Google Places Dashboard Call for Help

To reinforce the critques in the article I republished from March 2009 about the Google Places customer service experience, I wanted to show a typical, current Dashboard screen shot. The screenshot demonstrates both the lack of meaningful help and the problems that still exist with seeking it out by the small business person.

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I am glad that Google has improved their Help system with a guided approach to solving problems. Google refers to these steps as “escalators”. I think that they will be helpful to many BUT there is still much that could be done in creating a customer service environment that is customer friendly. Much could be done even if a self help only approach to customer service was the only support Google desires to provide.

The contextual help in the dashboard, while present, is not as thorough or as helpful as it could be. The single Help link at the top of the page quickly scrolls off the screen in favor of other Google products. If you do click on the Help link, it is still at least 4 clicks to an answer and the answer is not totally informative.

And this screen shot just deals with the help that is provided INSIDE the dashboard. What about the many forms of support that can only be achieved by a link on the Places page. Why should an SMB need to go to two places for help? But then there are certain support issues that can only be dealt with in the forums? Why should they need to go to a 3rd place for support? And of course, if you do end up in the help forums filling out one of the new forms, will any one answer?

I think Google can do much better. They could do better in contextual, automated help and they could do better designing a comprehensive customer service experience….if they wanted to.

The problem is that I have been saying this same thing for as long as I have been writing this blog. These issues have been ongong for 5 years. While these new help files are a step, and a good step, in the right direction, the still inadequate help environment strongly suggests that they don’t want to.

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Google Places Dashboard Call for Help by

13 thoughts on “Google Places Dashboard Call for Help”

  1. I’m not expecting much in the way of ‘help’ with repsect to Google Places. Google’s history is one of automation and sales… help and support are just not part of the equation.
    *Although I do think Matt Cutts is a bit of an anomamly – he is an honest, helpful Google representative.
    Andy :-)

  2. Andy
    The point I was trying to make was that even their automated support is not very well thought out nor does it provide a positive experience. If that is all they chose to provide, then they should at least do that right.

  3. Well, you could just “report a problem” regarding your concerns… and expect (1 to 6 weeks later) some sort of rote email response with your name ‘inserted’ that doesn’t come close to addressing your concern. Banging your head against the wall doesn’t change a thing – I’ve tried it several times ;-)

  4. I believe that while these changes might add some order to the obviously messy way in which Google deals with reported problems, they are not even close to what should actually be done.

    However, I also believe many are missing an important point. The single best tool for solving Google Places issues currently is nothing else, but Google Map Maker. You can practically solve almost every problem via it and the response rate is way faster and it actually exists.

  5. @Nyagoslav

    My point isn’t that there aren’t ways to correct things… but that there are too many and too many confusing things to correct things. My point is that the process is all over the map.

  6. Mike, I can see your point, but I don’t really think complete unification of the process is possible as per current, unfortunately. Further improvement – yes, definitely.

    And I still believe Map Maker is practically the only well working way to solve problems, so probably a big red “USE MAP MAKER TO SOLVE YOUR PROBLEMS” should be places in every Google Places dashboard.

  7. MapMaker as it is currently designed is an UGLY solution for most SMBs… AND some issues like Places Closed still take forever there. And it doesn’t solve the Google 3 step… You need to goto your Place Page to see that a Place has closed or merged, then go into Map Maker to fix it…

    I am suggesting that Google needs an integrated customer support philosophy AND path to solve problems and whatever the tool(s) they need to be integrated into the Dashboard in a way that leads to ready solutions to common problems.

  8. @Andy – some Community Edits are available in Canada, which is still something :)

    @Mike – true, but I don’t really see why Google would take the hassle to do this all and ease the life of the SMBs, when the current (low) level is still working OK for them.

  9. @Nyagoslav

    If you assume that they need SMB good will for ad revenue and maintaining their current standing as a Brand then having a customer support process that works is a critical element.

    Google Places needs to not only satisfy the 95% that it gets right but, in the end, needs to offer decent answers to the 5% that it hoses.

    If they are going to do that in an automated way then they need to
    1)Get their product working properly
    and
    2)Provide an interface that is self serve at every level and functions well.

    I would contend, as well, since neither 1 nor 2 are really working that Google needs bodies to deal with the problem until such times as 1 and 2 are really in place.

  10. Question- And I may be asking a no brainer, but when a listing goes to a state of pending, is it common that the other listings in the account will also pend? I have seen this with a few of my Google accounts. At first I didn’t know what to do, but I believe it is the entire Google account that is being reviewed, even if the majority of the listings are fine according to the “quality guidelines”. Re claiming those correct listings in new Google accounts seems to fix the problem of being able to access analytic reports, and returns the listings to active, but is there something I’m missing? Is there a better way to go about this?

  11. Wow, a help link. Stop the presses. Google has effectively put a new set of tires on the old jalopy that’s been parked on the front lawn for the past 5 years. What a frustrating mess, but at least they’ve taken a (single) step in the right direction. I’d be happy if G could plant even just a few more employees in the forums to help out confused business owners.

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