Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
August 26, 2006 7:40 AM

TELUS Expands Into Second Life

Imagine my surprise to see TELUS in Second Life. One of Canada's leading communications companies has created a presence in Second Life. It even looks like the retail spaces they maintain in Real Life.

I had heard about the initiative last week through a friend who works at TELUS, and this post: RL Telco Says Hello To SL from 3PointD.com Blog. I finally got a chance to stop in this morning. I met Sparkle Dale (Second Life name) who is an advertising manager for TELUS when she's not building their next retail space in the Metaverse. Sparkle Dale took on this TELUS in Second Life initiative as a hobby and passion (their presence is pretty rocking and very on brand).

I got hooked up with a Black Motorola Razr phone (which anyone can buy with Linden Dollars). At this point, the phone's functionality is limited to shooting off busy messages and other little apps, but you can just imagine the potential for integration with VOIP, Skype and even your real-life mobile device down the road.

I'm proud to see TELUS take the leap and get involved in this new community. It's also great to see a company that allowed one of their passionate employees to really run with an idea.

If you have Second Life, you can check out their space here: TELUS in Second Life.

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Seb
    Mitch Joel

    Michel Leblanc has an interesting follow-up on this story (http://www.michelleblanc.com/2006/08/28/telus-dans-second-life-mais-ne-le-savent-pas/). It looks like their PR dept. is not aware of the initiative.

    Reply
  • Posted by Michel Leblanc
    Mitch Joel

    What is sad about the story is that TELUS itself does not even know its in SL. What a pity!

    All the details (in French)
    http://www.michelleblanc.com/2006/08/28/telus-dans-second-life-mais-ne-le-savent-pas/

    Reply
  • Posted by Mitch Joel
    Mitch Joel

    I can definitely add some clarity here.

    I found out about TELUS in Second Life through a very senior person at TELUS. They know. They were trying to not "let the cat out of the bag" until it was live, etc...

    Some people floating around in Second Life discovered it and started Blogging about it.

    Sparkle Dale is a TELUS employee who came up with the idea and, with the approval of her department head, has been doing this all on her own... out of passion.

    Maybe TELUS PR was not meant to be in the loop just yet. Maybe this was supposed to spread the way it is... organically by people like us.

    I think this story is much more interesting without a press release... don't you?

    Reply
  • Posted by Michel Leblanc
    Mitch Joel

    Dear Mitch,

    I understand the rationale here and Sparkle Dale has made quite an interesting and innovative virtual world marketing activity. She should have a major increase for having been so passionately involved and so efficiently innovative in her action and thinking. As I said in my post, it is talked about as far as Netherlands. The catch was probably trying not to "let the cat out of the bag". I do not believe that you can play with branding. As you well know, markets are conversations. It is hard to keep a secret! And when the secrets out, you'd better brief your PR quickly, get back into the conversation and spin the subject as quick as possible. If it was not for the fact that we know each other and that you are well connected, for how long do you think I would have been kept in the dark.

    A contrario example of the same activity would be Starwood Hotels. They build a microsite for their stand in SL, They extensively PRd their innovation and received worldwide attention to their forthcoming Aloft chain of hotel concept. I do believe that viral marketing is a must but that it has to work in synergy with other related marketing and PR cells. By the way, it has been already 5 days since my first post on TELUS. No news from them yet! How strange is that? Don’t they check their branding on the Web?

    Reply
  • Posted by Michel Leblanc
    Mitch Joel

    A following comment on my post

    Je vous avoue avoir retiré des passages de ce billet, que je trouvais exagéré. Mon café était probablement trop fort ce matin et il m’a fait « tilter ». J’étais tellement emballé par cette histoire que j’en ai perdu toute réserve. Mes excuses à TELUS et à son personnel. L’initiative de Sparkle Dale est excellente et mérite mon admiration. Sparkle mériterait de surcroît une promotion pour son audace et sa vision. Il est cependant dommage qu’une initiative aussi percutante ait été faite sous le couvert du secret et de l’anonymat « pour voir ce que ça donne ». Je peux déjà vous confirmer que ça donne des résultats dans ce blogue et à travers le monde et positionne avantageusement la marque TELUS auprès des faiseurs de notoriétés mondiales. Il est simplement dommage que la bonne initiative n’ait pas fait plus de vagues grâce à l’apport de toutes les ressources de TELUS, mais de quoi je me mêle?

