Tranisition to nowhere

As a user of Postini (now known as Google Mail Filtering) I received a number of communications from the Google Postini Transition team saying that they were migrating services off the old Postini infrastructure and onto the new Google Apps infrastructure and that I could select to transition or not and to keep an eye out for the new agreements and that you can get extra information by following some links. Later, they sent another friendly e-mail saying that your existing service won’t really be affected except to make it better by allowing you to have the power of Google Apps.

Then this morning arrived the non-renewal notice.

Apparently my transition is a transition to nowhere.

Please understand, I do not question Google’s right to no longer offer a service, nor to change their mind. The issue is the poor manner in which they communicated with their customer - somewhere along the way I feel I went from being an asset to being an inconvenience.
Google Mail Filtering (GMF) is a service where Google receives your mail, filters it and then sends the good bits on to your mail server. It doesn’t cost much and probably doesn’t make much for Google1 - especially when it is not closely linked to Google’s advertising targeting service. I do not question Google’s right to stop doing things that do not make them enough money or fit with their strategy.

The problem is the way that the messages were crafted. Even worse a visit to the Postini page ( today still has the reassuring messages on it - if you read carefully what you don’t see are the services that are not transitioning.

The soft marketing message of nothing really changing we will send you some forms and you can make a decision next year - clearly they thought the first message was too scary so they reiterated it and softened it further - turned into we are not doing this anymore in one e-mail.

I don’t know if Google’s plans changed and they decided not to offer a service at that price point or if they planned from the start to just abandon GMF customers - but I can tell looking back through web commentaries that Google has known for a while that they were not transitioning GMF customers.

The complete change of tone from last years communication to the termination notice and the failure to do what they said they would do (send forms and offer choice) in their first e-mail makes Google’s encouragement to look into their Google Apps moot2.

So the communications lessons:
  • If you make a commitment, keep it
  • If you have bad news, do not soften it
  • If you change plans part way through, apologise and tell the customer that you have
My experience of being a directly paying Google customer has ended poorly - it need not have.

Off to find another mail filtering service …

1. It certainly did not make enough to make it worthwhile for Google to provide more than message board support and some FAQs - but that is another story.

2. To add insult to injury I had rather been looking forward to transitioning to Google Apps - as I was hoping to use it to fix up some authentication problems I had been having with You Tube and Google Docs - problems I have been living with for months, but decided I could put up with as I would be transitioning in less than a year. Pure GMF customers have had a rather unfortunate problem with using the e-mail address associated with GMF as a login for other Google services - you keep getting told that this e-mail address is managed by the domain admin, but the domain admin doesn’t seem to have a means to let you use those other services - at least that I could find.