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Customer / Technical Support for Basic Members - A New Idea


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(Warning: Wall-O-Text Ahead .. Take care of any needs first before you start reading .... *grin*)

Another thread on this Forum has raised an issue that has long been a bone of contention (and frustration) for many members of the Resident Community. Both Premium and Basic level account holders have weighed in on the issues, and there are Pros and Cons to the arguments from both camps. But those discussions have basically centered around one very major problem on Second Life .. Free Unlimited Disposable Alt (FUDA) accounts. Well .. this post is not about that argument or those problems ... but my idea just might help a little anyway.

When a user runs into a problem with Second Life, they are encouraged to file a Support Ticket. In fact, for many people .. and especially those not aware or comfortable with the Forums .. a Support Ticket is the only way to obtain any help. Yet Basic Level accounts are prevented from filing tickets for some very critical and common problems encountered. Furthermore, a lot of the problems that a Basic member cannot access are in actuality caused by glitches or problems in Second Life itself. By virtue of basic courtesy and product warranty standards, those problems that are the result of malfunctions and periodic glitches of SL should be available to Basic Members too.

But now we run into one of the most valid arguments put forth by the "Premium or Die" camp ... Technical Support is a costly service to provide. Having run a Tech Support department myself as well as having performed Tech Support duties in conjunction with other jobs, I agree fully with this sentiment. As much as this point is true, the further assertion that "Basic Members are nothing but Freeloaders" is equally false.

I've never been Premium, but I have put lots of money into LL's pocket. In the beginning, I did so by directly purchasing L$ with real-world currency. These days, if my sales don't cover my expenses, I'll put more money in. There is also the intangible (and hard to quantify) value that derives from being an active merchant and helping keep the economy alive by participating in the flow of Linden Dollars around the Grid. All in all, Basic Account holders that are active in the economy do contribute their share ... we are not freeloaders. So that leads to this idea ...

Provide Full Support to PIOF / PMU Accounts

As it stands today, one must have a Premium Account to receive the full measure of Support, even for "SL screwed up" type problems. Instead I'd like to suggest that in order to receive those same support benefits, you need to place your Payment Info On File (PIOF) or have Payment Method Used (PMU) status (meaning you've at least put money in even if you don't trust LL/SL to keep your info on file).

These two criteria demonstrate that you have contributed to the operation of SL and thus have stopped being a "Freeloader". They also serve to clearly distinguish you from griefers and copybotters that create endless strings of FUDA accounts for the sole purpose of disrupting Second Life and/or stealing from the community. This also very neatly draws a hard line between those of us that do "Pay to Play" and those who only take, even though both stay with Basic Level Accounts.

Access to a full measure of Tech Support also serves as a reasonable incentive to register for PIOF or PMU status without locking you into a monthly expense ... an expense that looms large for many of us that dislike routine payments for our "Entertainment" purposes.

Require PIOF / PMU to Sell on the Marketplace

A further advantage has to do with the sale of stolen goods on the Marketplace. Copybotters will create a new Alt account on Friday, post a ton of stolen merchandise for sale after the LL staff has gone home for the weekend .. then collect sales on those stolen goods and pass the proceeds off through a series of Alt accounts until it becomes a sheer nightmare for LL to track it all down and get it all back. While LL can usually track down the culprit and take remedial action to remove the stolen goods from the Grid .. and they may even be able to reclaim some of the proceeds, the unwitting customers are out the money they spent in good conscience (thinking that they were buying legitimate products). In some cases, the original Creators of those products have to face the horror of seeing their hard work spreading across the grid unchecked because the stolen products are often given Full Perms .. and even though LL has tried to get them all, they simply cannot.

There have been many calls in the past to require Merchants on the Marketplace to have PIOF (or PMU) status. There have also been calls to allow only Premium accounts to sell, but I believe that requirement is just too steep and would unnecessarily remove far too many honest and viable Merchants from the ability to sell their products. Instead it seems reasonable to require at least PIOF or PMU status in order to sell. It also gives LL a means to take legal action against a verified real-world human being, thus giving them a few more teeth in their fight against IP and Content Theft. (And hey, aren't we all anxious for LL to have substantial means to stop Content Theft?)

