Blog post with video / other resources: 


Sacha: Hello and welcome to episode #7 of Helpers Help Out. Today is January 24, 2014.

Today we're going to have a very different episode. It will be short, and it will be focused on setting up your Helpouts for success.

My name is Sacha Chua. Today, instead of having a guest, I'd like to walk you through some of the interesting settings on the Helpouts setting screen and why you might want to set them. If you have any questions, feel free to submit them during the show itself or afterwards as a comment or as a post in the community.

Okay, let me turn on my screen sharing and let's get started.

In case you haven't checked out your settings at all--or if you haven't seen it in a while, it might be a good idea to look in there to see the different kinds of settings that you can change. I'll go through from top to bottom, and I'll share a couple of hints about why it might be helpful.

Let's start with “Activity notifications”. Sometimes it's very easy to get lost out there. You have a lot of Helpouts coming up or on the other hand, you might have a long search of time and you don't know when your next Helpout is. Setting this to notify you at least five minutes before your Helpout starts is really helpful because it pings. That way, you can get back in there and you can join the Helpout early.

I like setting it at five minutes because many of my Helpouts are 15 minutes long. So when I get that Helpout chime that says my next Helpout is about to start, that's a perfect time for me to start wrapping up my current Helpout and work on transitioning to the next.

I also ask my customers to join the Helpout five minutes early. That means that they have the time to deal with any technical issues they have. Because Helpouts displays a different notification if you're either going to be joining the Helpout but no one is there yet or if a customer is already waiting for you, that allows me to also judge the time that I have with my current customer.

For example, if I’m doing the five-minute wrap-up but I can see that no customer is there yet, I might spend some more time with my current customer and then after wrapping up nicely, maybe taking couple of extra minutes, join the next Helpout. On the other hand, if I see somebody else is already waiting, then I want to make sure that I do end exactly on time.

If you're using Google Chrome, you can actually set this to receive desktop notifications. I keep this off because I also have my Google Calendar set up to have the calendar entries. Too many notifications and everything is going off at the same time! But if you do want to, you can always set up desktop notifications as well as popup notifications.

The email notifications will send you a reminder the day before. This is also really useful because your Helpout customers get something like this as well. If you don't want to receive them, you can uncheck this. I find that leaving this box checked allows me to use my Google Mail as a history of sessions that have been scheduled before.

I like allowing people to send me messages before booking a Helpout because that means that they can send me quick questions to find out if the Helpout is the right fit for them. On the other hand, if you find that you're getting a lot of irrelevant messages, you might consider turning this option off. So, you can either choose to allow or disallow people to send you messages before booking a Helpout.

Note that the request the time feature doesn't actually let customers request a specific time. So if you're getting messages from people who would like to book times with you that are beyond the schedule that you've already set, you might have to either work out the time yourself and then agree to be available then, by using the “Available now” feature, or do the back and forth to figure out sometimes when they might be available, and then coordinate with them so that you can schedule the slot right when they're available to book it. It's a bit of a hassle so it might be just easier to tell them that you’re going to set your “Available now” status at that particular time.

The last checkbox in the “Activity notifications” is specifically for health service Helpouts. I guess for confidentiality reasons, these aren't automatically created. But if you do want to, well, you can have an option of either saying you want them automatically created or not. So, if you want to keep them confidential, then you might consider not having it notify you everywhere. Or on the other hand if you want to make it easy to manage all of that in one place, then leave that checkbox checked.

Calendar events are super helpful because they allow you to look at your Google Calendar or elsewhere too and see all of your commitments in one place. I use Google Calendar, and I use a lot of calendars for this. I find it really helpful to see whether a slot that I've booked for Helpouts actually already has some confirmations in there. When you set up your availability in the Helpouts Calendar, your Google Calendar will reflect those times as blocked off and then it will create additional calendar entries for the scheduled Helpouts.

If you're not using Google Calendar, you can also get the events as ICS. So you can add it manually, but then there's a bit more hassle. So much better if you use Google Calendar, of course.

On “Giving Helpouts”, here are some options you probably want to change. For example, by default, you allow four people to give you your Helpouts, which could be a little bit overwhelming if you're doing “Available now”. You might find that some of them get pretty impatient, or they get more frustrated, or they drop off. So you may want to consider changing this to allow maybe only one person to queue up for the Helpouts. That way, people know that you're busy when you're currently handling one, and then the next person in line will be there when you finish.

You can also change this on the fly when you're doing “Available now”. You can play around with this to figure out what works for you.

Another thing that's actually really, really helpful is to require your Helpouts to be scheduled a certain number of minutes in advance. If you like using scheduled Helpouts but you don't like being surprised by someone who's suddenly booking five minutes in advance, then you definitely want to consider setting this to require people to schedule maybe 15 minutes in advance, an hour in advance, or even a day in advance, which I think is what I've got it set to here.

I like setting it to a day in advance because that gives me time to send people a message. It also gives them time to check their messages and respond. So in the pre-Helpout conversation, I like asking people, “What are you interested in? By the way, please install the Google Hangout plugin or do a test Helpout for free with the Google Team.” That way, when I actually get the Helpout, I'm more prepared to help them right away with their questions and key concerns, and we don't have to deal with any technical issues.

Definitely consider setting your “Require my Helpouts to be scheduled more than X minutes in advance” option.

Some people have reported that they don't have the Google Analytics option under Giving Helpouts. If you do, you can put your Google Analytics tracking code in there. However, it's a little hard to understand because the Google Analytics URLs report for Helpouts are all numeric, and it's a bit hard to interpret what a successful conversion is. Some people say maybe setting a goal of three minutes on the site might be a good way to do it, so you get a sense of the transaction. I can't make heads or tails of my listing aside from maybe, “Oh, look, here's an interesting spike in activity”, and also when things are quieter, or taking a look at where people are from. But if you are curious, you can always add that there and you can see what that's like.

Money back guarantee”, is always good to do because a) that results in happier clients and b) it results in less hassle for you. You've got the “Get the Helpouts money back guarantee but allowing recordings for quality assurance purposes” – which is actually a checkbox which you don't seem to be able to uncheck, so just leave it alone.

If you would like more tips, you can get this by paying attention to the Google+ Community for Helpouts Discuss. But if you do want to be emailed by the Google Team, I guess then you can check the “Newsletters”, “Feature announcements”, “Special offers”, and “Feedback and testing”.

Today was actually the first day that I looked at those options and then turned them on. So I can't tell you how awesome or un-awesome the actual messages are. But on the other hand, it is nice to see the official communications on all of the stuff.

Those are your settings on the “Settings” page--which by the way if you haven't come across in yet, you can get to them by clicking on the key or icon to the right of

That's it. Unless people have questions. If you have questions, again, feel free to ask them. Actually, ask them in the community because I will be popping off soon. Today was just a very quick tutorial especially for people who are new to Helpouts but also for people who like me, haven't looked with their setting screen in ages. There we are.

Thanks for watching and listening. Have fun and see you around.