It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.
Looking for a quick rescue from a ‘chocolate making-gone gooey’ situation, tinkering with your forlorn grandfather Piano for the right notes, gearing up for the most effective lower abdominal workout or if it’s about grasping the subtext of an English classic–with a mantra,‘real help from real people in real time’, Google Helpouts is all set to get you sorted.
Call it an avatar of what Google is already known for (providing information), the step is a giant leap in answering people’s queries and guiding them in the right direction.
Udi Manber, the VP of Engineering at Google, broke the news on their official blog on 4th Nov 2013. Google Helpouts is reportedly a unique synthesis of Google Wallet and Hangouts. Simply put, the platform has its roots in video chatting, a la Google Hangouts. It currently lists over 1,000 experts for 8 broad categories namely Cooking, Computers and Electronics, Arts and Music, Fitness and Nutrition, Health, Fashion and Beauty, Home and Garden, Education and Careers.
What it’s got
Users will get to converse with individuals who’ll sort out their doubts, but for a price. Secondly, you get to pick and choose whose help you wish to take based on their ratings, price, reviews and availability.
Five aspects pivotal to the service are–
a) To easily find individuals having the right expertise, that users need the instant they require it.
b) To be able to book schedules easily and readily depending on the user’s schedule.
c) To have flexibility in the prices, so users can take their pick out of a per minute or a flat fee.
d) To allow users to go over past Helpouts and get notifications for the upcoming ones.
e) To let users share their experiences with friends and other people through Google+.
How it Works
a) For Users
Helpouts is being projected as a suggestions bazaar for users, where the USP of the product is customized real-time advice/solutions. Therefore, as opposed to ineffective (inexact) suggestions of friends over phone /social networking sites/video chats and unlike one sided video tutorials, you’d get precise solutions.
The service is accompanied with a ‘Satisfaction Guarantee’ policy. If the users aren’t happy with the help they get, their money would be refunded.
Users can offer feedbacks to rate the service they get. This will influence the visibility of the provider, the best ones’ will appear on the top of the lists. Stringent safety measures are in place, so users can stop the video if they find something abusive or harassing. You can watch an introductory clip and start right away if you’ve got a Google account. Till now it’s only available for Android and Desktop PCs.
b) For Service Providers
The over 1,000 providers are not only individuals, but small/medium/large businesses who have dedicated teams for all the listings.
These listings would vary in cost which is set by the provider of the particular service. The payment can be made according to the task, by minutes or for a set period of time.
The providers’ prominence will largely depend on the quality of service they provide.
All of them are carefully examined by Google and have been included by invitation only.
Service providers in the healthcare section, have been authenticated by a 3rd party. Some of the providers already on board are- Sephora, Rosetta Stone,Weight Watchers, Red Beacon, Home Advisor, One Medical.
It’s also open to providers who are willing to share their expertise for free.
c) For Google
Google will charge a 20% cut for every successful service provided. As of now the payment can be made only through Google Wallet.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Google’s 20% charge does not apply for the health care category due to the complexity of the service, since it involves counseling on a number of things like nutrition, psychology etc., which are apparently immeasurable services.
Google’s also saying that their Healthcare service is in agreement with HIPAA, but is being extra cautious in its dealings due to privacy concerns. Till now no insurance coverage is in place, but Google feels it might become a part of their healthcare service in future.
Can it withstand the test of time?
There’s no denying that the platform will have to stand stiff competition from all the free help available to users. Social networking sites, help from personal friends, YouTube tutorials (they have the strongest hold), forums,Yahoo answers, etc. If you are a Twitter/ Facebook user, you’re probably used to taking suggestions from your followers/ friends.
Apart from that, video chatting will heavily depend on your Internet connectivity, i.e., your data rate transfer. Likewise, help, in an outdoor situation will solely depend on your phone Internet speed, which won’t be up to the mark in all the places you’d go to.
We’ve all had our share of Skype and Hangout sessions–once gone bad, forever abandoned.
Also you need a device that can be transferred between the rooms. People don’t keep home PC’s in their kitchens. All these factors can severely cripple its reach and usability.
On the brighter side, it can bring in an unprecedented change, since it places professional help at your beck and call, from the best talent. Secondly, people many a times are reluctant to seek help from their best of friends, relatives or acquaintances out of being embarrassed or judged. Here nobody would judge you, since they don’t know you, but they do know what you’re looking for, quite precisely. Google has been there and done that. It can do it again.
If you see the readers’ comments under Google’s official blog where the announcement first surfaced, you’ll see that people are quite elated already.
Quite surely, the aspect of sales must be of concern to Google, but it is definitely not desperate to mint money. The product is seemingly people oriented, targeted towards focused learning.
Most importantly, there is a whole new window of opportunity for those who stay in far flung areas and want to learn something not offered near them.
But, its most unbeatable feature remains the two way interaction, an unstated admission by Google that real help can’t be served only wrapped in search algorithms!