Tag Archives: Social network

Why Can’t a Tech Giant like Google Have Amazing Customer Experience?

Is a company like Google too large to make huge impacts on their customer service? I don’t think so…

Now, to be fair, when I complained that the iPhone App for Google+was no longer working, I did get a comment from +Vic Gundotra, who “plus-mentioned” someone else (I’m assuming the person responsible for the Google+ App for iPhone).

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The iPhone App has yet to be fixed, but I give Google major points that the person in charge of Google+ actually read my post and passed on the information to someone who may actually be able to do something about it…

I sent +Vic Gundotra  a private message about this, thanking him and offering up a suggestion, but I don’t know if he read it or not (he never responded, but he is a busy man), but it’s not private information. It is a deeply held belief of mine, so I don’t mind sharing my advice on this post…

Companies Make Mistakes

Shit happens. From my many years managing in the restaurant industry, I learned that no matter how “tight of a ship” you run, occasionally the ball is going to get dropped. At my restaurant, it might be a spilled drink tray or an undercooked piece of meat. For Google+, it may be the iPhone App breaking or various other bugs that occur from time to time.

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The two are actually a lot more similar than a lot of people realize (running a restaurant or running a billion dollar tech company). Both occur in real-time, right in front of the customer. There is no “down time” during the operating hours of a restaurant, just as there is no “down time” during the running of a social network. They can’t just magically fix all the mistakes while things are shut down and reopen the next day fresh.

They have to stay running on all other fronts, in addition to fixing whatever went wrong. A restaurant has to continue serving all of its other patrons, and a social network has to keep functioning for all of its other users, while the problem gets fixed in the background (at the same time).

Initiating a Moment of Truth

This is what I used to call it when something bad happened at the restaurant. It is not a ‘problem’… it is a ‘challenge’ that gives the business an opportunity to show what they are really made of. As I said, initially, companies make mistakes (even the best companies). How the mistake is handled is what separates the weak companies from the strong companies.

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The “problem” that occurred is an opportunity for the business to:

  1. Apologize for the mistake.
  2. Let the guest/user know that a solution is being worked on.
  3. Fix the problem (get the right food out or work out the kinks in the Google+ iPhone App).
  4. Make it up to customer/user (with restaurants, I would comp a guest’s meal, but with a social network they may need to think outside-the-box on this step).

I was the only one that I know of that complained, but I’m sure the bug in the iPhone App affected all Google+‘s iPhone users. To make up for the iPhone App being unusable for multiple weeks, perhaps on the next App update, they could include an extra feature that is iPhone-exclusive.

So, a way +Google+ could “initiate a moment of truth” would be:

  • issuing an official statement that explains the error
  • that they fixed it.
  • they are including an extra special feature in the next update to make up for it.

Another way Google+ could initiate a moment of truth would be:

  • issuing an official statement.
  • that they fixed it.
  • maybe offer a couple free songs from Google Music (a way to apologize, and secretly convert iTunes users over to using Google Music).

The fact that +Vic Gundotra  took notice of my post at all was huge for such a large company like Google… and I can infer from his plus-mentioning of someone else that it’s being taken seriously. However, Google could take it to the next level of customer experience by doing something like the examples I’ve listed above.

I know that it is such a large-scale user base that the individual can get lost in the shuffle, but I don’t think the solutions I’ve suggested above are unreasonable for Google to do, and it would set them apart from the other technology companies by actually taking the user’s discomfort seriously, showing that they empathize with them, and making an effort to do something to make up for it.

That’s what would push them into an exceptional customer experience level, like what you would expect at one of the Disney Parks. The “word of mouth” alone from doing something so positive would spread like wildfire on the net: “Even Tech Giant Google Cares About Their Users, Whether They Use Their Branded Smartphones or Someone Else’s.”

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You couldn’t beat that. Just a suggestion…

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Google sincerely thinks that Google+ is the future of Google

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A Google and Google+ Future

While I believe this is a definite possibility (and admittedly being a Google+ fan myself), there is much more to ruling the future of the internet than scooping up new, ignorant users. Google+ needs to up its game in terms of features, user-friendliness, intuitiveness, learning curve, and really just a whole makeover. I’ve been patient with Google+, but it has been too long now without any significant updates or improvements.