Allow Users to Link Their Alts to Their Main

Finally, I want to address one last "touchy" point ... Alt Accounts. We know that LL has some means of detecting Alt Accounts that is much more reliable than the recently banned RZ (and other such nefarious products). Furthermore they should know that information because it is essential for them to be able to help control griefing and content theft. So I'd like to propose a further "tweak" to the idea presented here.

People should be given the option to "Link" their Alt Accounts to their Main account. For purposes of this idea, a Main account is the account that is either Premium or has PIOF / PMU status, whereas the Alt accounts are those without. By voluntarily linking the Alt accounts to the Main account, full Tech Support options would be available to the Alts as well as to the Main. In other words, by voluntarily declaring to Linden Lab "these are Alts of this Main", one gains the added benefit of being able to contact them with a broader range of issues and obtain reasonable support.

The fact that the Alts are linked to the Main would be private to Linden Lab only and would not be visible to anyone else .. which is as it (most likely) is now and as it should be. The benefit to LL is that they have absolute proof, initiated and agreed to by the user, that all of the accounts belong to the same person. Thus any malfeasance or other similar issues with any of those accounts can be laid squarely at the feet OF that person. I believe any honest person would be happy to accept responsibility for their Alt accounts just as much as they would their Main, just so long as the link between them is kept private and known only to themselves and Linden Lab.

(BTW: I'm not sure that "Linked Alts" should be allowed to sell on the Marketplace. I can see advantages and disadvantages, and the answer isn't quite as clear to me as the other suggestions above.)

So here, in a nutshell, is the essence of the idea:

 

  • Grant full access to Support Tickets for PIOF / PMU Accounts, not just Premium Accounts
  • Provide Live Support and Phone Support only for Premium Accounts
  • Require a Main account with PIOF / PMU status to sell products on the Marketplace

I do believe that these changes will resolve a number of issues, help Linden Lab better control griefers and copybotters, protect Creators and Merchants from content theft, and also help establish a better rapport between the customers and Linden Lab.

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One account x amount (where x is a number) of alts per account and then paid fees for people who want another set of x alts associated with an account might work, support is a costly business and someone has to pay for it.

I can't see the problem with linked alts selling on the marketplace, if they're linked, they go back to someone with real life details registered by Linden Lab, so they're not anonymous.

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Support should be available for everyone, regardless of whether they are Premium or Basic. Good basic business sense is you have to speculate to accumulate, and today's NPIOF could be tomorrow's multiple sim owner/successful marketer, bringing a whole lot into the Linden economy.

You have made the valid point, that even though you don't hold a Premium account, you are not a "freeloader", and actually I have no doubt that you spend far more inworld than I ever have, and I've been a Premium account holder since around February 2008.

I know that you only have to look at these forums to see how many of the problems that a lot of residents have are repeated over and over again, and I can understand that LL are reluctant to pay to staff a Support office just for seemingly trivial problems that the community on the forums can deal with for them BUT there are also often people with NPIOF who run into an unusual problem, and they are just as likely to do so as a Premium level resident, and LL might be unwittingly disregarding an issue that could have an effect on the whole grid.

One of the things that has most frustrated me throughout my Second Life has been the inconsistency in advice and support, and the ridiculous "class system" that has ensued because of the Premium v Basic situation. 

Darrius, thank you for starting this thread, and I hope it will be looked over by LL so they can realise how much Support needs to be available for all.

 

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Ciaran Laval wrote:

One account x amount (where x is a number) of alts per account and then paid fees for people who want another set of x alts associated with an account might work, support is a costly business and someone has to pay for it.

I can't see the problem with linked alts selling on the marketplace, if they're linked, they go back to someone with real life details registered by Linden Lab, so they're not anonymous.

