This week, Google launched another product into their already-broad suite: Google Helpout. (No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you…I’m not referring to the existing Google Hangout, although they share more than just a similar name.)
Google Helpout brings people together to provide what is billed as “real people with real help in real time.” In their promotional video, you can see people receiving live video chat lessons in areas as broad as photo retouching, yoga and cooking. When browsing the many categories that Google has set-up, you can see that people are available to provide on-demand advice either for free or for a fee. (You can also schedule an appointment for later.)
Of particular interest to many of our pharma clients is the Health section. There are a variety of individuals and groups already offering services. One highlighted feature is the One Medical Group, which is a national chain of high-touch medical services (i.e. a group of PCPs) that patients pay a yearly fee to access. Their goal is to provide superior customer service to address concerns many patients have in health care…including those long bouts of time in the waiting room reading People magazine. You can see how Google Helpout extends their customer service focus by providing 15 minute online consultations with patients. These online appointments serve to help patients understand what the appropriate next steps are for more minor maladies. So if you’re unsure if your cold symptoms are something worth making an appointment to see a doctor, for example.
Because we know that patients are always looking for better ways to connect with either other patients like them, or with experts in a condition, there are a lot of opportunities for customer engagement that could be served through this platform. Imagine a service where a pharma company can staff with live nurses to answer questions about their products 24/7. Or working to collect a group of patient advocates who can speak to other patients like them about their condition.
Google Helpout delivers a turnkey way for people to engage with one another in a one-to-one, “face-to-face” interaction. It’ll be interesting to see the trajectory of this latest Google offering: take off, like Google Maps, or struggle to find an audience, like Google Buzz.