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Pamela Galli

Customer Service

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I have spent much of the day on customer service. And not a single case involved any kind of malfunction or  actual product problem.

 

All of them were about things like missing inventory, how to open a box, viewer problems, accipdental texturing by owner, sim problems, etc. A lot of basic instruction required on how SL works, permissions, inventory, etc. 

 

I would not mind except that it doesn't leave much time for building and other productivity. 

 

 

There is not much to do about it -- I have lots of help page resources and notecards I give out. Would be nice if viewer splash pages had tips and links answers to common questions -- like Torley videos or the Answers forums.  Just something more proactive than they do now.

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Sounds like you are doing a lot of the Lab's work for them. Three things could improve this-

1) a more findable/accessible LL customer service department (hehe yes I know)

2) more findable/accessible information on the web   (there is more than enough already on almost anything)

3) motivation by more customers to read what is already out there     (some people just prefer one-on-one help and won't do their own research)

 

It's a pity that you are missing out on the time you need to concentrate on your own business.

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Maybe you don't have to spend as much time repeating yourself and manually explaining. Some days I get too much of this kind of thing also & I am always just wanting to work creatively on other things of course.

For these kind of request, I would just do quick google search (or for any of the highly repeated requests you can just have bookmarks ready to give you the links) link them directly to LL knowledge base, etc. There is lots of resources that are already out there exactly so you don't have to do all that work over & over.

I really don't think it is cheeky or rude to simply refer people to these kind of articles with a one line response telling them to check out a link or two. Never had anyone offended by this either.

 

=ᵔ⩪ᵔ= meow

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High-demand Customer Support services typically automate the "Contact Support" procedure by adding some sort of reporting system on their website. The nice thing about those is that they gently urge the customer to read the basic instructions, to pre-qualify the issue they're having, and exposes them to the common answers for common problems they encounter. On the back side of things, they also allow you to handle problems more intelligently because you have some idea what level of issue it is.

Once implemented, you change your auto-response, group notice, etc. etc. information to tell customers that the only way to obtain support is to visit your support site and file a report. Some folks will balk and go away, but the majority will take the time if it's a real issue.

I know that we like to make our customer's access to help as simple as possible, but you are seeing the reality of making it too easy for them.

There are several good and free systems out there, but they will require some level of internet expertise to set up and configure to meet your needs. I'm sure there are several folks around that could do the whole thing for you from end to end for a reasonable fee.

So really it's a matter of deciding, do you spend some to save more time and money later, or do you continue to get nickel and dimed to death with routine and repetitive issues.

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WADE1 Jya wrote:

Maybe you don't have to spend as much time repeating yourself and manually explaining. Some days I get too much of this kind of thing also & I am always just wanting to work creatively on other things
of course.

For these kind of request, I would just do quick google search (or for any of the highly repeated
requests you can just have bookmar
ks ready to give you the links)
link them directly to LL knowledge base, etc. There is lots of resources that are already out there e
xactly
so you don't have to do all that work over & over.

I really don't think it is cheeky or rude to simply refer people to these kind of articles with a one line response telling them to check out a link or two. Never had anyone offended by this either.

 

=ᵔ⩪ᵔ=
meow

As I say, I have made support pages (and notecards) that address most issues. 

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Darrius Gothly wrote:

High-demand Customer Support services typically automate the "Contact Support" procedure by adding some sort of reporting system on their website. The nice thing about those is that they gently urge the customer to read the basic instructions, to pre-qualify the issue they're having, and exposes them to the common answers for common problems they encounter. On the back side of things, they also allow you to handle problems more intelligently because you have some idea what level of issue it is.

Once implemented, you change your auto-response, group notice, etc. etc. information to tell customers that the only way to obtain support is to visit your support site and file a report. Some folks will balk and go away, but the majority will take the time if it's a real issue.

I know that we like to make our customer's access to help as simple as possible, but you are seeing the reality of making it too easy for them.

There are several good and free systems out there, but they will require some level of internet expertise to set up and configure to meet your needs. I'm sure there are several folks around that could do the whole thing for you from end to end for a reasonable fee.

So really it's a matter of deciding, do you spend some to save more time and money later, or do you continue to get nickel and dimed to death with routine and repetitive issues.

I have considered it, Darrius. For now, I am holding off because I do like customers to have instant access in case they really need it.  But for some, no matter what the problem is, contacting me is always their first act, because they don't have any concept that some problems are caused by viewer or some grid problem or sim communications or whatever. The most difficult requests are always those to fix something that is not broken.

Actually as a former teacher, I like making help and instructional materials, I like empowering ppl with skills -- but gee, can I get a little help here?   

