Brand Engagement

An Inside Look at the Google Laboratory

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Our friend and occasional guest blogger Mark Crowley was recently let inside the doors of Google to learn about all of the ways it fosters engagement.  Read his account in Fast Company here.

While it’s difficult not to admire the Google’s progressive treatment of employees, I’m not sure I’d give it such rosy coverage. In fact, I think it’s a classic case of a company that has failed to understand the connection between employee engagement, customer engagement and results. For, while the company treats its employees well, what about its customers?  Have you ever tried to reach a human being at Google? The company does everything it can to discourage human dialog – and it’s even worse if you have an idea you’d like to sell the company. It’s remarkably difficult to reach anyone there unless they’ve given you permission, and the company appears to be highly insular in terms of how it views the world.

This lack of personal connection with customers may be at the heart of Google’s failure to consistently deliver a high quality product. Its searching and mapping are both superb, but most people agree that the bulk of its other products are sub-par at best, including its cloud-based software products (clunky and quirky) and its Google+ social networking platform (a lifeless product that has all but failed despite an installed base of countless Gmail users). Google has wasted no time stripping the soul out of the Zagat restaurant guide product, whose reliability has rapidly declined since the founders sold out. Arthur Frommer, the travel publisher, is buying back its property’s from Google, hopefully seizing the opportunity the restore life to the properties Google sucked the life from.

We call this field Enterprise Engagement, because it’s not just about employee engagement or customer engagement, but both.

Google is great at algorithms and arguably treats employees better than most companies, but by cutting off its company from customers and outside ideas, it risks creating a smug, self-centered atmosphere insufficiently responsive to its mass of customers.

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