Monday, March 12, 2012

The Internet Never Closes, Why Does Your "Customer Service"?

I had another one of those "slap myself in the forehead" moments this morning, and it reminded me how important customer service is in the age of the always running, worldwide, time zone agnostic Internet.

All weekend long, I tried to upload songs to my (now I guess I call it) Google play music library in the cloud. I probably tried to do it ten times starting on Saturday and running until Monday morning, and had no success any time. I did all the normal troubleshooting and still no luck. For some reason, I was getting a message that the application was unable to connect to the server. Normally, that means a problem on the server side, but sometimes it could be a problem with my home network. Hence, I was a little concerned that I couldn't reach a service that I've never had problems reaching before.

On Monday morning I ran some troubleshooting and went to the Google help site, which is an adventure in itself. I finally found an option to have someone from Google call me to discuss my problem, which I will admit I had not seen before. I put my number in, and about 15 seconds later a very nice lady from Google was on my phone. When I explained to her what was going on, she replied with "oh yeah, there's some kind of a problem with the server. We've been having it all weekend and we know all about it."


I was a little taken aback by both the casual nature of her response and what she was saying to me. Google knew they had a problem all weekend but didn't let anybody know about it. I asked her if it was posted on a blog, a tweet, or somewhere in the application, and she said no because it was the weekend. I asked her when something might be posted to give us an update on the problem and she told me that it's Monday and people are trying to get their week started, so something may not be out until later today if the problem is still going on.


Maybe it's my training in broadcasting, where our business was always open or maybe it's just my understanding of the fact that the Google play service is always running, used around the world, and it's 9 AM somewhere at any time. Just because this issue happen on the weekend, it shouldn't be overlooked or not communicated to the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of users sitting at their computers wondering what's going wrong. Rather than not acknowledge that there's a problem, here are some things Google could have done had they decided to actually take this concept of an ever–operating Internet seriously.

  • They could have sent tweets out saying that there was a problem with the application and that they were aware of it.
  • Many Google products have blogs or other status update sites, and the issue could have been added to the site for this product.
  • With a minimal amount of coding, an announcement that there was a problem with the app could have been put into the app itself.
If you run a business that does almost anything on the Internet, it's important to remember that your business really truly never closes when it's online. Stunningly, Google seems to have forgotten that when they had this problem with Google play. 

You, as a business owner, can avoid the problem by having someone on staff on call and available to fix a big problem should something go wrong. It could be knowing that your brick and mortar business is going to be closed tomorrow because of snow, it could be that your e-commerce vendor is down, or it could be that you're doing some work on your website that you hadn't planned on and you need to put up a landing page

Whatever the reason, someone should be able to communicate to your visitors and customers that things are not as they should be and give a very rough estimate as to when they'll be okay again.

As we had into the mobile-based, highly personalized, on-demand world shaped by the Internet, it's important to remember that old concepts like business hours have to be redefined for a new age. If someone as big as Google hasn't figured that out, the small business that does will look like a trailblazer.

Enhanced by Zemanta