Gitika Bhatla | @gitika_bhatla Google's up-and-coming feature, 'Helpouts', is not to be confused with their widely popular feature 'Hangouts.' Helpouts is Google's answer to getting all-purpose help in real-time via live videos. No matter the time or place, you can get one-on-one help from experts on your mobile phone or computer. Your problem could be as simple as finding the right conditioner for your hair, recipe for dinner, guidance over career choices, or learning how to play a guitar - there's something for everyone who wants to learn.
How Businesses Can Use Helpouts
Businesses can take part in this new feature by using Helpouts as a training and information tool. Employees needing to learn about new software or a new procedure can use Helpouts to be trained by other experienced users. Businesses can also participate by becoming a frequent Helpout ‘providers’ (the people offering help through Helpouts). If a business or brand is an expert in a particular topic, they can add a personal touch to their audience/customers by offering Google Helpouts. This makes customer service a more personable experience and can help bring more attention to a business.
How Consumers Use Helpouts
Helpouts enable you to choose the 'provider' (people offering help through Helpouts) based on their qualification, availability, pricing and reviews. The providers, who can be individuals or a small/medium/large company you trust, are screened by Google to make sure they are qualified to help. You don't need to make a huge investment or come up with a website to be a provider. All you need is a Google+ profile and a computer with a webcam to make Google Helpouts a stand-alone business for you, or just to make some extra cash on the side.
Scheduling a Helpout
If the provider is available when you search, you will see an "Available for live help now" listing in green at the top. You can join the session at that time by paying the cost of the Helpout. The price of each Helpout varies: some are free, while others charge per minute or per session. If the provider is busy in another Helpout session, you will be added to a waiting list and catered to when the provider becomes available. You can also schedule a Helpout by clicking 'Schedule' and a Google Calendar will appear. Select a date with a green dot and a time slot that suits you. If you do not find a favorable time slot, you can send a message to the provider requesting a time.
There are various Tools and Apps that can be used during a Helpout to make it smooth and glitch-free. Providers can use the 'Manage your availability' and 'Clock' icons to manage the customers waiting in line and sessions charged by minute respectively. The customers can turn the camera off if they don't want the provider to see them. They can also mute the microphone if they don't want to be heard. Screenshare, Remote Desktop and Capture are some of the interesting apps available on Helpouts.
Your Helpouts can be be free or paid
Barring the free sessions, before scheduling a paid session, users have to ensure they have a Google Wallet account to make the payment or receive it. The payment, set by the provider, can be made on a per-minute or per-session basis with a full money-back guarantee if the users are not satisfied with the session. The catch is that users have to agree to allow Google to record the session so that they can review it in case users ask for a refund. At the end of the Helpout, you can give feedback on the session through reviews and ratings to help others decide if they should opt for it, and you can also share your favorite session via Google+, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.