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A Facebook Future

Facebook (I hate to say it) now dominates Google+ in features, and they are slowly learning that people would rather connect with like-minded strangers than the people they shared a high school with (that no longer share any interests with them).

Google+ can be the future of Google (and the Internet), but it needs a little push…

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Making Google+ the Best Social Network (Part 2) – DESTROY FACEBOOK

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[Takes off Gloves…]

I disagree with most other power users / old schoolers in having so many ways a user can customize the way their stream comes in (i.e. volume controls).

Although I do think there should be different types of streams available, I don’t think that a user should have to go through the work of setting it up and customizing it. Power-users don’t mind doing the grunt work, but honestly it’s a cop out and a massive turn off to any new users.

The fact that we have to manage the stream by organizing circles and setting volumes is weak. Google has the capacity to carry out the same goal without users having to micromanage their circles and set volumes.

They have our data and usage statistics. They know exactly how we use the site, what type of content we like, who we interact with and how. This data should be used to make multiple algorithms (equations that figure the flow of the stream) available for a user to select from.

For Example, There Could Be:

  1. a “What’s Hot” stream based on popularity.
  2. a “Recommended Content” stream based on shared interests and shared social graph.
  3. a “Interests” stream not taking social into consideration.
  4. a “Social Stream” not taking interests into consideration.

It Just Works

They can cook this up behind the scenes, and user just automatically is immersed in the full experience of Google Plus. Managing Circles is strictly for organizing who you want to post to, but is not required. This is what I go into depth in my post titled “Making Google+ the Best Social Network” under the hashtag #MakingGooglePlusTheBest (Search for that hashtag on Google+).

Honestly, its user base is the best, and a lot of what it has to offer is the best, but it really could rival and beat Facebook for all types of users, not just power users. If it was my first day on Google+, and I wasn’t such a geek, I would GTFO ASAP, because it takes so much work just to get it to work.

Ask Yourself That Same Question:

If this was your first day, as a new user, on Google+, and you weren’t already a Google fanboi, would you come back the next day?

If the answer is anything short of “HELL YES!,” then the network has failed.

Google+ Should “Just Work” on Day One: Automatically, Intuitively, and Quickly

I have suggestions of how they can accomplish it on the post I referred to earlier, with a combination of changing / adding different algorithms for streams, setting up an “interests” tab on a user’s profile (one column for “what I want to see” and one column for “what I post about”).

A user sets this up day one, and Google+ is suddenly immersing the user in a full user-friendly experience unlike anything else out there. Plus ones would be used to further refine this interest graph, but the primary cause would be the “interests” tab set up by a new user on day 1.

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If you need an example of what I’m talking about, refer to StumbleUpon as an example. When a user sets up their initial profile, they select from a huge list of generic interest topics (it’s about 200 topics). Google could use this data to instantly give users with the types of content they want to see. Setting up a second column for “Things I post about” would allow Google to know about that user’s posts, helping deliver it to the right people (since somebody might love reading about science, but only post funny pictures).

Give the user the opportunity to set that up DAY 1, and Google+ automatically is serving up relevant content to the user (before they even circle one person). Then, as time goes on, they see certain users they like, or interact with them in comments, and add them to the circle.

  • Delivering relevant content is Priority 1.
  • Meeting other users is Priority 2 (caused by Priority 1).

Flip it Over

Right now, you have to meet people first, and hope that what they post about is what you want to read about, you have to go back and adjust your circles when you put someone in a circle with too high of a volume or they don’t end up posting anything you like.

I’m sorry, but that’s not the future of communication, it’s actually kinda BS if you think about it. Google+ should work for the user, not the other way around.

Currently the User is Doing ALL The Work

That’s why it will never beat Facebook in its current condition. It needs a prime differentiating factor, and that differentiating factor needs to take precedence over everything else. Facebook provides content from people you’re connected with. Google+ should allow you to connect with people you share interests with.

DESTROY FACEBOOK

Some people say, “well Google+ doesn’t have to be as big as Facebook to be successful,” and to those people I say “bullshit.” Meeting new people based on shared interests is the future of communication,and it is a stronger working model than what Facebook is built on.

