What Do You Value More?

opinion thoughts

I was following an interesting conversation earlier about creators who are “up their asses” and never responded to someone’s friendly alert of copybotted items, or that customers feel like they are thinking that they are better than the “normal people”etc etc just because they are succesful with their brands.

I would like to point out that no brand in SL becomes successful without a lot of hard work and dedication of the owner/creator. Also, when you have a brand in SL, that means you usually are not only the owner, but also the sole employee. Responsible for the entire production, marketing, accounting, customer support etc etc.  Some of the succesful creators are lucky enough to support their RL off their SL income, but for most it is just a very welcome addition of a few cts per transaction on their income of a RL job.

Now what does that mean? For a successful creator with lets say 250 transactions a day (could be more, could be less depending on what they are making), it is pretty much impossible to respond to about 50 more or less serious customer service requests. Serious issues like broken products, non deliveries or  double purchases will likely be addressed as soon as possible (on a daily basis, which means 7 days a week and I bet you don’t work 7 days a week), but other things like “I saw this and that item of yours in a ripped version” or “i’d love so see such or so item in your shop”, unfortunately can’t all be addressed.

That doesn’t mean it is not noticed. Most creators have inspiration lists/mood boards full of ideas for new items and when their  items are being ripped frequently, they will likely sigh, file another DMCA with The Lab and continue what they are doing, because it make s them just sad having to talk about their work being ripped again and again with people they usually don’t even know. Also, if what you report is, for example a 2009 creation, chances are that said item has been reported at least twice already.
Furthermore IM’s get capped, notecards can’t be opened or arrive blank (the quirks of SL), RL may need their attention for a while for whatever reason (which is none of your business, really) so the reason why someone is not responding to your individual message may be various and valid without you knowing. The most righteous people when it comes to complaining about customer support, are often also the people who claim SL is just a game when they do not want to take responsibility for their actions in SL. Apparently it’s not a game when it comes to other people assuming responsibility for customer support.

Now, when I am unavailable in RL, I close my office door, I don’t answer the phone or just go out and take a ride til I am done with whatever it is that it bothering me. In SL this apparently is not accepted easily. Customers want to be helped, and want it now.  On my own dealings with customers, I have had some pretty rude reactions from people who were annoyed that I wasn’t online when they messaged me (at 3 AM my time for instance, I know… sleep is for the weak) or that I couldn’t do the adjustment to the shape or pose that they wanted/bought right away, because I would be late for RL work. To them I say… here is a refund, take your Linden$ elsewhere.
I respect my customers, but  I do expect the same amount of respect in return, and I refuse to be your punch bag for when you and your SO are going through rough times, or whatever (it’s none of my business anyway).

Anyway… there is so much to say to this subject. Such as… why not hire a CS rep if you don’t have time for it? There is no easy answer to this, but my experience as a CS rep is that it is mostly limited to helping people find stuff in the shop, and acting as a filter for the owner (read, make sure you will not disturb the owner in their work) but not able to actually solve most of the issues customers are dealing with (read above: broken products, non deliveries or double purchases). But I want you to consider this… when it comes to running a successful brand in SL, key is quality content and on a regular base.
When the creator has to spend several hours of his/her day responding to all customer messages, or thanking you profusely for yet another mention of their stuff ripped, that is time they could spend on creating new content for you and others as well. And in the end, what is more important… your retail therapy, or the recognition that you are a good resident reporting cheating assholes?

You may hate me now, but keep it civilized, will ya? 😛

12 thoughts on “What Do You Value More?”

  1. Well said. I’ve worked CS in SL for a few brands and I’m always struck by how insistent some residents are that their concerns are addressed RIGHTTHISVERYMINUTE! I have a ton of respect for those of you who create and manage SL businesses.

    Also, I do hate you…for being completely amazing. But, only just a little bit.

  2. BINGO! Having been CSR for several SL brands I can vouch that the “filter” job is key. Some customers just arrived ready to take you on. The secret was not to rise to the bait. I often felt sorry for the crazier customers–man did they have a problem!

  3. Seemingly, you have had an upset customer, or two. Not sure if bringing it to your public forum to display such a negative opinion of your customers is the best idea, but its your choice. If you continually get the same messages in world, and geniunely value the business / extra cts each month; wouldnt it be more professional to create a folder with pre-made notecard responses and just drop those on the inquiring customers? Or perhaps you only prefer the messages that praise you (like the 2 posters before me)?

    Creators campaigned for customers get involved in the war on content theft and now you are aggrevated because they are doing so?

    I’ve had no previous knowledge of your customer exchanges or your apparent downlooking on them but now that you’ve made this openly public post (rant), i do. And quite frankly, it makes me not want to support you; so as you say, i guess i’ll be taking my L$ elsewhere.

    1. Hi Create1:

      That is a very original SL name, if I may say so, good choice.

      In regards to your reply, I wouldn’t worry too much about you taking your L$ elsewhere be my guest.

      Currently, Grazia has, available for sale, a total of 120 poses at L$40 each and 2 shapes at $250 each one… If we consider that you were willing to buy everything she has on sale that would mean a total “loss” of L$ 5,300.

      Lucky her, I spend that or more on her for the pics that we take together or just because I want to. I will be nice to her and compensate her for her losing your business… and everyone will be happier.

      Good luck with your shopping experience, dear.

