Google have just launched a new service where this can happen. Google Help Outs. The service offers experts at the end of a Google hangout (live video) both free and paid for. You could, then, ask an expert how to cook a romantic dinner for two or maybe how to play a guitar.
I think this is an interesting service on a number of levels. Let me say straight away I believe that as bandwidth increases and video services become more stable that this type of offering will become an important part of the business infrastructure. If you are not considering doing this now, you should be. To a certain extent this service is not new. Back in the day I used to work for BT (British Telecom) when, 15 years ago, we were piloting a number of schemes where a doctor would be able to remotely diagnose patients. Today this is called Telemedicine. This was being done using private circuits as you needed the bandwidth for streaming video. The difference today is the bandwidth required for this type of application is now starting to be widely available in people’s homes and businesses.
The Human touch is the key difference
I predict more services like Google Help outs will start to spring up as we get more and more used to dealing with people over video…. video conferencing is a great way of improving communications generally. Telephone is fine but you do not feel that same connection that you do when you see someone. For example, as I travel around the world giving key note speeches, I stay in touch with my family using Facetime or Skype. Whilst it is clearly not as good as being there in person it is much better than a phone call – I feel much closer to them as I can see them and most importantly see their body language. They can show me things that they are doing. Many times we have Facetime working in the background and we are chatting as I am in a hotel and my wife prepares dinner for the family.
The Internet provides scalability
The internet provides access to a worldwide market. Google Hang Outs are a good example of exploiting the concept of ‘The Long Tail’. This concept basically says there are many people interested in many things. If I am an expert in Origami (the art of paper folding) the chance of me being able to make a business out of teaching people how to do this in Sarasota, Florida by running face to face classes here is not very good, I wouldn’t get the volume of people I need to scale this business.. The Internet provides access to a worldwide market of origami enthusiasts. The internet provides the glue to match the expert with the learner and provides scale. Google have recognised that if they can plug the expert and the learner together this is a great business model.
Our own Business case
I believe in this type of service so much that we are already using this very effectively in Beyond Philosophy today. Let me give you two examples:
We provide Customer Experience training that enables you to manage and improve your Customer Experience. We also have a number of tools that we provide to set strategy and design a Customer Experience. For years we did this face to face in classrooms.
A couple of years ago I set the Beyond Philosophy team a challenge to convert our class room training to being delivered as live webinar training with video. I did this as we were finding companies didn’t want to incur travel costs but they still need their Customer Experience professionals to be trained. From our perspective it provided us with access to Customer Experience professionals from round the globe and not just be limited to running face to face training.
To make the training effective it was critical we embraced the fact that up to 70% of all human communications is via body language. Therefore, it’s important the delegates can see the tutor and vice versa. There is something about seeing someone that helps us humans relate to them. Only they other day I was running one of these live webinar training sessions and I could see the body language of all the delegates nodding except one person. As with any good teacher I wondered if this person didn’t understand or disagreed with what I was saying. I then started to engage with this person. It turns out they were confused and I could help them by spending a few minutes dealing with that. Over the phone, or a normal webinar where we couldn’t see people I wouldn’t have picked this up and the training wouldn’t as been as effective for this person. Reading body language is so important for the delegate to see the tutor and vice versa, but also the interaction between delegates can be key. As our Customer Experience training involves people from all around the world everyone gets a different perspective which is so valuable in debates. This means the cross functional learning is greatly enhanced.
I firmly believe that this type of training will become common place over the next few years. I see this initiative by Google to be a great example of how you can bring experts to life. Given the growth of the video conference and the increase in bandwidth it is a no brainer that this will be a growing phenomenon. I am now off to see if there is a Google help out on how to improve my fishing for trout on the flats in Florida….based on my recent performance I need some help!
|Colin Shaw is founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin has been recognized by LinkedIn as one of the top 150 Business Influencers in the world. He is an international author of four best-selling books on Customer Experience. Colin’s company, Beyond Philosophy provide consulting, specialised research & training from our Global Headquarters in Tampa, Florida, USA.
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter: @ColinShaw_CX