Saturday, February 11, 2012

Customer service?

My friend Lindal Kidd is kind enough to say some nice things about my customer service here - possibly undeservedly nice, since there should never have been a problem with the product in the first place!  At the same time, or at least within a couple of days, SarahAndrea Royce has some alarming cautionary tales here about bad customer service.  It's the sort of thing that gets my little blonde brain into musing mode; mainly, musing about what I might be doing right, and how to keep right on doing it.

I have to say, though I've heard awful stories like SarahAndrea's a few times now, I've never actually had a bad customer service experience in SL!  - and, I suppose, this motivates me to try and make sure my customers don't have cause to complain about me either.  (Well, that, and my obnoxious tendency towards perfectionism, and my general upbringing with its emphasis on Doing The Right Thing - I was abandoned by wolves as an infant and raised by Anglicans, you see.)

I'd put my own good experiences as a customer down to three main factors; firstly, most people by and large are decent sorts, are not hucksters out to rip you off, and will genuinely try to work with you if there's a problem.  Secondly, basic politeness will get you a long way, especially in SL where it is so often in short supply - "I'm afraid there has been a problem with a product I bought from you" works so much better than "This thing sux and is a ripoff and you suck too", when you're starting a dialogue with someone.  Thirdly, after *coughcoughmumble* years of working in software development, I know the importance of setting out all the relevant information clearly and concisely - "transaction [transaction_id], on [date], paying L$[howevermuch] for [product]", all that kind of thing - it saves both you and the merchant time in the long run (and, I may say, if you give the impression that the facts are at your fingertips, you also give the impression that arguing with you may be more trouble than it's worth!)

I suppose, too, that on the whole I tend to deal with people who are creators first, and merchants second, and who therefore understand their own creations completely and are able to deal with any issues arising.  (The second of SarahAndrea's awful stories seems to revolve around someone who wasn't like that.)  From my own point of view, as a creator, if something is wrong with one of my creations, I want to put it right, for its own sake!  (I will own up to a feeling compounded of anger and mortification when the matter's brought up, of course - I am only human. [On a good day.])

There seem to be a lot of different approaches to being a merchant in SL, and I suspect some are better than others, or at least give better experiences for the customer.  For myself, I regard it as something of a sideline in a Second Life spent mostly fiddling with scripts and builds - I have always put SL down as an entertainment expense, something healthier to spend my spare money on than an extra bottle of gin, and I know I have no more chance of becoming a Linden-dollar millionnaire than I do of becoming Pope.  So, my approach to my little shop, I guess, is strongly coloured by a feeling of "do it properly if you do it at all", and considerations of profit or expense don't really come into it all that much.  I'm sure it would be nice to be a Linden-dollar millionnaire, but I'm not going to strain myself trying to get there.

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