Customer Service

Customer service for eLearning.  It’s important, obviously.

Donated Land for eLearning Providers

Donated Land for eLearning Providers

I was in mid-management in the 90’s for Circuit City and was a regional customer service manager for part of that time.  It was a multi-state position over about 30 stores.  Our service center handled product for the stores and typically had no direct customer contact (customers brought defective units into the store, those managers sent the units to us).  My customers were internal – the store managers.

Circuit City would look at any electronics, diagnose them, and send out repair quotes.  That process took 3.2 days when I came onboard.  After authoring and implementing a national standard operating procedure, that process was reduced to 1.7 days.  That was a good metric (along with a call answering time going from 35 seconds to 9).

We had one lady that brought in a VCR in which her cat had obviously puked.  Cats like to lie on warm things, get overheated and barf.  It’s something we saw regularly.  And you know it’s a cat because of the large amount of cat hair in these electronics.

This customer called us because the store managers had passed our number to her and we explained that we could not service her VCR due to its age and that we had never carried that brand (we could not even cannibalize another unit).  And her VCR was 5 years old.  We waived the $35 testing fee and apologized.

She was very upset and sent a letter to Circuit City’s CEO.  In her letter she explained, and named, how five regional managers and several store managers were all unable to fix her VCR.  By this time, a lot of Circuit City time had been focused on her (and our bonuses were affected severely that month).

In the end, we gave her a new VCR.  Is that good customer service?  It is and illustrates the lengths that we went to hopefully turn this person into a customer.  Is it fair?  I don’t think so because she was that squeaky wheel, but she did become a customer as soon as she brought in her VCR.

The point of all this is that we did respond.  And all of this happened in the course of about two weeks.  A person that spent $0 with Circuit City ended up with a free VCR.

What does that have to do with Second Life as an eLearning tool?  Customer service.  I create free tutorials for eLearning providers.  They support my presentations at conferences.  These activities cost me time and money (conferences do not pay you as a presenter, in fact; I have an upcoming one where you actually have to pay to attend your own session.  I answer emails, do Adobe Connect, and even phone calls.  Why?

I love education, I think the world can be a better place, and I love to serve (I was a volunteer ski patroller, skater aid, and later a certified firefighter and paramedic).  There was no pay in being a volunteer firefighter and I did get hurt in a rescue call, but as a modern society we depend on service from others, and sometimes the reward is not money.  Delivering a baby at 4 AM or removing the body of a hero who drove his cement truck into a ditch rather than through stopped cars on a highway is a reward that cannot be matched (and is humbling).

Customer service comes in many forms.

Our l33t speak counterparts at the iliveisl blog seemed to be thrilled about M Linden being responsive to a post on his blog.  I am glad that there was a response but it is a shame that it had to get to the CEO.  It’s just a simple matter of asking for a few links to point corporations to that are trying to determine is SL is right to them.  Very minor but a legitimate request for promoting SL.  Lol, I was finally was sent a link to the official business request form via an accidental inworld conversation with a Linden.

I say “lol” because that link would actually be a great resource to send businesses.  In using the form, I received an automated email that says “you will be contacted within 2 business days”. Good thing I have not sent that link out, because the 10 days it’s so far would have been a reflection on me.

I have spent hours searching for this type of information on ROI and so on.  Those who know me know that I am passionate and persistent, if nothing else.

Remember your customers, they don’t have to be the ones that pay you thousnads a month a month to be worth an answer.  And blaming it on email is unacceptable.  Thank your customers, thank your learners, and care about people.  At least enough to not let things fall through the cracks.  Onward to more eLearning!

update: M was true to his word and I was contacted inworld by George Linden to learn more specifics to my request.  It seems like there may not be the type of information out there that people I run into want.  Many elearning departments of Fortune 500’s have tight budgets both in time and money.  They can’t afford a Maya license or the talent required to create 3D animation.  But with Second Life you can create very good animation and bring it into Flash for creating branched scenarios.  Those are the people trying to justify how to get land in Second Life.  Most don’t need an entire island and a quarter sim or less would be ample. Perhaps it’s time for iliveisl to move into the corporate realm to fill this need! I look forward to what George and the team can come up with.  It will be well received.  Thanks Linden!