Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Heard That One Before, Part 4: Making the Diva Grade

Welcome to the next in a series of posts on lines we hear all the time in Phoenix/Firestorm support that just aren't as useful as the speakers who speak them seem to expect. In some cases, they actually create hindrances to support. In other cases, like today's, they're mostly just annoying. But they arise from misunderstandings and preconceived notions that are worth addressing.

If you'd like to start from the beginning, head on over hereOtherwise, read on and find out what we have to say when someone tells us:

4) "Fine then, I'll just use a different viewer."

Um, ok. Go right ahead and do that.

Seriously. Neither my lack-of-payrate nor my self-esteem will be bruised if you do.

What are you still doing in my IM window? I thought you were gonna try that other viewer. Go on, shoo. You don't even have to let me know how it goes.

Some people want to believe that Third Party Viewers are in a cutthroat competition with each other and with Linden Lab. Sure, there is some informal sense of competition, but none of us receives any material gain from working on a popular viewer, so the idea that the competition is cutthroat is vaguely laughable. There are times when we tell people to test on different viewers in order to narrow down the possible sources of issues. 

What's more than vaguely laughable is the idea that we'll hear "I'll use a different viewer" as a threat and that it will make a difference in what kind of support we can give to people. That's why this one is in this blog series, you see. Because I'm not talking about people who simply decide to shop around for a new viewer.

I'm talking about those who, in the middle of a frustrating troubleshooting session, get upset about their lack of progress, throw up their hands, and cry, "Fine! I'll just take my business elsewhere!" seemingly expecting their support person to grovel and say, "Oh, I'm sorry, let me pull this ├╝ber-special fix out of my ass that we only share with people who act like entitled divas! Just please don't leave us!"

If we haven't been able to fix your problem, then telling us you'll use a different viewer is not magically going to make us capable of doing so. Though I'd love to be able to pull fixes -- diva grade or otherwise -- out of my ass, it's just not in my repertoire of Seriously Awesome Talents yet.

In consumer culture, there is a strong mentality of "the customer is always right," which ends up shaping a sense of entitlement. "I'll take my business elsewhere" becomes a code phrase for "You aren't kissing my ass enough." Maybe this is appropriate for the consumerist sphere (barely), but what does it say about everyday culture when it becomes a habit of mind, when folks follow up on kneejerk impulses to play presumed competitors against each other?

I wouldn't do support if I didn't like helping people, and I've helped tons of cool users, but there are also the handful who ruin your day. I have never heard "I'll just use a different viewer" spoken as a threat without breathing a sigh of relief and thinking, "Oh thank goodness I won't have to deal with that one again for a while."

I say "for a while" and not "ever" because this particular type is usually back after experiencing disappointing results on a different viewer (or two, or three) and never stopping to wonder if it's really the viewers that are the problem. In some cases -- when the statement was uttered for purely manipulative purposes -- the speaker never actually bothers to try a different viewer. A month or two later they're simply back with the same complaints or new ones and the same diva expectations.

So if my "job" isn't to keep people using Firestorm, then what is it? In the big sense, it's to improve the user experience. In the smaller sense, it's to do so by helping Firestorm and Phoenix users solve any problems that arise. Simple as that. Since the Phoenix Firestorm Project isn't a for-profit business, and our users aren't customers, you won't find us trying to sell anything to you: neither the viewer nor the privilege of receiving support. Having such a pressure-free support experience should be a plus, right?

We're happy when people use Firestorm. We think it's kinda neat that folks like it as much as we do and have as much of an appreciation for the amazing things our devs have been able to do. We're super-glad to share it, and we'll do what we can to make it work when there's a problem. Moreover, I'd rather know that the viewer is popular because it's good and well-supported than think it's because we felt we had to keep people away from the "competition." So au revoir, enjoy your trip. We'll be here if you decide to come back. And if you don't, we'll even offer you a full refund.

Speaking of which... come back next week for the closely related:
5) "I would pay to have this work for me."

1 comment:

  1. Even in retail, while The Company might want 'the customer is always right' the thought of everyone actually dealing with "I'm never shopping here again!" or "I'm going to $COMPETITOR" is 'Thank you! Go be a pain in our competitor's butt! Why are you still here? Go already!'