Google: We Can't Have Customer Service Because...

Aug 24, 2011 • 9:19 am | comments (59) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Other Google Topics

Google Webmaster Help Groups TeamGoogler, DeWitt Clinton, shared his "thought of the day" on why Google can't technically do customer support.

He shared it on Google + saying:

If you have a billion users, and a mere 0.1% of them have an issue that requires support on a given day (an average of one support issue per person every three years), and each issue takes 10 minutes on average for a human to personally resolve, then you'd spend 19 person-years handling support issues every day.

If each support person works an eight-hour shift each day then you'd need 20,833 support people on permanent staff just to keep up.

That, folks, is internet scale.

Now, of course, many people are thinking for a company that has more cash on hand than most governments in the world, what is the big deal with hiring a few more people.

But truth be told, Google has tons of Googlers who are out there just to help others. They can't do phone calls but they are in the support forums, they do spend time on blogs, they do go to social media sites and they do respond to emails when possible.

Here is a picture of some of those Googlers from 2008:

Google Webmaster Help Groups Team

Anyway, if you want to rant about it, the Google + post is public for all to chime into.

Forum discussion at Google +.

Previous story: Google Webmaster Tools & GoDaddy Linkage Broken



08/24/2011 02:19 pm

Wow. I guessed it was complex, but not that complex! Anyway, I has to use the forums several times and the service is really quick because the community is very large. Why would they need staff when there are googlers who are willing to do it for free out there! :)


08/24/2011 02:26 pm

I totally agree with Google's conclusion about customer service and internet scale.  However, this means the company is always going to hit a ceiling when it comes to what it can offer as a company. There will be no brick and mortar stores, no distribution centers and I'm not exactly sure how they utilize their high speed fiber since I can't see how they can run it to the homes.  I wouldn't be surprised if at some point Google breaks off certain businesses from the main company in the future.

Nick Stamoulis

08/24/2011 02:41 pm

When you break it out into numbers, Google really can't do "traditional" customer service. It can be really frustrating for site owners, but it seems like that's the way it's going to be. However, there is such a large community for support among other users, most questions can be answered.


08/24/2011 02:44 pm

This is also why social marketing doesn't scale.

Koozai Mike

08/24/2011 03:01 pm

I think he's missed the point somewhat. The Google search tool doesn't really need customer support (it's fairly idiot proof really), however it's the subset services that businesses rely on day by day that need support - AdWords and Analytics being two examples. When Analytics lost data in April it took over a week to resolve, that wasn't good enough, and this is where customer support should have been positioned.


08/24/2011 03:04 pm

This is the fire they are lighting under their plaform - I totally disagree - they have serious google places wrong info listings (just got another client call this am from one) and forget going to their forms and getting it resolved - it will not happen - I've seen them pick up bad info and send hotel guests for months to an empty field in a residential area 3 miles away, I've seen them take 6 months and more to change out bad address and phone listings for local businesses (this was hurting their business bad) - with all the cash they have and all the money they make to not have a real support person for incidents like these should be  cause for civil liability - google get real about your listings in places or get out of the business of showing addresses and phones where the client never gave you that info or get some real people online to quickly resolve your problem as you have no idea apparently at the hostility you are breeding on street level businesses that you are sending their clients and customers to the wrong locations and phone numbers.

Ian Williams

08/24/2011 03:45 pm

Google have a billion clients? 1 in 6 people on the planet are paying for services (either in direct cash, or business investments of time/revenue dependency) from Google? I don't think so.

Joe Amadon

08/24/2011 05:08 pm

I imagine they are considering people who use their free services as well in that billion user count.

Electronic Cigarette

08/24/2011 05:12 pm

how about billion clients call them at the same time??  will the whole US tel system be crashed?

Max Beggelman

08/24/2011 07:00 pm

Does Google have more than 20,000 servers? I bet they do! When you get down to it, this isn't actually a reason why they CAN'T do customer service, it's a reason why they don't WANT to. The numbers involved may be big, but everything about Google's operations is bigger. Most importantly, this lack of customer service isn't unique to Google. Many other web companies, none of which have a billion users, feature a similar lack of phone service. It's just cost-cutting: why pay for call centers on that scale when you can cover your user support needs with only a public forum and a few dozen community managers, knowing full well that such a system provides inadequate support but that very few people will actually dump your service over it?


