Making Business Decisions I

Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by millions of people from around the globe. This new virtual world could become the first point of contact between companies and customers and could transform the whole customer experience. Since it began hosting the likes of Adidas, Dell, Reuters and Toyota, Second Life has become technology's equivalent of India or China - everyone needs an office and a strategy involving it to keep their shareholders happy. But beyond opening a shiny new building in the virtual world, what can such companies do with their virtual real estate?

Like many other big brands, PA Consulting has its own offices in Second Life and has learned that simply having an office to answer customer queries is not enough. Real people, albeit behind avatars, must be staffing the offices - in the same way having a Web site is not enough if there is not a call centre to back it up when a would-be customer wants to speak to a human being. In future, the consultants believe call centers could one day ask customers to follow up a phone call with them by moving the query into a virtual world.
Unlike many corporate areas in the virtual world, the NBA Headquarters incorporates capabilities designed to keep fans coming back, including real-time 3-D diagrams of games as they are being played.

PROJECT FOCUS:

You want to create a presence on Second Life for the cafe. Create a CRM strategy for doing business in the virtual world. Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • How can your virtual world help business in the real world?
  • How will customer relationships be different in a virtual world?
  • What is your strategy for managing customer relationships in this new virtual environment?
  • How will supporting Second Life customers differ from supporting traditional customers?
  • How will supporting Second Life customers differ from supporting Web site customers?
  • What customer security issues might you encounter in Second Life?
  • What customer ethical issues might you encounter in Second Life?

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