If they limit the number of "Linked Alts" to something reasonable (like 5 perhaps?) then it sets a reasonable limit and doesn't introduce undue inconvenience to most folks. Since they're all for the same RL person, the extra accounts won't carry an extra cost burden anyway .. hopefully once Support gives an "answer" for one of those accounts, that person will remember it long enough to log out and log back in with a linked account. (At least, I certainly HOPE they remember it that long. LOL)

 

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I agree that companies need to "speculate" a bit more than they do now. The way my Dad used to say it was "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." Signing up with your Payment Info doesn't actually require you to put money into the economy or LL's pocket either, so for me that is an acceptable level of speculation. LL would be speculating that with that detail already completed, people will have less resistance to putting money in .. and thus begin expanding their experience by virtue of adding to their inventory, tipping, exploring, building, renting, etc.

You're welcome Marigold. I look at it as a way to contribute to both sides of the equation; LL and their customers. With these new forums, with Rodvik's demonstrated practice of responding (even in off-site properties) and with the growing level of feedback we are seeing, I have renewed hope they will at least see and read this idea .. and might even give it a few minutes of talk time around the "Big Table".

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I read through Amanda & Co's User Group transcripts for the past few weeks - and of course you attend those - and we are already seeing positive changes to these forums as a result of resident feedback, so it does look hopeful.

 

Edited: to add in the link to the Community Tools User Group, for those who haven't been aware there is a place to go to be heard by LL official employees.  http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Community_Tools_User_Group/31-Mar-2011

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According to the Second Life Economy results, LL can well afford to provide more support.

http://community.secondlife.com/t5/Featured-News/The-Second-Life-Economy-in-Q4-2010/ba-p/674618

The main reason for LL reducing its staff by a third last year was because the residents on the community forums provide an awful lot of the help/support.  We are not LL employees at the end of the day, and we shouldn't have to be concerned about the internal politics of Linden Labs.  "Residents" should only be concerned with getting the best possible experience with the fewest problems, and when they encounter problems, they need to be dealt with as swiftly and as efficiently as possible.

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Good question Qwalyphi .. glad you asked.

 


Qwalyphi Korpov wrote:

Ignoring the theory behind your suggestions for a moment - where do you suggest the Lindens find the funds to pay for your suggestion?   Because for the last year or so the way they raise money is by laying people off.   So that doesn't get the added support staff you're asking for.

 

My answer is, of course, based on my theory and experience and not on any "insider knowledge" .. but lacking better (so far), I'll roll with it.

When LL "executed" 30% of their staff last year, a big chunk of people that were the most obvious dismissals were among the Customer Service staff. Despite the fact that I have always disagreed with cutting CS staff unless absolutely necessary, that sort of a distribution of layoffs also indicates they are (were) planning on moving a fair portion of their CS duties to outside services. Whether we like it or not, outsourcing support duties is not only commonplace these days, but (almost) always reduces the overall costs of that service.

With that in mind, I also am pretty sure they didn't just cut enough employees so they met current expenses. I gotta believe they laid out a year or more worth of forecasts and reduced their staff enough (plus cut other places and expenses too) so that they could meet their projections.

Now we have the new CEO, Rodvik Linden. One of his first initiatives was to feed pure caffeine to the CS staff. They've significantly reduced the Support Ticket backlog and are now working on maintaining a faster turn-around time too. I'll grant you, caffeine and threats from above have magical powers over people, but I don't fully buy into the theory that they did it all with the same number of people they had left; I have to go with my instincts that tell me they added to the staff too. (Whether that increase was inside, outside or both doesn't really matter, as long as they added bodies somewhere.)

