Google Helpouts Program Shuttered — What Went Wrong?

Google Helpouts Program Shuttered — What Went Wrong?

Google is shutting down its Helpouts service.

Never heard of Google Helpouts? That’s part of the problem, the company suggests in announcing its retirement.

Google Helpouts utilized the Hangouts video chat service to connect users one-on-one with experts in a variety of subject areas. Users would typically be charged for this one-on-one video advice from a Google-selected expert, though some advice was dispensed via Helpouts for free.

In some ways, Google Helpouts was not unlike Skype Prime, a directory of advisers — “call providers” — who offered advice or skills training over Skype. Calls were charged at a rate that both the callers and advisors agreed on. The service was discontinued after Skype 4.0, several years ago.

For some small businesses, Helpouts was a service that got them the one-on-one help from an expert to solve a particular problem. For experts, it was a potential source of revenue for helping others in their markets or fields of expertise.

Certainly the service will be missed by some, as tweets following the announcement showed:

@Helpouts Sad news but THANKS for having me on the Helpouts site, it was a THRILL to go through the Process & be Featured for #Telehealth

— B.T. Arkwright (@StateOfTheArk) February 13, 2015

Helpouts were available in a variety of categories, from the arts and fashion, to healthcare, to computers and electronics.

The problem is, not enough people took advantage of what was seemingly a quality service being offered by Google.  On a Google FAQ page explaining the shuttering of Helpouts, the company says:

“Since launching in 2013, Helpouts has been a home for people to connect with experts on topics they want to learn about or seek advice and solutions to everyday challenges. The Helpouts community includes some engaged and loyal contributors, but unfortunately, it hasn’t grown at the pace we had expected. Sadly, we’ve made the tough decision to shut down the product.”

Google says the last day that Helpouts will be accessible is April 19, 2015.

Starting on April 20, a Helpouts history will be available for download using Google Takeout. Unfortunately, that excludes any Helpouts given in the Healthcare category, due to privacy issues.

As of now, Google is not accepting any new Helpouts help providers. And existing help providers are no longer able to display their Helpouts profile.

Google will continue to pay Helpouts providers through May 15 for work completed up to the site’s shutdown.

The service was well designed and clearly of some benefit to freelancers and small business owners.

But despite aggressive (some would say “spammy”) outreach by Google to push the service, it clearly was not a success.

Image: Google

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