Google’s revolutionary "self-service support" teaches users problem solving skills

2012-04-17

Rather than taking the industry's traditional approach of informing users of service issues during its significant email outage yesterday, or even providing users with a way to contact the support team, Google held strong to its "self-service" email support strategy. The outage, which prevented customers from accessing their e-mail from their iPhones and desktop e-mail clients, was not reported to customers until after the problem had been resolved, a few hours later. The revolutionary move will ultimately teach more business users how to be self-sufficient and develop problem solving skills. This has made many more experienced hosted services providers wonder if they are offering too much "hand-holding" to their customers by providing full-service live support via phone and email.

Intermedia, the leading provider of hosted Microsoft Exchange and other business email services, is among many of the hosted service providers in the industry that has been forced to question their technical support strategy in light of Google's groundbreaking strategy. "I've always believed that Intermedia's 24x7x365 support from highly-trained and experienced certified support staff was what users wanted from their business email provider. But with Google doing the complete opposite, the entire industry just might re-think this strategy," said Danny Essner, Director of Marketing at Intermedia.

Google has also broken ground with its "what you don't know won't hurt you" approach to service issues. Rather than disappointing Gmail business users with downtime explanations, Google notified users of the issues after the service had started working again. Google's new approach has caused business email providers to think twice about informing users of connectivity issues, let alone giving them any idea of when the service will be back up again.

"While we still expect to offer our customers a 99.999% uptime SLA and 24x7x365 Microsoft Gold Certified support, along with proactive notifications regarding scheduled and unexpected outages," said Essner, "Google's strategy has certainly given us pause and made us question our approach."

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