08/24/2011 07:53 pm

Typical of Google: lying through their teeth. Did someone suggest to answer emails from people that are random searchers? These scumbags will ignore everything you post in G 'help' forums, unless the media gets involved. You can report a scrapper and no one does anything.

Joe Youngblood

08/24/2011 08:11 pm

it would only cost google ~54 million in their own estimate to do GOOD customer service each year. adequate would cost about 20 million in labor and fair around 5-10 million. their customer support now is sub-poor and likely to cost them as comps step up to the plate.

Jaan Kanellis

08/24/2011 08:16 pm

Their should always be complete support for AdWords no matter how small the account it.

Jon Wade

08/25/2011 12:05 am

"20,833 support people on permanent staff " - and what is wrong with that? A lot of business employ tens of thousands of people for this very reason - to keep the customer satisfied. Wal-Mart apparently employs 2.1 million people. 21 thousand suddenly seems like a small number!


08/25/2011 04:01 am

Google seems to be again quite unique. Over the last 5.5 years conducting large scale ppc activities, the more we spend on adwords the less service we get- as I said quite unique.. They do have plently of support if you want to opena new account- but effectively zero -once you are an adwords client.mmmmmm summit wrong  IMHO.


08/25/2011 05:45 am


Ian Williams

08/25/2011 08:20 am

Exactly. Which is why its somewhat disingenuous at best for them to claim a figure of a billion as requiring support. IMO they could provide customer support if they wanted but, as discussed below, they simply don't want to because it will eat into profits. 20,000 is NOT that big a staff number, even less so when placed in the context of Google's reach, market position, and profit. A tiny example is the impact bad listings in Google Places can have on a small business. I think Google has to shoulder some responsibility for that, especially as they are mindlessly automating the data collection in the first place, with or without request of the business owner. The cost to the business of a bad address/merger/phone number can be tremendous; the cost to Google would be minuscule. There is an element of responsibility on behalf of Google there, IMO. That said, when you're so big that people have no choice but to depend on you, you can pretty much cut all the corners you want in pursuit of $.


08/25/2011 11:51 am

Google is right. Why customer service if their revenues keeps growing in light speed?

Jonathon Hewitt

08/25/2011 01:29 pm

So it looks like Google has 20 instead of 20,000. If they actually had a support staff on hand they would be getting a lot of the leads that us marketers get everyday.

Barry Schwartz

08/25/2011 01:31 pm

that is just one small group from the dublin office back in 2008 or so.


08/25/2011 01:31 pm

Proves that Google is evil still

Jonathon Hewitt

08/25/2011 02:07 pm

Interesting, seems like a unique crowd.

Jonathon Hewitt

08/25/2011 02:11 pm

I bet Google's payroll monthly is already close to the same as Wal-Mart's as it is now, they are some highly paid individuals and Wal-Mart starts at minimum wage with very little benefits.


08/30/2011 11:20 am

Google does not have 1 billion clients. It has 1 billion ingredients to their product (as they make their money from selling their users' attention to advertisers). They have millions of clients (AdWords + AdSense), like any utility company, mobile phone company etc. in even a small country. And guess what? All those companies manage to maintain 24-hour phone support and physical client service offices. What's more: they don't hide behind "support forums", multiple-steps-till-you-find-it contact forms etc. Even a relatively small AdSense-client generates more revenue for Google (through the one-third/two-thirds revenue sharing) than he does for his phone, water, gas, electricity etc. companies combined. Do all those companies have better customer support than Google? Yes, they do; you can only do better than Google. The pathetically distorted, puerile and self-justifying thinking of this guy DeWitt Clinton just proves why mega-companies are the scum of capitalism. If you are a small company, you have responsibilities. If you are a medium-size company, you have responsibilities. Even if you are a large company, you have responsibilities. But if you are a mega-company, you suddenly do not have responsibilities simply because they would be too burdensome. It's like the mining company mindset: they cause tens of billions of dollars of environmental damage, which they can't afford to compensate for, so their thinking goes, no-one should expect them to compensate for it in the first place. Big numbers are good for Google as long as those numbers generate them 8 billion dollars per year in profits. Just not good when it comes to responsibilities. That notion is not something this lovely company cares much for.


