Friday, September 26, 2008

What's wrong at Linden Lab?

Last night I had the unfortunate experience of having to deal with a Live Chat Operator.

When asked what the problem was, I explained it to him in detail, and he of course, wasn't paying attention and asking questions that I answered in the first message I sent to him.

I was experiencing a problem on the Land where my Main Store is (Builders Choice Premier Textures) in Kissling. The Live Chat Operator FINALLY came into the world to "inspect" my problem. Then he told me what I had told him just seconds before. This of course, led to my frustration and I, in no uncertain terms, let the Live Operator know I wasn't impressed with his work.

Eventually the Live Chat Operator asked me to file a Bug Report.

So, let's look at what occured here and see where Linden Lab can improve upon their service.

  1. Linden Lab should train their employee's better, and give them a course in Customer Appreciation. When you include all the necessary information in the first message to the Operator, you shouldn't be asked 20 questions about what you already included in the First Message.
  2. Live Chat Operators apparently don't spend a lot of time in-world during work or their time off. My Live Chat Operator didn't even know HOW the Land Payment for "Show in Search" was handled. He actually asked me to pay it so it would fix the problem.
  3. Linden Lab doesn't pay their Residents to File Bug Reports, but expects them to file a Bug Report to get anything fixed. This seems to be a counter-productive process. Why can't the Live Chat Operator file the Bug Report and let the Resident get back to what they want to be doing in-world. To say "if you don't file a bug report, nothings going to happen", just shows how out of touch Linden Lab is with their Customer Base. The Residents in world, for the most part, aren't those that were here 5 years ago and were in BETA and didn't mind filing Bug Reports. The Community today is different, but Linden Lab thinks they are the same. Linden Lab employee's who are told about a Bug, SHOULD BE the people to file the Bug Report. Most Users don't want to be bothered with this process, and quite frankly they shouldn't have to be. It tells us a lot about Linden Lab and their policies, and the most grievous tell is that Linden Lab Employee's are woefully lazy.
Linden Lab customer support/service is lacking the right attitude and motivation. Will this ever get fixed is the real question. The answer to that is probably not, since the management team takes the same Lazy position as their employee's do.

This is where Linden Lab has failed and has drug every department into a non-customer based attitude. For example, have you looked at some of the Linden Lab employee's profiles? Most of these say that if you have a problem, contact support. Well, this would be alright, if Support wasn't so lazy, so many people just don't do anything when they find a problem. In order for the Customer Support/Service to change, it will take someone who understands how to treat customers, someone who has been trained in Customer Support and knows that the Customer is the most important commodity in Linden Lab.

There are other failures at Linden Lab too. The Bug Squashing Dept., has policies made to NOT get many bug reports or have to view the ones that do come in. In an Open Office Hour, Benjamin Linden said, "we won't even look at a bug report if it doesn't have re-producable steps with it". At first glance you might say, "Well gee that doesn't sound too bad", but think back to when you had a bug, could you reproduce it? If not, then it won't even get looked at by the Bug Squashers. Then we have another policy that states, "we work on the bug reports that get the most votes". In other words, Linden Lab Bug Squashers will work on the easiest problems first, and those critical bugs won't ever get fixed. Just think back to when the Asset Server began having problems, well over a Year and a Half now, and it still is having problems. I guess there's not enough VOTES to get it fixed. These two policies in the Bug Squashing Dept., shows the lack of initiative and purpose in their employee's and their managers.

Who's to blame for this lackadasical attitude and posture by Linden Lab. Well, I think we can directly follow that back to Linden Lab former CEO and current Chairman of the Board, Philip Rosedale. In a TownHall meeting, Mr. Rosedale let it slip that the employee's choose what they want to work on, instead of having a manager assign their case load to important items might get fixed first. Mr. Rosedale also let it slip in a KEYNOTE address, that Linden Lab won't slow down to fix bugs, they will continue to inovate in the industry. Now I have no problem with the idea of staying invovated, but what happens when what you are innovating doesn't actually work? By announcing this Policy in his KEYNOTE speech, it shows that Mr. Rosedale is the problem, and nothing will get fixed until Mr. Rosedale either changes his ways, or just leaves Linden Lab. With Mr. Rosedale as the Chairman of the Board for Linden Lab, one must question just how much input he has on the day to day operation and if he isn't pulling the strings still from behind the scenes.

The problem with Linden Lab today can be summed up in one simple word: LAZY. The employee's are too LAZY to file Bug Reports. The Bug Squashers, Coders, and Grid Monkeys are too LAZY to choose the hard jobs. Management is too LAZY to actually Manage their own people.

It all comes down to that simple little word, LAZY. Until Linden Lab Management understands this, I fear nothing will change, and we will continue down this path until the Residents either get mad and demand change, or just leave in disgust.

For my money, I would like it if everyone would rise up and demand fixes to the whole of Linden Lab, the alternate will only close down Second Life, and that's the real innocent victim here. Our world will cease to exist unless Linden Lab Management will wake-up and smell the stink coming from their own creation.

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