Helpouts offers up the possibility of an incredible new platform for SMBS to share their knowledge and skills and a new way of marketing those via a Google Helpout Marketplace. Signing up is a snap.
It also offers up an appealing platform for spammers and scammers and con artists. Will Google succeed in keeping it family friendly or will they be excoriated as the new hall monitors (no slouching, no kissing, tuck that shirt in)?
And like with all new markets and marketplaces, some “creative destruction” will take place. Who will be negatively impacted?
The Helpout help files and terms & conditions are now online and here are the highlights:
Google will be providing free phone support for Helpouts
Helpouts requires that Providers on the platform pay a transaction fee for each completed Helpout. If transaction fees are not paid according to the Helpouts Terms of Service, access to Helpouts may be suspended or terminated.
Once you submit a Helpouts listing, it’ll go through an apparently individual review process before the listing is public.
If you are a providing a medical service (advisory or informational medical services; counseling or therapy services; medical consultation services; or other professional medical services) as a regulated healthcare professional, a third party also will check your certificate or licensure.
Your listing will be reviewed and Google will contact you to meet you over video to learn more about you, to discuss setting up a Helpouts listing and to make sure your video is working well.
Third party providers, Infinity Contact, Capita Customer Management, and VXI are apparently performing this vetting service.
Ask them to send you an email to verify their credentials. Google representatives, like those at these companies, will always have an @google.com email address
You only need to be 13 to use the product but need to be 18 to offer services.
Helpouts has a 100% Money Back Guarantee within 72 hours of the end of the Helpout.
If the Helpout Provider does not issue a satisfactory refund, and the user has complied with Helpouts Terms of Service and policies, Google will issue the refund.
Google will use the recording of a Helpout to review each 100% Money Back Guarantee request, if you opt out of having your Helpout recorded, you forfeit your eligibility for the guarantee.
Offering services in exchange for positive feedback or other non-financial compensation or using a listing primarily to gain a social network endorsement from the user is forbidden.
As are “Scammy, spammy, or otherwise questionable business practices”.
Google Helpouts holds out the promise of allowing local consultants, instructors and trainers of projecting to a world wide market and of allowing national vendors of providing individualized support for the customers. As Phil Rozek pointed out in my post highlighting their new marketing effort there is a lot that can go wrong from conception to success not the least of which is Google’s propensity to start a project only to abandon it the next quarter when it didn’t scale to their expectation (despite the fact that they did ZERO marketing…can you say PunchD?).
That being said I thought I would click on the exclusive invitation and see if it let me sign up. It did. I went through the sign up process and I have to say: I am impressed. It literally is a less than 10 minute process and makes getting started very, very easy. (You can request an invitation here.)
If Google can deliver customers via their Helpout marketplace it will open up a whole new way for knowledge workers to deliver value across the world.
Here are the screen shots of the simple 3 step process to set up a Helpout listing (you can apparently have more than one):
Google Helpouts, a G+ based product “that enables individuals and small and large businesses to buy and sell services via live video” first came to light in early August. It is a fascinating product that creates a video based marketplace that allows local trainers, national support personnel and consultants to engage a much larger market. It has “the capacity to connect merchants and consumers on both an immediate and scheduled basis, .. the platform will allow sellers to .. take advantage of reputation management, scheduling and payment features, while offering robust search and discovery tools for consumers”.
Apparently Google is now starting to invite highly rated local businesses to learn more about the product. It is odd that the invitation is not to set up or try the product, just to learn more about it and that the invitation was exclusive and based on review ratings. You can request an invitation here.
Will Google Helpouts replace the Business ListingPlaces PageG+Local Page G+ Page for Local as the transaction platform for local commerce?
What is Helpouts you ask? It is a (not so) secret Google project that turns Hangouts into a commerce platform/marketplace “that enables individuals and small and large businesses to buy and sell services via live video”. According to TechCrunch who broke the story last week about the product:
With the capacity to connect merchants and consumers on both an immediate and scheduled basis, .. the platform will allow sellers to .. take advantage of reputation management, scheduling and payment features, while offering robust search and discovery tools for consumers.
Google has also apparently partnered with a number of brands during internal testing, including One Medical Group, Sears, Weight Watchers and Alliance Frances, for example. At launch, the platform will also reportedly include an array of individual merchants and instructors as well, from yoga gurus to fitness teachers — all of whom will be able to offer both free and paid services to consumers via Helpouts.
According to our sources, with Helpouts, Google is looking to remove some of the barriers that have traditionally stood in the way of the seamless delivery of live services. For example, using Helpouts, a Spanish tutor from Argentina could offer language training to students in Japan, while a Yoga instructor in New York would be able to provide classes to a stay-at-home mom in Wyoming and an appliance repair shop could walk a customer through fixing a broken fan in their laptop — with an Internet connection being the only requirement.
Does this product indicate a totally new direction for Google in local? By leveraging their Hangouts product and going after the trainer, consulting, support niche with a marketplace, they are able to refine and develop local tools like scheduling in a market that is underserved while using technology where they have a technical lead (Hangouts). As Ted Paff of Customer Lobby, pointed out, this learning on the part of Google could lead to their very disruptive engagement in a number service businesses that need low cost scheduling and easy to use CRM. This would all be happening on top of G+ and not the local business page.