 

 

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Ciaran Laval wrote:

The Wiki is full of good resources, LL don't promote it anywhere near enough.

I imagine maybe 90% do not have any idea there is a Wiki. And quite a few of those would not know now to navigate it. It would be well worth the effort for LL to point them to it and tell them how to use it.

Torely videos are just a gold mine; it is a crying shame it is not promoted as it should be. I still learn things from them.

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VonGklugelstein Alter wrote:

I bought this thing and and all I got is a damn box with a picture on it. Can you please send me what I paid for or I will report you for fraud.
:)

 

 

maybe you are getting too big... haha

Oh man, you have been reading my IMs!  Yes, boxes can be quite mysterious.

 

They copy the box contents (house rez box, curtains, fireplace, lighting, etc) to inventory, use the rez box to rez the house, forget they ever saw that other box with all the accessories in it, look in the rez box and do not see all the stuff, contact me to ask where is all their stuff. Or they ask why when they touch the box they just get a notecard and no house rezzes (you have to R click and choose Open etc.)

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Porky Gorky wrote:

Customers suck :smileywink:

/me takes screen shot to hand out to Porky's customers.

 

 

 

 

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VonGklugelstein Alter wrote:

maybe you are getting too big... haha

Actually it occurred to me recently that I am not imagining the growth in CS requests -- every year you are in business, the number of people using your stuff grows. The amount of your stuff in use grows.  

So the percentage of time spent doing CS grows in comparison to the time spent doing other things (like doodling around in this forum!). 

As I say, I generally like educating people about how things work in SL, and equipping them with basic SL survival skills -- but I can see that this trend is going to continue, not just for me but for everyone with a lot of rezzed content in use across the grid. 

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I think the growth in the demand for your CS would be offset quite a lot by previous customers leaving SL, therefore no longer needing the support. So it shouldn't be assumed that every sale you've had has potential CS time attached to it. However this is complicated because the bigger you grow your business, then the more "fresh" customers purchase items on a daily basis, thus resulting in more requests for CS in a shorter time period.

So a balance needs to be found between creation and everything else.

If you are not willing or able to employ someone to help cover CS then I think the solution lies in streamlining your product range. Identify those products that require regular support and eliminate the cheapest ones. Time is money in SL and new content is vital for longterm sustainability. So I think you need to put a price on your time. Sometimes selling a low price item that requires support can actually end up costing you money if you factor in the value of your time. That time could have been spent creating better content or supporting the higher priced items that you sell.

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Yes there is only limited growth to be had with a SL business. It can be heady & exciting to get a nice little reputation here but a big fish is soon simply too big for a little pond. Reality is this. Here you are stuck in a small town of 60000 people max. That is what Second Life is & all it ever will be.

If you begin pulling serious numbers, you can't grow year upon year as you will hit SL's saturation point. To aggravate this problem, the smallish population of SL is slowly declining, dwindling away which makes endless growth or continual expansion impossible.

Your business is still growing Pamela, so congratulations on the expansion! However if you have not saturated the markets yet, you should be aware of this boxed-in effect approaching on your horizon & brace yourself for it. You should be busy forming long term strategies of what to do when you hit this point.

= ˘ ℷ ˘ = meow

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Porky Gorky wrote:

I think the growth in the demand for your CS would be offset quite a lot by previous customers leaving SL, therefore no longer needing the support. So it shouldn't be assumed that every sale you've had has potential CS time attached to it. However this is complicated because the bigger you grow your business, then the more "fresh" customers purchase items on a daily basis, thus resulting in more requests for CS in a shorter time period.

So a balance needs to be found between creation and everything else.

If you are not willing or able to employ someone to help cover CS then I think the solution lies in streamlining your product range. Identify those products that require regular support and eliminate the cheapest ones. Time is money in SL and new content is vital for longterm sustainability. So I think you need to put a price on your time. Sometimes selling a low price item that requires support can actually end up costing you money if you factor in the value of your time. That time could have been spent creating better content or supporting the higher priced items that you sell.

Well for numerous reasons if I had it to do all over again I would indeed narrow my product line, that's for sure. What was I thinking? (I know what I was thinking with houses -- I was out of prims and could put them in rezzers.)  

I do put a price on my time, and it can indeed destroy profit, even on not so low priced items. That is to be expected to some extent -- and the ones who, say, will not read instructions are outnumbered by those who are very considerate of my time. 

 

I am glad my customers trust me and consider me a reliable resource. It's just become a bit too much of a good thing and I wish they had some other highly visible resource they regularly consulted. 

