Crowd-sourcing Customer Service Not Always The Answer

Yesterday, I discovered the url for this blog had expired on Monday; apparently the email they had on file was an old one. Now, one would think this would be an easy thing to solve…and in any other situation, it would have been.

You see, although I’ve purchased nearly all of my domains through GoDaddy, this one came through Blogger – and of course, Blogger was acquired by Google and Google has no live help desk. So, yesterday, I spent three hours in a special level of hell called crowd-sourced / community-based technical support.

Now, before y’all jump all over me, let me state that crowd-sourcing and community-based customer service can be an incredibly useful tool and certainly delivers cost-savings to companies. But, after three hours of going round and round the same unhelpful advice, I can safely say it should never be the only tool available.

First up, one would think that Google would have a simple link next to the expired domain on my dashboard that reads, “renew your domain here.” After all, that one design feature would have saved me a whole lot of frustration. But, they don’t have that. So, I sought out how to renew the parked domain in the Google help section.

What I found was a whole bunch of other people just as confused and worried about their content as I was. Those who did offer solutions, didn’t have the whole story or assumed I had already downloaded apps that I hadn’t and therefore following their instructions only sent me farther down the rabbit hole.

Now, eventually, I posted the question on my Facebook Wall and my friends started steering me in the right direction. But, after three hours of trying to solve what was basically a very simple issue, I couldn’t help but wonder why Google would have only this community-based help desk available. Sure, they do have an email address, but several people within the help forums insisted they’d emailed Google months ago and were still waiting for an answer. Knowing that I’d have only 60 days before three years worth of Blog posts would disappear, I just couldn’t wait. And, the greater issue is that I shouldn’t have to.

I know since we’ve seen some brands have success with community-driven customer service and Twitter-based help desks, it’s easy to assume that this is the end-all-be-all solution. But, sometimes, you just need to talk to a human being, you know? Someone who can hear your problem and give you a quick and relevant solution. So, as you all build social media into your client’s customer service plans, be sure to include other, more direct alternatives. Or, at the very least, integrate company experts into the online discussion.

Remember, social media is merely one channel amidst many other communication tools that – when integrated together – deliver real results. But, when these tools exist in a vacuum of their own, they can quite literally drive a person insane.

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