Both the Google Places help forum and the Google Places help website are pretty difficult to use (that’s putting it mildly in some cases). The Help forum can often be a black hole where no help is found, and the help website can be extremely difficult to navigate. Perhaps those are part of the reasons why Google has just added a “Fix A Problem” area to its Google Places help website — right on the home page, like this:
It offers five “problems.” For the first two on the list, users can drill down through a series of questions that attempt to diagnose what’s going on. Ultimately, Google offers the user a series of answers that may be what the user is looking for, along with (if appropriate) links to relevant articles/pages in the Places help website.
In other cases, if the pre-written Q&A can’t answer the user’s concern, Google eventually provides a contact form.
The other home page “problems” (the 3rd thru 5th ones) point to specific articles in the help website on topics like merged listings, reporting spam and so forth.
Overall, this seems like a step in the right direction, but real small business owners will be the ones to decide that, not me. My impression of Google’s approach to customer service for local/small businesses is that of someone trying to stick a finger in a floodhole. Google has plenty of time and energy for selling to small businesses, but not as much interest in servicing them.