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Making Strides to Improve our Customer Support Services

by Linden on ‎10-07-2010 12:13 PM

As we mentioned in our last blog post,  the Customer Support team continues to drive a series of changes to the  way in which Linden Lab delivers support to our Resident community.  We  are examining our support offering from top to bottom, using the data  from our new support system, your survey data, blog feedback, and  industry standard practices to help shape our approach.

Some  of our changes will be apparent to you, like the look and feel of the  new case and live chat systems and our coming self-service tools. Others  will be structural and won't be immediately apparent, like our internal  support tools, but their benefits will reveal themselves over time as  they enable us to address your issues more quickly.

As we approach these changes, we have a number of high-level goals in mind:

  • Leverage industry best practices, and our own hard-earned lessons, to create a comprehensive customer service offering.
  • Respond to high-urgency, business-critical requests more quickly.
  • Better address product and service issues before they become a support interaction.
  • Provide all Residents with better self-service tools to help solve issues immediately.
Changes to Support for Basic Residents

As  part of these changes, we are examining the types of support we offer  Residents of all levels, in an effort to provide better, more responsive  service to the most business-critical issues.  Starting on Wednesday,  October 13th, we will simplify and reduce the types of cases that Basic  Residents can file and direct them to our self-service tools on your account page, or search the Knowledge Base or Second Life Answers for solutions.  As a Basic Resident, you can still file cases about  most account issues, billing issues, marketplace issues, and some  technical issues.

Improving Support for Premium and Concierge Residents

As  we increasingly direct Basic Residents to self-service tools, we are  exploring ways that we can better service and support our Premium and  Concierge Residents.  These Residents –who are often landowners,  merchants, and inworld business owners– will continue to be able to file  the full range of cases, have access support via live chat, and in the  case of Concierge Residents, have access to phone support.  As we begin  to see the impact of the changes we have underway, we expect our  response times across all of these channels to improve.

This  announcement is one of many to come soon as we work hard to provide  faster, more effective customer service. We look forward to hearing your  feedback as these changes roll out.

Comments
by Honored Resident Joshe Darkstone on ‎10-07-2010 07:05 PM

Customer support has been atrocious for months and getting worse by the week. Of course the firings were the start of it but since then you have closed down after hours support, outsourced most concierge support to the OnTynes who have to have things like homestead sims explained to them by the caller, closed down the uk office and fired your best and brightest, outsourced concierge telephone support to india, added a secret number so extended concierge support residents can still get through, and added account managers for those few who qualify for the as yet undefined "atlas program".

Is this blog about an honest attempt to start working better with fewer resources or just another bush style Blue Skies initiative? India doesnt know how to answer our questions, the ontynes don't know how to answer our questions and the lindens are hiding behind a secret number. What used to be the best thing about SL, it's concierge team and their support of the residents, has been completely gutted, and is now amoung the worst features of the service.

And firing Spike was just... stupid.

by Honored Resident JamesHenry Palen on ‎10-07-2010 07:44 PM

I have a thought how about fixing the support tickets you have now I have been waiting 3 months for mine to be fixed oh and it was supposedly escalated to high priority 1 month ago. tsk tsk no wonder most of the old residents like myself quit coming as much.

Premium doesn't help you get faster service I used to be premium it took me 6 months to get a response once I am not going to pay for support that slow so I went back to basic you want me to pay for premium show me a good reason to. I found a work around for my problem but would still like the original problem fixed. Nice job guys ask yourself again why you had to lay off Lindens and why traffic is getting lower. We have been telling you for years.

LL's fully deserved this comment promising something they have never given.

Update I called billing over this and expressed it the same way as I have written here and was hung up on. I was told they will not respond to sarcastic calls. Well you never responded to nice ones so you left me little option. Nice doesn't work paying for your acct doesn't work sarcasm doesn't work so tell us oh great LL's what does work?

by Community Manager on ‎10-07-2010 07:58 PM

Premium accounts do not lose their inventory if they are delinquent and non-paid for several months.

Really? When did that change? Where is that documented, in writing?

This was a problem that was fixed over a year ago, and documented here.

by Resident Zachary Barrowstone on ‎10-07-2010 08:00 PM

At seeing this new blog, had to check:

00876558 2010-08-10 14:51:51
Inventory (un-rezzed) Issues
The object includes other items taken as a multi item into inventory. When i try to ...
New2010-08-11 02:53:06

Nope. Nothing. Been new for 2 months........

