Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Memo to Google: Tried and true methods are sometimes the best

By: Cole Buergi, Sr. Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

Innovation is great, but sometimes it doesn’t pay to reinvent the wheel as Google is learning the hard way. The world’s leading Internet search engine recently launched the Nexus One smart phone designed to compete with the likes of Apple’s iPhone and has been dealing with consumer complaints ever since.

The reason is, Google broke from the traditional method of selling cell phones utilizing company-owned stores, partnering with “big box” retailers or via online sales with significant customer service provided via telephone. Instead, Google sold the Nexus One through its online store while providing little in the way of customer support and online.

The result -- since launching the phone eight days ago, Google has been inundated with customer complaints regarding coverage, delivery problems, network compatibility, dropped calls and other operational issues. The problem is the only method for Nexus One phone users to complain is via Google’s support forum for which Google promises a response within 48 hours. I can’t speak for everyone but 48 hours is a lifetime for my phone not to work in today’s “need it now” society.

I’m all for innovation. It’s what’s keeps us looking towards the future and provides fun and interest in our lives. However, there are certain things that are just fool proof and providing a strong customer service to cellular phone users is one of those things. Google forgot one important item in this phone launch – the human factor. Not everything can be solved by searching online.

I’ve had issues with my iPhone and thankfully the local AT&T store was helpful in providing on the spot assistance. I can’t imagine having to log on to Google forum, trying to clearly write a message of what my phone problem is and then wait two days for a response.

Google is an innovation leader and has done amazing things with technology and I have no doubt they will quickly correct the situation. In the meantime, the lesson to be learned is that sometimes tried and true methods of doing something are the best way to do it and that not everything brand new is better.

I’m curious to hear from anyone that has a Nexus One phone and has experienced problems with customer service, or from those who’ve tried something new only to find out that the old way worked better.

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