As tipped last week, Google has launched its brand new project that injects a dose of real-time video chat with your usual help desk scenario. With Google Helpouts, users with a variety of problems or questions can, as Google puts it, get help from real people in real time.
First teased way back in August, Google Helpouts is a way for regular people to connect with subject matter experts in order to seek help or instruction on a variety of disciplines and topics, ranging from computers, health, cooking, music, and even beauty and makeup tips. Helpouts utilizes Google's Hangouts technology to provide live video chats with registered experts. It is pretty much like tech support on steroids, providing help via two-way video communication and not limited to specific products or topics.
Google advertises Helpouts as a platform but it is pretty much a business. Although helpers can decided whether their services will have a price attached or be offered for free, Helpouts really revolves around a system of paying for the personalized assistance that you get, which is not unreasonable. That is why both helpers and users of the service are required to have Google Wallet accounts. Helpers can set their own schedule of availability and will be notified, via their computer or device or SMS, if there is a pending help request. If the helper is unable to reply to the user in under five minutes, the session will be offered for free. Below is a video of the different uses that Google Helpouts can be put through.
Of course, there currently exists a multitude of ways people can get help on such topics, from chat to Twitter to social media or even to old-fashioned video guides on YouTube. Google is perhaps banking on a preference for a more personal, real-time, and interactive to drive Helpouts, but only time will tell if the system will be able to scale well to gather enough experts to answer the needs of hundreds, if not thousands, of users at any time of the day.