As much as I have distaste for the monopoly that is google, it has dramatically improved its customer service for local businesses so that they show for searches. I'd say its virtually like most every other real business now in terms of responding to complaints and issues. Almost...not quite...but pretty close.
Of course this follows years of non responsiveness or sporadic responsiveness with no normal customer service at all.
In our latest example we took over an smb that had been suffering from an internal (probable or definitely) backend data problem inside the "cluster" that represents how an smb is found via universal search. That basically means will the business show up in the PAC or group of local listings that originate in maps.google.com (and or the google+local cluster).
The business was showing for name searches, but for virtually no discovery searches at all inside the pac with a map associated UI in the first page of google.com. On top of that there was something wrong with how it presented information.
We used phone service to local customer service reps (as outlined in this article )
We had a couple of issues with the record as it was showing. One of the problems was minor. The rep fixed it immediately. It was showing corrected immediately. (hallielujah!!). The other was more complex. We were told the changes would appear in time.
Within one week the information started showing in discovery searches. We checked it against a variety of searches in google.com and we also checked it against a variety of searches inside maps.google.com (that tends to eliminate the impact of organic strength on how high an smb shows against other smbs. While not strong across the board it was showing pretty well.
The last time I had encountered a deep problem inside the "local cluster" for an smb was over one year ago. Google "customer service" had been installed, though not with customer service reps on the phone. I had reported on that in this pretty poorly written article. From our perspective then and now the important element was how fast the ranking in serps responded.
Last year it took about 2 weeks before we saw initial results. This year we saw a positive change in about 1 week.
Are the internal tools working faster or not? I don't know. The issue from last year could have been more severe.
But in both cases google responded from an engineering perspective and corrected the problem.
That is astonishingly different from before mid 2011 and shows improvement since mid 2011 when they first instituted systemic responses to problems with local google records.
They don't tell you much. They remain as oblique and mysterious as ever. But they have instituted methods to correct internal issues that smb's face....and they work.
(they are still an all powerful friggin monopoly...but at least they have emerged from the muck of total non responsiveness.)