My personal experiences with Telco's customer service departments (or any company's customer service departments, for that matter) aren't generally positive. I've found that I invariably spend at least half an hour waiting on hold (to "music" that narrowly beats the sound of a strangled cat for entertainment value) to talk to someone about a simple problem, and when somebody finally answers the phone, they're not actually in Australia at all, or have a strong grasp of the English language.
And somehow I don't think that Telstra's move to launch a customer service centre in Second Life is going to help the situation. While offering online customer support is admirable, I have to ask the question: Does anybody actually use Second Life anymore?
Even if there is an army of Second Life users in Australia, what percentage of Telstra customers are actually going to use the online portal to get their customer service? The press release claims that their BigPond Second Life has 100,000 registered members, but I have a hard time believing that most of those would be regular visitors and not just one-time customers looking to see what all the fuss was about (what is all the fuss about? Anyone?)
Personally, this reeks of publicity stunt to me. I'd prefer to see the money invested into a more "real world" customer service effort, but I don't really think that's going to happen any time soon. If you are one of Telstra's BigPond Second Life visitors, then it's good news for you. For everyone else... what's the point?
BigPond's virtual kiosk an Australian-first
In an Australian first, Telstra BigPond has opened a dedicated kiosk that will provide real-time customer support in the virtual world, Second Life.
The innovative new service will be provided 'in world' by BigPond avatars who can answer customers' service-related queries by text and voice.
BigPond Group Managing Director, Mr Justin Milne, said this initiative was driven by the popularity of this virtual world with BigPond customers.
"For more than a year BigPond has maintained a leading presence in Second Life with users enjoying the 16 fun and interactive islands we maintain," Mr Milne said.
"Our launch of a dedicated virtual customer service team is an indication of the popularity of Second Life and provides us with another innovative way to continue to give our members award-winning customer service," Mr Milne added.
The BigPond customer service kiosk is available during the busiest hours on Second Life, every Monday to Friday from 11 am to 10 pm Australian Eastern Standard Time. During this time there will be a live BigPond representative 'in world' to provide sales and service assistance.
"We're pioneering new ways to provide an exceptional level of sales and support to our customers through as many channels as possible," Mr Milne said.
"As the internet continues to provide new and different ways to communicate, we are proud to be a leading innovator utilising these new and emerging applications," he said.
Join us for a virtual launch party in the service kiosk kicking off at 5:00pm EST today. The first 50 BigPond customers to visit the kiosk will receive a music download voucher.
BigPond Second Life has around 100,000 registered members and BigPond continues to maintain the number one real world brand presence in Second Life.
BigPond has 16 islands in Second Life and five of these are exclusively residential islands. Some of the most popular destinations include Pondi Beach, the Billabong Bar and also popular replicas of Australian icons including a ski resort, the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.
Use of the BigPond islands in Second Life is unmetered for most BigPond broadband members, which means it does not count towards their monthly data usage.