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As customers or service users, our past experiences and our beliefs about a company, its support, products and services are frequently more important than the present actualities. Why? Because it’s what we believe to be true that drives our decisions, rather than what is actually true.

Caution! Contains numbers and percentages. Based on our personal experiences, good or bad, the things we hear and read from a company, from our friends, and from other sources, we weigh up the information we have and its veracity, and when we believe we have reached the truth, whether we are right or not, we stop. As such, we can wind up with an image of a company that may be very far from the truth, or very close to it – and a large spread of opinion in between.

Businesses know their image is important. Many – perhaps most – believe that their public image is actually more important than the actuality. It’s that image that brings customers to them, or drives customers away.

Philosophy aside, I put together an entirely unscientific poll last month, and invited people to select what they thought the most effective way of giving feedback to or communicating with Linden Lab was. It doesn’t matter if the answers are right. What’s more important in this case is what they believe. As I said, that’s what drives people’s decision-making.

Alas, I didn’t get as many respondents as I’d have liked, but the results are interesting anyway.

Firstly, about half the respondents (47.9%) thought that there wasn’t any effective way to communicate with Linden Lab.

A quarter (25.4%) thought that directly contacting a Linden Lab staffer (via email, in-world or out-world IMs, or pretty much any other means of one-on-one contact) was most effective.

8.5% thought Lab staffs’ in-world office-hours was the best method and 8.5% opted for ‘other’. A couple of the latter added comments.

Below that, the Second Life JIRA came in at 4.2%, comments/threads on the official blog/forums at 2.8%, and town-hall meetings and in-world protests came in at 1.4%.

None of the respondents thought that writing a blog-post or open-letters or petitions were effective methods – or at least not as effective as one of the other options.

Adding up the results for the channels that Linden Lab provides and intends for the purpose of feedback and communications from customers, only 16.9% thought they were the best methods.

From the results, I’d say that – completely independent of the efficacy (or lack thereof) of Linden Lab’s communication and feedback methods for customers and users  — the Lab’s communications/feedback methodology has a massive image-problem, at least among those who participated.

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