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First, let me say that you do a first-class job.  You have always been so nice and responsive to me that I actually feel affection for you and think of you as a friend, not just someone who sells stuff that I like.  In this customer's eyes, you are what a SL designer and merchant should be.

I had a few thoughts that might be worthwhile.  I am a pragmatist, and think whatever both makes your customers happy and saves you time is good.  You can't help that people who don't know what to do with them are going to buy your products, or that later, when they are more knowledgeable, they may return if they had a good experience.

One thought I had is to put a notecard giver script in the box that give a notecard that tells how to open boxes, or, perhaps, clearly-labeled links to answers to common, simple questions.  Or you could have a script that opens the box on touch, and a texture on the box or hovertext that says "Click on Me,"  Something else that might help is to make videos and post them on Youtube. I don't know who else does, but Siddean Munro does that, and video instructions are so much easier to understand and follow that instructions on a notecard.  Would media on a prim be useful, e.g., have a Web page or video  that tells how to open boxes on on the box?  You could also include clearly labeled prims that had links to video instructions on them .  OnE could be named "REZ ME FIRST" and could have a video briefly describing the resources available.  Would a redelivery terminal help?  I know that I have occasionally forgotten to make a copy before having an editing misadventure and was grateful that the seller had a redelivery terminal.  If she hadn't, I would have taken her time asking for another copy, and she would have been in the uncomfortable position of having to spend a little more uncompensated time or possibly alienating a customer.  You could, at least, just have a canned response for all the problems having to do with customers needing help because they messed something up.

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I guess there is another factor to consider with CS. Although it costs you money in the time you spend doing it, it can also deliver returns in other ways, such as retaining loyal customers like Jennifer here, which helps generate that word of mouth buzz that every merchant wants, and that is the sort of thing that reputations are built upon around here. I think it's quite hard to put a price on that.

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Jennifer Boyle wrote:

First, let me say that you do a first-class job.  You have always been so nice and responsive to me that I actually feel affection for you and think of you as a friend, not just someone who sells stuff that I like.  In this customer's eyes, you are what a SL designer and merchant should be.

I had a few thoughts that might be worthwhile.  I am a pragmatist, and think whatever both makes your customers happy and saves you time is good.  You can't help that people who don't know what to do with them are going to buy your products, or that later, when they are more knowledgeable, they may return if they had a good experience.

One thought I had is to put a notecard giver script in the box that give a notecard that tells how to open boxes, or, perhaps, clearly-labeled links to answers to common, simple questions.  Or you could have a script that opens the box on touch, and a texture on the box or hovertext that says "Click on Me,"  Something else that might help is to make videos and post them on Youtube. I don't know who else does, but Siddean Munro does that, and video instructions are so much easier to understand and follow that instructions on a notecard.  Would media on a prim be useful, e.g., have a Web page or video  that tells how to open boxes on on the box?  You could also include clearly labeled prims that had links to video instructions on them .  OnE could be named "REZ ME FIRST" and could have a video briefly describing the resources available.  Would a redelivery terminal help?  I know that I have occasionally forgotten to make a copy before having an editing misadventure and was grateful that the seller had a redelivery terminal.  If she hadn't, I would have taken her time asking for another copy, and she would have been in the uncomfortable position of having to spend a little more uncompensated time or possibly alienating a customer.  You could, at least, just have a canned response for all the problems having to do with customers needing help because they messed something up.

These are all good ideas, Jennifer (and thank you so much for the feedback -- believe me, I feel the same about you and so many other customers who I think of as friends). I am going to study them carefully because although I do want to make sure customers continue to have instant access to me, I do have to work smarter. I have been thinking today about making some kind of kitchen instruction media on a prim type thing (not sure how that stuff works).  Some people are just not going to read a long notecard, no matter how organized it is. 

 

And yes it would be helpful to explain, for example, to home buyers that they have TWO boxes -- the one they rez and copy to inventory and the Rez box.  Certainly I can do better than I am now. :-)

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Pamela Galli wrote:

  Some people are just not going to read a long notecard, no matter how organized it is.


Indeed. What has worked nice for me is 'pictures'. I hardly use notecards to explain how things work, but I use textures.

For example:

 Howtocreateyoursculpty.jpg

I started to do so because I want non English speakers to be able to understand. In the beginning it is some time investement, but on the long term you just have to chose which instruction picture(s) to included to a new product.

But video is also a good idea. It has the same power as textures: visual information. That is what many people understand much easier then written words.

What I read from this thread your cs is a important factor in your business. It brings you repetive customers who can do the best advertisement for you there is: word of mouth.

