Google has announced a new tool called Helpouts, which aims at assisting users on a range of topics including home improvement, education, fashion and beauty, art and music, cooking or medical advice through live video chats. Google has teamed up with companies such as Sephora, One Medical and Rosetta Stone to provide real-time assistance through live video. According to Google, over 1,000 companies have participated in the company's new initiative.
Google allows companies to fix their own prices, charge users either by minute or session, or even flat free. However, Google hopes most of the providers will be offering free services. There's also an option to set up an appointment with a particular vendor or connect with expert, if he/she is available, instantly.
Users have the option to select providers based on availability, price, ratings, reviews or qualifications. Google conducts a background check of providers before allowing them to join the platform.
Google Helpouts charges a flat 20% transaction fee on all paid and non-Health Helpouts. For free Helpouts, Google does not charge any transaction fee. Starting January 1, 2014, Health Helpouts will be charged a transaction fee like all other paid Helpouts.
“In case of a provider-issued refund, the transaction fee is refunded proportionately to the amount refunded. If the provider issues a full refund, the full transaction fee is also returned to the customer,” says Google.
“The transaction fee covers credit card fees, the cost of offering users a 100% Money Back Guarantee, paid advertising and promotion, and the cost of running Helpouts.”
“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s useful information,” Udi Manber, the Google vice president for engineering in charge of Helpouts, said at a press conference in San Francisco. “But if you do search for a long time, you realize most of the world’s useful information still resides in people’s heads.”
According to Manber, Google is also planning to include offline interactions, such as calling for a home repair expert to visit your house.
To use Helpouts, users must sign in to Google Plus and Google Wallet, which is available online and Android phones.
Helpouts is Google's another attempt at entering the paid expert space. Back in 2002, the company had come up with Google Answers, which was shut down in November 2006. Google, however, believed the Answers was a “great experiment” and had paved the way for “future products”.
To know more about Google's Helpouts service, visit https://helpouts.google.com/home. You can also check out the video to below to learn more: