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Making Strides to Improve our Customer Support Services

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Vogt Linden

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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.

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There are a number of things that LL could do - in my opinion - to make Prem Membership more attractive - especially for those who have been in SL for some time. The ability to use megaprims is definitly one - and even if there was a limit of say 30 or 50m to the megaprims it would still be a vast improvement to what we get today. Other things to consider are more group spaces, the ability to have more 'tags' or roles within groups, the possibility of adding tier in a more balanced way rather than doubling up all the time, the ability to keep more in your inventory (maybe this means penalising basic members), a reduction on upload fees - maybe 5L instead of 10L. I'm sure there's many more things that could be possible and not at a huge cost to LL - indeed most of the things I mention wouldn't cost them at all.

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Our  decision to restructure the company was based on our feeling that  we  were moving too slowly on important strategic initiatives, so we  have  decided to consolidate software development in the US and combine  our  product and technology organizations into one. We have also  streamlined  customer support so that it can scale economically as we add  users.  These decisions resulted in significant job eliminations and  this tends  to be what press and bloggers focus on because of the human dimension.  It is indeed difficult for us to see our colleagues leaving.

The above quote was by M Linden before he was fired;  I bolded the part that might be of interest in this topic. 

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Seems to me that the discussion is getting a bit off-beam, I'm afraid.

To my mind, there are two completely separate questions being debated.   One is, "how can LL make premium membership more attractive to residents?"  The answer to that may be "By offering them an enhanced level of support" along with a load of matters completely unrelated to support, such as "By allowing them to use mega prims and letting them belong to more than 25 groups."

The question here, though, or so it seem to me, is "Will reducing the (pretty minimal) level of support basic accounts currently receive do anything to improve the (almost as minimal) level of support people paying several hundred USD a month receive?" 

I remain to be convinced it will, since I find it hard to believe that the main reason Concierge support has nose-dived over the last few months, with tickets remaining unopened for weeks on end, when previously they were dealt with very rapidly,  is that LL's support team have suddenly found themselves too busy helping basic accounts to offer Concierge customers the level of support we enjoyed until recently.

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Ack - M. Linden was somehow so cut off from SL that everything he said made my hackles rise.

I have mentioned before in this blog that for me, at the moment, the real issue I have is one of confusion - I'm really not sure where LL is going with SL. There seems to be many conflicting decisions being made right now. I am also totally aware from my RL experience that many decisions looked at without access to the 'bigger plan' can seem confusing. I do hope that there is a 'bigger plan' and I do hope that it will be good for SL in the long run. But all we can do is wait and see.

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Nah, pls no megaprims as a premium feature. I have created and sell two very fine products (builders huds) thanks to this SL limitation of not being able to create megaprims.

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I am one who actually believes that there should be 'tiers of service' people who pay up front are entitled to a beeter level of service to those who don't - sorry but that's just reasonable. And for those who spend many hundreds/thousands of USD in SL but won't take prem membership - well that is your decision - and in taking that decision there is no point in then ranting that you are entitled to the same service as those who pay membership fees direct to the company,

Seriously folks take a deep breath and have a think - if you're spending thousands in SL - isn't it worth paying direct for the service - and no I'm not especially moved by the 'trickle down' argument.

What I do hope is that this means that LL will actually 'IMPROVE'it's customer services to prem members not just cut back on it's services to basic members. Remember if you are a basic member and the person you are renting from is getting a good service - the service you get should improve also.

That's my tuppence worth and I shall bow out now :-)

There already are levels of support, basic, premium, concierge, concierge plus or whatever it's called and there is, or was, one for those who pay whopping amounts of money, this system already exists.

What we're seeing is support being cut, it has already been cut for conceirge customers because live chat isn't available 24/7 anymore. Now basic accounts are being cut, but they already had a very narrow field of support options anyway.

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Yayy even less support for the Basic users, those who will eventually buy into the whole premium thing! Give less support to Basic users while maintaining the same amount of support for paying users... that sounds winner for sure!

soon when we have account problems like say... cant login, Cant see my AV ever, or you charged me 50$ for lindens I never got, we'll get told to not only file a ticket, but told to get premuim, go to hell, and file a ticket isnt that awesome?

anyways can it get much worse? Ive filed 2 tickets, one was answered with basic troubleshooting B/S (Like, Is your computer plugged in?) the other never was... so

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And seriously - that is the issue - no matter what LL do now they will naff someone off big time. They're sort of in a no win situation when it comes to that. People are just lined up waiting to have a 'go'. I reckon for every genuine gripe there are 8 just throwing in a punch for the hell of it. Hence I think blogs and forums have lost their power. Too much ranting going on with little real imput. And now I shall wait for the rants about that :-)

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one was  answered with basic troubleshooting B/S (Like, Is your computer plugged  in?) the other never was... so

LOL "wow"

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That is why I said I hope that this new 'venture' would mean an IMPROVEMENT. I am aware that since the lay-offs support has suffered - makes sense really - it also makes sense for LL to target their resources at people who actually pay for membership - what I'm hoping is that this targeting will bring support back up to a decent level.

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I guess you missed the smiley I placed in my comment. It is true though that there tons of products that are based on overriding the SL limitations. Mega prims are one of them.

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Sorry I wasn't getting ar you - just taking your valid point as an example of the problem that LL have - no matter what they do at the moment they will step on someone's toes.

Personally I think linden homes are a mistake - they create a fictional version of what is actually available in SL for prem members. When anyone gets fed up of living in a colony/community and strikes out for independence they will immediately be struck with the fact that linden homes are actually unreasoanable competition for both LL landsales and private renters. (I think that makes sense - it does to me anyway.) Some things on the other hand are unavoidable - like the impact of lowering tier pricing would have on rental rates etc etc etc

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I think everyone in SL needs a basic level of service but unfortunately if you 'rent' from a landowner your main port of call will always be to them for support. A bit like renting a shop in a mall - when things go wrong you look to the mall owners to sort it. Unfortunately if the owners are busy, away, ineffectual or disinterested it's easy for them to fob you off - that's one of the risks you take when you rent - rl or sl.

I have had cause to use support a couple of times in the past month or so and yes it's not as good or quick as it was earlier in the year - but to be honest I was treated politely and my issues were resolved within a few days. Maybe that's just the luck of the draw.

What I do think is that the rise of other grids is presently making SL look expensive - at the moment I have space on one, and while it's lots of fun most people in SL would go nuts at the issues and bugs that are rampant there. Unless you branch out and explore (and I mean more than a quick 'sniff about') it can be easy to rant on about how expensive SL is in comparison to other places. Saying that I do think that LL need to consider how to make SL look more competitive in a financial sense with other emerging grids right now. The obvious way to do this is to make prem membership more attractive by giving actual incentives for people to make a quarterly or yearly contribution up front. Frankly if I pay up front (which I do) I think it is not unreasonable toexpect something 'solid' in return - I will repeat some ideas mentioned by myself and others in this blog:

The ability to use megaprims, even if there was a limit of say 30 or 50m on them, more group spaces, the ability to have more 'tags' or roles within groups, the possibility of adding tier in a more balanced way rather than doubling up all the time, the ability to keep more in your inventory (maybe this means penalising basic members), a reduction on upload fees - maybe 5L instead of 10L, 1024 of tier free land - it (with the inclusion of megaprims) would then be big enough to actually do something with. There are many other ideas - some would cost initially, but many like group spaces, megaprims, group roles and adding tier in steps would not cost a lot at all and indeed might encourage more people to buy that bit more land.

I am one who actually believes that there should be 'tiers of service' people who pay up front are entitled to a better level of service to those who don't - sorry but that's just reasonable. And for those who spend many hundreds/thousands of USD in SL but won't take prem membership - well that is your decision - and in taking that decision there is no point in then ranting that you are entitled to the same service as those who pay membership fees direct to the company,

Seriously folks take a deep breath and have a think - if you're spending thousands in SL - isn't it worth paying direct for the service - and no I'm not especially moved by the 'trickle down' argument.

What I do hope is that this means that LL will actually 'IMPROVE' it's customer services to prem members not just cut back on it's services to basic members. Remember if you are a basic member and the person you are renting from is getting a good service - the service you get should improve also.

That's my tuppence worth and I shall bow out now :-)

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I will agree with that.  I can't help but wonder if that is the plan with this whole G rating thing. After a while of this sort of thing; LL won't need content, just subscribers.

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At the risk of becoming boring and repetitive (never!!!) I will say again - it's the direction that LL is taking SL right now that I find confusing - rather than any single one of their decisions.

Individually the decisions they have made recently are perfectly within what any company is entitled to do - even if I don't agree with all of them. Collectively these decisions are harder to make sense of - for a while I was pretty convinced that LL were 'cleaning' the place up and making it an arty-farty, educational, business project. But then the rethink of discounts for education and non-profit seems to go against that. Even with their slight turnabout on that they are only offering to keep the discounts for however long people/organisations can or will pay upfront. Sounds a bit like they are looking for cash flow to be honest. But then - as we have no idea of what the bigger picture might be - all we can do is observe and ponder right now.

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And seriously - that is the issue - no matter what LL do now they will naff someone off big time. They're sort of in a no win situation when it comes to that. People are just lined up waiting to have a 'go'. I reckon for every genuine gripe there are 8 just throwing in a punch for the hell of it. Hence I think blogs and forums have lost their power. Too much ranting going on with little real imput. And now I shall wait for the rants about that :-)

 

I don't think it's so much that people are just throwing punches for the hell of it.  I think the vast majority of residents who post negative remarks are legitimately upset, and the pot is finally boiling over.  The evidence of this is in the growth many of the OpenSim based grids are seeing.  Second Life is hemoraging users faster than a hemophiliac running naked through a razor blade factory.

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Those three things alone have caused more outrage than anything else I've seen in SL to date.  All horrible marketing decisions made by people who are so far out of touch with the average user that they shouldn't even be working for Linden Research, Inc. in the first place.

Besides, let's be honest here.  Linden Research, Inc. does not want out input.  The plan a feature, begin implementation of said feature, and tell us about it just before it goes into open beta.  By this time, there is too much invested in the feature to change course or drop it altogether.  It is beyond infuriating.

For LL to post about "improving support" while features are left broken or half implemented for years is just plain insulting.

Support is a joke when the product never gets fixed.

(( Mags, none of my extreme discontent is directed at you... forgive me if this post seems that way.  I find it harder and harder to discuss their practices without becoming upset. ))

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No worries I don't take it personal and agree with much of what you have written.

It is however my experience of forums across the internet - not just SL - that they attract a 'negative ' group of people who do just like to 'have a go' and they can unfortunately crowd out the more reasonable complaints, ideas and issues that 'real' people are trying to raise. It's kind of like the 'boy who cried wolf' syndrome - if forums are filled with hype it becomes a good excuse not to take them seriously.

That aside - I do agree that people (including myself) are becoming increasingly frustrated by the sort of seemingly aimless and disjointed decision making that LL seem to have been embarking on for the last year or so. As I said in my post just above - maybe it's all a lead up to a total rethink of how SL functions.

Time will tell

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Your not alone in feeling that way.  Last night I checked out LL's competition and was pleasently suprized.  My blood has been boiling these past few days knowing that some of these changes are less than 90 days away and there isn't a damn thing anyone can do about it...except leave of course.  Given that choice;  this content creator probably will.  I have rolled with the punches when it comes to LL but this time; morally I just cannot go against my own value system. No matter how much I love SL.

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Of course - and understand I am just musing now - if we were to take some (if not all) of the newer grids as an example this scenario might emerge...

SL/LL stops selling little pieces of land to prem members - all you can buy is full sims... instead prem members get a nice little home etc as their bonus - oh and live chat (but if you can't own a little piece of land like now,  it's unlikely you'll need live chat much). They then can target most of their support resources to concierge level - those who own sims and rent smaller pieces out to everyone else.

If that is the model that LL are moving towards it brings them sort of up to par with what other grids are doing right now. The harder thing to do will be convince people to take prem membership - unless they want to buy sims. In essence this would make SL a two tier grid - Prem members/Sim owners - and the people they rent to. Far less costs involved for SL and far less headaches trying to keep everyone happy.

Like I said I'm just musing here - but it does make for an interesting 'muse'

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My appologies. It was not directed to you. Cant seem to post without replaying to some one and yours was the last listed

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Yes Paula im on your side of the fence~!  Get the Premimum Account and your on the road to happiness. Its not alot of money, and if you do the monthly installment its pennies.   I have had several issues recently and ALL my questions were answered promptly.   Look even in RL you have to pay a little more to get a little more....its no different in SL. 

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This blog, as I have seen in many others, is loaded with what people want for free. It is almost sickening to read. All kinds of desires and not a stitch of contribution.

Edited due to confusion over whom comments were being directed at.

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I really hope you guys do something about the support because the whole support experience is terrible right now! I have support tickets open for over 2 months now and no response no one is even working on them. I'm really about ready to relinquish my last region back to LL at this point. I'm a concierge level resident and boy has support started sucking! When I go to live chat for issues the old live chat used to be able to fix for me now the new live chat last name Ontymes or Ontynes tell me to open up a support ticket... I just don't understand why they can't fix the issues that the old support team "lindens" use to fix in like 2 mins! It just seems like a waste. When I ask why my tickets haven't been answered they say just have patience, I find that pretty hard after having tickets open for 2 months + with not even someone working on it or even changing the status on the ticket. If things aren't fixed around my next billing cycle please expect me to not make my sim payment!

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No I should apologise, I know people tag on to the last reply because I've seen people stating this before.

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I was going to quote a few folk here, but it will just make this post more complex than is necessary.

1) You get what you pay for...No, we don't.  As a Premium account I now get Live chat at US office hours, ie most of the time I am asleep!  8am PDT is 4pm in the UK - not much use to me, frankly.  It used to be 24 hours, because (I assumed), SL is Global, so support must be also.  Seems that LL is narrowing its focus to the US market now.

I cannot accept that basic accounts do not have the right to sensible support.  There are too many instances of basic accounts being held due to LL's own previous poor performance.

 

2) I do not post in the blogs just to "rant" or "vent".  I don't think that description fits many of the posters on here.

 

3) I'd be content if LL did restructure SL in a meaningful way.  I'd love to see evidence of a Board of Directors that showed signs of knowing what they were doing and understood joined-up policy making.  Recently I have seen no evidence of intelligent life at LL Board level.

All I see is LLtrying to make a broken machine work by taking gear wheels out.  It will not work.

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