But it is not only good for the sales to be in contact with your customers, it can also feed your creative proces. Customers can walk into problems with your products, that you could not even have thought of.  But sometimes brings finding a solve for a specific problem a very good idea, that is worth to think of when you make new products.

But I can very well understand you don't want to explain 6 times a day how this or that is done. Though the personal attention might add value for the customer, it doesn't add value for you in these repetive cases. So indeed, you need to filter them out, they should not be in your working sheme.

I don't know your sector of the market well enough to have an idea how important the personal attention is for your customers. But when you consider it of high importance, then  you should try to find a CS assistant. A good teacher who has patience and likes to explain SL to people. As you see how many people voluteered to be a mentor for SL in the time that program was still running, who had to explain the same things over and over again to newbies, I think there must be people who really would to enjoy to have a job like that in a well established shop as yours.

I think there are many, many people in SL who can explain as well as you how things in SL work (and how to handle things with your products). But there are not so many people who can create what you create. So it's plain and simple: your value as creator is many times bigger then your value as customer supporter.

Keep in touch with your customers, but get rid of the part that is not inspiring to you anymore.

 

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More good suggestions, thank you!  I am feeling more hopeful.

I do have a web version of the notecard with pictures, but I could do one with more instructional type pictures. That might encourage more ppl to read the page.

Still, my main problem is that 90% of requests are not about my products but about various other things.  Some of these things are pretty common knowledge but some it took me quite a while to figure out -- when you sell houses, which are rezzed all the time, anything that goes wrong with a viewer or a server or whatever, is going to show up on a house, and since I made that house, I am called upon to fix the grid or the viewer or datasbase or video card or whatever. 

I do have a manager who can handle routine CS requests, although I am still torn between gaining more time to do the things I am in SL to do, and maintaining a relationship with my clientele, who are used to immediate access to me. 

 

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Porky Gorky wrote:

I guess there is another factor to consider with CS. Although it costs you money in the time you spend doing it, it can also deliver returns in other ways, such as retaining loyal customers like Jennifer here, which helps generate that word of mouth buzz that every merchant wants, and that is the sort of thing that reputations are built upon around here. I think it's quite hard to put a price on that.

This is true, you can't beat it for getting to know your customers and as Maddy says, getting good feedback from them. That's why I have not yet handed over customer support to anyone else or used a web support system (When I taught school I could never bear to leave the student teacher alone in charge of my class, either.)

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Agree, support is costly and time consuming. I mean the feel good part of all this is making people happy and you get a great chance to do that if you can manage really good support (which you can and do).

Torley was mentioned ... he was actually responsible in viewer 2 to head up the built in viewer help. He was doing a bang up job of it single handedly but then I think he got pulled in too many different directions.

The idea was to really flesh out the help and make it much easier to find, than the wiki and knowledge base and answers and forums.

If only we had a proper manual with user comments on topics. Telling people to RTFM (nicely) and pointing them to the right topic would save everyone time and money.

It's a shortcoming of LL as a parent to teach their children how to tie our shoes.

Thankfully in RL we don't need to teach customers ...

"No, wait ... don't wear the box, open the box."

"You need to push to get out. No not the wall, push on the door."

"You do realize that at the moment you look like someone ran you through the nearest particle collider?"

"Most of your foot should go INSIDE the shoe ... no, your OTHER left"

"I'm sorry that's broken for you but we don't make steampunk flamingo x-ray goggles, let's find out who did."

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Pamela,

Some time ago I standardized my delivery box to a specific format that displays my logo, etc. Along with that I also wrote a simple script that I can drop into the box to perform several necessary actions in a standard manner. Those are:

  • Display a list of everything in the box, its type (Object, Script, Animation, etc.) and its Permissions
  • Calculate and display the overall Permissions that the box will have after Taking it back into Inventory
  • Allow me to enter a string into Nearby Chat that will be used to set the Box Name as well as set Floating Text on the box.
  • The Floating Text set always includes the instructions "Click to Open then Copy to Inventory" so first-time users always see what is expected when they rez it
  • Set the default "Touch Action" to Open so just clicking on the box will open the standard "Open and View Contents" floater that provides the Copy to Inventory button

The Script then self-deletes so that it is not accidentally left in the contents. When it's all done, I only need to Take the box back into Inventory then touch up its Permissions if needed.

I've found that having the Floating Text showing them the initial steps has cut WAY down on the number of "What do I do with this stupid box" type of customer requests. I also use the Floating Text to include more details about what's inside the box, such as versions and specific components.

If you'd like, next time I'm in world I'll send you a copy of the Script. It's fairly easy to understand and you could probably customize it to put standard text into the box name and floating text if you want.

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