Is Google forgetting the importance of customer service?

Until just a few minutes ago, I’d actually forgotten that I’d emailed a question to the Google AdSense Support Team about a problem I had getting AdSense working in one of my RSS feeds, but indeed I had, way back on June 7th:

From: “Dave Taylor”
Subject: Ad Problems
Date: Tue, 07 Jun 2005 02:22:24 -0000

I can’t tell if I’ve inserted the code into my RSS feed incorrectly or not, but I have been receiving reports that clicking on the ads in my
feeds generates a ‘you don’t have cookies enabled’ error for users, even when they DO have cookies enabled. Reluctantly, I tried clicking on an ad
myself (Safari, Mac OS X 10.3.8, no security, cookies for “All sites” enabled) and I also see the same error message. What’s wrong with my code? The ads I see in my aggregator from *other* AdSense for feeds sites work just fine.

Thanks for your help!

Three and a half months later here’s the response I just got from Google…

Hello Dave,

We’re sorry that we weren’t able to address your email in a timely manner. If you’re still experiencing difficulties with your ads please don’t hesitate to contact us again.


The Google AdSense Team

There are a number of things that I find disturbing about this communication beyond the ridiculously long delay between my asking for help and them, well, not offering it. The first is that, as I suggest, after three and a half months of sitting in a trouble queue, I still haven’t received an answer to my query, yet they suggest “If you’re still experiencing difficulties with your ads please don’t hesitate to contact us again.”
Why would I have the confidence to contact them again, given that my expectation is now set that it takes more than three months to receive a response?
More importantly, Google has hundreds of millions of dollars in its so-called war chest, vast sums of money with which they’re buying up other firms, experimenting with fascinating new tech ideas like their own take on Voice Over IP and secure wireless networks. The core of their revenue, however, comes from the purchase of ads through AdWords and the display of ads through their terrific AdSense program. So why aren’t they allocating the resources and attention needed to ensure that customer service isn’t neglected as they grow?
It’s distressingly reminiscent of the evolution of Yahoo! from the top Web directory site into a media conglomerate that forgot all about its core business: search. Now they’re having to not only fund an expensive search engine team, but they’re having to play catch-up because they lost focus on their core business proposition.
Let me be clear: I really like Google and am constantly impressed with their engineering and smarts. Just this afternoon I was exploring how Google Maps offers the coolest driving directions display of any online mapping site I’ve used. But just like any other company, if you forget your core business, if you start to resent customer service as a cost center, if you begin to take your eye off the ball, you open yourself up to attacks from more nimble, more focused competitors.
Microsoft today announced a reorganization. You can bet they’re greedily eyeing every facet of Google’s business, and with their splendid MSN Search as a core property, they’ve a strong position in the marketplace too.
Sorry, Google, waiting three months for a response to a customer query — and a customer that’s helping Google generate revenue — is just unacceptable.

24 comments on “Is Google forgetting the importance of customer service?

  1. That is horrible… Google always seems to have little signs of becoming the company everybody hates.
    BTW.. I knew math class would come in handy some day. Good spam prevention!

  2. Liked your comments about companies taking their eye of the ball. From a strategy perspective, it is really dangerous, you see it so often – once they get cash flow like they have never seen before, they start thinking they are in Financial Dairy business – creating cash cows!
    Some deviation is appropriate if it supports and leverages your core competencies. For what its worth, I like what Starbucks has done – stayed focus on what they know – creating a good experience for their customers. I do not think they are in the coffee business – they seem to be in the “feel good” business. What every they bring to you or offer you makes you feel good, …. consistently.
    Heck for a good cup of coffee I would go to Dunkin Donuts. But to feel good about my cup of coffee … EVERYTIME – Starbucks is the place.

  3. I do not like that i looked at something on google and Bam just like that it was downloading its search bar that goes across my screen that I did not want and no way to remove it I WANT IT REMOVED NOW AND TO SEND ME THE INFO ON HOW TO REMOVE IT!!!!!!!! I HAVE A SEARCH ENGINE WITH MY OWN PROVIDER DO NOT WANT ANY MORE

  4. That’s strange, Catherine, as I have never heard of Google itself installing spyware or other utilities on your system without you granting it explicit permission. Are you *sure* that’s what happened, and it wasn’t something else you did or some other site you visited?

  5. How in Heaven’s name can I get anyone at Google to hear my plea! I have tried for over two weeks (and with at least ten messages) to get an answer to a troubling query: how can I scroll down in my Inbox to ‘send,’ ‘delete,’ read my attachments if I have no scroll bars? does google really not care about me – a free subscriber to your service? I feel like I am being totally ignored. I do not think this is a very good way to run a business, even though the service is free!!!!
    David E.

  6. Would you please tell me how I can contact Google (email, etc) to ask them to change the description of my site in the search page blurb.