10/28/2011 03:09 pm

So how do you get help?  More specifically, help with something that someone at google will be required to interact with?

Bobby stan

12/12/2011 08:19 pm

Google is an arrogant monopoly. Get the F off the fooz ball tables and provide industry standard customer service u bunch of geeks. No wonder why you couldn't figure solar power out you cant figure customer service out


01/11/2012 04:18 am

thats shorseshit, google are arrogangt assholes and if they contiunte such awful coustume service there stocks will soon plummet


02/16/2012 10:01 pm

If google can't afford to hire 20,833 to answer the same questions over and over, they could at least hire people to review the answers their googlers are submitting and delete the ones that are patently wrong.  Those Googlers are quite busy, posting "solutions" that are sometimes correct, and sometimes not.  There are about "About 28,400,000 results" for the search "gmail internet explorer compatibility view", but after two hours I still haven't  figured out why gmail is telling me to turn off Compatibility View when it is already off.   Many of the wrong answers are at, contributed by googlers, and most of them say "This discussion is closed to new replies.".   This just noise, getting in the way of finding answers.  Finding an answer to a google software issue  takes us at least twice as long as finding an answer to most other software issues, because of all the noise.  And not even the possibility of putting up with an hour hold to get someone who actually knows the product.    


02/24/2012 03:45 am

I could not have said it better myself. I just got through leaving feedback on Googles disappointing support. The company makes billions but makes excuses as to why it does not want to hire employees to handle its products that are SO great and have NO problems? Yes there are forums that DON'T answer questions after a lot of reading and who wants to sit around and read a dang forum? We work eight hours a day really? I don't want to do that in my spare time, I want an answer.


09/07/2012 12:28 am

I"m pretty sure Google is ripping me off by charging me incorrectly for a service, but I can't even get in contact to voice my concerns. It's utterly unacceptable.

Georgie Lim

09/17/2012 05:20 pm

F annoying service by google Emailed them 5 months did not receive any assistance at all. F google


10/26/2012 11:15 am

Stephen, have you considered signing on with the struggling "competitors" of Google's ad services? There is more bid competition inside Google AdWords than at other companies. (Ironic, isn't it?) This means you pay more. Switch to Yahoo, AdBrite, Bidvertiser, all three, or some of the many options. You will pay less, and the publishers for those companies will get paid more. Seems like a win-win proposition!


11/13/2012 10:16 am

do these googlers get paid or do they just get free balls to play with? i have a gmail account that the recovery page says doesn't exist but when i try to create a new account with that name it says it already exists. knowing the only way to resolve this issue would be to contact someone who works for google to check on the status of the account, i began to search through pages and pages of support and posts to the support forum. after hours of research trying to resolve my issue and looking for someone i could actually contact, i realized all i could do was start a thread in the support forum. i thought maybe people who actually work for google are replying to people via these threads. i was wrong, but being my only option i post my exact problem in the forum. i get a reply telling me to do everything i already tried. i tell them i tried all that and reiterate my problem. they reply telling me to do the same thing they already told me to do, and the same thing all the help pages told me to do, the same thing i told them a few times i already done. this goes back and forth for a fkn month until tonight i finally said 'great support google' with a frowning face meaning i was sarcastic. at last, the person says they will contact the real google support about my account. my fkn god. its unreal how much time was fkn wasted just to finally get in touch with the real gmail support. now i'll see how long it takes for them to get back to me. for them to come up with excuses is equally pathetic as the support. its like they are putting hte blame on the users of their services. if you want to grow ur company as large as possible you should inherently be accepting the scale of every department including support personnel. seriously...the quote from dewitt is a fn joke....afi's post on here says everything im thinking right now so im not going to repeat it. but those of u who agree with dewitts comment you arent thinking clearly. every user google recruits means more money they are making on ads and other revenue streams, but according to dewitt, when google recruits new users and makes more money support cannot recruit a new employee. so as google makes more money they want to use less support. say google could afford one support employee for every so many thousand users when they first began operations. so when the number of users doubles they should be able to afford doubling the support staff. if they could initially support a ratio, no matter how large the number of users gets that ratio should at least remain stationary. so when dewitt says its not possible doesnt make sense to me. its just the nature of google -> $$$$$$$ and world domination. for those of u who are googlers doing googles dirty work wth is wrong with u. support is such a horrible job...repeating the same crap to confused users day after day and dealing with all the bullshit. if googlers are doing that for free..wth...u guys must have no life to follow google with a shovel and pick up their shit. honeslty. from my experience with one googler already..he has proven to be a genuine retard. i put detailed information right in front of him...about 5 times, yet this googler completely ignored it and proved himself to be a complete fkn idiot. a fitting representative for google i guess. i love helping people and maybe thats why u do be nice.....but what ur doing is hurting more than helping. first of all ur giving up ur time for free to a monopoly...stop and think about that for a second............but most importantly ur only contributing to googles lack of support. u have become a crutch for google....they know ur there to hold them up so there will never be a need for a real support department within google. ur giving google a reason to not help people themselves. i think google has this all figured out. put a value on how much people rely on google services and then put a value on support. obviously if i used google services everyday and i have an issue like this, its not enough to make me stop using googles services all together because i rely on them so much. i think they know this relationship well. they know it will take a lot to get someone to drop their services all together. support is just a financial nuisance with little significance to their success. i'll admit there are some chrome extensions i absolutely love like high contrast and adblock, if other browsers had similar extensions i would consider removing chrome from my life. gmail will be harder to remove from my life since it works so nice with android and used where i work. it would also be nice to get away from a company who has proven to not give a shit about how they use personsal/private data

