Google Helpouts Connect Experts with Customers
Google Helpouts is the latest service launched by search engine Google. Google Helpouts is a video chat service where people can book time with an expert in a field required. Once an appointment has been booked, the person who books the appointment is available to ask any question on the topic they choose. Could this be a new online marketing tatic for your business?
What Is Helpouts Niche?
Google knows the gap Helpouts is filling, with Googles Udi Manber stating
‘Sometimes, you need someone to look over your shoulder. Sometimes you need someone to show you the way’
You know that friend who you call on to make your computer faster despite your best attempts or the friend who can take your car to the mechanic to ensure you don’t get ripped off. This is Helpouts in action. The long term goal is that all questions websites cannot answer for you can be resolved via Helpout.
Why Helpouts? You’re in a pinch with a leaky pipe and your plumber’s closed until Monday. There’s a Helpout for you. http://t.co/7aNVgrKSqT
— Helpouts (@Helpouts) November 16, 2013
Online Marketers Love It!
In speaking with a number of Google’s very first Helpouts partners, we were struck by just just how much the product sales and multi-channel marketing people were obsessed with the brand new platform. Sure, you can sell time through a Helpout. You can sell a $20, hour-long cooking course; you might sell a $50 bridal make-up lesson.
But you can also use Helpouts to sell other stuff. Give ‘em the cooking class free, but tell them to buy your line of chef’s knives and mixing bowls. Show ‘em how to do the makeup, then gently direct them to the cosmetics wonderland that is your website.
Of course it can’t (or shouldn’t) be as obvious as a sing-a-long infomercial, but there are tons of marketing opportunities hidden in Helpouts.
The Launch Phase
At time of launch, Google had already invested a lot of time into the product with an internal Helpout equivalent launched for employers. After incorporating their feedback, Google evaluated over 1000 experts (both individuals and companies) to be available for the initial launch. Companies include Sephora, Sears Appliances and Home Depot and skills include chefs, personal trainers, wellness coaches and makeup artists to start. Anyone can fill out the application to become an ‘expert’, although it does appear that Google is not going to introduce any more experts until the service has been optimized further.
The cost of Helpouts is determined by the expert, with some offering their services for free. Google takes 20% from all Helpouts which ensures they get revenue from the product immediately.
To register for Helpouts, people simply need to have video chat capability and Google Wallet (for payment). Then click on the expert chosen and book an appointment from the available time slots. While there are no refunds for poor connections, Google does keep a copy of all recordings. If you are not happy with the expert’s service, you can request a refund that Google has guaranteed to provide. They do however state that they can view the video recording themselves to see if the refund is justified. If you choose not to have the session recorded, your ability to request a refund is abandoned.
While Google individually screens the experts for their knowledge and expertise, there is a feedback function in place to ensure those whom do excel with their advice are rewarded fairly with excellent feedback, therefore looking more attractive to future customers and vice-versa.
Effects on Companies
Businesses need to be constantly keeping an eye on new products offered by Google as they do provide great potential revenue options from time to time. Google Helpouts is something that many businesses can utilize. When someone has purchased a good or service that requires skill to use, businesses within that industry could offer one on one visual instruction. If someone has purchased some furniture from Ikea, instructions are included yet it still may not make any sense. There is an opportunity for a furniture company or an individual to provide Helpouts to assist the customer in putting the furniture together quickly (rather than waiting for a friend to visit next week to help).
Alternatively, Ikea could also launch complimentary Helpouts for furniture purchases over amount X. This would enhance their product offering, resulting in greater customer satisfaction.
Who Will Google Be Taking On
Google is a behemoth, when they want to enter an industry, all those in the industry need to take action or else they will get driven out of the market due to the resources available to Google. Googles main competitors in this niche are Yahoo Answers, Twitter, friends and eHow. Their video feature incorporating their other products is a big advantage.
Google Helpouts is supplementary to their other video product, YouTube although it could well be competition. While the customer does not initiate the contact with YouTube publishers to solve their problems, publishers themselves publish videos not just for entertainment purposes but also educational purposes. Helpouts personalize YouTube slightly further with the customer dictating the conversation.
Like any Google product, Google Helpouts has the ability to shake up numerous industries. The product is easy to use with other Google products assisting. The customer has the power in this transaction with the ability to guide the conversation. This forces individuals and companies to ensure that their experts are truly experts, otherwise they will quickly be found out. Googles screening process is thorough, but it cannot fill in all of the gaps. Google does believe in this product, offering to refund 100% of any refund requests (if the expert was not up to scratch). It is too early to tell how competitors are going to react, however they will need to, otherwise Google will take another large chuck of the video market place.