One day not long ago we got a call in the office. My husband looked at the caller ID and said, “Hey, this says Google is calling. Can that be? Or is it some telemarketer spoofing Google?”
In fact, it turned out to be Google. Calling me.
Yes, I really got a call from Google. Out of 300 million people in the United States, Google had chosen to call li’l ole me.
When I heard the young woman in the other end of the phone say, “Hi, this is Emily from Google” I zipped through a range of emotions in about 3 seconds flat.
First I got a little thrill. Hmmmm, I thought. Have they heard about me and want to recruit me? Or maybe they want me to speak at one of their events. Could be a big opportunity here ….
No, wait! My next thought came with a sinking feeling. Uh, oh … I wonder if I inadvertently violated one of their quality guidelines for my website. Maybe they’re calling to tell me my site is being removed from the Google index. Geez! How bad could it be, that they have to call me personally to lower the boom?
Well, as it turns out, it was neither of the above.
Yes, it was Google. Yes, they called me personally. But it was to tell me that there was a bug in the software code for the Google Website Optimizer tool I had used on my website. And that I needed to remove the code, because it presented a security vulnerability.
And even though they were conveying news that was embarrassing for them, I was impressed.
Google Publisher Tools Help You Get More Online Business
To back up a moment, Google has been doing something wonderful for small businesses. They have been assembling a toolkit to help you run your website better and manage your business’s online presence.
Unless you’ve been lost on a mysterious tropical island for the past 2 years, you’re probably aware of Gmail, Google Calendar, and possibly even Google Docs, which give you spreadsheets, word processing and other office capabilities.
But I find that far fewer entrepreneurs and business people are aware of the full collection of Google Publisher Tools. The Publisher tools help you drive more online traffic — and if all goes according to plan — more sales.
Among them is my #1 favorite, called “Website Optimizer.” Website Optimizer is a free tool that lets you perform tests of different versions of a Web page, to see which one works better to get sales. You can compare different images in a page. You can compare two different blocks of text. You can compare different layouts. Google’s Website Optimizer will tell you which version works best. In fact, Website Optimizer is one of Google’s best kept secrets, in my opinion.
Admitting a Mistake Can be the Best Customer Service
Fast forward to the call I got. What impressed me is how ordinary Google seemed, despite its size. As of this writing, Google stock is selling for $470 a share and the company has a market capitalization of $148 Billion. That’s WAY bigger than, say, General Motors which has a market cap of a measly $15 Billion. :)
So you’d be tempted to think of Google as some monolithic giant, for which my site wouldn’t appear on the radar screen.
Yet, here they had a software bug — just like the smallest tech startup could have — proving that even the biggest make mistakes. And not only did they have a software bug, but they were going to great lengths to alert people to the security issue. Not ignoring it. Not hiding it. But admitting it and being proactive.
In that one instance of calling me, Google impressed me more than anything else they’ve done. Amazing, isn’t it, how admitting your mistakes can make the best impression on customers.