John Bowler

01/30/2013 05:10 am

Google have stopped people adding comments to that post. My comment: If you have a billion users you need a million support people. Google know this (not in the comment Google bounced - only the previous line), Google know the math. Are you one in a million? John Bowler

Brian Kramchuck

03/13/2013 02:31 am

nah I thought they were great. they had great patients for me and a pug that looked like me

Brian Kramchuck

03/13/2013 02:36 am

nope. I had apps I wasn't using for free and from sites that give paid ones for free taking from the playstore.

Mr. Pickles

04/17/2013 10:01 pm

I had to wait quite a while to get through to someone on googles Adwords support call


05/24/2013 04:52 am

Most people who ask for Google customer service do not actually want customer service from Google or they simply have no patience. People are confused at why things are available on the Internet. It isn't Google's fault that you look like a dummy in that picture or that a company has the wrong phone number posted on some web page.. Others simply can't be bothered to actually read the information provided online and want someone to hold their hand instead of continuing to use the Internet for 5 minutes to fix a problem originally found on the Internet.

David Bandel

07/31/2013 05:29 am

nice try but no. google and their acquired video streaming service, youtube is littered with bugs, some of which cause useability blockages for some users. when you try to get support for these issues, if you are LUCKY you'll get some flunky telling you it's a known bug and they are working on it. then months later nothing will have been resolved. nice try being a corporate fanboi. too bad you came up against a superior intellect this time and failed as a result.


08/06/2013 01:19 am

Oh really? My AdSense account just stopped. I used Google's form to report a problem and got an email that the email address/account I was using wasn't associated to my AdSense account. Weird thing, when I try to re-create one with the same account it said there was already an Adsense account associated to that account. So pray-tel, how are a bunch of bloggers going to help with that one? Google keeps sending me canned responses that, by the way, cannot be replied to.


08/30/2013 01:18 am

Well, I don't see these "googlers" helping when Google has a fuckup and (totally not speaking from past experience /sarcasm) bans an account for absolutely no reason? I want to know what they recommend to fix Google's inability to do ANYTHING right with YouTube, or when somebody makes a false report on somebody? Who do we ask when it's Google's fault?

Alis Simmons

10/03/2013 12:36 am

i cannot remember my password to goolge account! how the hell am i supposed to remember the last time i signed in, and the date i created my google account?!?! WTF GOOGLE


10/11/2013 03:13 pm

I don't want my Google Plus. Everytime I delete it I get asked if I want it back when I go to YouTube. Damn it Google and YouTube, I DON'T WANT IT! I have FaceBook! Let me keep my username and quit asking your users to add a Google Plus account!


