Dell to offer customer support in Second Life

Updated on July 17, 2007

Logging in to Second Life this morning, I received an interesting note from Dell:

We plan to offer customer service and tech support assistance in-world soon – initially for 10 hrs/week while we gauge demand. This proposal is to set those hours as M-F, 5-6am and 12-1pm SLT or M,W,F 5-7am SLT & T, Th, 11am-1pm SLT.

The note, which went to a Dell group in Second Life of which I’m a member, requested a vote. It got my ‘yes’ vote.

A logical move in Second Life experimentation as part of Dell’s overall community activities.

And, not incidentally, those community activities include the Direct2Dell blog which has just completed one year as part of the blogosphere.

Dell has come a long way since their dark days of not listening. While there still are issues with some customers – and what company isn’t in that position at any one time? – they deservedly merit warm congratulations for the way in which they engage today.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Michael Allison

    I wonder how the demands on Dell’s SL customer support reps will differ from those on call-in support reps. After all, the user’s computer is OK enough to run Second Life (presuming customers only have one computer, and it’s a Dell), and Second Life users are adept enough with technology to effectively navigate SL in the first place.

  2. neville

    I read the announcement as being related to service/tech support for Dell computers generally, Michael, not support for help with Second Life. Or am I misunderstanding what you said?

    I guess we’ll find out for sure once more information appears from Dell, probably on Direct2Dell as well as within Second Life.

  3. RichardatDELL

    Neville,
    Just wanted to drop by and to say thanks for the commentary about Dell in second life, and especially your perspective on how far we have come in a year.

    As the notification to you said, we are experimenting with various things in second life, and across the web in general — all part of our view that the evolution of whe web and communications offers great new ways to connect with customers.

    Why I really wanted to comment though was to say a special thanks to you. It was in our ealry days of “digital media” (or social media or blogs or web 2 or whatever we want to call all this) that we dropped by your site. Then and over the last year we made strides because people like you have also provided constructive commentary. Thanks for thte “eye on us” and the valuable perspectives.

    we appreciate it.

  4. Nic Mitham

    It makes sense to explore using virtual worlds as a customer support channel, after all, almost every other communication channel is currently being used already (web, phone, email and even sms).

    There’s two key points here:

    1. If successful, other companies (initially in the tech sector) will also implement support services into Second Life. Partly as a me too strategy (for some, the main reason they entered in the first place) and partly for their own experimentation.

    2. More importantly, the introduction of sales/customer support may actually be the catalyst for more companies to actually use Second Life as a sales channel in it’s own right. If you’re going to have post-sales mechanics and services, why not have the facility to make the sale in the first place as well as the pre-sale.

    Kudos to Dell (and IBM, who are also implementing this approach).

  5. neville

    Richard, thanks for your comments, much appreciated.

    Good points, Nic. Dell have been pretty clear on their reasons for starting in Second Life.

    In my view, the learning almost any company gains from experimentation in the virtual world is invaluable to gain some understanding of how a virtual world fits in with real world activities, and vice versa.

    It will be interesting to see exactly what Dell will implement in world; no doubt further news soon.

    Not everyone sees any value for Dell or the community in Dell being in Second Life, though. Tony Walsh at Clickable Culture for one.

    Too much focus on whether anyone’s at the office or not, as it were. This isn’t about mass numbers; it’s about niches.

    If only 3 people show up at Dell island on a given day, I would have thought that’s fine if they make a connection with a Dell person there. Or maybe not – they can look around, pick up some info, leave their info, come back another day.

    Maybe the point really is creating value connections – connecting with people who want to be connected with, rather than with anyone who just shows up.

  6. Laura Thomas/Pyrrha Dell

    Thanks for the kudos Nic, and thanks to Neville for getting the conversation started here first. Thought I’d let you know that I’ve now posted an official announcement about our plans on our Direct2Dell blog at http://direct2dell.com/one2one/archive/2007/07/23/21925.aspx.

    That may help answer some of the questions Michael had about the demands and sort of inquiries we initially anticipate. I’m sure they will evolve over time, though, as users become more accustomed to this new venue for interacting with Dell.

  7. neville

    So things start on August 6, Laura (as per your post at Direct2Dell). Looking forward to seeing how your experiment progresses. I’ll stop by and say hi to Todd. Heh! I have a Dell desktop PC and a few questions myself!

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