One beef I've had for quite a while now is Google's noticeable lack of commitment to personal support for people using their products and services. A good example would be businesses that use the free version of Google Apps -- good luck trying to get in touch with someone about your problem. Even the premium version which includes some technical support is useless when you have a non "How do I?" problem that requires real assistance.
It doesn't stop at just Google Apps though -- it's impossible to get real customer service from Google for anything. You get lost in automated responses and forums that are filled with people having the same problems with no answers most of the time. In my opinion, you cannot rely on a users-helping-users model if you want happy users. There has to be a way to get in touch with a real person at any time.
The sheer number of people using Google services would require a massive support team, but that's why I find the news on the Inside AdWords blog about Website Optimizer service plans somewhat interesting. Google should experiment with ways like this to give users real technical support while keeping the costs associated with having their own support team down.
The Website Optimizer service plans cost a bit of money, but it's better than having no real support at all.
- $250/hour: Designed for specific questions and quick answers. Maximum 1 call per hour. No commitment, no obligation.
- $600/3hours (in increments of 30 min): Designed for more complex issues at discounted hourly rates. Must be used within 6 months after first hour of service is used.
- $1,200/8hours (in increments of 30 min): Purchase this plan and use for an entire year. Must be used within 12 months after first hour of service is used.
This got me thinking.
Imagine how interesting it would be if Google made support free, but took advantage of "partner network" resources rather than their own? Google could set up a universal 800 number for technical support, and they would take care of routing and load balancing incoming calls to certified partners based on many factors including language preference, country, etc. Google would then pay these partners for the time they spent on the phone with clients. How would this save money? Google could require certified partners to "bid" on their minutely rate which helps Google route calls in the most cost effective manner.
Partners will be authorized, trained and able to field general technical questions. For more serious problems that need to be answered by Google immediately, these service representatives will be able to forward phone calls to a real Google employee.
This is just one strategy that would significantly cut down the cost and number of resources required to have superior technical support. Even if this isn't what they end up doing, it's clear to me that they could do better. What do you think?