    Reply
  • Posted by 4unner
    Mitch Joel

    Beware What They Telus

    Okay, you've probably already heard from some disgruntled people about the service - or rather - the lack of service Telus fails to provide.

    They've been on a recent campaign to recruit subscribers and you've probably already received a few calls by now to be sold on their "great deals". For your own sake, please be sure to thoroughly investigate what you're buying into VERY carefully first, before you regret it later.

    Sure, they may be able to provide what seems like a decent rate up front; and you may not need those "extra frills" they would nickel and dime you on every month. After all, the only thing that matters is that your telephone works when you need it to. Right?

    Of course.

    If it's always working, then there's nothing to bother worrying about. Landlines have been pretty stable for most of the last century, so there's not much to be concerned with. Right?

    Here's the real deal though, it's true; the Devil really does live in the details and it's in the details where you'll find yourself in Hell.

    Imagine a horror story like this one happening to you.

    It begins with octogenarian parents and one with a heart condition, a tight budget and regular calls from a variety of telemarketers offering solutions to save some money on their telephone service. Over time, temptation wears down one's natural disinclination to switch from the security and stability of a service one has grown accustomed to relying on. People are switching telephone companies all the time, so it shouldn't be too big a deal to try someone else; particularly if it helps to make ends meet.

    My senior citizen in-laws decided it was time to switch away from Telus to an up and coming service they'd heard was pretty decent Heck, even I had enjoyed the long-distance savings I had gotten from Yak. In my case though, I only used their 10-10 number to get my price breaks. I hadn't actually switched my service over to them. My in-laws went one step further and actually switched to them as a service provider.

    Here is where the irony meter kicks into overdrive.

    Sure, Yak took over their service by routing their calls through Yak's switches and sent them Yak-branded bills with Yak pricing; but when the phone stopped working, Yak went to Telus to provide a technician to (supposedly) fix the problem.

    Here is where the Devil introduced himself and took us all on his elevator ride to Hell.

    Several calls and several hours after the problem had been reported without achieving a resolution; my wife took over dealing with the situation on our end on behalf of her parents. Several calls and several hours later, a "trouble ticket" was issued and a technician was scheduled to be dispatched to initiate repairs within the next couple of days.

    The technician never arrived. Several calls and several hours later, a technician was scheduled to arrive the next day. Problem solved? Not hardly. The technician never arrived and it was now the end of the week.

    Minor delays like these are usually only annoying inconveniences; not life and death emergencies.

    My father in-law unfortunately, suffers from a heart condition. He has already had a couple of hospital stays to monitor his heart after two mild attacks. My wife hadn't been able to speak with him for several days by this point and was, as one might easily imagine, becoming very concerned.

    Several calls and several hours over the weekend to customer service representatives from across the globe speaking with nearly completely incomprehensible English; one of several rather polite and apologetic people managed to discover a problem in their issuances of "trouble tickets". They were never actually issued because of inconsistent policies due to the establishment of operations centres spanning diverse geographies and a variety of countries, each with their own unique sets of obstacles complicating a streamlined operating policy and procedures.

    A rather pleasant fellow named Ragu assuaged my wife's nerves somewhat by explaining what had happened and by assuring her that a technician had been scheduled for the next day. This was on Sunday. Monday morning came and business hours went. My wife tried calling again. After another hour of listening to what was initially soothing but was now aggravating "hold music", the connection was lost.

