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

For being a company that launches innovative products intended to improve communications, Google still struggles to communicate effectively with its users sometimes.
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive on

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

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