This week Google launched its latest product, Google Helpouts. This new service combines elements from Google+, Hangouts and Wallet into a paid video chat format to allow users to connect with experts in a desired field. Users can then get advice on a variety of subjects, like cooking techniques, plumbing problems, makeup tricks and yoga, at any time. Google’s tagline for the platform is “real help from real people in real time.”
So rather than relying on the usual search results to learn how to make a soufflé, users can now select a professional chef to explain the process based on their qualifications, availability, price and reviews. The Google+ Hangouts nature of Helpouts also allows users to share screens or collaboratively edit documents while talking to an expert.
These on-hand experts can range from retired plumbers doling out free advice to big brands providing one-on-one customer assistance to collegiate pianists looking to make a little extra cash. While there will be a wide range of options to choose from, Google promises that every provider will be approved and reviewed prior to opening them up for service.
Currently, Google has assembled a little over a thousand brands to kick-start the platform, including big name companies like Sephora, Weight Watchers and Rosetta Stone. While the average Google user would certainly value the ability to talk face-to-face with a trained Sephora makeup artist about how to craft the perfect smoky eye, the fact that it comes with a price tag may dissuade users from choosing it over the many free options for makeup tutorials on YouTube or Yahoo answers.
The price of this advice, which can be found for free elsewhere, might be an issue for some users, but many of the bigger brands may be more willing to provide free advice and services knowing what good press such actions would generate for their company. Offering real-time help to customers could make a big impact in terms of brand image for a lot of big brands in addition to literally bringing them closer to consumers.
Google Helpouts will definitely create some exciting opportunities for both users and brands, from allowing individuals to connect with professionals from the comfort of their home to helping companies expand their brands. Without a doubt, it would be easier to walk a computer specialist through technology problems using screen share rather than trying to explain the issue over the phone. Nevertheless, the typical video chatting issues with freezing, delays and Internet connection will still apply. Overall, however, the platform is creating just as much buzz as previous, very successful Google products and promises to make a difference for both brands and users alike.
[Source: Google Official Blog]