  7. Dear Sir ,
    i am receiving Some dirty emails to MY pesonal Gmail form Some one ,I want to trace that fellow and Punish him for such dirty mails .Please help in this regard

  8. I am trying to find an e-mail address for google customer service myself. The snow globe does not keep current temps (it is hooked up with TWC, just as the one in my tray) and I wanted to find out some info regarding it. If I go back to options and then click on OK it updates, however I did expect it to keep the temp just as the other does.

  9. Cusomer service i want to know how i can add photo from my regula email to my gooogles photo folder thanks

  10. It’s a bad omen when a company the size and monetary worth that Goggle has and is, doesn’t have an EAZY way of contacting their customer service department.
    I’ve found recently that many of the top internet based companies, i.e. Google, Yahoo!, MSN, etc., either don’t have an easily available customer service link, or have ANY link to customer service. That’s a telling, as well as a chilling, indication as to how they value their customer base, which is not at all.
    Why, you may ask?
    I ask myself that question and it’s one that has no readily definable answer. Their services are good, dependable and reliable, yet if there is any kind of problem, it should be just as easy to get ahold of a customer service rep or at the very least, and email link. But as of yet, I can’t find one. Grant it, I’ve found customer service links for their Calendar service, their Business service, but that’s about it. What about just general customer service and/or a link to general feedback? Even when I type into Google’s own search engine the terms “Google customer service” or Google feedback”, I get a plethora of hits that are related to the issue at hand, i.e., how in the Hell are you to get ahold of Google, period.
    Again, there is something really sad about a company that is as big as Google is and yet no readily available links to either customer service or feedback. And that tells me that now that they are so big and powerful, they don’t give a damn as to what their customer base has to say, period and end of story.
    How sad. How very, very sad…

  11. This is just unbelievable. I have been attempting to find a way to contact Google CS for my business’ adjunct gmail address which google says is set up. I can see that it is yet no one can send to it because google has it as nonexistent, yet it is there.
    I am blown away buy the money, press and international involvement/recognition this company commands yet they have no customer service. This IS a very sad reflection of how separated we have be come from being. In the technological age where we think we are getting closer to each other because we can communicate all over the world but yet the big-brother is not responsive or responsible to us. Scary!

  12. why wouldn’t you, or google, operate like that.. customer service is damn expensive… search and f- off, really

  13. I am not anyone famous just a mother of three who had a Gmail account I used for work and personal use. Recently as one can see on google blogs they ad an issue in which many were locked out of disabled accounts for weeks in error unable to reach customer service or get any response. My account has been and continues to be disabled in error and they refuse to help me and only send me auto generated responses which have nothing to do with my account issue. I have lost contacts I can not replace. Google is the worst company I have ever used. D

  14. For google bookmarks I have to sign in every time and no customer service e-mail in existence,inexcusable

  15. my question that I posted in Google Search that led me to this site was ” Is google helping customers find what they are searching for” and the reason I posted that question, is that I know the business that I have it on the web and I practice it in the real market about 8 years before the web. My sales are in the millions of dollars in a business that does not have territorial distribution boundaries that leave the distributor with the toughest competition. But not only that, I sell in the most competitve markets that even big players have tough time to penetrate. When I see how my market on the net is dominated by groups that offer the cheapest stuff and that that would not sell in good markets, I wonder if Google is really interested in the customer or they have lost focus and are catering to creating a sales force that promote their business. What I am noticing (because of the knowledge I have in my business), you can sell trash if you know what you would work with Google. My customer keep complaing that they are unable to find my site when they loose the site URL and try to find me back. Though a lot of my copetition of Big players trying to advertise products using my name, google keeps ranking my site lower because I am not going with the flow and playing with the tricks of SEO and so on. But I believe Google is going down a path that will hurst them if they continue to consider all the gimmiks they continue to announce every several months is a good service to their customers.

  16. Error on Google Earth!
    the location 49 20 06.30 N
    5 52 54.37 E is the village of Anderny
    The location 49 19 01.85 N
    5 54 57.70 E labelled Anderny is part of Tucquegnieux municipality.
    There it used to be an iron ore mine named Anderny Chevillon no longer in existance.
    I have lived in Tucquegnieux ( France ) for 27 years.
    Can you please pass it on to the appropriate service @ Google.

  17. Please explain why I lost a very useful file, Google Texas employment agencies cities. This file had the agencies listed, also their address and telephone numbers, sometimes a web site, and best of all: a contact with his rank. The CEO or President was often listed with his telephone number. I wonder why this file vanished?
    Maybe it is somewhere else, one thing at the top of the screen was a strange word MANTRA. Now I know there is a business with this name, but this name on this useful file had the first A as an upside down V. I searched for Mantra, Mntra, Mvtra, and of course Texas Employment Agencies cities. What was extremely useful vanished.
    Can you help me find this file??
    From the blogs above it looks like you will not help me.

