Friday, 18 November 2011

Product support: the efficient, gentle arrogance of Google

It's no secret that I'm a complete Google fanboy. You know how some people are so keen on Apple products they almost froth at the mouth. Well I'm a bit like that with Google. Given that, you may find it surprising that I've used the word 'arrogance', which for many people has negative connotations.

One of the things that has made buying Chromebooks from Google so pleasant is the amount of positive interactions from Google people during the process. When I first contacted them in about June there were no plans to extend Google Chromebooks for Enterprise into the education market in Europe. But during the summer break someone from Google Europe emailed to say that Google had formed a Chromebooks for Education in Europe and we were "good to go" (that's a shameful use of US expression).

Since then the interactions have been many and positive, helping us through the purchasing agreement, which was of a type we hadn't seen before at our Primary School and making sure the Chromebooks were delivered in good time.

Shortly after arrival I received a phone call from a friendly chap calling all the way from Mountain View. He'd got into work really early to speak to me mid-afternoon, given the 8 hour time difference. This was our deployment advisor, Hubert, who would guide us through the steps to successfully deploy our Chromebooks. And guide us he did. 2 Chromebooks didn't work at all at first and it was looking like I would have to go through the faff of having to put them in boxes and send them back to Dublin. However Hubert saved the day. His precise advice worked perfectly and the 2 Chromebooks were resurrected - they now work perfectly with our wifi system.

When all was sorted, he rang me one more time as a kind of debrief of the whole process and we went through my deployment experience. It concluded with a conversation in which I managed to express some of the things I'd like to see on the Chromebooks or in Google Apps - like a child-friendly version of Google+ for example.

In the email that followed he went on to say that I had "been one of his better customers." 

Now I know my school is only a tiny primary school and Google is a huge multinational company with thousands of employees, but it struck me as remarkable that any company would say this to their customers. I asked one or two friends who run businesses and they agreed that saying such a thing might make them lose business. It would be a bit like me saying to a parent: "You're one of our better families." I suppose there's a certain sensibility - maybe even a 'Britishness' - that might be offended by this. It could produce comments such as: "fancy rating us as a customer... how arrogant!" But of course for me (the Google fanboy) I just felt like a seventeen year old who'd just been told he was really good looking, despite his spots and gangly legs. I walked around the school just that little bit taller for a couple of days. If it is an arrogance, it's a gentle one, because I didn't mind it one bit.

And since then the support has been equally as good. I'm currently experiencing a glitch with our Google Apps Chrome Os Management Console (I'll be blogging about what happens with this in a few days time). I emailed at the start of the day and already two people have contacted me from Google until I've got the email from just the right expert, who will be giving me a call next week.

So in short, it's early days, but the product support has been brilliant - efficient, quick, precise and ever-so-gently arrogant.

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