The ‘Google+ for customer service’ bandwagon is still missing some wheels


WARNING: Minor adult language contained in this post. If you are easily offended by vulgar slang then you may not have worked in the industry long enough… Look away now and hope for a better post in the next few days. My apologies.

It’s no surprise that I’m a Google fan. I log into Gmail daily, use Google Voice extensively, and actually dislike having to log into Facebook and Twitter separately to attain social media nirvana. Why didn’t Google buy Facebook and/or Twitter years back when these companies didn’t have astronomical valuations? Talk about having to deal with multichannel interactions…

Then Google throws in Google+ into the mix! Lovely, now it’s three social media outlets I have to spend time with. While most folks are still cautiously navigating the Streams, Circles, Huddles, and Hangouts, some brave adopters are already championing Google+ as the next frontier in customer service channels.

CEO Michael Dell (okay, should I link to Twitter or Google+?) pondered on July 17:

I am thinking about hangouts for business. Would you like to be able to connect with your Dell service and sale teams via video directly from Dell.com?

BOOM! Nearly 400 comments, +712, and 180 shares later, Mr. Dell lit up the blogosphere and got on customer service gurus’ radars. Most followers had positive feedback about the idea, and for a couple of days Mr. Dell was seen as the Customer Service Pioneer.

But I urge executives such as Dell to slow down. Not every new social media channel should be considered for business immediately. In the case of Google+:

  • It’s so new. There will be bugs. There will be privacy concerns. Have your service and sale teams figured it out already?
  • According to Google, company accounts or team accounts are not yet available on Google+ although many have already created an account and started interacting as a business. In fact, Google is shutting down these “non-user entities” on its social network.
  • For paid Google Apps subscribers, unfortunately Google+ isn’t available yet. It’s in the works, of course, but Google will definitely take its time in rolling this out to Apps customers. Google takes no chances with paid customers.
  • Hangouts multi-party videoconference has value in collaboration and even sales meetings, but customer service? Remember the sensational Chatroulette? Too many dicks ruined it (literally), but we all know it only takes one dick to send a video meeting into a tailspin.
  • Google has not published an API to suck data out of Google+. No API means no consistent method of third-party access. In turn this means the thousands of dollars you’d invested in social media monitoring tools won’t be able to pluck anything from Google+.

If your company still operates contact centers, just try to make them better. Believe me, you will find room for improvements. As I’ve written before, social media can become a distraction from keeping the fundamentals in check.

For now, Google+ has the cool “shiny toy” factor. Oh, and it’s already full of dicks. Execs beware!

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