Video and other notes at http://helpershelpout.com/6
Sacha: Hello and welcome to Helpers Help Out. Just in case the intro got cut off, it's a weekly show for Google Helpouts providers.
My name is Sacha Chua, your host for today. Today is January 17, 2014, and in today's show we're really just – instead of citing a lot of tips, we're just going to share some success stories about sharing Helpouts, using Helpouts, and so forth.
Today, our guest is Jeff Bond, who you might know from his posts in the Helpouts Discuss Community. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Jeff. What is your life like? Who are you in terms of Helpouts and who are you outside Helpouts?
Jeff: Wonderful. Hi, Sacha. Thanks for having me on, I really appreciate it and hello everybody.
I'm a general contractor, I'm an engineer, I'm 25 years as a home inspector, I've helped people to make sure their families are safe in the homes that they buy. This Helpouts was a natural extension of what I've always done as a part of my career job, and just what I internally love to do so.
Within Helpouts, I do general contracting and home inspection Helpouts within the home and building category. I've done about 50 Helpouts now.
Sacha: Wow! Fifty, that's quite a lot. Who are you in the time outside of doing all those Helpouts?
Jeff: Yes. I'm a grandpa of two beautiful girls, I have three wonderful children. My son, Daniel, is recently employed by a large internet firm as a programmer, very happy for him. Congratulations Daniel. And I have two beautiful daughters who are studying to be teachers and nurses currently at [inaudible] State University.
Sacha: Awesome. One of the things that I want to do with this episode is give people a peek into how other people are experiencing Helpouts, in terms of offering it to the customers--and also since you've been taking quite a few Helpouts yourself, what it's like and how it's really helping you with both your work and your life.
I'm going to set myself up to take notes here. In the mean time, can you start by telling us a story, maybe one of your recent Helpouts? What was it like in terms of helping the customer? What did the customer achieve with your help?
Jeff: All right. Well, I think one of the things that I appreciate most within these Helpouts is the feeling that someone is really getting value out of it.
I helped a gentleman from the inner city of New York. His name is Brandon M. He was a very young kid that had a real desire, the passion to learn. I spent 40 minutes with him in a free Helpout. He asked lots of questions about becoming a home inspector. I'm trying to answer them all. He was very well-prepared. He came with notes, and he really knew what he wanted to ask. He stayed focused. That helped motivate me to stay with him. I really felt that there was a value that was being provided to him. He was organized. He was a good student.
If you don't want to learn, the you're not going to really be of much use in the Helpout. Maybe without this Helpout, he doesn't get the questions answered. I feel that this was free and possibly life-changing for him. It was a great time.
Sacha: Before Helpouts, people would just have to Google. Maybe they know somebody who knows somebody who might give them five minutes on the phone. You're just talking to somebody for 40 minutes and getting his questions answered.
Jeff: It made his day. His feedback was so short but just so kind. He was a kind man and I was honored to help him out.
Part of the thing is, and Chris Hubbell mentioned it--who's really a superstar Helpout provider also--but it is within that context of being a superstar, he still has enough time to help kids. I find that very admirable because they are the next generation of leaders.
There are special cases that really just makes you feel good when you're done and this is one of them.
Sacha: Hey, what are the other stories that you can remember off the top of your head with that same kind of, “I feel awesome about making this person's day!”
Jeff: Yes. There is a guy that had a toilet problem where his toilet was leaking. I helped him make it stop. Flowing water onto his floor. I think that that was a pretty good moment because he had made a phone call, Sacha, and he wasn't going to get anybody for over two hours to come and help.
He just panicked, got online with the Helpouts. I said, “Dude, I got you covered. Absolutely. You can try to shut off the valve down there at the back.” It was that simple. I just helped him turn the valve off and that made an amazing difference for him.
Sacha: So it's that kind of instant help that was one of the key selling points that Google Helpouts was really advertising back then, right?
Jeff: Definitely is. The immediacy of it is really important. Sometimes it takes just a spark to start a fire. Sometimes it takes just a moment of help to stop the fire. Yes, it's real instant and sometimes really immediately intense value.
Sacha: Are these people coming in because they already know you from your website, or from other interactions? Are they coming in because they saw their toilet is overflowing and they saw you on Helpouts?
Jeff: Well, none of these people, really, I know from my part of business. That's another aspect of what I want to explore with Helpouts. These are all people that just either find me organically through Google Search, or do a search on Helpout.
I'm a free provider. I think a lot of people are still exploring this, and feeling it out. I think they don't want to necessarily just immediately test their money on something so they find some free providers and they use us as little bit of a sounding board.
But for the most part, there are people I have never talked to before.
One thing that would be nice, and David Kutcher mentioned it, is the analytics. I thought you have a better look at the actual search phrases and the search words that people used to find me. I've done a good job I think of putting keywords into my listing that talk to the problems that people have. So when they search for their problem, I think that they find those keywords in my listing. I think that helps connect that person with me.
Sacha: That's kind of the zoomed in all the way to the level of individual stories' view of it. I know that you've been talking to quite a few other Helpout providers about what kind of successes they're experiencing as well. Could you share some of the stories that really stuck out for you? What are the particularly memorable stories you've heard?