So they've added some "pad" to the CS resources. Not much, but some. That begs the question of "how much will the Support Ticket traffic increase by adding existing Basic but PIOF/PMU users?" I honestly believe the correct answer is "not much". My reason is that right now, even though Basic account holders can't access the "proper" categories to file their tickets under, they STILL submit them. So we have a high number of tickets submitted that are "wrong" because they are both filed under the wrong category and they come from users that aren't allowed to ask those questions. Like it or not, it takes time (and often more time) to handle wrong tickets than right ones.

With those details in mind, and with an expected uptick in Support Tickets that falls in the "fairly small" range, added to the fact that a higher number of tickets will be resolved first time and not turn into a "Support Ticket Shouting Match" when people don't get the answers they need .. I am pretty confident the pad they've (probably) allowed will suffice for at least the first few months.

After those first few months? Well, with the growing level of customer satisfaction, the decrease in support issues that go unreported and unresolved, and with the other efforts they are putting forth to try and grow their user base .. it's a fair bet that they'll be increasing their income and not losing it. Of course, that hinges on them actually giving support rights to a broader range of people, that they actually do manage to increase new user retention, and that they are able to fix a number of other issues hanging over their heads. It's a gamble to be sure, but not an unreasonable one IMO.

On the other hand, if they do not expand the support service to encompass Basic Account holders, I predict that they will continue to exasperate and irritate a larger and larger segment of their potential customer base. People are more conservative now, preferring to retain their money until they see if the service and support are actually there. That means new users will be more and more prone to stay at Basic level for a longer period of time. If they then find they are treated like second class citizens and shunned for even the simplest of technical questions, I daresay a lot of them will cut their losses, head for the exit .. and never look back.

This is just my opinion .. and according to many I don't know my backside from a backlot. But it makes sense to me, and I've seen bits and pieces of this plan work in other companies for similar (if not the exact same) situations.

LL has a long history of doing things a certain way, and so far a lot of us feel rather strongly that the results are not living up to the potential. What I propose is a departure from "The Old Ways", but as the old saying goes:

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results each time."

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  1. Please see any number of "I can't buy L$" type threads
  2. Please see similar number of "I'm not in USA, how can I pay?"
  3. Please see "Why don't LL accept non-US paypal/prepaid credit cards/debit cards/money-tokens?"
  4. Please say bye-bye to 40% of the grid if you insist on PIOF/PMU

Quite simply LL only have properly-functioning payment options for US citizens and some others with credit-cards.  That does not include me, for instance.  I have made literally millions of L$ in SL and spent them again - it's turnover that powers an economy, you know, not what you hold.  I have to spend it here, I have no way of withdrawing it!  Under your plan, I'll be leaving and, probably, so will everyone else that has no way to pay LL.

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PeterCanessa Oh wrote:

  1. Please see any number of "I can't buy L$" type threads
  2. Please see similar number of "I'm not in USA, how can I pay?"
  3. Please see "Why don't LL accept non-US paypal/prepaid credit cards/debit cards/money-tokens?"
  4. Please say bye-bye to 40% of the grid if you insist on PIOF/PMU

Quite simply LL only have properly-functioning payment options for US citizens and some others with credit-cards.  That does not include me, for instance.  I have made literally millions of L$ in SL and spent them again - it's turnover that powers an economy, you know, not what you hold.  I have to spend it here, I have no way of withdrawing it!  Under your plan, I'll be leaving and, probably, so will everyone else that has
no way
to pay LL.

 

You are absolutely right PeterCanessa .. the failure to accept / honor overseas and various other forms of electronic payment is a major failing. But it's a failing that stands on its own as needing swift response and guaranteed solution. If you add in the need to use it as a means of obtaining better support too, that just adds to the incentive for LL to fix it.

Just for curiosity sake though, if you can't put money into the economy now, and you don't have any form of payment info recorded or used, how are you able to participate now? Do you keep everything in-world and never exchange L$ for real-world money?

Oh, and in case it wasn't clear in my OP, my plan wouldn't be taking any support options away from people .. it would only add extra support categories for people with PiOF / PMU. If you don't have those now and you're still Basic, you won't notice a change in the least. If you are Premium, you won't notice a change either.

