Are We Waking To A New Day With Google Maps?

I think I’ll have to pinch myself! Has anyone noticed that Google seems to be throwing a surprise party this week? After years of collective public admonishment, cajoling, begging and pleading with Google’s Maps department to start backing up their giant local information entity with a sense of accountability, pebbles seem to be slipping down from the mountain top. Are we witnessing the beginning of an avalanche, a sea change in policy?

As the above video explains, Google Maps will now feature a Report A Problem link, giving users an astoundingly simple way to make a first contact with the Maps Department when data is incorrect. What’s more, Google is committing to respond to these problems within a month! I don’t read this as a guarantee that they will fix problems in a month and my understanding is that a very complicated process involving TeleAtlas (Google’s maps provider) is required to make some kinds of changes to Google Maps. My previous knowledge of this was that it could take months and months for some things to be fixed. But, who knows, with everything being so *weird* this week, maybe Google is developing some quicker method of verifying inaccuracies and resolving them. At the very least, the new Report A Problem link indicates a far more user-friendly approach to what has been Google’s historical utter lack of accessibility.

But that’s not all! Doubtless you’ve been following the news about the rollout of Google’s new Local Listing Ads. Advertising is nothing new for Google, but – get this – the ad program is going to come with…CUSTOMER SUPPORT!

Yes, the customer support which has been so startlingly absent from Google’s Local model…until now. When I read this news, I just couldn’t believe it, and it’s already being suggested that business owners will gladly sign up for the reported offer of the free 1 month trial, just to get someone at Google to speak with them regarding Local Business Center errors. I hope Google has a lot of telephones.

My Local landscape has been further altered by the rollout of the new 7-pack, replacing the old 10-pack in many places in the organic SERPs, and the bottom line is that things are changing and Google is full of surprises. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

6 Responses to “Are We Waking To A New Day With Google Maps?”

  1. on 10 Oct 2009 at 9:59 am Danielle

    Hi Miriam,

    Good news indeed! Thanks so much for the heads up on the ‘report a problem link’. Like you said, hopefully these are all good signs that Google is finally heading in the right direction for stronger customer support.

    On a side note, the other day I claimed and verified a client’s listing in Google and Google switched up the way they call. This time the option to “call within 5 minutes/call me immediately” and being supplied a pin on screen to input in the local business center was removed. This time the phone immediately called without warning and the pin was supplied over the automated phone call. Out of curiosity, I did the same for our business listing as I wanted to experience it personally – what I saw was a generic phone # calling and upon answering, heard a voice that did not say they were calling from Google, only that here’s your pin and then hung up on me. That was a huge surprise for me in how they’ve changed that up. Have you experienced the same recently?

    Exciting things happening though and thanks again,

    Danielle

    (My apologies if this is a duplicate entry!)

  2. on 10 Oct 2009 at 11:53 am admin

    Greetings Danielle,
    Thank you for taking the time to leave your comment. As a matter of fact, I helped a client claim his billing listing yesterday and, yes, the call in 5 minutes, etc. option was missing from the process. I don’t know what the phone call was like, as the client took it, but it sounds like you noticed something very different. The client did mention that the phone number that showed up on his phone when Google called was local to him in Los Angeles, which I thought was interesting.

    I appreciate you letting me know about your experience. I don’t think taking away the option to have the call come in at a designated time improves the user experience.

    Did the voice on your call sound like a human being or recording? I’m curious!
    Miriam

  3. on 10 Oct 2009 at 4:52 pm Danielle

    It was a recording and very brief; suffice to say, if the business owner wasn’t prepared for the call in any way or we weren’t discussing the process, then it most definitely could have gotten confusing very quickly. Basically no identification on CallerID, no prompt to tell you who the call is from, just a recording telling you what your PIN is and you better have you pen ready cause it hangs up on you right after that with no other recourse. :/
    Even though I have attempted to find the # through scrolling our callerID to verify the area code when we reclaimed our listing, I can say with certainty that Google Inc. was not identified as the caller and I’m pretty sure, but not 100%, that my call was out of area.

    Hopefully this will change soon as well!

  4. on 11 Oct 2009 at 3:00 pm admin

    Thanks for coming back with additional details on this, Danielle. Google really needs to improve this. It’s unfriendly and abrupt. So many changes are going on with them right now, maybe they will add this to their to-do list. They should be doing all they can to make the process as intuitive and friendly as possible and they aren’t getting it right with this way of handling the calls. I really appreciate you letting me know what you experienced!

    Miriam


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