Jeff: Kelly [inaudible]. She's amazing. She's just a young, energetic, just a wonderfully bright person. She talked about how a young boy--13 or so--contacted her. Her Helpout is about healthy eating--nutritious. For goodness sake, this guy was afraid to go on vacation because he was this uncomfortable with the way he looked. Kelly really gave him some wonderful advice. I was inspired. Because she just told him to be himself, and to be happy, and to go and have a good time. This young kid. “Just enjoy your life. You can learn better eating habits, we can work on it. But go have a good time.” She struck me as like being the big sister you'd always want to have if you're a little kid. It was really inspirational to hear that.
I mentioned Chris Hubbell. Chris, he's got hundreds of five-star ratings. He's probably one of the top Helpout providers. It's just amazing to see him still provide free help and not only that but still stay focused on the little guys. His story of helping young kids with their computer problems was pretty amazing. It makes me think probably that these poor kids that got set up by their parents who are afraid and embarrassed to ask for them, so they tell them, “You go tell him that.” “What?” “Go ask Chris, go on.” And he handles it really well, so I applaud that.
Then L.Michelle Hayes. Did you hear about her Helpout? She was involved in a conference in India, bringing e-learning into classrooms for places and children that have never had this opportunity before. That really was inspirational. It shows that this whole thing is worldwide and it portrays America in a good light finally. It's nice to see people talk about all the good things that we do in a good positive manner. It ultimately makes the world a better place.
Sacha: Making America look good, but all sorts of other providers are from all sorts of other places too. That's wonderful.
Jeff: It really is. What you start to realize is that, here is somebody at Michigan, and here is somebody in Florida, and here is somebody in California, and we're all focused on the same thing of providing that help – it just makes it so much larger than life and brings it home. You can't help but appreciate the ability for Google to bring this platform and make it available because it really is amazing technology.
Sacha: Let's take a step back. Tell me how you're using it for your professional goals too. What does that mean for your business? How does that success reflect in that too?
Jeff: Yes. You can ask some good questions tonight. All right.
It has done a couple of things for me, Sacha. It has really helped improve my customer service level. This whole rich environment where I can take and bring up pictures, and share them with people, illustrations, it's just so rich that it has improve my service level.
Also, may I mention my website? What I did was I went and I secured Househelpout.com and that just directly relates in links to roughly to my Google Helpout. How sweet is that? It has allowed me to take control of my schedule, I do all of my customer service return calls with my existing business right now through Helpouts. Instead of taking some cheesy phone call and some guy’s going, “I've got a problem with my toilet” and then he's got to explain it, and try to verbalize it... I say, “Look at my schedule on Helpouts, come over here, schedule a Helpout, get your cellphone, show me your problem with your cellphone. Use that camera feature where I can talk to you and then you hit flip and then you can point out the problem. Move that camera a little over here. There we go. Okay, there is your problem. Okay, now let me look at you. I want to talk to you. Let's go ahead and discuss your problem.” It really is that richness, it allows me to provide better service.
These people would call me at 10 o'clock at night. I'd like to help everybody out all the time. What I do now is I’ve taken control of my schedule. That's right, Sacha, if I don't have a scheduled Helpout time, then you're going to have to call me when you get a chance and it's on my schedule. It's taken my life back a little bit and that makes me control the schedule.
Sacha: Yes, for sure. That's how Helpouts is really helping you with your business and your business goals. In everything that you've been sharing with us, Jeff, is how you've actually been taking advantage of Helpouts yourself to learn things. You've been the customer of many, many Helpouts. Tell us what things that you've been learning from that experience.
Jeff: Sure. Go ahead and check it out. I'm sure I'm one of the top 100 Helpout customers here. Sacha, if I can't believe in something, I'm not going to do it and I put my money where my mouth is. That's not as a means of trying to validate it but it's more that I believe in it. I've talked to some amazing people.
I've learned one thing. It's just: go find the experts. If they're charging for the Helpouts, there's a reason they're really good at what they do. Sometimes you just have to go back to that attitude: you get what you pay for.
It doesn't mean that free Helpouts were not worth it. I'm a free Helpout and I'm amazing. But that doesn't really necessarily always equate to quality or not. But when somebody can command $100 price tag for Helpout and can get it, you probably have a really good provider.
I've talked to Larry Fournillier, he's an amazing chef, Sacha. He's a friend. A million followers on Google+ and you feel all of a sudden that they're talking to him. I've cooked chicken curry with him, I've cooked a Caribbean turkey glaze and I've made a stewed fish recipe with him. In the mean time we've talked about fun things, he had a good time including – Hey Larry, by the way if you're listening – he's burned plenty of [inaudible] in the kitchen. That's part of the habit. You talk about people like that.
I talked to Ronnie Bincer about Hangouts on Air as something that we're using right now and something that you basically are using as a part of Helpouts and he was amazing also. Wow! He gave me tons of very savvy tips and tricks.
Sacha: Sorry, who was that?
Jeff: That's Ronnie Bincer. Definite search and find him. He gives you shortcuts to real solutions.