(Ahhh .. yes .. the ability to sell on the Marketplace would disappear without PIOF / PMU ... that is true. However if they cannot fix the overseas non-USA payment issues soon, that will pose even bigger problems because, as you state, residents of the USA are not the majority users on SL.)

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Yes, you have understood exactly what I meant about each of the things you said and I totally agree with your last post.  As I said in mine, "I have to spend it here, I have no way of withdrawing it!" so. yes, I never exchange L$ for real-world money, or vice-versa.

I started with nothing [and still have most of it left].  Learnt to build & script courtesy of NCI.  Won fairly-substantial amounts of money in their newbie events too (by SL standards).  Got better at content creation, sold on SLX and got paid more for custom work.  Paid rent, bought things, made donations, still have a reasonable chunk.  Working on 'the next big thing' - or maybe not, we'll see :-)  Not currently active on marketplace because a) it's more trouble than it's worth, b) I'm updating everything before selling anything.

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I don't know if this is part of the problem or not, but a similar issue came up in the thread LL screwed up my Lindens purchase. It's probably not related overall but .. it might be worth a read.

Does anyone know what User Group might cover the problem of not being able to use non-USA or non-Credit/Debit card forms of payment?

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honestly, I don't see the use of the first suggestion when people just use disposable paypal accounts to game it, or prepaid credit cards....  I do think they deserve better ticket options than NPI accounts, but I don't believe they should be getting benefits that people are paying specifically for. I think if it really has as much value as some people are saying (and that's debatable) then it should be worth paying for.

the second idea, I'm all for. it's ridiculous the amount of scam/stolen crap crap that goes through market place, with fund passed around a dozen alts to prevent it from being captured.

the third idea I've been begging for for years, and I think it'd even be fair to use those as marketplace accounts, since there is still a financially responsible account to go after.

 

but as Pete points out, none of that is worth a flip if they don't fix their payment/billing options. and that includes alternatives for payouts that are not paypal (it amazes me how a company this size cannot  manage to find a bank that will handle mass ACH, and direct billing, in an age where those features are offered to individual basic checking accounts)

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Void Singer wrote:

honestly, I don't see the use of the first suggestion when people just use disposable paypal accounts to game it, or prepaid credit cards....  I do think they deserve better ticket options than NPI accounts, but I don't believe they should be getting benefits that people are paying specifically for. I think if it really has as much value as some people are saying (and that's debatable) then it should be worth paying for.

By "first suggestion", you mean giving the full range of Support Ticket options to Basic accounts with PIOF or PMU status, right? If so .... ummm, huh?

I'm not quite sure what a "Disposable PayPal Account" is, unless PayPal has gone into the business of giving free money to people. As crazy as some companies seem to be these days, I don't think they've slipped a cog that much. As with Credit/Debit cards and most electronic financial instruments, PayPal provides a means to validate a PayPal account without sharing private information with the 3rd party (in this case that would be Linden Lab).

As for "gaming" it, in what fashion .. and for what purpose? The concept of gaming something means you are unfairly obtaining benefit by means of cheating. But if all you're doing is getting technical support for a Second Life account .. yeah that's a benefit, but not one with any true financial gain attached. ("Wow I SO cheated Linden Lab. I tricked them into telling me how to fully rez my avatar! Woot!")

If anything, the benefit gained is shared by both parties, the customer and Linden Lab. Not only does the customer get their problem resolved faster (and thus they get happier faster), but Linden Lab winds up with an overall more satisfied customer base and a more effective support system with fewer bogus or wrong tickets. (Shorter resolution times, better Resolved vs Unresolved ratios, and higher satisfaction results on surveys always look good to pencil pushers and investors.)

Premium accounts are paying for a higher level of service, true. But the one thing they retain under my idea that Basic level accounts won't receive is access to Live Chat Support and Telephone Support. There is still no guarantee that a Support Ticket will be resolved rapidly, but since Premium Accounts get to chat directly with a human being (and at the higher Concierge level, talk to one on the phone), their extra investment actually nets them a perceivable advantage.

