Service with a snarl

I read a lot of profiles. I find them a brilliant source of information, not only about the person to whom they relate, but they’re also a gold mine when it comes to discovering new groups, locations to visit and stores to discover. In fact, with more and more stores heading to Marketplace, rather than having an inworld presence, I’m increasingly finding that using search is less productive than gleaning alternatives from the content of profile picks of fellow shoppers at the sort of places I like to frequent.

Inevitably, a number of profiles I come across will be those of content creators and often these will be a mine of useful information, with pointers to stores, collections and events, all handily gathered in one place. Almost always, there will also be ‘customer service’ information, either directing enquiries to other avatars, stores, websites or asking for customers to contact the creator directly: ‘Please send me a notecard, my IMs are always capped’.

With increasing frequency, however, I’m starting to see a whole new approach to customer service. It’s an approach more along the lines of: ‘Don’t contact me if you have issues… Store policy is clearly displayed on the premises, with every item and in my profile… If you bought something twice by accident, tough luck!… If it doesn’t fit and you didn’t try the demo, it’s your problem’, and so on. I can’t help wondering whether this is a reaction to a culture that, almost without question, insists that the customer is always right, even when they’re not, and are often totally barking mad!

It’s not a culture that, as a Brit, I’d experienced much before coming to SL – here in the United Colonies of Britland, the stance normally taken is that the customer is occasionally right. If the customer is wrong, yet they’re polite, reasonable and friendly, then we may bend a little. However, any other sort of attitude, (even if they’re right), is likely to result in a refusal, or a punch in the face. This is well understood around this part of the world, and works remarkably well.

Inworld, however, the overwhelmingly prevailing concept is the American model of customer service, requiring dedicated customer service representatives for every business, whose only role it seems is to perpetuate the myth that the customer is not only always right, but deserves over and above whatever their right is, and that if you should in anyway disagree with their overly-entitled right to anything they think is due recompense for any real or perceived slight, you are a big, steaming pile of dog turd!

I grant you, this is only my own jaded evaluation of what I see around me, but I’d argue that it is well substantiated by much of what I see being argued in SL forums, group chats and message boards, and I also see exactly the same nonsense being touted in their real world equivalents too.

It’s one of the reasons I don’t think that I’ll ever go into any sort of commercial venture inworld, because the moment that first conversation takes place, is the moment I’ll feel driven to commit avacide!

EntitledPrat Resident: You don’t make this item in the precise colour of sky blue pink that I want. I demand you immediately send me a bespoke version, full perm and free of charge for the inconvenience you’ve put me to, and I want a gift card and a full apology for your incompetence. And I am the customer, so I am always right!

Me: No

/Me mutes, ejects and permabans EntitledPrat Resident, hacks their account and rends their avatar into tiny pixel fragments, destroys their reputation, hunts them down in RL and punches them in the face, very hard, repeatedly.

Where did we get this weird idea that the customer is always right, that the customer always knows best and that we should treat everybody to the platinum standard, even if they are treating us like the aforementioned canine excrement? It’s nonsense, and it’s plain wrong, and I speak as somebody whose job for many years involved handling customer complaints and improving service. Then, as now, the customer was only right, when they were right, and even then it didn’t automatically entitle them to anything in return:

Customer: This paint is the wrong colour, it doesn’t match my bathroom.

Retailer: Have you used the paint?

Customer: Yes

Retailer: Then there’s nothing I can do. You should have checked first.

The above conversation would never happen in SL, and it’s a great pity because I think when creators treat their customers as if they were demi-gods, rather than just customers, it devalues the hard work, time and effort that has been put into making those objects of desire that those very customers want – if the customer wants better, then perhaps they should try doing it themselves. Certainly, you might see the odd customer go off in a huff and badmouth you to anyone who wants to listen, but who needs customers like that anyway?

Personally, I’m with those creators with the snarky profiles on this issue.

And, if I ever join their ranks, my profile will be snarking with the best of them!

s. x

I can’t get no satisfaction, I can’t get no satisfaction
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no
Otis Redding – I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

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