Stephan Bollinger is an amazing photographer. He takes portraits. Just like everybody knows, Trey Ratcliff with HDR in landscape is wow. Stephan Bollinger - faces, not places. This guy, go look. I didn't talk about him a moment about F stop, shutters, focal distance, it wasn't that. It was more about the passion, the inspiration. It's, “Where does your creativity within Helpouts come from?” Because the portraits are amazing, Sacha. I didn't explore the technical side with him. He knows it's important but he also knows that it's about people first just like Helpouts. Then you'd use the technology to enhance that person experience.
Do you know Allen Firstenberg?
Sacha: No. Clearly I have to go check out the Helpouts. Tell us the story of why you like Allen?
Jeff: Allen Firstenberg is a developer and he's independent but he's involved in Google Glass. Allan has given me a good head start in doing some program development for Google Glass and he also is developing a software application for Glass called [inaudible] which I'm beta-testing with him and it turns out that it lets me do my home inspection job much better.
I can take pictures and notes, and have them automatically sent to my Google Drive right through Glass. Immediately real time, I can have somebody back at the office, type in the report real-time. So working with him has given me a chance to learn a little bit more about the technology.
Then I had a Helpout with an amazing person about taking notes. She who shall remain nameless. But you can have an idea and she thought me a lot just about how taking notes allows me to gather my thoughts, and organize them, and move them around so I could operate with them more efficiently. But she told me to use a voice recorder and I'm not going to do that. I decided not to.
Sacha: Okay, that's cool.
Jeff: It's cool because I'm going to use Glass instead.
Sacha: Hey, of course.
Jeff: With Allen Firstenberg's [inaudible] software. But that person, whoever it was that shall remain nameless got me thinking about that. You're screen sharing, otherwise we can enjoy your smiling face right now.
Some of the things that happened and it's part of getting help.
Sacha: I think it's really good to share these stories because sometimes people leave feedback. It's great to get five stars, you get this kick out of helping somebody but it's also different when you hear the kinds of things that people appreciate about the help that people offer. It's also different when you're thinking about, “Hey, this is actually a really good platform.” And people are making great connections to do this.
Jeff: Amazing connections. You're learning. This is really amazing.
I talked to Larry Fournellier, I talked to Ronnie Bincer, Stephan Bollinger and these guys are experts in their field but it's almost like you're having a one-on-one conversation with them in the living room.
Normally Stephan would have 200 people at a photography seminar and he probably make good money on all of them and people would sit in the back of the room and they would kind of see him up there, and that would be about it, it wouldn't be very personal. These Helpouts are personal and they really connect. The conversation I had with him was inspiring and amazing.
You get that one-on-one feel and it feels real personal and it's like a fire-side chat. It's a great experience.
Just like that. That is it right there. Sacha, you just fill it just like that. That's really amazing to think about that he's in Australia and I'm in California, and you feel that connection. That really helps express just the power of this platform and the potential that's here to change lives.
Sacha: Yes, I hear that too.
Tell me, since clearly, Google Helpout is really doing well for you, Jeff. How are you thinking of making it even more a part of your life, or your business, or whatever? What are the next steps for you?
Jeff: Okay. That's a good question. When I came in here, I really came just honestly with the intentions of providing help to people and giving back. I didn't really look at it as a business aspect thing. I just also agree, I'm going to Helpout Google here in testing and beta this platform. I'm going to be a good user and I'm going to provide good feedback. I'm signing up for this and volunteering so I'm going to be a good volunteer. That was really my initial motivations but I've just come to start to realize that whether I'd like it or not, the tie-in and the benefit and everybody wins.
I want to just work on improving my communication skills more. I want to be more comfortable talking to people in these video chat modes as opposed on the phone where I can kind of hide behind the phone.
Sacha: Well, to be sure I am hiding behind my notes at the moment.
Jeff: Yes, right Sacha. In a way we all hide behind things as a way of kind of protecting ourselves from our fears. None of us are perfect. We all have things that make us uneasy.
So I find that this video conference puts you out here. It forces you to address that. I want to work on that some more. I want to work on also just getting a broader range of skills. I actually want to talk to a lot more Helpout providers and that brought my knowledge and gather all their intelligence.
There are a thousand providers and were all experts in their field. That is a rich, rich environment in which to learn. So if you're a Helpout provider, you really should be talking to these other providers because they have tons of information that's just waiting to be released and all you have to do is ask.
I want to encourage providers to try out some Helpouts as well. It's amazingly fun and at the same time developmental to I think assist into helping you provide a better Helpout as you get experience in them.
Sacha: That sounds like one of your tips for the Helpout providers who are listening to this live and who are listening to it maybe later as a replay. One of your tips from what I hear is go and check out the other Helpouts.
Do you have any other tips for them? If you're the one providing the help, how do you get this to be more successful for you? How do you get more of these great experiences?
Jeff: Okay, I think the first thing that everyone should do immediately if you're a provider is go secure a premium website.
Where is your kitty? I want to see your kitty Sacha.
If you're a knitting provider, then go get Knittinghelpout.com right now before these things get taken up. Start using it immediately to build long term brand value. If you're Home Depot, they're running brand Redbeacon and they're promoting that brand. If you're a single person, then you're still a brand. You're just branding yourself.
Don't brand your name. Find something that speaks to what you do and then find a premium name, a .com, go get it and have that thing pointed directly to your Helpout.
