I wanted to point everyone to a really important post over at Mike’s blog.

The Untold Story of 2011: Google’s Significant Investments in a Google Places Support Structure

I’m sure most of you read Mike’s blog anyway. But I know sometimes people don’t have time to get through all the comments and there are some important and insightful ones there. I wanted to copy my comment over here too to be sure my readers see it. The part about the new troubleshooter is especially important because I still get emails from lots of pros that are pulling their hair out trying to find solutions and they have not even tried the troubleshooter yet.

My reply to Mikes post:

Wholeheartedly agree with all your points Mike and thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed summary of the issues.

And while I agree with Matt and there is still a long way to go, I’ve seen such HUGE strides lately that I’m very hopeful – and extremely thankful for any and all improvements. And I know there are lots more on the way.

Before I was a TC when I helped in the forums, I usually felt impotent. Now I can go to right to Vanessa and to see her go right to an engineer, get a problem fixed immediately AND explain the resolution to the user. Seems almost like a miracle to me! I’m in awe every time it happens. It feels so good to actually be able to make a difference and get problems fixed.

However as others have said, having a handful of volunteers and staff trying to nip a multitude of user problems in the bud one-by-one bud is not very sustainable. Part of their efforts need to also shift to fixing the myriad of back end core problems, so support requests are reduced.

Want to stress that the new troubleshooter seems right now to be the best way to go to get direct support. It goes directly to a live person at Google and I’m getting back great reports on turn around time and resolution. (Messaging and flow are being gradually improved over time, so it’s getting easier to find the right path.)

At any rate, every single effort to expand and improve support is much appreciated by me. PLUS the change in attitude toward SMBs and support is improving, so that’s encouraging as well. I think that’s an important key. Because the attitude and commitment change needs to be there before any positive actions are taken.

Admittedly wearing my rose colored glasses today, I believe the attitude change is underway and we are seeing the very beginning of some of the positive actions that are just starting to be planned and rolled out. If there is positive re-enforcement for the changes they are making (more happy users >> more new Places claimed >> more new Adwords $$) then I think we’ll continue to see more resources devoted to support and hopefully fixing some of the core problems.

Really need to say, having Vanessa on the team is just a Godsend. I see her fixing a myriad of problems, pushing for change and trying to improve things every single day! If with all Google’s power they could find a way to clone that woman about 5 times, we’d be in great shape!

Apologies for not blogging lately. I’ve been getting some emails asking if I’m alive and well from other pros that have missed my posts. I’ve been fighting a really bad case of the flu for 3 weeks and just can’t get up to 100% much less the 130% I normally run at to keep all my balls in the air. I mean I’m finally starting to get better the past few days just don’t have much energy. Plus now that I’m a Top Contributor on the Google Places forum I am posting a lot more in the Places forum which leaves less time, energy and carpal left for my own blog. Plus to be honest on top of all that, I’ve just have had bloggers block, recently.

But I do have an important big post I’m working on that should be posted soon and hope to be back with a renewed commitment to blogging regularly in the new year.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!