Product End Of Life Issues

productendoflifeEvery product sold has a life cycle of support. For some products, it can be much shorter than others. For instance, some scripted objects such as proximity sensors, resizers, communication tasks, and others can have a life cycle that is limited as a result of new scripting functions being made available.

Typically, there will be a successor product that one will try to steer customers into that replaces functionality with improved efficiency. However, there is always the problem of maintaining older versions of a product that is still being used by an existing loyal customer base. Ways to support older products, at least for a period of time, might require occasionally releasing bug fixes to adapt to a new environment.

Nobody wants to support an older product because they usually are not generating any new cash flow into a business, so they are a drag on the bottom line unless the product’s existing business model includes reoccurring revenue. Some businesses direct customers to a web site or pass out note-cards that has all of the pertinent information and then provide an upgrade path for users to obtain new versions at a discount or sometimes even for free.  For many businesses, the expense of supporting existing products whose life cycle has ended can be quite costly. The number of customers who are using an outdated product will dwindle over time as more and more of them switch to the latest technology.

Let Customers Give You Feedback

click2leavefeedbackCustomer satisfaction is a factor that can make or break a business. Satisfied customers can potentially recommend products and services to others and become repeat customers. On the other hand, dissatisfied customers may never or rarely provide repeat business, and might even tell others about their dissatisfaction. This is why to alleviate things that irritate your customer, one should solicit product feedback.

The need to identify the areas customers may be having a less than satisfying experience is very important. How satisfied customers are with a particular physical characteristics such as functionality, prims, script load, and aesthetics of the product that they purchased? Identify the functionality that the product provides and have customers rate each aspect of its functionality separately on an even-numbered scale so that there is no neutral option available. Some businesses will create a notecard with a series of check-off boxes in it for this purpose, others might use an in-world survey kiosk or a web site.

Soliciting product feedback when the product you require feedback on is not really a physical product, but instead customer service and support offerings, is not quite as straightforward. One must examine sales and service to identify areas where customers may be experiencing a degree of dissatisfaction. It is difficult to ask open ended questions to identify these areas from customers, since most customers will not take the time to answer open ended questions, even though this type of information is the most useful form of feedback for a business.

Differences between Small Shops and Large Stores

largesmallstoreThe factors that affect whether a visiting avatar spends money in a small shop versus a large store is similar in some aspects within virtual worlds, but also different in other ways when compared to the real world. One example of differences is the price paid for a product. Unlike the real world, large stores do not have the advantage of purchasing products in volume in which the lower price can be passed onto consumers because copyable items (or items sold through an affiliate vendor) has a near non-exist cost associated with them once the initial product is created.

However, the similarities between virtual and real world retail locations does include the square footage advantages as well as increased prim allowances which can result in a wide product offering as well as demonstration products that are rezzed more often than not. Large stores with their expansive space means that products are more likely to be sold via individual product vendors rather than a vendor with navigation arrows used to browse products like a catalog. Having more products visible at a time can also psychologically increase the chances of impulse shopping which can only benefit the bottom line.

Larger parcels also allows demonstration models to be either permanently or semi-permanantly rezzed so that the visitor can interact with and inspect the product instead of just looking at pictures or watching a video. Even though more prims are available, permanantly rezzed items tend to be the less-prim items and more of them while the semi- permanantly items will have a space set aside for them to be made available via a temporary rezzer that does not count against the static prim allotment.