How Google got customer service right – at least for me, anyway

Google has gotten a bad reputation lately for its customer service, or more specifically, its lack thereof. When it first started selling the Nexus One by HTC, there wasn’t even a way for users to contact Google support by phone – instead, people were directed to Google’s online help forums. With the increase in popularity of the Google Play Store and Nexus devices in general, Google at least has a toll-free number that people can call for basic support, but that doesn’t mean Google still doesn’t have a customer service image problem (surely we all remember the Nexus 4 ordering debacle).

My experience, however, has been really good with Google’s customer service. I have called them on two separate occasions, and both times my calls were answered quickly, and with knowledgeable people from the United States on the other end, who then followed up with me a bit later by email.

My first experience was shortly after getting the HTC EVO 4G LTE. I was trying to set up Google Wallet, and this was before it became common knowledge that the app had been locked down for some reason on this particular device. I already tried resetting the app, and even performed a factory reset, all to no avail. So I called up Google Wallet’s customer support, and was surprised that someone immediately answered the phone, without even being forced to go through a complicated menu.

I explained what was happening, and was then asked whether or not I had tried resetting the app and the phone. Then, a miraculous thing happened: when I told the man on the other end of the phone that I had already did those things, he believed me. He didn’t force me to go through those time-consuming steps again, and simply moved on. We couldn’t resolve the issue on the phone, so he promised to follow up with me. He asked if email was OK, and I said that it was preferred – there’s nothing worse than trying to take a phone call during an inconvenient time when I can just communicate electronically with someone. Only a few hours later, after researching the issue some more, he emailed me back to let me know that Google’s engineers had been notified, and they would start working with HTC to solve the problem. Perfect – that’s all I needed to hear.

My second experience with Google’s customer service was shortly after I purchased my Chromebook Pixel. I was paranoid about it running too hot, so I called up one of the aptly-named Chrome Ninjas to talk about it. A guy named Bob answered (funny name for a ninja), and was happy to talk about my concerns. He didn’t ask me to powerwash my device or restore it – we just talked, as two normal guys who also happened to be big fans of Chrome OS.

Perhaps most importantly, he was patient, and yet he didn’t talk down to me. He acted like I knew what I was talking about, even though he probably knows much more than me. And when I changed to subject to something else entirely (I wanted to talk about stable, beta, and dev channels), he was happy to oblige and answer some of my unrelated questions about Chrome OS. I never felt like he was up against a clock and had to get me off the phone, and he even followed up with a personal email that invited me to get back in touch if I ever had any more questions about Chrome.

In all honesty, I was floored. I’m so used talking to customer services reps who obviously read from a script, who have no other technical knowledge or advice other than power cycling a device, and who have a quota to meet and desperately want to get me off the phone. Instead, I talked with a guy who seemed like he actually might want to talk to me all day, if I gave him the chance. That’s refreshing.

Google still has a lot to learn about proper customer service, especially if it wants to continue competing against the likes of Apple. But in all honesty, the few times I’ve had to deal with Google on a one-to-one basis, I’ve been impressed.

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John F

John was the editor-in-chief at Pocketables. His articles generally focus on all things Google, including Chrome and Android, although his love of new gadgets and technology doesn't stop there. His current arsenal includes the Nexus 6 by Motorola, the 2013 Nexus 7 by ASUS, the Nexus 9 by HTC, the LG G Watch, and the Chromebook Pixel, among others.