Searching Beyond the Paid

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Pay-Per-Click Customer Service

Pay-per-click customer service (commonly known as PPC CS) varies widely amongst the engines. As of today, here's how I'd rate each major engine on their service on a scale from 1 (worst) to 5 (best).

Google: 5. They have consistently gone above and beyond to make sure I'm happy with my account. They take the time to listen and learn about our business and what works. They're extremely responsive to my inquiries (usually same-day - if not, it's usually because the time zone difference gets in our way). Reps are patient and customer-focused. The only negative I can think of is that every 3-6 months, we get a new rep. That said, each time that's happened, the new rep has taken a lot of time to review our account and talk to me about our goals. Thumbs up. Plus you can't beat Google swag.

Yahoo: 2. I would give them a 1 except that on a couple occasions, I've had decent results from calling them and speaking with a Platinum rep. However, despite the 5 figures we spend with them monthly, we don't get a dedicated rep - we're stuck with whoever we get on the phone. And forget emailing - they never reply. Forget, too, about click fraud refunds - in May we were promised a refund for bad traffic we got back in February and March. It never happened. Terrible.

MSN: 3. Two weeks ago, I'd have given them a 4. Now, it seems, we've been downgraded from a dedicated rep with a direct email and phone number to their "US Ad Services" area, with a generic phone number and email address. We've been with MSN since the old Search Featured Site program, and IMHO this is no way to treat an advertiser who's stuck by them through that program, plus the beta and startup of the new one. And, the well-publicized problems with their interface and the lack of understanding of it on the part of the reps doesn't earn them points, either. Sorry, MSN - everybody there is super nice, but nice just isn't enough.

Ask: 0. When I wrote this post, I'd have given them at least a 3. I'd fetched myself a rep with a direct phone number and email address, and he was understanding and responsive to my queries. Even got us a click fraud refund in less than 48 hours. Huge brownie points. Then - poof! - he left the company. Now, I've got no phone number (his direct line dead-ends with a voice mail saying he's gone) and an email address that I think just goes to a junk mail folder, judging from the responses I've received (none). Ask removed us from one crappy network (Findology) but then put us on another (abcsearch, the famed IP that folks on the forums are complaining about). They didn't charge us for clicks from that IP, but those clicks throw off our tracking stats. No amount of emailing or complaining on the boards has brought a reply. Guess what, Ask: when that happens, I just pull keywords and reduce my CPC with broad strokes.

Suffice it to say that CS in the PPC world leaves a lot to be desired. Yes, PPC is still a really new field, and everyone in it still has a lot to learn. However, responding to advertiser queries in a timely fashion is just CS basics - in fact, it's not even PPC-related. It's just good customer service, period. Oh, and some nice swag goes a long way, too.


  • Nice post. I have similar problems with ask with both findology and abc. This traffic worked terribly for me.

    By Blogger Phil Reifenberg, at 4:31 PM EDT  

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