What I do is I have Househelpout.com and that points directly to my Helpout on Helpouts.Google.com and I think that's amazing. Do that forever. I'm building a long term value and a brand, Househelpout.com.
Sacha: Okay. We've got a fairly nice small group here. I want to take a chance here and let to actually invite everyone in.
First let me conclude the formal portion of the Helpers Help Out.
Jeff: Sacha, I could mention one other thing too.
If you're going to create that brand, Househelpout.com or whatever you're going to use, Helpershelpout.com, and then print it on the back of your business card and then give out your business card and say, “Hi, I'm Jeff. Here is my company business card. If you ever need help, right here on the back, you can find me here.” You're starting to tie together your physical brick and mortar business – whatever it is you do – with your Helpout and your time that you do together forever and creating that link and that connection between your physical business and Helpout. One is building and supporting on the other so that you become synergistically great, just support for each other.
Sacha: Okay, with that, I have just pasted in the URL of this Hangout on Air into the event.
Sacha: If you're watching streaming video, you should see it back at the event. You can also go to Helpershelpout.com/live and go to the first link that's shared under the video and that means that if you want, you can join us, and chat, and share your own stories here.
While we're waiting for people to join us if they're interested, than you so much Jeff for sharing your stories. It's always a lot of fun hearing how other people are experiencing this and what people are getting out of it. Maybe it will inspire other people to keep on going as provider.
New providers have just joined us. Maybe it will inspire them to go and invest the time in both giving Helpouts and asking for help.
Jeff: I got to agree with you, Sacha. It is that the more you participate, the more you're going to get out of it and I think the more you're going to enjoy it.
I do encourage people to explore the other providers and continue as exploring Helpouts. It's straight one of those things that what you put into it is what you get out of it.
Sacha: Okay. For folks who are listening, again, if you want to join us, there should be a URL down there. Theoretically if you copy and paste that into your browser, it should work and then you should join us. Alternatively, you can pop in the comment there and we'll invite you to the chat.
Jeff: There you go. Sometimes just about 30-40 second delay before they see.
Sacha: That's right.
Jeff: That's probably part of the Hangouts platform.
Sacha: Ramon is here. It actually works. That means everything is good.
All right. In this case, we are back to your regular hanging out sort of thing.
Jeff: Yes, awesome.
Sacha: Ramon, would you like to unmute yourself and share some of your success stories?
Jeff: Maybe not. I saw him for a second.
Sacha: Well, he joined.
Jeff: I'm still amazed by what you did here.
Sacha: I'd love to hear other people's stories. Again, if you're listening to this live and you want to join in, just to go the Google event page for this. Again, you can find that at Helpershelpout.com/live and join us following the link underneath the video.
Jeff: Ovais Absar, come on in and say, “Hi.” It's been a while since I've seen you. Hope you're doing well my friend.
I know that Graham might be here also. Graham, are you available? I see also Timothy Kenny.
Sacha: And I want to do a special shoutout to Ovais who has been very, very helpfully typing in correct spellings for all these names that I've been quickly copying into the graph. This is great.
Jeff: He has and let me just check on his spelling. Ovais, that's a 100%. You got them all perfect.
Sacha: That always makes me so nervous because you know it's so important to people and with what I'm writing sometimes, they switch letters around.
Jeff: Sacha, you don't know. When I do house inspections, it's all on the line and it's all about when you misspelled the name it's just so embarrassing. I absolutely know that.
Hey Graham, how are you?
Sacha: I'll stop fiddling with technology now.
Jeff: Everybody's muted. Do you have control over that or do they have to unmute?
Sacha: Well, we can't make them talk if they don't want to. But for the people who are listening on the podcast, the reason why this is slightly unusual is because we haven't actually had this kind of open, “All right folks, you can come in. The door is open, come in and hangout, tell your story before.”
Normally, we just manage to come up with tons of material. But you know, a story is a story and it's always so much fun to hear other people's stories too.
Jeff: Yes, from around the world. There's Graham. Hi, Graham.
Graham: How are we doing?
Jeff: Doing well, thank you. Hope you're doing good. You're in England. London is it?
Graham: It is indeed, yes.
Sacha: And it is some really, really hour in the morning for you so thank you so much for dialing live for this.
Graham: That's why I'm in the dark.
Sacha: What have Helpouts been like for you Graham?
Graham: I'll be honest. [Inaudible] on things for a living and in that field as you know, geeks hide secrets. There are single things that you can do but they take a lot of learning. It's not something you want to leak to the public for Helpouts.
You bring me a broken laptop, I will sell to you. If you're not happy with the price you got, I have plenty if you don't want to repair it. I have a happy customer-base. To me there's a lot of things that are trade secrets basically and you can't let them out. It's just not worth. It's not in your business model.
There are certain things Helpouts is very good at, it's very good at teaching, coaching – I offer a lot of it – nutrition, lifestyle, but when it comes down to geeky things, no. It just doesn't work.
Sacha: Have so, have you been experimenting with other things then that actually work with it or are you looking around for other examples or other strategies at the moment?
