Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Google Customer Services

A few months back, I wrote a post about a suspected bug in Picasa/Hello (google owned) which enabled me to get hold of the web address. It was previously being used by someone else, but the blog registration process via Hello let me get hold of it. I thought this could be a potentially damaging bug/hole so I wrote to Blogger customer services explaining the problem, and expecting them to get back to me (at some point). Its now 3 months since I wrote to them and I haven't heard a thing.
To date, Google hasn't had to provide much in the way of customer services - a significant expenditure for other service related companies. I'm sure they have a few teams looking after cash-cow adword/adsense clients, but most of their other services don't need much currently in the way of support. However I think this may begin to change and Google is going to have to do something about both its support levels and response times. As our internet usage and destination preference increasingly goes Googles way, we become more reliant on the effectiveness of their product experiences, and product integration points. You can address a lot of potential hiccups with good engineering, rigorous testing and thorough beta phases, but there will inevitably be problems and users will complain. Complaints cost money, both in employing people to deal with them and the negative PR that can generated as a result of a serious hiccup. So Google will need to think how it addresses this, firstly to maintain its brand preference and image and secondly to control and minimise its costs. I hope that it addresses this with its traditional levels of innovation and re-engineers the way that Customer Service Centres are rolled out and operate. Maybe it could create an army of Google "Bees", home workers who are connected to Google customers with Google Talk and Gmail, who are geographically distributed across the globe and able to converse in multiple languages. They could be rated by the customer on their response effectiveness and therefore create a customer-managed workforce. I would also hope that they could respond to a request in less than 3 months!

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