ILCE6000" (the "E" seems to be very important to the system). The labeling wasn't very clear with that, but I'm pretty sure it's correct. Fortunately, the picture that showed up later for my "registered products" list looks right.

Second issue: The process collects more information than I would like to give just for a warranty registration, or that seems necessary for a warranty registration. Of course, I know they want to collect data for other reasons, but it doesn't give me a feeling of trust or better relationship with the company, especially one that has lost control of sensitive data in the past. This isn't unique to Sony, of course.

I generally avoid complaining about things on this blog—there's plenty of that on the Internet already. What I wanted to point out was that we are still building web sites and applications that are designed to be easy for the computers (and probably the programmers) to deal with, rather than working out a user experience that uses cheap compute cycles to make the process easier and more engaging for the person using it. (Actually, the fact that we still just talk about "users" is likely a symptom of the underlying problem.) This lack of attention to the customer is especially common on post-sale systems, from warranty registration to customer support. This could have been an opportunity for Sony to create a compelling experience that gets me more excited about the camera, and possibly about other Sony products. Instead, it's a dull, boring dead end that made me work harder.

Lessons I would commend to big companies (and small, but the big ones seem to suffer more from the disease): every time a customer gets in touch with you is an opportunity to build a better relationship. Every time you fail to improve the relationship pushes the customer away.