Graham: All I know is very simple, Sacha. My strategy is basically on my local company, I merely work for myself. At least a lot of copying work with Windows 8 likely in this and things like the F8 function missing and little things like that that are very important that I know. But I'm not going to be advertising the fact.
It's like when I can get it boot in safe mode to networking prompt and you can't. Of course to me, that's money. That's where it starts.
Jeff: You mentioned also local market and Graham, I had a thought on that, it's when you're on the Helpouts platform and you start to do a search for and you can search on a dropdown by “top reputation”, or “best match”, or the “next available”, what might be really nice is to have another little dropdown there that says, “Providers closest to me”.
Since Google would know our physical location and as long as you share your location with your browser, it can do a calculation and go, “This guy has 500 stars but this guy has 50 and he's only 20 miles away.” It might match up that localism. I think there are things that still need to be done to the platform and make it richer.
I think a lot of that local market is going to become in the Helpouts.
Graham: Sorry to interrupt but Google has been aiming now for a long time at localization. It's only relevant locally. If I want a pizza, I'm not going to go to Heathrow Airport, take seven and-a-half flight into NYC to get the best pizza on the world.
Just doesn't work in the real world. That is where Google needs to probably sharpen, is localization. It's difficult.
Jeff: It's a very tough note to crack. It's matching up and marrying a local supplier with a local demand is the million-dollar marketing and advertising question.
Sacha: Well, who knows what we'll see on Google's road map.
Actually, I want to go back to Timothy Kenny's a question here. He was wondering whether they announced ahead of time which Helpout categories will be featured next.
I have no idea but sometimes you might see interesting posts in the Helpouts Discuss Community if you check there when Maria or other official Google people post. Sometimes they're asking for suggestions for Helpouts or things that might be related to a theme that will be featured soon.
Jeff: It's a good question and if you go to the main Helpout page at Helpouts.Google.com, and then if you look at the menu along the left that starts with “art”, “music”, “computers”, “cooking”, you can definitely see there's room for another five or six categories in there.
There's more coming. I would like to see some outdoor fitness type of things like “backpacking”, “camping”, maybe more just kind of “Iron man triathlete”, “bicycling” is possibly as a category but that's just my wish.
Sacha: Yes, “coaching”.
Graham: I have to interrupt you shortly but going on that comment, probably won't [inaudible] in front of me. Well I am now working with a 17-year-old man being bullied by some young fit boy -- it's just not right. I'll give you £100 for half an hour with a golf club. He's going to be in his grave within a year.
Jeff: It's a good visual.
Sacha: All right. Ramon, are you around that? Do you want to share a story?
Ramon: Actually, I'm here. I'm actually just wanting to listen in because I'm having such a great time listening in and I was thinking what could I actually share in terms of the specific success story.
There's a whole bunch of different things happening. I think that Graham was making a really good point and it probably goes to how do you decide what you're going to share versus what you're not going to share and what in your business is inappropriate.
I was having a conversation with a client this week where we were talking about that and one of the things we landed on was thinking about all of the various little steps in what it is you do. If you are sitting down with a beginner and whatever it is, what would you tell them first? What would you tell them second? What would you tell them third, fourth? So on and so forth going from beginner, to intermediate to advanced, and that Helpouts are likely the best for that beginner basics, and also answering questions.
In the case for example from a technical perspective I've heard many people say, “It's for solving those immediate pressing problems that people have.” I think we've talked about this in our last conversation is that there are distinct category of people for example that are utilizing Helpouts. There are people like me who are coming from more of the life coaching advice-world perspective, and then there are people that are operating more from the technical help perspective. I think it's a completely different reality for both types of people.
I was really excited to hear Graham's perspective as a technical person and drawing that distinction about what he would share versus holding sort of things close to the best because they are trade secrets, so to speak. I'm just having a great time being here.
Sacha: Before I let you off the hot chair, actually I want to dig into what are the things that you said. You're coming at this with a lot of experience in life coaching and I was wondering as you start having these sessions on Helpouts, whether you've notice any difference, interacts the same – what are you starting to understand about Helpouts as being Helpouts?
Ramon: Probably the biggest lesson that I've learned is that you want to position the Helpout so that there's a specific outcome within the conversation that the client sees as beneficial. I think that's really important.
It's better to focus on one thing and then they see and value that one thing versus having five things. Also I think we actually talked about this before. Another thing that I've learned is to leverage the frequently asked questions or the Helpout description to make sure that you're focusing the client in a way that helps them get started in the Helpout and it's not just you talking.
I don't think Helpouts are for teaching people things. I think that's Hangouts and other media are vehicles. I think that Helpouts for me at least is in a very focused way having a conversation with someone where they get a real benefit, they get an insight, they get some understanding, that they walk away and they feel like, “Wow, I was helped. Now I'm ready for the next step, so on and so forth.” That's been a huge lesson that I've noticed.
I also noticed that people don't know the questions to ask. You got to give them the questions. Don't assume that they know what to ask you. I think that's why that frequently asked questions in the discussion is so useful because they kind of don't know what they don't know.
Jeff: That's really good point, Ramon.
When I walk into my doctor and I'm getting a physical check up, I'm just walking in there and he starts poking into my ear, he starts putting a stethoscope on my chest and I'm like, “Hey why aren't you looking at my knee? My knee hurts.” He goes, “If you told me that first, Jeff, I would've known to focus there.”