(BTW: As Im typing out this reply to your first paragraph, I am bugged by this feeling that I've totally misunderstood you. If so, my apologies .. and please correct me. You are one of the sharper pencils around here and I respect your views, so it's important to me personally that I get them right. TIA)

 

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Darrius Gothly wrote:

When a user runs into a problem with Second Life, they are encouraged to file a Support Ticket. In fact, for many people .. and especially those not aware or comfortable with the Forums .. a Support Ticket is the only way to obtain any help. Yet Basic Level accounts are prevented from filing tickets for some very critical and common problems encountered. assertion that "Basic Members are nothing but Freeloaders" is equally false.

I've never been Premium, but I have put lots of money into LL's pocket. In the beginning, I did so by directly purchasing L$ with real-world currency. 

 

i bet nowdays if a new user was told to file a support ticket they couldn't even find where to create a ticket when LL moved it and hid it away under support history it took me a very good while to find it. the most important ticket basic accounts would need but don't have is viewer log in issues i used it several times when i ghosted before it got restricted to premium members i also used manual age verification before that too got restricted i think basic accounts should have that too

i too never been premium but i have put RL money in game albiet through one of the many third party L$ exchanges and i've used paypal a few times back when xstreet was around and LL owned i seem to remember from a NC i had it was supposed to be enough get you PIOF and adult continent (Zindra) and adult rated land access evidently it didn't 

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I have been a  member   since  2005.. Back  then  we had to pay to play. So I did and I  still am all these years later.  I remember when they opened the  site to non pay residents.  Griefing became out of site problem really  really bad and  I never saw so  so many (I do not know what  word is acceptable in PG  area)  but the  guys were all dressed as their private  parts or  wearing one and  chasing  people with it.   There  were many many many more problems  that started when   LL opened it  up for all.   99.9% of the time the problems were  from residents without a paid  account.  If you  do  not pay  to play  you are not entitled to a lot of their services.. makes since to me

Personally I will always believe  pay to play and   then  you get   good  customer service from the  lab.. (personally I have never had a problem with  customer service .. I may  not like the response  but it was timely and never a huge waiting issue overall  most were nice)..  that's how it used to be  and could be once again for every  resident in SLIt seems to me  that  when the flood  gates were open  to free accounts unlimited  alts etc etc  things went to  heck in Sl ...

After all  it is less  then  10.00 a month to play.. miss  a  lunch out or skip a  grandee latte  or somethingThe  added revenue to LL    would actually allow  them to  hire more employees or maybe invest in  some decent hardware/software  or something.   I know people will hate my opinion  but after all it is mine to have  and I know I am  right ..  :smileywink:

laffs 

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one does not have to verify their paypal account, and can indeed fund it off of another source such as a credit card.... then if that account is burned, they simply open a new account, with a new payment source. heck, even the SAME payment source (since the account is burned with LL not paypal). to say nothing of accounts with stolen credit cards.

similarly there are prepaid cards that still work in SL, and those can easily be abused.

so if the point is securing a financially responsible party, then those methods break it..

 

but further more in my eyes you are equating "trust" with "service" rather than "payment" with "service". and while I agree that that trust should enable some services, I don't think it is enough to pay for a service by itself. what you are suggesting is a buy one get one free type of deal, where LL would only make pennies on the dollar for value in trade of the services rendered.

but I think, worse, is that it dwindles the value of premium membership that's already devauled to the point that most people see nothing worthwhile in it, since extended support is the ONLY service of premium that can't be had outside of premium membership in one way or another. so it doesn't make good business sense.