If Google capitalizes and realizes this, it actually will “take over” and still have all the benefits that power-users love today. If it’s absolutely needed, further personal customization could be an OPTIONAL feature that power users can take advantage of, but which is not NEEDED in order for the site to be enjoyable.

Google+ will never beat Facebook, until it becomes a DAY ONE FULL USER EXPERIENCE. Until that point, users will sign up, fiddle around for a bit, and then chunk a deuce, because there’s now too much work for a user to do to make the site even enjoyable. It needs to be improved to the extent that the site is enjoyable for a brand new user on day one, and in a different way than what’s already available to them on Facebook.

Heavily Weighting Interests is the Key to Google’s Future Growth and Success

It’s what gives it the potential to be the best, hands down. I know I’m being harsh, but it’s only because, while I love Google+, I see it as a failure in living up to its potential (I don’t use Facebook or Twitter).

Google+ should be THE BEST, and anything short of that is unacceptable in my opinion. Google is the greatest company in the world, with the smartest people working on their products. Anything other than the best is not acceptable. Anything that is just us “Google Plus Been Here Forever Nerds” enjoying the site is unacceptable.

Google+ Suggested Main Stream Algorithm

User Experience

They learned this lesson with Android vs Apple… the product has to just automatically work for anybody day one. They were still able to support the ability to customize it, but they changed it up enough to be more intuitive and user-friendly.

This is what I’m saying they need to do with Google+, so don’t worry power-users. I’m not trying to take anything away, I’m trying to improve upon what it has, recognize what it lacks, and make improvements that keep the great stuff and get rid of the not so great stuff.

Ultimate Goal:

Make Google+ fully working on day one to the point that you could randomly take a stranger off the street, sit them down in front of a computer, and within a couple of hours they already love Google+.

That is the standard I am calling for / demanding. I know I was a bit harsh, but keep in mind that I am probably as big as a Google+ fan there is. When I write this post, I’m not bashing Google+ or bitching about its flaws, I’m mentally acting as the CEO, calling a meeting of the people who work so hard on this site:

Keep up the good work, but get better. It’s time to step up our game. It’s time to stop settling for being a niche network. It’s time to DESTROY FACEBOOK!

“Living Well is a Healthy Disregard for the Impossible.”

– Larry Page

I’m sorry, but I don’t see that motto being applied to Google+. I love you like a brother, Larry. We are soul mates, separated at birth, whom both see the world in the same way. At the same time, I love Google+ enough to call you out on its shortcomings. It’s what I would want you to do to me, if we were in reverse roles.

Facebook sucks, and Google+ is squandering its potential to be the number one social network in the world, forever changing the way society interacts. Go big or Go home.

Keep Customization, but Hide it

Make it optional. Keep it in the backstage, where power users can still get to it. We won’t get any more power users, if user-controlled customization is necessary to make the site work.

On the surface, it runs automatically using secret sauce. Off to the side, there are options for users who want to do super geeky customizations.

The same thing that had to happen with Android. Google learned that it needed a more intuitive experience, and they made significant changes that would appeal to consumers in the same way that iOS did to Apple users. They still kept the customizable, geeky stuff available, but it was no longer required or predominantly featured.

How Google+ Should Be Like

When you open it up, it just works. When you spend more time on the site, you find ways you can make tweaks to it. So, the geeks and tweakers stay happy, but the average joe can enjoy the site just as much. Right now, it’s a geeks only site. Some people like that aspect, but from a business standpoint, that is a failure.

  • EVERYONE uses Google Search.
  • EVERYONE should be using Google+.

Time or Minor Updates to the Site Will Not Solve This Problem

Google+ needs to first define it’s purpose:

  • Delivering awesome content and allowing you to meet cool people from around the world while interacting on that content.
  • Second, it needs to build the site to maximize on its differentiation.
  • Third, it needs to market the shit out of what’s so cool about Google Plus and why it’s so different.

Circles was their original plan for differentiation, but not only did Facebook immediately join these same abilities into its site, I don’t think it’s that great of a system.