      Don

  4. Hi Create,

    Actually I may have one or 2 upset customers since I started creating in 2008, but generally I have very pleasant relations with my customers. This post is not about me. It is about people who run a business in SL (not about someone like me who dabbles with poses and shapes) and work 60-80 hours per week easily to create things we like and yet are expected to be at the customer’s service whenever they want them to be or otherwise are considered to have their “heads up their asses”. I am just stating that there is more to it than what the customer may perceive and that apparently to some, the creator should always be ready to respond to them right away.

    I’m sorry if I didn’t get my point across that, if every IM and every notecard would have to be addressed, acknowledged, and the sender be pampered, spoiled and given praise about it, there would be precious little content left to enjoy.

    I hope you will think about that, next time you get upset about not getting an immediate answer when you IM a creator about something.

  5. This is so true. Everyone’s problem is a) critical and b) more important than everything else. As a CSR, I get to witness the numerous blogger requests, hunt/sales event invites and mall invites that are received by the creator. I think that, with a good vendor system and a CSR that you really trust, the CSR is capable to do almost everything except for refund a customer. I know with our vendor system I can do redeliveries, manage store credit and verify if a purchase was actually made. Even with a CSR, customers need to take a deep breath and remember that we’re all human and patience and a little empathy go a long, long way.

  6. Many creators I think are making stuff in SL pretty much as a hobby and largely for their own amusement. As such, I think sales can be almost an accidental by-product in many cases and customer service something of an irrelevancy, especially given that we are often talking about very low unit value for what they sell and even more miniscule profit margins. I think a blase approach to customer service is entirely forgiveable under those circumstances (although there may well be a very small minority of content creators whose egos do get the better of them – it happens!) Less of an excuse for those SL brands that market themselves more aggressively and have a more obvious commercial focus. It’s hard to know where to draw the line between a commercial enterprise and a hobbyist in SL, so I tend to favour the benefit of the doubt and patience in customer service matters (not that I’ve ever experienced anything other than pleasant professionalism either as a creator of a consumer).

    My opinion (and only that), is that much of the problem from the consumer side comes about because a significant proportion of SL residents just don’t have a sufficiently “stimulating” RL and are therefore actively seeking to create drama for themselves and also to leverage this drama to increase their popularity among their similarly desperate friends. Let’s face it, it’s just the sad downside of our instant-networking, celebrity-hungry culture. Some people can be quite rude and opinionated. SL allows them to do so with relative anonymity, so they just go for it. SL designers and content creators no doubt need pretty thick skins. I for one, admire their resilience.

  7. I think I agree with you, but I’m not too crazy about the tone of this post. It seems more like a rant than anything, which takes away the key points you want to get across.

    When I first got involved in retail management in SL, it was exciting because I really got to see the other side of what goes into a business, and what goes into the product that said business creates. It has made me look at everything from a different angle, and I am glad for it. Several months ago, I spoke with a consultant to see was there anything that could be done to improve my place of employment He said successful stores have quality product, as well as quality customer service.

    Let me tell you, it’s a totally different vibe when owners have open dialogue with their customer base than stores who have the product, but the owner is not visible. I have seen group messages that address issues that customers have raised, and I don’t think people are so unreasonable that they want a personalized response even after the group message.

    As for the issue of content theft, why can’t people not just make a blanket statement of what procedure to follow, and end it with, ” XYZ appreciates your support in fighting content theft. Unfortunately due to the volume of messages we receive daily, we will be unable to address individual inquires.” Then if they have someone who can’t take the hint, get a CSR to send them a general note reminding them of the store policy. It’s really not that hard to do, but many creators don’t have the energy and/or time to think that thoroughly, which is why a good support team is essential, especially in a business that runs as many hours as you have stated.

    “And in the end, what is more important… your retail therapy, or the recognition that you are a good resident reporting cheating assholes?”

    Well, isn’t that somewhat included in retail therapy? Because if SL customers feel like the owner couldn’t care less about them and their input and just want their Lindens, would that not make a negative impact on their shopping experience?

  8. People set up SL businesses either because they love to create OR because they love to create AND they want to make some moolah out of it.

    If you’re doing it purely because you love to create, then sell your stuff for free on marketplace or for what little you need to rent a store etc. and put somewhere in your profile/product description that you don’t offer customer service. Problem solved.

    If you’re doing it to make money and expecting people to part with their cash for a copy of a thing you made, then customer service should not only be expected by the customer, but should be provided by you even at extra cost to yourself, because good service will keep people coming back.

    Problem with this post is that people who already read blogs related to SL fashion will likely be of roughly the same opinion, and those you’re targeting probably don’t read here/give a damn anyway. C’est la vie.

    Having said that, in my 5 years in SL I’ve never contacted anyone about any product I’ve bought. It either works/fits/is relatively simple to fit, or it doesn’t, and I avoid the creator in future.

  9. What I am writing about in this post is not the general cs issues or interactions with customers. It’s the sometimes inreasonable amount of involvement required from the creator that makes me want to feed some people a chill pill.

    If you don’t get an answer (satisfactory or not) right away, do not assume automatically that the person you have contacted has their head up their ass. There can be a variety of reasons why you haven’t gotten your answer (read above) is this a rant? You bet it is! Pleasant relations are a 2way street and customers should be as respectful towards a creator as vice versa. That simple. Yet often lacking and since the customer side is more often voiced in groups, blogs and social media, I wanted to offer some counter weight

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