So those of you submitting only 3 days ago, hold on to your horses.... still many others ahead of you.

by Recognized Member WADE1 Jya on ‎10-07-2010 08:08 PM

Great to hear LL taking a renewed focus towards improving support!

As a concierge customer, I've seen Linden Lab support improve lately.

It was a pleasant surprise, the last time I contacted support, to get my specific issue resolved nicely & promptly.

<<There was a period, a short while ago, where support became.... just atrocious.>>

I'm happy to see LL took action to improve things again quickly.

Now if LL can just get this type of nice support rolled out consistently to all concierge customers, I suspect we'll see a lot more happy faces around here : )

by Honored Resident Amethyst Rosencrans on ‎10-07-2010 08:31 PM

I am both a premium and concierge customer.  I have in the past year filed several support tickets which have been open for months before being handled or auto-closed.  I currently have one open for more than a month.  I sometimes wonder what kind of support basic customers get if high end customers get treated like this.

I really hope there are improvements because the current system is one of the worst I've ever seen.  I applaud that you recognize this as a problem, but I've heard before that you were focusing more on support... it did improve for a while then... but then degraded into what it is now.  I hope this time around the improvements are sustained.

by Member Jennifur Vultee on ‎10-07-2010 08:33 PM

Hmmmm...does this mean someone might actually look at my concierge level land ticket sometime by the end of this year?  I filed a ticket seven weeks ago and its still marked "new", I'd kind of like to reclaim the three parcels of land I had set for sale in mid August...my group that owns it was deleted.

by Honored Resident Callie Cline on ‎10-07-2010 08:42 PM

i've always gotten great Customer support for the most part when i called conceirge. it was fast. i don't know if it's still the same way but i hope so!

but whatever you do can you make the new support fast, easy and fun?

thanks!

by Member Lynda Klossovsky on ‎10-07-2010 09:17 PM

hey if any lindens are reading this (and i doubt it), i have another money making idea..

remove the stipend. that should save several more million a year..

btw are we supposed to bow down and thank you for the price rises next year ?

just asking..

by Recognized Resident Yuki Rain on ‎10-07-2010 09:17 PM

Does this mean support won't hang up on me if I call againa about my two-month old ticket?

by Member Aquarius Paravane on ‎10-07-2010 09:36 PM

From time to time we hear about concierge level members who have been victims of content theft or parcel encroachment (for example) getting in a dispute with the other party and ending up being suspended for a few hours or banned instantly without getting to give their side of the argument. What happens next? Unable to run their businesses and deal with their own customers, perhaps unable to pay tier, and furious at the injustice, they leave SL, and make sure they tell as many people as possible how they were treated. Who loses? Everyone.

It would be good to see a commitment that nobody, but especially no concierge or premium members with businesses and customers relying on them, shall be suspended or banned unjustly.

If parcel encroachment and content theft were impossible then of course there would be less disputes to start with.

Meanwhile, my favorite article on customer service: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/customerservice.html

by Honored Resident Trinity Nabob on ‎10-07-2010 09:38 PM

I second this post.I

by Member Aquarius Paravane on ‎10-07-2010 09:53 PM

I once had a mysterious problem on a mainland sim that was to do with the group rights of avatars. Izzy fixed it for me; it took more than simply restarting the sim. Whatever was wrong with the sim did not manifest in the stats floater. Making everything affecting sim performance visible to residents in the stats floater and lag meter would be helpful; so would mainland sim restart requests directly from the client without going through trouble ticket.

by Honored Resident Sumiko Yokosuka on ‎10-07-2010 10:19 PM

I've got an idea:

How about when LL writes these blog posts or answers a comment from one of the posters here you guys use words and phrases that normal people employ rather than Frank Luntz style euphemisms that are meant to not just keep people in the dark about what is actually going on, but to passive aggressively fend off their complainst and concerns without having to actually do anything about them.

So when there was a problem with the customer service line or chat how about instead of referring to the issue as "challenges" (which is the same kind of intellectual dishonesty that calls tv reruns "encore performances," used cars "pre-owned") and the other business buzzspeak that this blog entry was splattered with, how about you actually tell us what's going on? Or is being straight with your customers too much to ask?

