A Real-Life User of Google+Local Phone Support

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A few days ago Google announced free, limited phone support for cases where you just can’t seem to verify your business’s Google+Local page.

As when the ’04 Red Sox won the World Series, this restored some of my faith in the goodness of the Natural Order.

But then I remembered what the ’05 and ’06 Sox taught me: Things often slide backwards before they move forward again.

I wondered:

Will people abuse Google’s phone support and ruin it for everyone and cause Google to go cheap again?

Will it be like calling Bank of America – hard or impossible to reach a human who can fog a mirror?

Will the person on the phone at Google not really help and simply regurgitate the “Quality Guidelines”?

So far, from what little I know at this early stage, the answers seem to be no, no, and no.  From what I’ve heard, I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

None of my clients has needed to use Google+Local phone support so far.  But Travis Van Slooten of TVSInternetMarketing recently had occasion to use it for a Bermuda Triangle that one of his clients has been stuck in for weeks.  Actually, his client made the call.

(The problem seems to be in the process of being solved: Google’s ETA was a couple weeks, and it’s only been a couple of days since the phone call.)

Here’s what Travis kindly sent me, followed by what his client sent him after calling Google.  Maybe it sounds like your situation or that of someone you know.

It’s a great example of when you may want to use Google’s phone support, and what to expect:

Phil:

I work with a painting contractor in California who had multiple Google+ Local pages. He hired me specifically to get these duplicates deleted and to get his primary listing optimized as it was missing pictures, didn’t have a good description, etc. etc. Over the course of several weeks I got the duplicates deleted and his primary listing well optimized and ranking very well. He was in the A or B position for his main keywords.

Suddenly he emailed me that his rankings were gone. He was nowhere to be found and he wanted me to look into it. It didn’t take me long because when I logged into his dashboard, his listing was in “Pending Review” mode. Him and I were both scratching our heads. Why the heck would it suddenly be in pending review mode when it was doing just fine for several weeks?

Together, he and I spent the next several weeks to get the listing out of “pending review” – which consisted mostly of him bugging Google via the troubleshooter and me pinging the listing on a daily basis. The responses from Google’s help desk were the usual canned responses that his listing was in pending review and that they would review the listing in the coming weeks. Gee, thanks Google for stating the obvious :) And the pinging didn’t do anything.

Desperate, I reached out to you for your recommendations. As I recall, what you said I was doing everything correct and that everything looked good, and you weren’t sure why it would be under review either.  Then you said if the listing didn’t come out of review soon that we should just start a new listing and basically start over. When I told the client that, he didn’t want to take that drastic move. He was willing to wait a while. He said he would contact me when he was ready to start over. That was about 4 weeks ago.

Then your email newsletter came, where you told us that Google now had a phone number you could call for support on these types of issues. I immediately contacted the client with this information. He called Google and here is his email back to me on how it went:

[Here is the email from the client]

Travis:

I went thru it last night and I got a phone call almost immediately and although the rep had a particular problem finding an email associated with my account he took my information and promised to call me right back. He called back about 20-30 minutes later but I was not able to take his call but he confirmed my account email and said my listing was officially verified. He also said that I can expect to have the review completed in 2 weeks time. He sounded confident about that and I was glad to talk to anybody so thanks for the tip. It worked great!

We shall see if this call actually does anything. The rep promised the review to be completed in 2 weeks time so we’ll be keeping an eye on it. It’s a shame my client wasn’t able to take the call because he could have asked why it was in review in the first place. Oh well, I suppose it won’t matter if his listing finally goes live again in a couple weeks. If it doesn’t, he’ll be calling Google again – and I’ll be making sure he is able to talk to Google to get the skinny on this pesky review status.

Have you had occasion to call Google+Local phone support?  Do you know someone who has?  Do you have a situation on your hands that you’re not sure has any other possible solution?  Let me know – leave a comment!

(Here’s where you can access phone support: you have to go through the troubleshooter, but there’s a number at the other end.)

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Comments

  1. Phil, thanks for this interesting commentary on a “live case”. It will be interesting to see how effective the service is so hopefully they resolve it within 2 weeks. We haven’t currently got any cases that require the phone support, but it would be nice to know that it can work for resolving problems down the line. It should also be noted that the phone support (at the time of writing) is not available in the UK. Anyway, so far so good. At least the client in question got to speak to a real life human being about the problem! Let’s hope this signals an improvement to Google+ Local as a whole (fingers crossed).

    • Thanks for stopping by, Nick!

      It’s a shame support isn’t yet available in the UK (or anywhere besides the US). But I agree with Mike Blumenthal: Google probably isn’t just doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. If it’s part of a foray into “freemium,” then you can bet Google will kindly extend service all over the place :)

  2. avatar Mike Blumenthal says:

    Good to hear that its working. on a related note according to Googler Jade (via Linda B) all or almost all new claims in the dashboard are going into Pending mode due to a bug/slow down/engineering issue with the dashboard.

    • Thanks for the intel and insights, Mike – as always. That’s good to know. I wonder whether some part of the backend is under the blade and about to (finally) change, or whether it’s just the bug du jour.

  3. FYI the pending can lag for several weeks and Jades says just not to worry about it if the listing is live. She made it sound temporary like something was just backed up. (Talking new claims, not mature listings that go to pending.)

    But in Travis’ case sounds like it was a mature listing that went to pending and disappeared.