Right. It's guiding these people in the right direction is really important. I got to agree. You got to coach them, and guide them, and help them get to the answers that they don't quite know how to ask but they're willing to have answered.
Sacha: Here I'm going to plug Ramon's excellent tips like you shared in the last episode of Helpershelpout.com/5. If you go to Helpershelpout.com/5, you will find all those tips there in the podcast and in the sketch.
Ovais, thank you for joining us. Would you like to share your story?
Ovais: I'm not even sure if I'm in but I guess I am somehow.
Jeff: You're in my friend. We're all hearing you.
Ovais: I made it!
Jeff: Let's hit it. You have a good night!
Ovais: Actually to be honest with you, that is my story.
Graham: It's true. [inaudible].
Ovais: That is my story, this is my great story. I made it. I'm enjoying it. Thank you very much. I'm glad that I could join in.
Sacha: Of course. What have Helpouts been like for you? Have you had any particularly great moments connecting with customers or being a customer yourself?
Ovais: Are you asking me?
Ovais: I have very few Helpouts and I have had some many hits and misses.
Because of my name I get people from all over the world because it's free. But I rarely connect because I suspect most of the people who are trying to get to me do not have the wherewithal to go through the plugins and stuff that you need to get through.
I've not had that answer to this question which is when a person who is completely novice and is calling me somewhere from Indonesia because I have a funny name and they have a funny name, then they narrow you with Google, they don't even have Gmail, but they saw Helpouts in Google Search, and now they're trying to contact me. What hoops they have to go through? I suspect there are a few.
That's why I'm not making any connections. I have a lot of failures because people just don't even know how to get into G+, or to put in the plugin, or whatever it is that you would need to do.
I would really like to hear one of these brilliant people here tell me as a complete novice, you know nothing, you're sitting in Africa and all you have is Google Search and you found Helpouts. What are the obstacles?
Sacha: Who's got a success tip for Ovais?
Jeff: I do but it sounds embarrassingly simple and it almost sounds like a sales pitch for Google. But get a Chrome book and run pixel in Chrome.
It's amazing. I see people with all sorts of set ups. They have these boom microphones. I don't even feel like I'm talking to a person, I feel like I'm talking to a microphone. I'm like, “How are you doing mic?” And he goes, “My name is Bob.” And I said, “No, I'm talking to your microphone. If mic would just move out of the way, I could talk to you, Bob.”
Ovais, I think my best recommendation is simplify. Simple, simple. Less things to go wrong and...
Ovais: I don't know if I can interrupt you but...
Jeff: Sure. You're not interrupting.
Ovais: Okay, go ahead. Then let me just make sure I asked my question more clearly.
What I'm asking is someone from a remote place who only has a Google search engine and has found Helpout. Within the Helpout, he's now trying to connect with me. They do not know G+, they have not put in a plug in, they have done nothing. What are the one, or two, or three things that that person would need to do or how would I even contact them?
Jeff: Ovais, here is probably what I would try. I would stir him just to Helpouts.Google.com and then I would tell them to just simply take and type your name, “Ovais” into the search box.
What that's going to do is it's going to immediately bring up your Helpouts. That's helping seniors with computers, smartphones and handheld devices which lets them find you.
Ovais: But don't they have to do something after that in order to get the thing going? There is a plugin.
Jeff: Yes. But then this might be, Ovais, where they could use your listing as an opportunity to do a little bit of education for your client so they understand that.
For example on my Helpout, it actually says, “If you need to install the plugin right here.” And then if you want to run a test with Google on Helpouts staff is test right here. Those are just the two things I put to include them in my listing to help guide them, to steer them.
Just like Ramon was saying to help them get the help they need.
Ovais: May I just quickly ask another question?
Ovais: Do they have to be registered in Google+? What if they are not part of Google+? What happens then?
Sacha: My understanding is that a Google+ account is not required. I think that's how it works.
The thing that I find helpful is I refer people to the official Google Helpouts Helpout. That way, Google can deal with all the technical issues.
Ovais: Okay. I'm going to stop asking questions, I'm going to stop talking. I just want to make a comment that the problem we have is that everybody here is so much of an expert that we're not really seeing the problem of the person who simply has a Google search engine.
He doesn't have a Gmail account, he doesn't know anything about G+, he knows nothing.
Go ahead, I'm listening now. I see somebody wanting to say something.
Graham: Yes. One of the biggest hurdles of Google+ here in the UK, outside of the US also is that people need a Google Wallet. People outside of the US, to you folks don't need to. Google Wallet in the US is a standard form of payment.
Outside of the US, if I got to walk down the road and I ask 10 people, “Do you have a Google Wallet? Yes or no? I don't want to discuss what your rating or whatever. Just tell me yes or no.” “A Google? No, my wallet is in my trousers.” We call them trousers, not pants.
They look at you and walk away and that's where as a provider, there is no money opportunity at the moment outside of the US, the Google Wallet. Because you got PayPal. PayPal rule Europe. Like Amazon, Ebay, they're all central European and they rule. I use it everyday, I use PayPal, I use Ebay, I don't really use Amazon like you folks.