Continuing to stonewall your customers the way I outlined above only promotes suspicion and resentment. Therefore, the best thing you can do at this juncture is to start being frank and taking personal responsiblity for your failures. Or, again, am I expecting too much?

by Honored Resident Veekay Navarathna on ‎10-07-2010 10:49 PM

I do not know about improvements in future i have two tickets opened for more than 2 months ago and still not addressed that also to an island owner, what happens to poor basic or premier members  is anybody's guess. I booked a banner ad for an  event in Aug, it has gone then modified it for next event  still no reply no action. similarly my query for UUID for land parcel still remains un answered for more than 2 months. If this the service to a full island owner fate of others must be worst.

LL pl wake up and hear to your customers who are Ls 295 per month for maintenance

by New Resident Peswold Desoto on ‎10-07-2010 11:12 PM

Well, after suffering at least 4 or 5 times each time the loss of 3 or 4 days because of being ghosted in SL, how about someone works out that a button on our account page titled "LOG ME OUT" can submit an auto request for a disconnect, instead of raising a ticked and having 2 or 3 live chat sessions over several days, wasting LL's and my time?

Better still, how about fixing the ghosting bug? It's not only me, I see people all over the place ghosted, and those without premium accounts are left high and dry, in-world yet out of it.

LL's uptime may be 99.95%, but my uptime is well less than that and will head to 90% or less before the year is out I'm sure.

Seriously, there's so many fundamental and repairable bugs in the system, LL would save a heap in customer service addressing those.

And finally, getting back to us in 24 hours? Is that a sliding target? I never heard back in 3 days and ended up using live support to fix every time. Tickets are a waste in a lot of cases.

by Linden on ‎10-07-2010 11:44 PM

"...unless you plan to have features on that page like the ability to request a sim restart, or to restore a lost password."


Yes, our plan is to address many of these type of issues via our self-service tools.  So for example, to answer one of your specific questions, we will show you how to restore a lost password automatically and get immediate resolution -- without the need to file a ticket.  When completed, the overall self-service experience will iterate on the fast and easy themes we outlined in previous blogs.

by Honored Resident Calveen Kline on ‎10-08-2010 12:31 AM

Improve? Really? Customer Support has never been this bad. I've been a Premium resident and land owner for years. One of my groups was disbanded and we got locked out of our group land, I quickly submitted a ticket to have that reinstated. That was 7 weeks ago and the ticket still shows as NEW!

Everytime I contact Live Help (LOL!), all they tell me is "Wait for the ticket to be processed." Useless.

At this point I'm seriously considering selling all our left land and move on to other grids. So ANY improvement HAS to be good.

by Member Tegg Bode on ‎10-08-2010 01:00 AM

If you go Premium and your credit card payment is somehow messed up--you didn't update the expiration date--email went astray--bank closed your account ( which happened to MANY good credit risks in the last few years) you can lose your SL avatar account--inventory  POOF.

Premium is a risk I will not take .

The only way you will lose everything is if you miss a heap of payments, I've missed payments plenty of times over the last 4 years and the worst I got after being 3 weeks overdue was being suspended from logging in till I paid.

If you miss paying for 6 months haven't read your E-Mail from LL or supplied them with a valid Email address and haven't logged in to notice you've been suspended, you're probably not watching your business that well.

Believe it or not a lot of businesses in SL don't see it as a risk worth limiting their SL options for. The guy you are renting from could miss a credit card payment too. So why do you have no concern if he misses a payment and your store is supposedly permanently deleted, and then you have to relocate losing customers due to the new LandMark?

The fix for this problem could be simple, start deleting basic accounts inventories too, why should the servers be packed full of probably around 1 million accounts hogging a heap of available names that probably will never login again. Maybe make the rule too just delete any non-paying account that hasn't logged in for 2-3 years.

What I would like is that my 4 ligitimate basic alts receive all the same support as my Premium account. LL know well & truely that they are all me, and at times I could need to use an alt to deal with an issue of the main account, though maybe it's a privacy thing so the support people can't know who someone's alts are.

It's pretty simple, I pay EBay for a store sellers account I receive instant support, other people who are just buyers or small sellers have to use the basic stuff, which to me I've been able to use that to solve my problems 90% of the time anyway, only issues I've had are stuff dealing with the higher level stuff relating to running a store.

