Last week Google announced the name change from Google Maps to Google Places along with some changes to the local listing service that is so important to local search. At the end of the week Google also announced something that they are not real well known for: support. Here’s how the Google LatLong blog puts it:
With a new name comes a fresh support experience. The Google Places team wants to make sure that, as a business owner, your experience with Google Places is a good one, so we’ve taken some steps to expand and refine our support offerings.
Before we look at the details let’s make sure you don’t get too excited. Why do I say that? Well, there is no support option that allows you to talk (you know as in hearing a real voice of a Google employee) to anyone about your issues. As a result, I say that while Google claims to be “improving” its support experience it is really just doing the classic “putting lipstick on this pig” routine. Many may think that’s a harsh assessment but oftentimes the issues with Google Places listings really need customized answers and improved forums or FAQ’s are just not customized. As a result, I am playing the cynic and expecting that not circumstances will be addressed to the level necessary for Google Places listings.
Here is what Google is touting as improved support from their blog:
Google Places Help Center: Here you can learn more about managing your business listing on Google, new features and how to report problems. This includes a revamped user guide, support channels, and more.
Feedback for Google Places: Post your burning questions and awesome ideas to our new Google Moderator page. After you post, take a look at what other people are posting, and vote up the ideas you like the most. We’ll keep the page open until May 21, 2010, and then our team will review the top questions and record video responses that we’ll post in our Help Center.
Google Places Help Forum: Discuss with other users how to improve your listing, newly announced features, or issues you’re encountering. We have dedicated volunteers known as “Top Contributors” who can help answer your questions and discuss your ideas. Google Employees will also be monitoring the forum to facilitate discussions in this forum and provide assistance when needed.
Google Places Webinars: Sign up for our webinars to learn about a variety of topics ranging from “Adding a Listing” up to “Enhancing a Listing”. We’re excited about providing a learning environment that allows us to interact more closely with you, the business owner who all these tools are made for! If you can’t attend the webinars, don’t worry – we’ll post the videos on our YouTube Channel at youtube.com/googleplaces.
I have already taken in the first webinar and it is certainly Google Places 101. There were some tidbits here and there but generally it was a death by PowerPoint approach with no interaction. Ain’t that the Google way?