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Void Singer wrote:

one does not have to verify their paypal account, and can indeed fund it off of another source such as a credit card.... then if that account is burned, they simply open a new account, with a new payment source. heck, even the SAME payment source (since the account is burned with LL not paypal). to say nothing of accounts with stolen credit cards.

similarly there are prepaid cards that still work in SL, and those can easily be abused.

so if the point is securing a financially responsible party, then those methods break it..

In transactions with PayPal, if their customer "burns" the account, they are still on the hook for the amount of the transaction. (Unless they claim the merchant .. LL in this case .. filed a fraudulent charge.) However the responsibility and the path back to the customer passes to and through them .. and they carry a certain level of culpability in stopping customer fraud too. In the case where LL needs to obtain access to the customer's real life info, PayPal will happily play ball with a simple court order, especially if they're also on the same trail because they got burned too.

Yes, there will always be criminals in the system, but I think the ratio of criminals to honest folks is very very low. As it stands now though, the fact that criminals use Basic Accounts to carry out their deeds reinforces the (false) assumption that all Basic Account holders are crooks and thieves. Adding more importance to the PIOF / PMU status of a Basic Account helps distinguish honest folks from crooks and further focuses the spotlight on the real problem children without shotgun tagging all Basic Accounts in the process. Guilt by Association is well proven as both wrong and unfair, but since it still goes on, any efforts to reduce the association and the presumed guilt will help.

 


Void Singer wrote:

but further more in my eyes you are equating "trust" with "service" rather than "payment" with "service". and while I agree that that trust should enable some services, I don't think it is enough to pay for a service by itself. what you are suggesting is a buy one get one free type of deal, where LL would only make pennies on the dollar for value in trade of the services rendered.

but I think, worse, is that it dwindles the value of premium membership that's already devauled to the point that most people see nothing worthwhile in it, since extended support is the ONLY service of premium that can't be had outside of premium membership in one way or another. so it doesn't make good business sense.

 

One of the biggest issues that stops a lot of people from "going premium" is the lack of control it provides. Many people are less inclined to turn over control of their money these days, and when you mix in a blemished reputation, and an overall lack of consumer trust, people are even less compelled to sign up for that monthly hit to their bank account. Thus they stay with Basic Accounts to retain control of when and how they spend their money.

PMU status indicates they have put some money into SL, but you are correct, it doesn't describe when that was or how much that was. PIOF indicates they have allowed LL to keep their real life payment info on file, but again it does not specify how much they put into SL or how often. These are facts I won't dispute. But here is where I come to a difference of opinion with "current wisdom".

Many companies these days run in a mode of operation best described as "Panic Stricken". Every expense, every penny spent, every tiny bit of money that is moved, used or budgeted must be justified 10 ways to Sunday. More than that, it must be proven beyond all doubt that it will be repaid, and preferably with a profitable return, within a very short period of time. Yeah, that's a nice goal, but it completely ignores some long-lasting truths about expenses and investments.

Businesses have two primary categories of cash outflow ... Investment and Expense. Buying goods for resale is an expense, whereas buying advertising is an investment. Because of the way many companies are run these days, there is this near rabid insistence that Customer Service be made into an Expense and not its more correct classification of Investment. Typically the connection between Support Dollar and Income Dollar is ephemeral and hard to quantify, and the pencil pushers really only get comfy when every I is dotted and T crossed, the whole concept of staff, equipment and miscellaneous outflow as an "Investment" (with unclear and sometimes invisible return) just freaks them out to no end. Thus, they push hard to make it move from the Investment to the Expense category, and if possible, make it pay for itself too.

But that business ethic is changing too. Many companies these days are "wising up" to the realization that price is not the primary selling factor any more. Paper thin margins and heavy competition from every corner are forcing them to focus more on quality of product and after sale service. As an example, companies like LL Bean (which has always stood for high quality anyway) is redoubling their marketing efforts to reinforce their exemplary service and product quality. They've come to realize that people buy from them, and willingly pay a bit more, just to be sure they get good products and good service.