Yes, keep circles. There are reasons for them, but don’t make THAT the primary focus. Don’t make circles required for the site to work. Circles comes after you meet the cool people. You meet the cool people as you discover the amazing content, not by searching through hundreds of profiles or blindly adding shared circles.

 

Making Google+ The Best Social Network Ever

I have a few recommendations of how to make Google+ a much richer experience and completely dominate the future of the web. These recommendations are based on both my own personal experience using the network and observation of others using it.

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Personal Google+ Trends Analysis

These are trends that have occurred more often in recent months, but have developed since after the first six months of the social network’s opening. I expect some of it, since it is no longer the “hot, new, social network,” but I also have some possible explanations and suggestions that could improve the quality of Google+.

  • More Circle Adds

I get a lot more people adding me to their circles, lately. I assume this to be because the more circles you are in, the more likely you are to be suggested to be added to a circle.

  • Less Post Engagement

I receive much less engagement on my posts than from the “early days” of Google+, and it has been on the decline in the past few months. I attribute this to a number of things:

The Dynamic of Google+ Has Changed:

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There is less discussion going on in the comments (an aspect that made me fall in love with Google+ in the first place), and there has been a shift to quick posts with GIFs, Memes, and Links posted. I notice that when I post more original content, and not just a simple re-share of something I’ve found somewhere else on the net, I’m more likely to get engagement on it.

I look at it like: why discuss something that is just a simple picture, meme, or re-shared article?

Original Content Versus Generic Content

I also notice that people have more interest in my original content, because it is discussing topics not over-filling the rest of the web. When I stick to focusing on and talking about what I know best (futurism, psychology, creativity, giftedness, and personality types), I am much more likely to get engagement than when I post about more generic topics (tech news, gadgets, memes, business news, etc.),

Although a well-timed funny picture will still acquire a few Plus1’s.

Moving Forward: Making Google+ the Best it Can Be – The Best Social Network

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I believe that the prime differentiating factor of Google+ is in discovering content that you want to see. I see this as a backdoor to adding people to circles… after you see content from someone who you enjoy, or you have a pleasant interaction with them in the comments, THEN you add them to circles. Therefore I believe that the main stream of Google+ should show content from people not in your circles, as well.

I provided a suggested algorithm a few posts ago under the hash-tag #GooglePlusFeatureRequest  (I’ll post the picture on this at the bottom of the article).

While I do think “social connection” should be taken in consideration when displaying new posts, I believe that “suggested content based on shared interests and similar plus 1’s” to take a priority to this.

I also believe that there should be an “interests” tab on a users profile, which allows them to select from a long list of topics of posts that they are interested in seeing in the stream. There could also be a second column for “things I post about” to further refine and make the interest graph more accurate.

For example: A person might love seeing posts about science, but they only post memes. Having a two column system would allow for a column for “things I want to see” and “things I actually post.” Plus 1’s are a way that Google develops the interest graph, but I think that having this “interests” tab would be a way to jumpstart and more accurately define the content users want to see.

New User Learning Curve

One of the main lacking features of Google+ is the learning curve for new users. A lot of us have been here since day 1, so we don’t see this as an issue. However, take a moment and put yourself in the shoes of a user who is just signing up for Google+ for the first time. They have to search out users, which they may not even know how to do, to get any content in their feed. With an “interests” tab set up in place, it would allow new users to immediately become immersed in all that Google+ potentially has to offer.

Summary

Social And Interest Graphs

Content that a user wants to see = Top Priority

Connecting with like-minded users = Second Priority that happens organically by engaging on the content you like with other users. You meet the other users in a natural “real-life” way, by “clicking” in the discussions of topics that you both enjoy.

I know that some power users are against the idea of Google using so much “secret sauce” in order for the product to work, and viewing the stream in this way could be “opt-out.”

Simply put, I want a stream that is not “What’s Hot” (based on popularity), but a stream for “What’s Hot for You” (based on personalizing the interest tabs, shared plus 1’s, and social connection — in that order).

This will do more to open global communication by keeping users on the site longer providing a better overall experience. When users are on the site longer, they will be more likely to come in contact with users that they get along with, and they can THEN add them to their circles.

Google+ Suggested Main Stream Algorithm