Stingray Social Media Services Thoughts - Blog
 
by David Foertsch 
Bing Business Portal.  It's Microsoft's attempt to build an equivalent product to compete with Google Places for Business.  It's hard for me to find the words right now that can explain how frustrated I am with the Bing Business Portal.

One caveat - Microsoft makes it clear that Bing Business Portal is a BETA product.  So there is an expectation that things will be buggy, and also that functions may be modified, enhanced, or removed depending on evolution of the product.

Bing provides two methods for building business profiles into their portal: individual listings (example Severn Graphics) and bulk uploads for 25 or more locations (example Gallo Clothing near MD).  My troubles are focused on the bulk upload process.  Here's a timeline of key moments in the process:
  • 10/19/11 Bulk upload submitted via spreadsheet template on Bing Business Portal (26 listings for one corporation).
  • 10/27/11 Received confirmation from Live Technology that upload completed. Live Technology is Bing's partner that handles enterprise accounts). 
At this point, the Bing Business Portal worked as expected.  I'd log into my account and see a listing for each individual store.  Some updates & customization were required on many of the listings, performing those updates was a simple, straightforward task.  The portal updates flowed directly to the live listings with no trouble.  So far, so good.
  • 11/24/11 While doing verifications & some updates on the 26 listings in Bing Business Portal, I noticed 13 listings with incorrect PIN locations on the map.  I began communications with the Microsoft Customer Support team.  Sent screenshots of proper Pin alignment, and erroneous Bing maps listings.  Example below.
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Incorrect location, shows store in center of Baltimore City, when store is many miles out in Baltimore County.
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Correct location for the store near Catonsville, Baltimore County.
  • 12/27/11 Was told by Microsoft maps support team that map pin problems were result of some interface issues with map provider NAVTEQ.  Microsoft maps support team suggested that I make edits directly in Navteq Map Reporter tool.   
  • 12/27/11 - Attempted to claim listings directly thru NAVTEQ in hopes that synchronization of map Pins  would happen.  Hit 10 listings limit for small business user & paused.  Sent customer support request to NAVTEQ in hopes of finding a human to continue the discussion.
  • 1/13/12 In response to my customer support request in NAVTEQ Map Reporter tool, received email from Nokia they took over NAVTEQ data as of 12/29/11.  Was told to begin using Nokia Prime Place interface.  (Remember that BETA caveat?)

At this point, though I still had hopes of resolving the mapping issues, I decided to leave the records for a bit to see if the maps databases would synchronize behind the scenes.
  • Early Feb. 2012 Upon accessing Bing Business Portal, received the following message referring me to the Enterprise team.  
Thank you for claiming your business, and bulk uploading your business listings. If you would like to update any of your listings, please send your updated spreadsheet to the Bing Business Specialist Team at:bep@support.liveplatform.com

The Bing Business Specialist Team can also help get your products, services, deals and events updated too.
 

This is the first time I was not able to access the individual store records through the Bing Business Portal.  Obviously a major change was made to my account.  The effect of the change is crucial though - because my account eclipsed the 25 store threshold, I was no longer able to view & edit my locations directly through the Bing Business Portal.  The only option is to submit a new spreadsheet just as I did back in October.  Here's the catch: there is no way for me to get a spreadsheet export of the current listings on my account (Google Places currently supports this practice).  

So I'm left with the prospect of taking my original spreadsheet & updating it manually.  Live Technology Holdings tells me there is no feature that allows updates of selected fields or records.  Essentially everything will be overwritten.  What makes this even more frustrating is that much of the Bing Business Portal data is not visible through the maps view - so even if I want to rebuild the spreadsheet manually I don't have a way to verify the current condition of the records.  There is a high probability that records would become accidentally altered.  I'm really starting to feel boxed in now.

At this point I stopped - clearly I'm chasing my tail.  Finding roadblocks every direction I go - honestly my biggest concern is with the portal itself.  It concerns me that I've lost all visibility & edit control of those listings - especially right in the midst of these chronic mapping issues.  I've looked around through internet forums and on high-profile blogs of local listings experts (Mike BlumenthalMatt McGeeChris Silver SmithDavid Mihm) but I don't find much current info on the Bing Business Portal.  So I decided to lay out all the details here, in hopes that I can get some assistance from the larger community.

I also sent a note to Andy Chu at Microsoft through LinkedIn, hoping that a product manager or engineer could lend some perspective to my case.  

Special Note to Bing/Microsoft/Navteq/Nokia folks - I'm open to any shortcuts that can be taken to get my client's thirteen map locations corrected!!  To discuss that please email me at davidfoertsch@stingraysocial.com.

Any suggestions from the public, while I wait to see how Microsoft responds?
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Dave Foertsch is author of the Stingray Social Media Services blog.
Connect with Dave on Google+ 


 


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