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Richard Holland

Richard Holland Managing Director

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How Microsoft Almost Gave Its Business To Google

Frequently, I write about how dealerships (or any company for that matter) need to have efficient, reliable communication tools in place so that all departments can access information at a glance. Quite ironically, one of the largest tech companies in the world, Microsoft, just proved that best practice as completely true.

People rely on Google to access many websites. I’m sure you know someone that googles “Yahoo” just to get the link to Yahoo in the search results when they “could” just type it into the address bar themselves. In fact, according to Mashable, some of the most searched words on Google in 2012 included Yahoo (#8), Google (#3 – Yes, people were googling Google), YouTube (#2) and Facebook (#1).  Why people feel that it’s faster to go to Google and search for these words to get a link to those sites is beyond me but the reality is that they do. My guess is that Google is the top referrer to these domains and vital to driving traffic to them.

In what I can only speculate was a breakdown in communication (or lack of supervision) within Microsoft, Microsoft gave Google a copyright takedown request for their own websites. This request included “links for Microsoft's official store, Microsoft's official support page, Microsoft's official Office page and the main Microsoft.com page.” While not exactly a death sentence, this was certainly a huge mistake on their part. I can just imagine all the fun corporate meetings that happened at Google to discuss whether they should comply (which was within their right.)

It’s no secret that Microsoft and Google are competitors in more ways than one. They compete in many fields but the one that matters most in this case is search engines. Microsoft has Bing and Google is Google. I’m sure that people at Google get a huge laugh when they look at their analytics and see how many people get to Bing by first searching it on Google. My guess is that, just like the other top results, Bing is pretty high on a complete list.

It seems as if Google ultimately decided not to comply knowing this was obviously a mistake. Having their official sites wiped clean on any Google search results would not necessarily be a death sentence for Microsoft; but it certainly would be bad for business and hinder their goal of increased search engine market share.

In this case, it would seem that a system in which every department could instantly see what every other department was doing, with a team in place to supervise this, would be something they would already have in place. However, either the company does not, or the system failed in this case.

In business, the customer experience is what drives loyalty and retention. Google got where it was as a search engine by focusing on bringing consumers an easy way to find the most relevant content. Your dealership or auto group is probably not submitting copyright infringement takedown requests to Google on anywhere near the scale that Microsoft is. However, any break in inter-departmental communication can affect your customer’s experience in your store. Ensure that your store has a system of checks and balances in place and access to instant information for your customers, employees and vendors. Otherwise you could run the risk of making mistakes that may affect your customer’s experience in one way or the other.

Too many dealerships operate in such a way that departments are not only independent but, in some cases, competing with each other. This is bad business for many reasons but, most importantly, it can affect your ability to provide great service to your customers in any department.

Don’t force your customers to search for a great customer experience at a competitor’s dealership. I guarantee that, unlike Google, they won’t help your customers come back.

Mike Fox
Google has been forced to backtrack on its patent war with Microsoft, done through complaints filed with the ITC (International Trade Commission). But it left itself one ace-in-the-hole to keep this particular fight with Microsoft alive.

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