Two simple steps to make Second Life residents happy (and one is cheap as well): Step 1 – Support

There is a lot of goodwill towards Linden Lab at the moment, despite things like the downsizing of Grendel’s. A lot of this has to do with Rod Humble who, residents feel, “gets it”. When he talks to residents, it’s not to tell them that there are tough times ahead and a lot of them are going to be very unhappy with the changes (keynote at SLCC 2009, I believe), nor to tell them that they are the oddballs and outsiders and now the cool people will be coming to join (keynote speech at SL5B. I think that was). He wants to fix group chat; he sighs (with everyone else) over the righthand toolbar in the official viewer; he reacts to things that are broken and looks for ways to make things better.  Residents like this.  They feel his attention is on their experience, and they reciprocate by – very cautiously – extending a measure of trust.

But not everything is ideal – and there are two areas where residents feel strongly which I think (and I know I’m not alone) could and should be a focus for rapid improvement.

The first area is support.

I don’t have a clue where customer support is at the moment.  To what extent it’s outsourced, to what extent it’s down the the Lindens.  But it isn’t working.  People open tickets and then find them closed with no action taken – they’re advised to re-open them.  Parts of the web interface are clearly not working – some important messages sent through it are vanishing in to the vast distances of cyberspace (and that’s even before we get to the problems with posting things such as events – which I talked about a little while ago).  People who do manage to get through or to speak to someone in concierge aretold that someone will get back to them … and people don’t.

It’s all making for frustrated residents – just at a point where so much is improving.

And I think that the support service could be improved, by Lindens becoming more proactive – just as the best estate owners are.

If an ordinary resident has a problem, they know they can mention it in group chat and someone will get on to it.  A really good estate manager in this way is Melody Regent of Regent Estates.  The estate group chat is reserved for for residents who need assistance – so no-one has to wade through chat.  When a resident has a problem, someone is usually there to respond in IM.  But more than this, periodically the estate team – and Melody herself – will flag up their presence: “Hi – I’m here for the next two hours – IM me is you have any problems.”  It’s great. It helps the people who are handing over their money to Regent Estates see this proactivity – and it works for other estates too.  Not only does it build confidence – it builds a sense of community.

Could something like this be extended to areas of Linden Lab support?  I’m not suggesting that every resident of Second Life has a personal Linden, but perhaps those who have been identified as large estate managers. significant community leaders, leading content creators … perhaps they should be getting a message once a month saying, “Hi … is everything ok? Let me know if you’re having any problems.”

As Metacam Oh said on his blog:
“The bottom line is this, a product that costs $3540 PER year (plus membership fee) is a substantial investment, let alone $14K. You know what most normal companies do when someone spends that kind of money? They assign a specific person who is your sales representative, or support representative that you can speak to on a personal level as your liaison. They don’t tell you to file a report and we’ll get back to you and lose the paper in the shuffle, and they don’t forward you to a call center in India with some teenage kid making 4 bucks an hour. They have one person who will practically wipe your ass if you need it, and why? Because when you take your $14K and walk they know who to blame!”

Again, I’m not saying that Linden Lab need to go overboard with nurturing every resident, but targeting some proactive support could make a great deal of difference.

The difference between bad customer service and good customer service can be as simple as this:

“That’s not my department. You’ll need to contact Obscure Linden for that.”
as opposed to:
“Unfortunately, that’s not my department.  But I’ll flag it up with Obscure Linden for you.  Let me know if you have any further problems.”

Like this on Facebook


  1. Every large firm dependent on ongoing client relations handles it the way Mr. Oh suggests. It’s a lot easier to retain a client (and even upsell him new products and levels of service) than it is to go get a new one. That would be doubly important in SL’s situation where the quality of service is quickly communicated throughout a networked customer base.

    In fact, Saffia, I seem to remember that you take this approach in your own business, am I right?

  2. Rather late for educators. Mr. Humble could, even without reinstating the tier discount, do more to “make good” with us. But increasingly we are reducing our holding or, like me, doing work in OpenSim instead. I’ll not pay tier again in SL; my 512 is plenty of room for a fake office.

    The hour is late for the nonprofit/edu segment–not a big-money one but one with a “halo” effect for Linden Lab. And despite the downturn in the economy, my uni invests hundreds of thousands annually in software crucial to our mission. We and our colleagues at other schools have deep pockets. LL missed a chance to get some of that $$ long-term by the tier increase.

    Given LL’s understandable emphasis on breedables and shopping and romance in-world, I’m not optimistic. Still, the CEO has been open with communication and, from reports about him at EA, he is a decent man. I hope he and the SL brand thrive, even if they’re losing the edu customer.

  3. In the beginning (2005) we had support, just click help and you were in IM with a Linden who would actually come and Help!
    Then LL decided they were too big for that, but support is a ratio thing, support staff / resident and that only gets better with more people if you maintain the ratio.
    At the moment there might as well be none at all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s