Why must Google insist on learning customer service lessons the hard way?

Why must Google insist on learning customer service lessons the hard way?

Summary: For being a company that launches innovative products intended to improve communications, Google still struggles to communicate effectively with its users sometimes.

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Ya know, I'm just amazed sometimes at how tech companies - led by some of the smartest folks on the planet - do the dumbest things. I mean, really, where's the common sense?

Case in point: Google is reportedly going around deleting profiles for violating terms of service. But its moves are all over the place. Some people are being blasted for using a pseudonym, a business name or some other names that raises concerns about its legitimacy on their GooglePlus accounts. Others, as blatant violators, are being left alone. Some have had just their Google profiles deleted. Others have reportedly had their entire Google presence - Gmail, GooglePlus, etc - wiped away.

Also: Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols: What was Google thinking?

That's all fine and well. It's Google's party and if the company thinks that you're not playing by the rules and decides to kick you out, that its prerogative. But at least Google could do a better job of communicating. Issue a warning first, allowing the user to comply. Or send a notice outlining the reasons for the action - other than the blanket unspecified "TOS violation." But don't just pull the plug and say nothing.

Has Google learned nothing from the public relations beatings that other companies - notably, Facebook in its early years - faced when they've made unexpected changes without properly communicating with users?

No, it hasn't learned. And that's too bad.

As long as Google continues to portray itself as a faceless online company to its user base, the company will continue to fail at basic customer service. Remember the Nexus One, the Android phone that Google was going to sell directly to consumers via a new Web site, allowing customers to pick their own service provider?

Yeah, that didn't last long.

Consumers - myself included - resisted buying directly from Google because there was no one to buy from. There was no store to walk out of with a phone in-hand. There was no store to walk into when the phone was having problems. There was no display counter to test drive the phone before committing to it. And, most importantly, there was no customer service to speak of, no sales clerk to provide a quick tutorial about the device or a call center agent to field questions about the service contract.

Nope. In most cases, Google just wanted users to fill out some sort of online help request, with a promise that someone would be in touch. In an age of instant gratification, Google's sales and customer service model was the exact opposite.

Following a number of PR beatings, Facebook finally started getting the messages and began going out of its way to inform users of changes either via blog posts or big press conferences. Google, which is still new to the social media world, apparently needs to take a few more lumps before someone at the Googleplex gets the message.

With GooglePlus - as well as Gmail, GoogleVoice, Blogger and others - it's clear that a chunk of Google's business is devoted to improved communications. With that said, I can't help but wonder why Google is making itself look like a poor communicator.

Related: Google Plus: Fast, cheap and out of control

Topics: Enterprise Software, Google, Software

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35 comments
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  • Typo Sam: Insists, change to Insist.

    [Trump] Sam, you're fired. (wink)
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, *~* Your Linux Advocate
    • Thanks

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, *~* Your Linux Advocate
      Thanks for pointing out the typo. Headline typos are 10x worse than others. Thanks again...
      sldiaz
  • A couple of clarifications, Sam.

    1) Google is not a tech company. Google is an advertising company masquerading as a tech company.<br><br>2) Android users, Google+ users, Google App users, etc. are not Google customers. Advertisers are Google's only paying customers. If you are an advertiser, Google cares. If you're not, Google doesn't care.
    Userama
    • RE: Why must Google insists on learning customer service lessons the hard way?

      @Userama Very true and very well put
      andy88488
    • Everyone seems to forget that part.

      @Userama The users of Google services are <b>not</b> Google's customers, they are Google's <i>product</i>!
      matthew_maurice
      • RE: Why must Google insists on learning customer service lessons the hard way?

        @matthew_maurice perfect.
        ScottBraden
    • RE: Why must Google insists on learning customer service lessons the hard way?

      @Userama +1
      Skippy99
    • Google's customers -versus- Google's users

      @Userama, I agree with you that the advertisers are their customers, not the users.

      However, google *should* care about users, because after they have thrown away all their users who are they going to advertise to? When the audience is gone, I think they will find that the advertisers won't hang around for long either.