10/18/2013 09:11 pm

ATTENTION GOOGLE CORP. I'M tired of your attempts to push services on me. I don't want Google +, igoogle, google wallet, or any other service I have not asked for. I signed up for mail, and a calendar. I'M NOT INTERESTED IN SOCIAL NETWORKING APPS, PLATFORMS OR SERVICES. DO YOU WANT ME TO QUIT GOOGLE? I ALREADY HAVE A PUSHY BANK. I DON'T NEED A PUSHY EMAIL SERVICE THAT VIOLATES MY PRIVACY, READS MY MAIL AND LISTENS TO MY TELECOMMUNICATIONS.


10/18/2013 09:14 pm



10/18/2013 09:23 pm

NO ONE WANTS GOOGLE + . IT'S FORCED ON US LIKE HEATH CARE, BANK FRAUD AND MARKETING SCAMS (real estate). FACEBOOK TRIED IT AND LOST MILLIONS OF CUSTOMERS. NOW IT'S TIME TO SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. GOOGLE'S SERVES GOVERNMENT AND CORPORATE INTERESTS. It will be known as the giant company that fell. NAZI SS, Gestapo, KGB, CIA....spying on you because they can, because they will, because they like to see you squirm and squeal. Don't be a mouse, be a lion. Bite back.


01/06/2014 05:52 am

I closed my G+ about 6 months ago and still feel happy about it. Thinking about switching to other search engine and email for the same reason, endless spamming not from someone else but google themselves. Yes, google sucks!

Desiree Duggan

01/07/2014 04:41 pm

OK so if I have an issue, like getting locked out of my Google account for no apparent reason, unable to use YouTube, unable to use, and all of the products associated with it; and I lose my livelihood because of ZERO customer service and no one to talk to, email, or otherwise, don't you think for one second if some company comes around with a competing product like Facebook did to Myspace, that the masses like myself won't hop on that bandwagon and leave Google bleeding in the dust faster then a NY minute could scream by?


02/05/2014 03:53 am

Google has the worst support i have ever experienced. Every time I order something from their "play" store it is either sent out late, lost in the mail, or never arrives. They do absolutely nothing about it when I try to reach out. This isn't how one of the top global companies should act. It really leaves a bad taste in the mouths of its loyal customers.


03/05/2014 01:04 am

The forums are a joke. Questions are never answered by anyone that actually has a connection to Google. I believe that if you sell something or offer something then you should have to have some sort of support program. Even if it was email only and a stinking computer was answering half the questions it would be better than what they have now. There isn't even a way to confirm that a suggestion you make is considered it's just up to chance that what you have to ask/say is ever even graced with a skim reading from a Google employee. I think if they can't do better than this they should close the doors I don't care how many people there are with problems if there are too many unhappy people with problems for them to handle then maybe they should work on quality over quantity. If you don't take the time to at least try to support or listen to your users then problems will just continue to grow and get farther out of hand until the majority of the population hates your product. All I'm saying is give it a try and if you can only take care of 15% of your users problems then at least you've done that. I'd be much happier if I even had a 1 in 5 million chance at getting a question answered by someone I knew had a legitimate connection to Google.


03/10/2014 09:32 pm

I've been on hold now for an hour, this after I've tried to email them 5 times already!


03/10/2014 09:41 pm

Wow. Seek help ASAP!


03/10/2014 09:46 pm

FAIL. I am trying to recover a client's YouTube account which is being squatted on by another person. The name is trademarked and copyrighted and I need to get the account in the hands of its correct owner. Thus, not everyone is just acting like an ignorant idiot!


03/10/2014 09:47 pm

And that's a paying customer! Imagine if you aren't paying?!


03/10/2014 09:47 pm

You can always dispute the charge via your CC...!


05/13/2014 05:55 pm

Google has the worst customer service of any company --- which is no customer service at all!!!!!


06/08/2014 12:04 am

Solution: Have the people give thumbs-up to Help Forum questions, and the top-voted questions will then be answered by google. That will kill many birds with one stone.


06/08/2014 12:05 am

Also, I wouldn't having a swing at the fat guy on the red ball

Black Beauty

07/17/2014 11:31 pm

And it may not have helped me with my problem and tried to at best, but at least someone at google play area of google answered. Again, good luck.

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