Awhile ago I wrote a case study about SmartPayroll who are bucking the trend towards automated customer service and support and providing real live people for customers to talk to. At the time it seemed that SmartPayroll were something of an outlier while other vendors were firmly fixated on human-less service. Well it seems that human-touch theme is getting more momentum, in fact the granddaddy of automated and self-service software support, Google, recently introduced 24*7 phone support.

Prior to this move support was primarily delivered via automated trouble shooting guides and email support, but now customers will be able to receive full phone support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This move bucks the recent trend we’ve seen to making everything as low touch as possible. There are two drivers at play here – one that pushes for low touch, automated support, and one that sees companies, Zappos style, differentiate precisely on the fact that they provide high touch.

The Google offer is only available to premium Apps users who, it must be admitted, have historically had some options when things went wrong — Google’s support site includes various automated troubleshooters, and email support. But phone support was severely limited, which sucks if talking to a person is the way you prefer to get your support.

googlephonesupport

In announcing the move, Google stated that;

A support metric that we’re especially passionate about is customer satisfaction. We measure customer satisfaction by asking for feedback on a seven point scale at the time we close a support case. As measured on this scale, 80% of our business customers and 90% of our large business customers indicate that they’re more than satisfied with their support experience. While we’re proud of these ratings, we want to do even better. Our goal is to achieve an overall satisfaction rating of 95%.

The fact is the future is going to see both automated, and manual support. Any company that tries to shoehorn customers into purely automated support methods will end in unhappiness and reduced loyalty from customers. It’s fine for a consumer, but when a business is paying for a service, well they expect, and deserve… service.

Google is finally realizing what Zappos has known all along.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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