When I had over half a sim I received concierge support which was great but I tiered down to half sim and just have live chat which doesn't seem that bad for value really.

One problem I guess is people may have to declare their incomes for tax if they have a Premium account.........................

by Recognized Resident Floatie Hock on ‎10-08-2010 01:10 AM

Almost since the the beginning of my time in SL I have owned land and has owned sims for over 3 years. Just last month I had a family emergency and was for the first time late on my tier. I called costumer service when after my account was frozen for non payment I was on my alt account and helping a renter I by mistake deleted half the objects on one of my sims. I called hoping they could help me with a roll back on the sim because the place most important I deleted/returned had 168 designers vendors with freebies in them and boy that would of been a badto replace!

So calling concierge service thinking I would get call to see what I can do as the sim owner to get the sim issue resolved.  I left the phone call crying.

I have never in my life been treated so rudely.  I understand they wouldn't help me because my account was frozen but and they stated that fact by saying, something I NOT GOING TO ARGUE WITH YOU. In the tone of voice that as rude and mean as talking to a drunk teenager. I wasn't arguing in fact. I was trying to get my questions answered and he wouldn't answer one of them. I had to say to him that there was no reason to treat me like shit because my account is frozen.  Then I managed to get just one of the questions in which was, "Can a friend help me out and use their credit card?" He said... If it wasn't stolen in a smartass tone. I gave up that point and hung up the phone saying. Thanks for calling me a thief!! I wasn't in a argumentive mode when I called them and was just looking for some kind of help. I understood they wanted me to make a ticket and needed to do it on the account that was frozen.  I just wanted a couple questions answered after they told me these things.

I didn't need this treatment. After all the years, of time and oh yeah money! being a good little SL resident to be treated in this matter made me want to toss in the towel.

I have called for support over the years and normally only when I have a major issue that i need help with. I have in the past been treated with respect and if in their power to help me they did so right away or told me what I needed to get help.

If with this cut back on people going from 24 hour support to 8-5 slt you can't even keep the level of respect for your customers without putting them down. I see you having to cut a lot more services and raising prices because there will be no one left to pay the high tier fees.

I had a wonderful friend help me out that day and I thank her kindly.  Something really needs to be done about the attitude of the support and I remember years ago when I did tech support for Yahoo I would of been fired in a sec with the words and attitude he gave me.  I try to be nice to tech people because of my past experience working in the field.,

ok this is the much as I ever wrote in then blogs just find it ironic that a week after making that call i see a post for better support.

/endrant

by Recognized Resident Floatie Hock on ‎10-08-2010 01:22 AM

dismiss my typos.. was getting mad at thinking of it again! has giving them the average amout for a year of someone's year pay in the past 4 years by the way... I could of had new car instead!

by Honored Resident Yoshi Zhangsun on ‎10-08-2010 01:24 AM

The self service sounds brilliant as I'm sure you're aware many many support issues are the same requests over and over again.

Glad you're putting some focus again onto the Concierge support it's been sorely lacking over the past few months and residents have really noticed.

I've certainly felt less inclined to invest more into Secondlife when I know support can't seem to handle some of my most basic needs in a quick and efficient way. Improvements there will be wonderful.

Additionally from the 'help' link on the pull down menu on this website - please add a 'live chat' link...There's quite a bit of clicking to be done for a concierge user to even find live chat let alone use it! (and i won't get started on the OnTyne live 'support' eeeek!)

Similarly I see a lot of people asking for the support line phone number...Make this clear for residents across the globe which number they need to call to solve their problems.

Extra support following sim purchases could also help a lot, many sim purchasers (often first time) get an email saying where they can find their sim and a pointer to the wiki. Some of the most basic questions (set up sim to prevent griefing/terraform basics/setting lands to group/setting up sims for rentals/how to join concierge group etc..) should be quick clickable links on the 'reciept' email for the first time sim purchaser to get them started...Fast, easy , fun.

For the bigger users - sims change hands a lot, although there is a process for it, it's often in the hands of residents alone, perhaps consider some kind of more automated system where payments/transfer dates are all easily found on the website for both parties in purchase. Transparency on bulk purchases would also be nice, if i can buy 10, 50, 100 sims at a discount show me how, don't cut one landowner a special deal and another landowner a different deal for the same items...It creates tension.

