Google has never had a great reputation for customer support – back in the “hair on fire” days of 2003-2006 the lack of a human response to search engine marketers’ questions was a huge complaint.
Now the company is going direct to consumers with a major phone launch. As I wrote about a year ago (about Google Voice):
…the concept of Google boiling the vast Oceania Vox is very, very compelling. But then again….I find it hard to trust Google is really serious about this market. For example, how many real live customer service reps does the company plan to have tasked to this product? That, to me, is a Very Important Question. It’s the essential human question that drives Google. I bring it up all the time. Community. Media. People. How do you make people scale?! How does Google, a company driven by algorithms and scale, find its Voice?
So far, the early results seem to point to what one might expect: Google is not set up to do good customer service in the complicated smartphone/network services/telecomms marketplace. From an article in PCWorld today:
If you buy a Nexus One manufactured by HTC, directly from Google’s Web site, and use it with T-Mobile’s wireless network–who do you call when you have a problem? Google is only accepting support requests via e-mail, and users are getting bounced between T-Mobile and HTC as neither seems equipped to answer complaints, or willing to accept responsibility for supporting the Nexus One.
What I said about Google Voice I think also applies to the NexusOne: If it’s effortless, if it works without having to call someone to help me make it work, well, it’s a huge, huge hit. But this is telecommunications. I have a hunch it’s harder than that.
NB: Very interesting to see that Google is promoting its NexusOne under the keyword “customer service.”