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Why Google is hot and Yahoo! is not

posted in Tech Talk on February 21st, 2007

Lately, namely, the last three years, it would seem that customer service is something out of the ordinary. Something you’re only entitled to if you have buckets full of cash. If you’re a normal customer, you shouldn’t even be thinking about getting to talk to a real person.

On blogs like the Consumerist, you can read about companies that eff up, businesses that treat their customers unfairly and the likes. Sure, there are situations when the customer is at fault, for example when yelling at a CS rep who didn’t even cause a problem. I totally understand (and agree) that such calls should be terminated as soon as possible, but there are also situations, where the customer didn’t do anything wrong and still doesn’t get what he is looking for.

A few days ago, I submitted a ticket to Flickr, in regards of a question I had. Basically, I wanted to switch the account name my Flickr account was tied to. My question to them was not if they could do it, but only if it was possible. All it would have taken is a simple “yes” or “no”. Now, I’m not the biggest Flickr user, because I have my own gallery and like it a lot better and in fact only bought the Flickr account so I could buy some MOO cards, but I am a paying customer nonetheless.

To date, I have not yet received any communication from them, other than the one their auto responder sends out telling me that my issue will be looked into as quickly as possible. Their site states that a human will be in contact with you, at some point. Really now?

Yesterday, I also came across an issue with YouTube. Basically, I was unable to update my channel info successfully. Whenever I entered my data in the fields, it would be saved but during the process, would also erase data I entered into other fields.

Since I thought this to be a general site issue, I fired off an email to YouTube support, letting them know of the issue. Naturally, I was sent a standard auto responder, telling me that the issue would be looked into, but that I shouldn’t expect any response. I’m fine with that. I’m not a paying customer, I know that YouTube is huge and if they would fix the problem, I’d be happy.

Google, apparently thinks otherwise. Less than twelve hours after submitting my original request, Elizabeth from the YouTube team told me the following:

Hi there,

Thanks for your email.

Thank you for your notification. It looks like the issue was the result of an issue with our website. It’s been reported to our engineers and should be fixed!

We apologize for the inconvenience, but you will have to try to make the changes to your channel again.

A simple mail, with an easy to understand answer. Sure, half of it may be text snippets, she just drags and drops into the response field, but at least they try - and to be honest, it’s working. I’m confident that the issue will be resolved in no time.

Google, while telling you not to expect an answer, actually always writes back (at least, they do in my case). I’ve had issues with AdSense, GMail and GTalk and I have always gotten answers out of them. All of these services are free to use and I’m not a paying customer. I’m no A - List blogger and I don’t have the power to kill their reputation, yet they treat me with the same kindness every time. Why they do it, I don’t know. I’m guessing it’s corporate culture and if it is, it’s a great one.

That same corporate culture is what makes people want to work at Google, it’s what makes those people proud. Now, I don’t agree with turning over all my data to Google and I only use my GMail accounts sparingly, but I gotta give it to them that they are doing (most of) the right things.

I think, if Yahoo! would take care of their customers a little more, they could actually gain back a nice piece of the market they lost to Google…