A Lesson in Customer Service from Google

My friends know that I have two constant loves in the tech world — Google and Apple. Both have (somewhat) mastered the art of simplicity and breaking down things to their core basics as they relate to consumers — but when it comes down to the actual consumer experience, the two tech visionaries could not be more night or day.

Earlier this month, I ordered the newest Google Galaxy Nexus HSPA+ as I decided to take the Android plunge after being a long-time iPhone loyalist. Three weeks later and more hours than I’d like to admit on the phone with GooglePlay “specialists”, I’m still phone-less and even worse, completely left in the dark as to what the status of my order is.  If you ever have to call GooglePlay support (which I hope you never will), your call is actually directed to a first level customer specialist — translation: a hardware support specialist who actually has no power whatsoever over the business needs of your order, including expediting any order or offering any sort of compensation for zero updates on a two-day shipping order three weeks later.

I have yet to receive my phone, and already, I am thinking of leaving Google entirely (God forbid there is something actually wrong with the phone). Next time, I’ll be sure to continue purchasing my devices from my carrier, even it means unlocking them myself.

Now, if this were Apple, you could walk into an Apple store, and actually speak with someone. That person would actually be able to not only help you process your order, but ensure you get sound advice when actually making decisions.  I know Google doesn’t actually have a physical store, so the comparison with Apple is a little unfair but if you want to operate your own retail operations of sorts, this is something you should actually have — instead of leaving your customer support to un-empowered hardware support folks.

When pressed about the complete lack of customer service, a Google support manager said that this was because Google had priced their devices so low that they couldn’t afford to add more to customer support, all in hopes of making up profit and margins later on through sales in the Google Play store.  Additionally, this also leads to a situation where customers cannot be reimbursed for unfulfilled/delayed orders, or expedite shipping in any way “because those margins haven’t been built in.”

Really, Google? The support manager even went so far to tell me that this was my fault because the two days it took for my credit card company to verify that it was actually me making the purchase triggered the order to be sent to litigation (?! I would hope that Google’s legal team has better things to deal with than singular orders) … really now Google?  Amazon is doing the same thing with their Kindles — and actually selling them at a slight loss — but I have yet to hear them cut down on customer support because of it. If you’re looking to penetrate the huge market that Apple has created with its i-devices, I’d hope you would compete on more than just price and actually look at the user experience that draws — and keeps — its users. Because of the huge demand in orders from Nexus 7 (Google’s newest tablet), all orders there were upped to one-day shipping to appease customers awaiting orders. But it is incidents and one off cases like this one that are truly telling of a company’s focus on the consumer (entire businesses like Zappos are built off of these one-off cases). Innovative as you may be in some areas, this experience has left this Google loyalist rather disillusioned and disappointed that those stereotypes of Google being unable to actually tackle the basics when it comes to human interactions are rather true.

What gives, Google?

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