Google and a Lesson in Customer Disservice
Updated: Jan 15
I have been on and off the phone with Google AdWords Express technical support for the last 20 hours and this has been an experience in customer service... but not the kind I would have expected from Google.
The issue: Our firm, RPM-Academy (www.rpm-academy.com) has been running two ads for training courses over the last few weeks with each campaign (ad) offering having a dedicated landing page on our website (URL). The ads were set up correctly and recording "clicks" for which we are charged.
The concern started when our webmaster was analyzing traffic (an art and science) and raised a concern that the "clicks" recorded in AdWords did not match the incoming traffic to the RPM website and that the dedicated landing pages associated with the two ads were performing poorly. An inspection of the ads (setup) was conducted and the information was confirmed as being correct. So... what was the issue?
A subsequent inspection of the ads as they actually appear in the Google search engine revealed a fatal flaw... The URL appearing in the displayed ads did NOT match the URL's specified in the set up of the respective ads! How is this possible? Since the purpose of AdWords is solely to drive traffic to specific URL's, this fatal error would be akin to selling a person a car but not equipping the car with an engine. It looks like a car, smells like a car, but does not do what it is intended to do... transport you from point A to point B.
The URL that should be displayed as set up in AdWords Express; http://www.rpm-academy.com/#!design-your-own-course/cutu
The URL that actually displays in the search engine ad; http://www.rpm-academy.com/?_escaped_fragment_=
Google technical support for AdWords was contacted (not an easy process... just check out Google's "contact us" process). After spending 15 minutes "convincing" tech support that there was, in fact, an issue, Bill (the name we will use for this blog) suggested we use AdWords instead of AdWords Express. What? Okay... that product isn't working... try this one?
Bill finally agreed to issue a ticket and said he would review with the technical team and get back to me. I made the observation that if this problem is affecting us, then it may very well be affecting tens of thousands of Google customers... all "leasing" cars that are not working... leaving their ad campaigns stranded on the side of the road. One would think that this would be a significant concern for Google?... Well, perhaps not.
Two hours later, not having heard from Bill, I initiated a chat with Google tech support (it stated in their phone messaging the office was now closed) and they confirmed a ticket had been issued, Bill was working on the problem, and they would get back to me. By 11:00 pm, still not having heard back from Google (and yes, the problem still existed), I sent a "scathing" email to tech support demanding action (and at the very least, an update). The result the next morning (today)?... silence. No email, no phone messages... silence.
At 1:30 pm today, 19 hours after reporting the issue, I called tech support, spoke to an agent who confirmed they are "working on it", and then spoke to a manager who basically said the same thing. They indicated that they can't do anything more... they are waiting for a response from the technical "team" and have no visibility on where our ticket sits in the queue. They did promise to finally start keeping me updated, but we will see...
I am not sure why this was an eye-opener for me... All organizations, including ours, struggle to provide the best customer service possible, and yes... We all make mistakes and encounter service or product issues. But, it is HOW we respond to those opportunities that define us as an organization.
Listen to your customers... don't argue with them and assume their perceptions are wrong. Listen...
Be honest with you customer.
Keep the customer updated/informed. Even if it is bad news, the customer needs to know and having them "walk up to the counter" to ask just makes it worse.
Don't offer apologies... offer solutions and, as Mike Holmes (the TV "home construction contractor" personality) might say, "Make it right"!
In my opinion, Google failed on all four counts. My lasting impression... there is no such thing as "Googliness"(intangibles that set a person aside from the rest of the pack)... and the movie can't possibly be accurate (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdnoqCViqUo).
Google, the giant that it is (1.1 billion unique visitors per month, $66 billion USD sales per year and 54,000 employees) struggles like the rest of us and even with all its resources, can and will fail. Customer service... in the case of Google, maybe it isn't the key to success.
Perhaps you can become so big that customer service is no longer a priority. I don't think my one experience will tarnish the reputation of Google nor drive down its valuation, but... I wonder how many other drivers (AdWords Express customers) there are out there right now that Google has left stranded on the side of the road... some of them not even aware that they have exited the information superhighway... and just paying their toll fees (clicks), wrongfully assuming that everything is all right. Beep, Beep!