Help With Google Places Dashboard


I wanted to show a typical, current Dashboard screen shot. The screenshot demonstrates both the lack of meaningful help and the problems that still exist with seeking it out by the small business person.


I am glad that Google has improved their Help system with a guided approach to solving problems. Google refers to these steps as “escalators”. I think that they will be helpful to many BUT there is still much that could be done in creating a customer service environment that is customer friendly. Much could be done even if a self help only approach to customer service was the only support Google desires to provide.

The contextual help in the dashboard, while present, is not as thorough or as helpful as it could be. The single Help link at the top of the page quickly scrolls off the screen in favor of other Google products. If you do click on the Help link, it is still at least 4 clicks to an answer and the answer is not totally informative.

And this screen shot just deals with the help that is provided INSIDE the dashboard. What about the many forms of support that can only be achieved by a link on the Places page. Why should an SMB need to go to two places for help? But then there are certain support issues that can only be dealt with in the forums? Why should they need to go to a 3rd place for support? And of course, if you do end up in the help forums filling out one of the new forms, will any one answer?

I think Google can do much better. They could do better in contextual, automated help and they could do better designing a comprehensive customer service experience….if they wanted to.

The problem is that I have been saying this same thing for as long as I have been writing this blog. These issues have been ongong for 5 years. While these new help files are a step, and a good step, in the right direction, the still inadequate help environment strongly suggests that they don’t want to.

Google Places Dashboard: QR Code MIA, Good riddance!

The printable QR Code that directed folks to your Places Page that Google offered up in the Places Dashboard went missing last week. A number of posters have turned up in the forums asking where it went, wondering how to print out the QR Code for their Places Page and lamenting its absence.  Google has not yet made a public announcement whether the feature has been pulled or is just missing as a result of another bug.

My response to the posters: GOOD RIDDANCE!

While the availability of the QR Code in the Places Page raised the visibility of the idea of the QR Code for millions of SMBs that otherwise would not have thought about them, Google’s self serving implementation was never one that was in the best interest of the business owner.

It is incredibly easy to create and print your own QR Code that can be used in a range of environments that better meet the needs of business. For example this site uses Google’s QR code API to allow a user to embed any URL in the code and print at a range of different sizes. It’s as simple as deciding which web page should be referenced in which campaign and pasting the URL in. The QR Code graphic is then generated in a choice of different sizes.

QR Codes could be added to newspaper ads, yellow page ads, billboards, business cards, TV commercials and signage. They are a useful way to encourage online engagement from the offline world. One suggestion that I have been making of late to clients with heavy foot traffic is to use the code to drive mobile shoppers directly to the Google mobile rating/review entry screen so as to facilitate the process….. here is the “recipe:

Take Google’s incredibly onerous URL for your Places Page:


Shorten it to its minimum content:

Add the following snippet to the end of the URL to send the user directly to the review window:


This creates the following URL:

Enter the above URL in the QR Code Generator, print and post near your exit with a request for a review. When scanned with any of the QR Code readers available on Android or the iPhone it will direct the users to Google’s Hotpot style, simplified mobile review environment:

While the above review solution still takes a user to your Google Places Page, it does so in a way that is useful to you and makes the customer’s life easier. Not only does it greatly facilitate the process of leaving a review in an engaging way, it does so while the experience is fresh for the consumer.

I would love to hear how your clients have used QR Codes and how well they worked.

Related posts:

  1. Google Maps and the QR Code – Why Use Google’s?
  2. Google Places Upgrades Dashboard Analytics – Is Google Adding a Reservation System?
  3. Google Places Review Bugs on the Mend