For the marketplace, standard support lines should be set up for non-deliveries in particular. It's a nightmare for you guys to be getting paypal chargebacks, it's a nightmare for merchants to be getting angry customers demanding refunds when they haven't been given the money to refund, consumer confidence goes down when things go wrong and there's no clear support available. You preach 'best practices' to merchants yet don't follow them yourselves.

Rolling out finished projects instead of throwing your residents into a half-finished deep end would also be helpful, less support would be needed (eg, when you released v2.0 the first time, there wasnt even an easy to find support group for residents! There were many issues with that initial release which should have been stamped out at beta). You wouldn't expect an enterprise user to jump in on half-finished software or projects so why do you expect your other paying residents to do so?

That said, some residents are more than happy to get involved with your beta projects and certainly enjoy helping you develpp the platform. Often these beta testing sessions are very secretive under NDA, limited feedback has been taken and acted upon during the process. More would be involved if they firstly knew these projects existed...

Residents who've gone out of their way to help during beta stages sometimes feel trampled on as the floodgates open for 'full release' and those same issues they mentioned at beta stage are brought up by angry residents time and time again...I realise you're getting better in this process and it's been great to see the opening of the Jira but there's still definitely a lot of work to do.

There should be a list of Lindens for each department a resident can contact. This contact doesn't have to be in-world it could be some kind of form to fill in/jira page/email address etc... If i want to tell you about press how do i get in touch? If i want a big land deal which linden do i need to get info from? If I want to bring my university or business into SL, which linden support staff can guide me? Are the private grids still available and how can i get them? I have a question about mesh or scripting are there team members i can approach? etc...You get the idea. Residents fumble around a lot in confusion which eventually results in a support ticket being filed, passed from person to person and opportunities on both sides get missed as a result.

Another example, in many office hours residents are told to ask the legal team because Lindens presenting the office hour don't know the answer. How do residents do this? What support guarantees can they be expecting from the legal team? Where's the legal team phone number?

Anyways, I'm glad you're looking into support - I hope some swift actions and improvements follow. The recent changes to the support software, the case system, has made it much easier for me to use (though sometimes frustrating if something is 'closed' whilst unfinished), so I did welcome that improvement in particular.

Looking forward to seeing more changes in the works! It's a move which would definitely imrpove my confidence in your services.

by Honored Resident Kimo Junot on ‎10-08-2010 01:26 AM

Nice try LL but as the old saying goes "To little to late". Your customers are dropping like flys and you havent seen anything yet. With  the recent announcments you all just made about doubling user fees for the educators and all of the other foolish decsions you all made, ALOT more will be leaving come January if not sooner. There is already a HUGE increase in populations on other grids around the metaverse and it will just keep growing,but sadly for you all at LL,just like your staff, SL will just keep shrinking.

You make the bed you lay in.

by Recognized Resident Draggon Crystal on ‎10-08-2010 01:50 AM

I have been a premium member for some months now and i have had issues with losing valuable items from my inventory for changing islands. I have also had issues with getting dressed. I am fed up with sending tickets out to be ignored and u pay premium for customer service which in my opinion is the worse i have ever come across. They ignore u for months and months. I issued several tickets 7 weeks ago and still no reply. Is that what u call customer service. They need to pay more attention to issued tickets instead of sitting back ignoring them after all that is what u pay premium for and since there is no customer service i am cancelling my premium. xxx

by Recognized Member Vick Forcella on ‎10-08-2010 01:56 AM

Vogt,

As a forum dweller I have read heart breaking stories about Support lately. It can easy be explained why Support was on such a low but even the most important Support (account, finance, concierge) was unreachable for many. If we want residents to enter and stay support for those types of tickets should have remained on-line.

Support is one of the most expensive parts of a company, but it's also the part that gives the most rewards. From every fail you can learn and improve. Basics of CS and QA, corrective fix, preventive fix, company policy are all linked together. It all starts with an effective CS system.

From your post I read you have learned from the past and have started developing a new system. I hope your system will catch all (all support is being fed into it, all), I hope you take the additional steps to focus development on the points that hurt most.

Remember, you only get one support request for ten fails so you better catch that one. Nine have left and/or have given up.

Clean up the backlog asap (even of the ones that have left), there most be some gems in there.

Let Lindens be an example on SLA to make it work better to make it more effective. Much can be done during a coffee break.