Google Places has the potential to truly help businesses of all sizes since virtually every business be they large or small, has a place page for its location as well as its satellites. That’s very cool. We as regular folks using the Internet like the potential.
I use the word potential only because while there can be great benefit to a business with regard to Place Pages and now with the added Google+ brand pages (why aren’t these two integrated in some way anyway but that’s for another letter, I guess?) yet you still don’t seem to understand some simple concepts.
First is customer support. I realize that place pages are free blah, blah, blah but even free deserves some help especially when you make random changes to how pages are displayed, you merge listings without warning and you change data in listings that are supposedly controlled by the very business owners that were aware and conscientious enough to verify and claim their listing so THEY could give the correct information rather than the outdated info you have gotten from one of your data warehousers.
Your approach to your “customer” is incongruent at best and pathetic at worst. You want everyone to claim pages and take control then you change things without sufficient warning etc, etc. Could you explain that, please?
Even more interesting though is your attempt at building community around place pages. Your blog is filled with profiles of people that are our “neighbors”. Well, for about 99% (number pulled out of the air for effect, I admit it) of those seeing the profiles, we don’t know this hyper cool person and likely will never meet said person, let alone really care about their likes and dislikes etc etc.
You know what would build community around Place Pages? Information about how to get help that isn’t in a forum that is manned not by someone who is not being paid to help and yet does an infinitely better job of helping others understand the whole process than most folks on your team, aka Mike Blumenthal. No actual regular Google employees who deal with these issues from your side of the table on a day to day basis so us commoners can get a better grasp of how to use these offerings more effectively.
Oh and not to mention the fact that you have introduced the ability for a competitor to actually place an ad inside the map bubble that appears for a business listing? That’s just plain lame. ( I just remembered that one so I threw it in here so I wouldn’t forget).
There is SO much more but I wanted to really write this letter to see if anyone in Mountain View is actually listening to people who use your systems and services for local reasons. I know you will say there are gobs of people working full time to make sure that things are running smoothly but why don’t you give us names? Give the local search community our own Matt Cutts or something. Throw us a frickin’ bone here (I used by best Dr. Evil typing motion with a pinky up to type that one).
So that’s it for now. I know there are a million other issues to address and I can only hope that some of the real local experts will chime in with comments to help share their level of frustration with your efforts to build community that is surfacey and does nothing to actually make your service work better. After all, if you paid real attention to the actual business owners’ needs, we will actually spend more money with you because it is generating revenue for us. How about that?!
So Google Places team, is there anybody out there?