So yesterday I had the joy of Google deleting my Google Plus profile. Some of you may be thinking that’s not such a big deal, no one uses it right? Wrong. I love G+ and really enjoy using it. Also, enjoyment aside, my G+ profile is linked to my YouTube account and therefore when G+ disappeared my YouTube account was frozen. Disaster.
I have an idea how the whole thing happened…
Being a big fan and heavy user of Google products, I signed up for Google Apps for Business. During my years at The Guardian we used Google products for mass collaboration on projects, email etc and I’ve been using it ever since so this purchase was a no brainer.
The jury’s still out for me on whether a Google Apps account is completely necessary for a small business like mine, given the amount of functionality I can get on my free account. But in the interests of being able to recommend the correct solutions for my clients, I’m experimenting and will report back my thoughts and recommendations shortly.
The first thing I will say though is, the automatic addition of a G+ account for your new business mail is a bit of a pain. In fact, this is exactly where my problems started. When I saw one had been set up for me and that potential clients were starting to circle it, I asked for the new profile to be removed. If you have a G+ profile that you would like to remove, here’s what you need to do:
1. Click on your profile at the top right of your Gmail and click “Account”
2. Click on “Delete profile and remove associated Google + features”
3. Select the “Delete Google+ content” option and click “Remove selected services” (careful not to delete your whole Google profile! If this happens however, you can reinstate within 24 hours here)
You’ll then be taken to a terms and conditions page where you want to make double, triple sure that you are requesting for the correct account to be removed.
My problem? Instead of removing the new, inactive account that I didn’t need, Google deleted both my accounts. The first I knew about this was when I logged in to YouTube and there was a big red alert message that all my videos had been taken offline because my Google profile no longer existed. Yup. Panic time.
The thing that caused the most panic for me was the lack of details available for contacting Google. I get that companies like Google, Ebay etc want you to use their forums and FAQ pages so that they can avoid any customer services support. However, there are times when you really do need to contact the company directly to find out what your options are. Especially when it’s their mistake!
So what did I do? I tweeted @Google (no response), I added a post to their Google Product Help (both for Gmail and Google Plus). I added some site Feedback (the confirmation message for Feedback tells you they won’t respond to every message, reassuring), I posted on their Google+For Your Business page with my husbands login, I emailed their sales department at Google Apps for Business and finally tried to post on their Facebook page (no such luck, fan posts are not enabled).
At this point I’m also searching through blogs and forums for advice and getting more and more stressed by the second as I read yet another post about deleted accounts which have never ever been restored. Someone has even replied saying as much to me on one of the forums.
So, in order to at least get my YouTube account back online, I click the button which is asking me to set up my G+ profile. I do this grudgingly of course and get ready to start from scratch on my account. Not a happy place to be given that I was in the first few waves of invites that went out for Google Plus and have been an advocate for quite some time.
Bitterness aside, I see that when I click on my profile my information is still there! I’m still in the circles I’ve always been in! The only thing that is missing are my posts and activity history. I can’t tell you what a relief this was. OK I’ve lost a lot of information but at least from a business perspective I haven’t lost the followers that have been built up. There may not be very many if you compare to twitter or other networks but these are hard won and I spend time and effort building engagement so I’ll take what I can get.
To date I am yet to have a response from Google. Given that I am a new business customer who is now paying for services, this does not bode well. I’m going to try to not let this experience colour any reviews of my Google Apps Account as a product but it will obviously have an effect of my recommendation from a customer service perspective.
So if you find yourself in my position, try not to panic, most of your information will still be accessible. Luckily the Google user community is much more supportive than the company itself so put your questions out there. Lastly, make some noise about it. The more Google get the idea that customer service is important to its users, the more likely they are to respond (at least one would hope)*.
Have you ever found yourself in this situation? What did you do?
*Disclaimer: I’m aware that for the most part I am part of the Google product rather than a customer given how much data they get from me to grow their commercial business. However, as an Apps for Business user I should at least be able to expect a basic level of customer support
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