      Their current actions are just plain short-sighted.

      Regards,
      Jon
      JonathonDoe
      • Good point.

        @JonathonDoe
        You're right. It would certainly be good business for them to keep their users happy or their customers will bail. Their current thinking must be that if a user is given stuff for free, why should they spend money to keep them happy. And the fact that Google just drops services that aren't getting enough eyeballs and clicks doesn't help either.
        Userama
      • RE: Why must Google insists on learning customer service lessons the hard way?

        @JonathonDoe Yes, they certainly are short-sighted. Very much so. But this is exactly the kind of mistake Google practically guaranteed they would make when one of their top three high mucky-mucks (I forget which and when) said that they would make the mistakes typical of high tech people rather than typical of business development/marketing driven people. For it really is typical of high tech engineers to forget about the importance of customer service.
        mejohnsn
    • RE: Why must Google insists on learning customer service lessons the hard way?

      @Userama

      +1
      fatman65535
    • RE: Why must Google insists on learning customer service lessons the hard way?

      @Userama

      It also assumes Google knows what customer service is. Perhaps they could Google it?
      tonymcs@...
    • 1

      @Userama Totally agree, but if they want to get into the social networking world, they need to treat us like customers. It's fine to release innovative products that "Mostly" work, but I think if Google now wants to stay a major player in any one area (browser, social, OS) and not treat them like experiments, they need to focus and step up quality big time.
      dwb124
  • RE: Why must Google insists on learning customer service lessons the hard way?

    With the power to dismember a person or business' online presence without recourse leaves the field wide open for an alternative that people would flock to.
    Chucks IM
  • Google's untrustworthy behavior makes other services suspect too.

    It certainly seems as if google's business practices are uninformed and rather thoughtless. Their behavior detracts from their concepts of social networking and cloud computing by capriciously doing the very thing that many users fear the most: causing the loss of their access, online identity, and data. Without trust, such a service is doomed.

    Does google realize that actions in one department reflect on the corporation as a whole? It seems not.

    Do they realize that we corporate decision makers may also be private users? It seems not.

    Do they care about their user's safety? It seems not.

    Therefore, should we trust and use their other services? It seems not.

    Trust must be earned, and in the last few years google hasn't given me any reasons to trust them -- with my online presence, personal family photos, or corporate data and documents.

    I know that google gets it's money from advertisers, not users... but they should note that once they have run off all their users, the advertisers won't stick around too long either.

    Regards,
    Jon
    JonathonDoe
  • RE: Why must Google insists on learning customer service lessons the hard way?

    Google has customer service?
    LoverockDavidson
    • RE: Why must Google insists on learning customer service lessons the hard way?

      @LoverockDavidson
      Google has Customer Service!
      Mastermarketeer
  • RE: Why must Google insists on learning customer service lessons the hard way?

    I was never aware that you could actually get a response from Google? Recently they let a company that I was in court with eliminate the emails the company sent to me along with the emails I sent to them from Gmail. I will be deleting my Gmail account.
    Mastermarketeer
  • Google is NOT a tech company

    Google is NOT a tech company. They are an ADVERTISING Company. Their claim to fame graphical ad-less home page thats it. Instead of graphical ads they used links which they also go into trouble for by trying to trick people by putting the payed ads on top of their search results.
    So in retrospect Google has been BAD/Evil for a very long time.
    Stan57
  • RE: Why must Google insists on learning customer service lessons the hard way?

    I can think of several other (Free) services that have very bad customer service and bad records of silly replies to supposed TOS violations. Yahoo is for me, the biggest pain. No warning and BAM-everything is gone. Granted the difference between Yahoo and Google is that you have more to do with Google - apps, picasa, youtube, etc. But as long as you use THEIR services, you have to play by THEIR rules. I have seen many cases where the person affected SWEARS they never did anything wron. Then pointed out with the evidence they say "oops I forgot I did that." Everyone wants everything for free nowadays. You get what you pay for. Reminds me of the "shareware/freeware" phace we went through in the late 80's and 90's. Everyone wanted to get customer service when only using a demo.
    Charles_B