Three Steps To Fix Google Customer Service

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When it comes to taking care of customers, there are no mysteries; only the desire to invest in and support an effective customer service presence stands between companies like Google, and the joy they can deliver to people.

I noticed our Mike Sachoff picked up on Google and its FTC complaints earlier, and wanted to revisit the topic. Fortunately, a Googler named Alana Karen gave me a good starting point, thanks to her quote in the San Francisco Chronicle today:

A common thread among the complaints is Google’s failure to respond to customer service e-mails, or users being told their problem would be investigated only to hear nothing back. Some railed at Google for providing no telephone number to call when things go wrong.

Asked about difficulties in getting Google’s attention, Karen said, “We’re always looking for ways to improve.”

As someone who has spent plenty of face and headset time with people in a non-positive frame of mind, I think I can suggest three ways Google can serve its customers better. I’m not a business guru, but to paraphrase Scott Adams, I’ve gnawed an ankle or two in the business world.

First, Google, get a phone number and a call center. You have the technology to support this a lot less expensively in the age of VoIP than traditional copperline bound call centers do.

Avoid the temptation to outsource a call center, in the US or outside. Without naming names, routing your frustrated callers to a modern cube farm, where fanatical managers lose their minds when call handle times start to exceed a given number of minutes per call, will make matters worse.

Those workers won’t care about taking care of the Google customer. Corporate culture doesn’t translate well to outsourcers with sky-high turnover. Not every problem can be solved in 210 seconds.

That brings me to point two. Once you have made the proactive decision to embrace a call center, and bring on a bunch of smiling faces to strap on the headsets, you have to allow them the freedom to solve problems in short order.

That means codifying procedures for things like Checkout refunds and other annoyances that have pushed people to the point of complaining to the Federal Trade Commission. Customer service reps may make mistakes; they may do something to assuage an angry AdWords advertiser that, horrors!, costs Google money.

You smile, suck it up, and fix the issue that caused the problem. Then train people on the solution.

Here’s the third step, one that may be anathema to California’s job-bouncing culture. Invest in the long-term success of these reps. Reward them to the point where universities start doing ‘Loyalty Effect’-type case studies about how well Google treats not just its engineers, but its trench-fighting customer service types.

Why think long term? A veteran rep who knows policies, procedures, and the business well enough to snuff an angry little matchstick in three minutes, can keep a complaint from blazing into a blogosphere inferno. If you want examples of those, the Consumerist blog has loads of stories.

Customer service isn’t as sexy or interesting as rolling out new products. Infrastructure and support issues never are, but neither are major news outlets citing your FTC complaints at length.

Three Steps To Fix Google Customer Service
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  • Guest

     help – i can’t access my emails on google.  what’s that about?  please?

  • Guest

    I just made my first purchase through Google cause they said id get $10 off, didnt happen.  I looked at my reciept and the address is wrong and the shipping amount.  Cant get a hold of them and after reading this, I don’t think I ever will.  I’ve been trying to get this matter fixed for 3 days.   I see why most people just give up, never again will I use Google!

  • http://www.geeksgate.com Guest

    The best way to get better service in this industray is to promote more competition. Google is nortorious for its bad service. Good service means spending more money and they are just too stingy for that.

  • Guest

    Very Very unhappy with Google lack of customer service.

  • gaggle

    I started an adwords campaign and had a few questions about why my words and phrases weren’t showing up.  I followed all the rules, was willing to pay a decent amount per click – yet my ad was not showing up.

    I had no problem with Yahoo.  In fact, Yahoo has a customer service telephone number where you can speak with a real, polite and HELPFUL customer service rep.  Now, that’s class.

    Gaggle, get on the wagon – put some people in there.


  • Guest

    Why is it that I can never find my own Web site when typed into the main Google page but I can when I type it into my browser box?

  • Krishna Saxena

    When I do a Google search, I usually get "hits" in millions. So, I decided to check it out. When I kept on clicking "next", after a while, about 600 or so results I started getting the last apge again and again. So, if I wanted to see result #50,000 among millions claimed to be available, I can’t do that. What gives?

  • Guest


  • Raul

    fix my messages on myspace


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