Answering questions is what Google does best and creating an empire built on a search engine that answers your questions has been the norm to date. Now the company is betting that humans can do the same and do it better, answering real questions in real time. Wow, what a novel idea!
Google on Tuesday announced Helpouts, a tool that helps out in a few different ways:
- Connecting users via live video chat with experts who can help them with questions about home improvement, cooking or even medical advice.
- Helpouts serves as a Google-vetted marketplace. Approved companies offer their services in real-time over live video.
- An invitation only opportunity, Google has invited 1,000 companies to participate, and plans to keep it that way for now.
Google takes 20% of each transaction, where vendors can set their own prices, charging users either by the minute or by the session. Google anticipates a number of services will also be offered for free. Appointments can be made with a particular company, or if someone is available, speak to them instantly via video.
The new service works in a way that highlights many of Google's other products.
- The actual video conferencing is done using Google Hangouts.
- Vendors and experts are found using Google search.
- Payments are accepted only through Google Wallet.
"Google must invite each company that offers a service to the platform, and all professionals are vetted and checked" according to Osi Imeokparia, Helpouts' director of product management.
Feel free to share with us your thoughts on the marketplace idea! Would you feel comfortable hanging out over at Google Helpouts? Here a few quick notes on the efficiency of the model:
- Users are asked to leave feedback after a connection ends. This way the marketplace will be regulated in many ways by customer reviews.
- Users unhappy with the experience can request a full refund.
- If a vendor is more than five minutes late to an appointment, or do not connect to the video conference, the session will be free.