Google Maps has never been very good about feedback. If a business had a problem in the past, posting in the forums was always a crap shoot as to whether they would get an answer and even determining if a listing was in Maps was sometimes problematic. But Google of late has surprised me with a number of activities that have upgraded both the usability and communications out from the Maps Group.
They recently added the “See your listing” link to the Local Business Center so that a business could actually know if their business was in Maps or not. (Tip to Google: Add the link to the Dashboard as well as the list view so that a business with a single listing can find the link). Most significantly, with Google replacing TeleAtlas data with their own, they have added a Report a Problem link visibly in Maps and have committed to both feedback and timeliness when they receive a report.
On October 30th I reported, using the new Google Maps Report a Problem link, a geocoding error that placed the office building in which I was located some 3000 feet north of its actual location. At the time I received a note that I would recieve feedback from Google and if a problem was determined to be actual, resolution within 30 days.
Well this morning I received this email:
Your Google Maps problem report has been reviewed, and you were right! We’ll update the map within a month and email you when you can see the change.
Problem ID: D542-1B0A-26B9-55C5
Your report: You have 201 N Union St, Olean NY located roughly 3000 feet to the north of its actual location at the corner of Laurens and North Union St
Thanks for your help,
The Google Maps team
Obviously, misplacing an office building with so many offices is a problem. If Google can’t find the building, they can’t give accurate directions. If they can’t give accurate directions they will not sell many Local Listing Ads. It is a key competency that needs to be in place if Google is to ever monetize Maps effectively. That being said, it was still nice to know that Google has in fact assigned a case number, is tracking down the problem and will provide a solution in the timeframe previously committed to. It was also refreshing that I didn’t need to go to Maps to double check…the problem is not yet solved but it will be.
The simple act of sending out an email ala Yahoo, even if automated, that details to the customer what has happened and when the issue will be resolved is a definite step in the right direction. The basis of customer service is setting client expectations when a problem occurs and then exceeding them. Google Maps has never really pretended to offer such a thing. Interesting technology yes, reputation management yes, but, in the very recent past using the words customer service and Google Maps in the same sentence could be labeled as one of the great oxymorons of modern American corporate history.
Maybe, just maybe that is beginning to change? Certainly automation can never substitute for real customer service that will on occasion require human to human interaction but if Google continues on this path they might just be moving in the right direction. A trend? Not yet but here’s hoping.