    It was at this point where I became more actively involved. I was fortunate. My call connected me with a customer service representative in Toronto who spoke perfect English. I felt bad for her, but I felt by this point that it was necessary for me to light a fire under her to get some results. I was forceful, but not rude. The result was for me to discover that Yak has apparently made service agreements with a variety of carriers across the globe. At first, she believed that Bell would be handling the issuance of a technician. Bell cleared up that misconception for her after she made a few calls while I waited on hold.

    The ball had bounced squarely back into Telus' court.

    There was nothing more she could do until the next day because Telus' office was closed. I confirmed the chronology of events with her. I carefully delineated the complex relationships as clearly as I could with her. The gaps in her understanding made it clear to me that I was asking questions which were above her pay grade and beyond the limits of her training.

    Nevertheless, I felt armed with enough information to be able to speak directly with an after-hours representative from Telus to get some additional questions answered. I had hoped to be able to speak with someone at Telus who could provide enough insight to help facilitate a resolution.

    I found myself speaking instead with a rude, obnoxious and fast-talking brick wall named Val.

    I tried to explain my situation and was quickly stymied by a rote response delivered at a rate which would make an auctioneer jealous. I attempted uttering a couple of more words in an effort to pose another question and was interrupted once again by his "party line". I tried again and was again stymied before finishing my first sentence. I tried once more and was immediately blocked again.

    That was when I popped my cork. "I'm the customer", I started yelling. He yelled back. I yelled more loudly. He yelled more loudly and I went into overdrive. He hung up. I called back and after getting through the robot driven menu system, was back in the service queue.

    Soon, I heard the robot tell me I was being transferred. It was then that I heard the system "hiccup". "Your call is being transferred." I then heard a beep, then "Your call is being transferred", and another beep. This went on like a broken record for at least a half-dozen times and the robot returned. "I'm sorry, there seems to be a problem in connecting you, please try back later."

    The connection died and I was back to hearing my dial tone.

    While I fumed, I contemplated my experience. Val had been well trained to avoid providing service to "neo-customers" that Telus wasn't directly billing. It apparently doesn't matter if Telus actually makes money off customers whose service is paid for on an indirect basis. To not be registered to receive bills branded by their logo is apparently an incentive to them to treat people like dirt.

    Perhaps I'm just too naive, but I always treat the customers of my customers like they are also my customers. Hey, I try to treat everyone I meet like they're a customer. Perhaps that's only because I operate a small business and I'm more motivated to grow my customer base.

    As Confucius once said, "A man thinks differently in a palace than in a hut", and perhaps if I was a large business that had been transformed literally overnight from a government run operation with decades of secure operation into a capitalist enterprise, I might think differently about customer service. Perhaps I might choose to nickel and dime my customers with penalties for incremental features to pad my shareholders' profits while the competition nipping at my heels includes them for free. Perhaps if I had inherited a monopolistically grown customer base instead of having to win each one by one, I might be more inclined to care less about each as individuals.

    If that's the case, then I hope never to grow so big as a business, because to me, the relationships I develop are what make my business worthwhile.

    I do remember some customer research I encountered decades ago in my career that a happy customer will recommend a service to about two in ten people whereas an unhappy customer will tell up to eight in ten people about their negative experience. It's been a long time since I learned that memorable lesson so I am not certain if the statistic still holds true to this day.

    What I do know for certain is that my Telus mobile phone is going to be dumped as soon as I find a better provider.

    Oh, and for those who have cared enough to get this far down in my diatribe; thank you for your concern, but my father in-law now has a mobile phone and has switched his landline provider to Shaw.

    Reply
Add a Comment

Please complete all the fields below, including the spam filter (to prove you're not a robot).

  1. Fill in your email address to have your Gravatar photo included with your comment.
  2. Please type the word pixels here:
TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://www.twistimage.com/movabletype/mt-tb.cgi/1216