    WARNING to all (Travis I wish you would have contacted me or posted at the forum). I strongly recommend NOT over poking. Certainly don’t do it every day. Yes a poke can sometimes pull a listing out of pending. Poke once, wait 5 – 7 days and see if it works. Then maybe wait a month and try it again but NEVER DAILY.

    I would not keep poking because a poke is an edit. It’s still a null edit, BUT you are hitting that submit button. I believe (but am not positive) that once in pending, doing an edit can send you to the back of the line again! So you possibly just prolonged the pending.

  4. Good news!

    It’s like we’re becoming conditioned to getting zero support from phone support – no matter where it is, good to hear Google is TCOB.

    Thanks for the report from the front lines…been circling in a holding pattern over a few yet to be verified listings mistakenly thinking phone support would be a dead end like the cyclic report an issue conundrum.

    Milton and the Sawx, good stuff!

    • Brilliant strategy on Google’s part: starve SMBs and SEOs of anything resembling support for years, so that we “ooh” and “aah” over anyone at Google who picks up the phone. Then we’re addicted to the royal treatment and would gladly pay for it :)

      Now the REAL question is: did I put Milton there to represent the frazzled business owner, or the Googler on the phone?

  5. Phil:

    Thanks again for giving me the head’s up on the Google phone number and for making me look like a hero with my client. I owe you one!

    Do you have any insight on what causes these random “Pending Review” audits in the first place? I’m sure it varies but in general, what are the primary causes of a live listing being yanked?

    Travis Van Slooten

    • No problem, Travis – although I was just passing along the message: I learned about the phone support from Mike’s blog.

      I probably don’t have any insights into the “pending review” status that you don’t: either your listing has stepped on Google’s dainty toes by somehow violating the “Quality Guidelines,” or you’ve fallen victim to a bug.

  6. I have the exact situation with a client so I went through the troubleshooter and Darnell called me back a few seconds after submitting the form.

    He said it was a tech issue on Google’s end and he’d be putting a ticket in. He said he couldn’t give me a timeline, but he did answer my questions as best he could. He didn’t give me a straight answer on why the listing went from live to under review, but hinted that it was because it was a service based business that didn’t hide their address (they do have a proper office though).

    • Thanks for the intel, Jesse. That’s the second time I’ve heard Darnell mentioned as having been helpful. Just in case one of my clients gets into a jam, I may have to send him a box of cigars :)

  7. Now this is one solid example of how things should normally go. I’ve been having a similar issue with my client’s listing, about two months ago it went unexpectedly from active to pending. Since his business is based in Europe phone support is not an option yet. :(

    • Yes, this is definitely an example of things going smoothly. I can’t help but wonder how long the people on the line at Google are willing to spend on the phone with any one business owner if there’s any sort of in-depth troubleshooting to be done.

      Let’s hope phone support makes its way to Europe soon!

      • avatar Ken Fagan says:

        “As when the ’04 Red Sox won the World Series, this restored some of my faith in the goodness of the Natural Order.”

        In any case, the Red Sox should be deeply ashamed for trying to Buy championships.

        Ken Fagan
        [Yankee fan in Paris]

  8. I used Google Phone Support for a few of our clients who were not receiving their PIN letters. I explained that I worked for a web marketing agency, went over several listings at once, and got resolution on all of them. It worked liked a charm! I only wish I had this tool with other citation sources. I really, really wish!

    • Thanks for the first-hand experience, Janelle!

      • Update to my earlier comment: I used Google Phone support again today, and they now require authorization from the client in the form of an email–from the client’s domain–in order to approve changes an agency rep makes. In this case, I needed to manually verify a listing while simultaneously merging duplicates. Google sent an email to the utility Gmail account I set up for my client, “ABC Corp.” Google’s rep gave me verbal instructions, and here’s the actual email text:

        “Hello,
        We spoke earlier today regarding your business verification. In order to verify your listing, we need to confirm that you own or have the authority to represent this business on local Google+ pages. Please complete the following steps in order to do so:
        – Respond to this email and carbon copy (CC) a person who has an email address with the relevant business domain. For example, if we were attempting to verify a listing for Google, we’d CC someone with an @google.com email address.
        – This person should ‘reply all’ and give written permission for Google to verify the listing. The response can be as simple as ‘Please verify the listing in the Google Places account, example@gmail.com.’
        Their response will assist us in manually verifying the listing. If you need any additional assistance or questions feel free to reply to us.”

        This is a recent change according to the Google rep, and I can verify (pun intended) that statement since my last contact with Google Phone Support was mid-January and client approval was not required at that time. I hope this helps other agencies out there!

  9. Phil:
    I wanted to provide an update on whether or not the call my client made actually worked. The client waited a couple weeks but the listing was still in pending review. He called Google again. They were able to trouble shoot the listing and get it fixed. Apparently, it will now be going live within a couple weeks.

    I also just got off the phone with Google myself – calling on behalf of another client that was having issues getting a couple of their pages verified. The process was flawless. After filling out the call form I got a call instantly and I was on the phone with an extremely friendly rep within 30 seconds. He was able to verify the listings for me! I think the whole process took around 5 minutes. I have to say I’m impressed.

    Travis Van Slooten

    • Travis, this is great to hear and shows a ray of hope for those of us who have to deal with these sorts of problems.
      The “Pending Review” situation was a perfect case for this new phone support as the whole thing didn’t make any sense, and it’s down to a real human (at Google) to sort it out. Very glad to hear it’s worked.
      Now, we haven’t got it in the UK yet, but I’m glad to see that you it will make life slightly easier for you guys “across the pond”.

    • Thanks for the update, Travis. Awesome! So far, so good…

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