“Fix A Problem” – Google Places’ Latest Attempt at DIY Customer Service

Filed in Featured, Google, Local Search by Matt McGee on October 3, 2011 10 Comments

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.

Comments (10)

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  1. MiriamEllis says:

    Thanks for reporting this, Matt. I can’t wait to hear how quickly anyone receives a response from the contact form. This is very newsworthy.

  2. Jim Rudnick says:

    …a step to be sure, Matt…a pretty dang late one and a little one…but at least it’s a show of the realization that things in G.Places are messed up, eh!



  3. AJ Wilcox says:

    Wow Matt, awesome catch! That analogy is both hilarious and incredibly accurate about trying to plug the flood with a finger. Google’s idea of customer service for all its products is to let users moan in a forum for a while, provide some guidance eventually, and then actually fix the problem 2 months later.

    I’d love to see them hire and empower more employees to fix maps listing errors as it’s a constant thorn in many of our sides.

  4. Kris says:

    When I played chess we called it ‘dizziness due to success.’ You get infatuated with your own superiority and then the game can turn becasue you start making mistakes. Google seems to be disregarding their customer base. The fixing without fixing shows their lack of interest. They are opening the door for Bing with this poor showing. I saw it happen at Novell. These types of mistakes are made when you ‘own’ the market. Disregard the customer at your own peril.

  5. Chris says:

    Great point on the service side of GP.

    Like mammaries on a bull..the functionality is of no use of it doesn’t help or change anything.

    Been thru this over 6 times for same listing, with zero movement or communication.

    Let’s just hope Google doesn’t follow AT&Ts direction of new sales, high churn, and zero almost head up the rear undefinable term in place of ‘service.’

    Oops, better clean that up – Google is awesome! We love Google!

    Good points on Bing Kris – we can only hope competition enriches the local search AOC.

  6. Great article Matt, it is dangerous when a successful corporation becomes too big for it’s own britches and forgets the customers that got it there.

  7. Val says:

    Thanks for this important info, Matt. Google’s website can be soooo frustrating and hopefully this will help us. They’ve never been great on customer service, you get the feeling they are so big and important that they don’t have to.

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