That's why Google needs to concentrate. They need to buy Amazon.com and that's going to cost you folks. You're going to have to buy it. Make it work.
Ovais: Graham, if I may. I'm actually going one step before you. Forget Wallet. I'm giving you a free service. How do you get to the first base? We're not talking second base and third base and some people are working on getting to home play. I'm talking first base, people who try to contact me don't get anywhere and that's my question that has never been answered.
Graham: Okay, I will answer that. Let me answer this please folks. It is simple.
Google is over-complex at the moment. It's not across different devices and platforms smoothly, it doesn't work. I'll give you an example of Google's stupidity – sorry, but I'll say it, absolute stupidity.
As of 26 hours ago, they cut out Gmail notifier. It might seem small, it's not. It's a very big mistake. A lot of people use it. They use it in business because it's got audio notifications as soon as you get an email, we all know that responding quickly is a key to get in a customer.
Because it never came out beta and I never understand this one, it's been 10 years I think, something like that. Something stupid in beta. Why not just leave well alone? People enjoy it. You go on Twitter and you type in, “Gmail notifier” and have a look for yourself if you don't believe me. People aren't happy and I'm one of them.
Sacha: All right. What I'm hearing here is that although some people are starting to really enjoy the successes of Helpouts, it's still got a long way to go before it reaches either the mainstream as Ovais is running into – all these people who may not be the [inaudible] of their community, their family and they're like, “What on earth is this? I just want some help.” It needs a long way to go to be simple enough for everyone to use.
And also, it's got to move beyond US. If you want people to make businesses out of this in the UK, in Australia and elsewhere, it's got to have that widespreaded option of things like Google Wallet or maybe other payment models.
Who knows? We're still pretty early in terms of the platform's life but who knows where it will go.
Graham: Yes, Sacha. You got it absolutely in one there. It's not where to go, it's good, it's going to work, but it's going to take a lot of work is what I would say. It's not here, it's not – don't ask it, it's the beginning.
Sacha: Right. I think because there's a lot of work ahead and both a lot of work in terms of Google and a lot of work also for us as we deal with technical issues, or we figure out how to connect with customers, or we shake out all these things that comes part to the growing system, then sharing both the success stories, and the challenges, and of course the work around those challenges wherever it exists can do a long way to keeping that community growing instead of saying, “I'm gone. Giving up. I'm going somewhere else.”
On a completely unrelated note – although you have something to say, so we'll do that first. Before I do the unrelated notes.
Graham: This isn't a damn point. I love everything that Google does and you folks do it better than anyone. You innovate, you push things to the limit but I will say one fault I've learned through my mind there yesterday.
There was a website called [inaudible] Google or something which is how many projects that Google initiate. You're very good at making things, you're not very good at polishing.
Jeff: Well, that might be a part of just the open source versus the closed company.
Graham, I thought about that a lot and really one thing is that Google throws a lot of experimental things out here and lets people play with them. But then you get a much lower cost basis. I don't think you've heard anybody complain about what it cost to get Gmail especially for the servers you provide because it's amazing, for free.
There's a level of, “Okay, that's part of the environment.” Then you take the opposite extreme like in Apple, they polish everything and you never even see it until it's perfected after seven years in the office. But then when it comes out, it's good and it's simple maybe. But you know what, you'll pay for it and it's a very closed environment that they provide. It's a tale of open source versus certain extent closed private development.
Graham: One thing I will say quickly is one thing I learned to this date with Google Chrome – and I'm not being able to understand is – the App store. I thought they're starting to head the way of Apple, closing it. You got to keep control of software that is on your platform.
With Windows, they made a bad mistake from the offset, anyone can write, anyone can have that code put into an appliance and Apple have been very clever. They have.
Jeff, you know a program, give it to me, I'm going to look at it. If it's okay, it's going to be on my device. That's fine and we're happy together. That's the problem with the whole Microsoft thing. Nothing to do with Google. Google need to do the same thing with the App Store and scrutinize every new Chrome app that goes in and go on work with the developers and go.
The reason I projected it Jeff, is because it breaks these codes. You are not allowed to get geolocation without Chrome to tell people, putting that in, offer it live. Simple.
Sacha: All right. This is where I drag it back to Helpouts and bring us back on topic. Yes, go ahead.
Ramon: Could I jump in and say something? I think there's a great deal of conversation that I have heard or with the last – I would say the month or so about Helpouts and the current limitations.
I think one of the things that we get to do as providers is find the thing that ultimately works for us. I think a part of this is there's something about this that you can make work. In these conversations that we're having, can help bring each of us to the point where we say, “Okay, what's the one thing that we can leverage Helpouts for in the context of our individual businesses?”
I think that if we find that, what's going to happen is there's going to be more Helpouts that are happening. It's going to get more so on the radar of Google in terms of priorities and I think some amazing things can begin to happen.
I think about the earlier conversation about, “How do I make this work? People are contacting me from all over the world.”
Ovais, are you doing technology for 10 years?
Ovais: That's right.
Ramon: My 65-year-old mother just got an iPad and she needs that Helpout desperately. I am her default Helpout 24/7. I think there's a huge market.
Sacha: I'm going to interrupt. What you're saying is you need that Helpout for her desperately?