So how does this apply to Second Life and Linden Lab? It's no secret that the competition is gaining ground. It's also no secret that LL has a black mark on its Customer Service record. However it's also well accepted that while we would love for them to slash prices ... that just ain't gonna happen. But they can improve their Service and they can reclaim their status as the lead dog in the race too. It's my contention that with very little extra "Investment" in Customer Service, they can realize a very sizeable return in the form of renewed customer satisfaction and increased income attendant with that increase in happiness.

It boils down to one thing .. one number that neither of us can cite with any confidence ... that being how much it will cost them to extend full Support Ticket options to PIOF and PMU accounts. It might even be that LL can't quote that number with any degree of confidence either, but if they can't ... well I'd be surprised. However from my experience in the business, I'd be willing to bet a few dozen donuts it's a lot smaller number than some have suggested.

Yes, as you state, "Trust" is a big component of my suggestion. But I don't see that as a bad thing, or even as an unwise investment. Rather I see that as the first step in the path to relaxing people's wallets some .. especially at a time when LL needs those wallets as relaxed as they can be. Giving a wider range of support options to Basic Account members won't pay for itself right away, nor will it ever "guarantee" a return. But it will help alleviate a few problems, reassure skittish customers that LL truly has their best interests at heart, and help them get an even better perspective of the full range of issues we all face daily.

 

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Angel Harmison wrote:

After
all
 
it
is
less
 
then
 
10.00
a
month
t
o
play
..
miss
 
a
 
lunch
out
 
or
skip
a
 
grandee
latte
 
or
something
The
 
added
revenue
to
LL
   
would
actually
allow
 
them
to
 
hire
more
employees
or
maybe
invest
in
 
some
decent
hardware/software
 
or
something
.   I know people will hate my opinion  but after all it is mine to have  and I know I am  right ..  :smileywink:

laffs 

The point this argument always misses is that plenty of basics do pay to play, they buy Linden Dollars, which LL make money off and they buy content or rent private land, which in some form trickles back to Linden Lab. I'm not sure how asking people to pay more would increase Linden Lab's revenue, some people would simply stop playing if they were required to pay extra.

 

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Note especially from that list that basic accounts can't raise tickets regarding log-in to Second Life itself, only to the web site.  Yeah, you might get help to get here but "the product"?  Forget it!  Seems just a little bit like the wrong way around to me.  The only way this makes sense is if LL know there are too many problems logging-in for them to handle.  In that case they really need to address the publicly-available information and any tech that can help.

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PeterCanessa Oh wrote:

Note especially from that list that basic accounts can't raise tickets regarding log-in to Second Life itself......

For example if your avatar is "ghost" in Mainland ("the system is loggin you out right now...). A frequent situation.

And there is no ticket for Basicc acounts for Manual Age Verification. And you cannot request an Account Closure. And you cannot ask for Goups Issues (although you paid   for creating the group). And ...

But in my opinion, the most serious (and the most stupid for LL) is that Basic Accounts cannot fill a ticket about "Real World Payment Method Issues". If you want upgrade to Premium and you have issues... you cannot fill a ticket and LL losts a Premium resident.

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Irene Muni wrote:

 

PeterCanessa Oh wrote:

Note especially from that list that basic accounts can't raise tickets regarding log-in to Second Life itself......

For example if your avatar is "ghost" in Mainland ("the system is loggin you out right now...). A frequent situation.

And there is no ticket for Basicc acounts for Manual Age Verification. And you cannot request an Account Closure. And you cannot ask for Goups Issues (
although
you
paid
 
for creating
the
group). And ...

But in my opinion, the most serious (and the most stupid for LL) is that Basic Accounts cannot fill a ticket about "Real World Payment Method Issues". If you want upgrade to Premium and you have issues... you cannot fill a ticket and LL losts a Premium resident.

This is often a case of being bass ackwards. The issues basics should be helped with are payments and age verification, these are issues LL should want basics to engage in because it gives LL information on who they are, it's quite frankly absurd that they can't file tickets on such issues.

 

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