  18. The Google home page has changed and I notice that the contributors to the NEWS section are all from CNN. What happened to FOX? I prefer FOX and unless we can change to get FOX, we will have to eliminate GOOGLE.
    Please advise.


  20. May I add my voice to this discussion regarding Google’s customer service. Your blog has touched upon a pervasive and growing problem that affects many American businesses today. The issue of poor, or inadequate, customer service seems to be directly proportional to a company’s growth curve. It has been my experience that as a company begins to experience success with marketing and selling its products or services, and demand for those products or services grow, particularly if the growth is rapid, customer service may become a neglected component of its business operations.
    Many businesses rely on repeat business and work hard to develop customer loyalty (retention). Customer service should be the corner stone of any company or business’s plan or strategy to remain ahead, or to differentiate itself from, its competitors. If we can agree then that customer service, or customer satisfaction, is so important and should be an essential, ongoing, ingredient of any business , then why is it lacking in so many American companies today?
    You mentioned a loss of focus, or Google’s shift from its core business proposition–that being search engine technologies. I would like to think that a company can walk and chew gum at the same time; however, if it [in this case Google] can’t appreciate or understand how it achieved its success in the first place, then perhaps its customers need to remind it of how important the customer really is to its success or failure. As I see it, the problem isn’t Google, it’s the customer. The customer has decided to be the lemming in this equation by continuing to reward those companies that provide poor or inadequate customer support. Consequently, it is the customer that is the enabler here.
    In the absence of an acceptable customer alternative or choice for a given product or service, one may have to work through the complaint system to receive the service or support one seeks or desires. In the case of Google, there are other alternatives and choices for the customer that may be less desirable or that may lack the desired features, but will also not continue to reward Google’s poor customer service habits. Perhaps it is the customer that needs to make the change and demand better service or support, or just remain silent and accept the fact that the large companies no longer have the time, patience, or inclination to assist its most valuable and overlooked asset–the customer.
    Google might want to reflect on its successes and consider this saying: “A customer is not an interruption of our work. He is the sole purpose of it,” or it [Google] may wake up one day and realize that it has lost the very thing it sought to attract to its company in the first place and that is the many millions of loyal Google users. For me, it is the issue of why has Google decided not to support, or offer, Google Chrome for the Apple PPC platform. There are some of us who feel that our old, dead-end, PPC platforms continue to work fine, even though we may not be able to run the latest OS (Snow Leopard) from Apple. Planned obsolescence has become the method by which hardware and software companies force users to dig into their pocket books to buy their new technology. It’s either belly-up to the table and upgrade your hardware or face no upgrade path and diminishing software support.
    By neglecting or ignoring the PPC community that may still exist, Google has revealed its true nature, which is to only support that portion of the Apple user community that is willing to buy into the planned obsolescence concept. I for one am sick and tired of being lead around by the nose and told, in subtle fashion, buy in or shut up! The customer may not always be right; however, the customer can make choices. Each of us has the power to effect change through our buying or use habits. It’s simple, in the market place, consumers consume those products or services that best meet, or satisfy, their individual needs. When those products or services no longer do that, then consumers go elsewhere. So a company’s response to that should be to continuously build customer loyalty and find ways to effectively and efficiently satisfy its customers.
    Customer support ,or care, may be viewed by most companies as a proposition too costly to pursue or as something that may only offer a minimal return. In either case, customers don’t consider the cost of support when conducting business with a given company, they expect it and frown upon those companies that don’t offer it promptly or in manner that provides resolution. Is it too much to expect, as a customer (as a consumer), quality and reasonable support from a company? Therefore, where does a company draw the line between what is quality and reasonable customer support? Which brings us to the question of customer expectations. Customers may have expectations that may be unreasonable or that go beyond the scope of what a company can provide in terms of customer support. In those cases, the customer may need to adjust those expectations to avoid “milking” the system or in seeking unjust enrichment.
    In the end, most ethical customers don’t want to pursue the aforementioned course, but rather only seek resolution and satisfaction. Customers want to feel that their issues and concerns are being heard and genuinely dealt with, and that there is a solution that will help to resolve what ever issue they may be facing—either now or in the very near future. This is what American businesses need to begin to focus on and to address today, and that is the growing problem of poor customer support. It is an issue that may require more study so that new strategies and approaches can be developed to improve the systems and approaches to better manage the customer support efforts of a business.
    Finally, the customer must stop being an enabler of poor customer support and begin to reward those companies that not only provide the best products and services, but that also offer the best customer support. This will send a clear message to the business community that survival and growth is intrinsically tied to excellent customer service.

  21. Hi Davenport, I agree googles customer service is awful, I use to be with adapted paying a pound to them for every click.. What a rip off and every time I would call the person that was handling my acct he always made me feel I was annoying him, my question for you is do you know how I would unlock my google map review status…. Every time one of my clients try to give a review it won’t go through

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