Jeff: I think that might be it, Sacha.
Ovais: Ramon, very quickly make the point. The biggest single hurdle for the lady you're trying to be helpful to is that if she goes to Google and she puts just two words, “Helpouts” and “Ovais”, she will find me. But what is she going to do next? That's where the problem is.
Sacha: We have kids booking sessions. Maybe they can book sessions for the grandparents.
Ovais: Excuse me Sacha, kids are a lot smarter than 65-year-old.
Sacha: You're saying that as an excuse.
Ramon: What I'm really saying is in terms of market.
Ovais: Sacha, if grew up with a computer when you are four-years-old rather than a pen and paper, your computer knowledge will be – I'm sorry, I will shut up.
Jeff: Well said, Ovais.
Graham: Ovais, I've got children and why do you think I hate them?
Jeff: Spoken like a father.
Sacha: Okay, back to Ramon.
Ramon: I guess I'm just wanting to chime in and say we're at the pioneering stage of something that's pretty amazing and I think that the bigger picture here is that right now, you can literally help people all over the world.
I've talk to people in the UK, I've talk to people in Australia, I haven't talked to anyone for example in Africa yet or in Asia – I have talked someone in India. It's amazing to me that we have literally the basis in our hands of being able to build a business that earns from anywhere in the world by helping people anywhere on the world.
I think right now, we have a unique opportunity to figure out what actually works within the context of our business model and get really serious about that and not focus on what's not developed yet, or what's not working yet, but to say, “Okay, how can I find a market that's going to be open to this and how can I figure out the one little thing that works for me related to Helpouts so that when Google improves this in six months, nine months, 18 months, 36 months, however long it takes, we've got a ton of reviews, we've grown with the platform and when it really goes mainstream, we blow up.”
It's like the people who were in any platform initially who took the time to say, “There's a lot of stuff that's broke and it's not working but I'm going to work it anyway.” Down the road it was huge for them and that's the mindset that I think we got to have as providers right now. I think if we do that, we're going to be in a totally different place and we're going to be glad that we did 36 months from now.
Ovais: Absolutely. I'm on record on several posts saying exactly that.
If you look at anything like my website etc., etc., it's a minor miracle why Google included me in the first 441. I'm still amazed by that. The point is I'm still here because I think I'm on the ground floor opportunity of something that who knows, six months or a year from now, where it will be?
I don't want to just walk away from it. I know I'm not going to make any money from this for the next year or two. This is clear to me and most people, most users – I'm talking to my friend in Britain here who's lighting up a cigarette, the point is don't think that this is going to be your significant income source for at least a year or two.
Don't count on it, don't quit your day job.
Jeff: Those are wise words.
Graham: In answer to Ovais, you're absolutely correct. We're discovering things. When you're discovering things, you're not just going to go to bank and hit the nail on the head. It's not going to happen. The way things work with me is I've run a good business on my own, I'm making good money out of it, I'm comfortable. I can afford to put anything out there when I want except whatever.
It came [inaudible] and basically what I found about Helpouts – let me be quite blunt with people. One is the lack of advertising. There is no direct link to Helpouts on the Google main search page. When you even go to “More” and you even click on “Even more”, there is no icon to say Helpouts.
It's not being promoted. That's one of the biggest problems. I made it as a good thing because you'll never be a company and I'm very surprised how few big companies – there is only one in Britain called PC World and they have a technical support team called “Know how” and only they are the only big company that have used it.
They go, “As we're a big company, reach our stores, we're also available on Google Helpouts. It's a big selling thing.
Sacha: Okay. What I'm hearing is early days, Ramon says, “Yes, there's lots of work to be done but let's focus on the things that you can do to make the most of it in your business now and then three or six months online when it's on mainstream platform and everything is amazing, then you'll have the experience and you also have shaped the platform in the way if you're giving feedback.”
I'm hearing from other people, “Yes, it's challenging but we're in here for a reason and we're in here because we are excited about the possibilities. We have these early successes and early challenges, and early conductions, and early learning experiences and all of that.”
So we'll see how it goes and if we keep on sharing the things that work for us and learning from the things that work for other people, then who knows what we'll figure out together.
Ovais: Before you close, I'm going to make a 30-second comment here. Just look at the five people on this particular group. I am just absolutely tickled pink to just know you four or five people. Because look at us, how different we are, and we're having a Friday night conversation and we're having fun. That alone is worth it to me. Thank you.
Sacha: I think that's the biggest success of Helpouts for me. So far, a great community, and thank you all for being part of it. Okay then.
Ovais: Thank you Sacha.
Graham: Our pleasure.
Sacha: Thanks again for joining us.
Jeff: Before [inaudible] I want to mention one thing that they should definitely be aware of, on the Helpouts provider's page in the community--to have access to your notes. Your notes are amazing way to come up to speed quickly for new providers or people who want to review summary. So make sure you take a look at that. That's a real beautiful asset you provide.
Sacha: Speaking of that, I will plug the URL. Go to Helpershelpout.com and you will find the notes there as well.
Sacha: All right. I'm going to stop the broadcast. Thanks for listening. If you guys want to hang out and debrief afterwards, feel free to stick around. Bye.