Google Hangouts is a video chat feature offered with Google Plus accounts that businesses can use to connect with their customers online. What makes it advantageous is that it’s free and you need no additional equipment or software. Hangouts can be recorded and posted to your site, or streamed live on YouTube.
Starting a Hangout is easy and intuitive. You simply have to click ‘Start a Hangout’ and you’re ready to go. If you don’t already have the Google Hangout plugin for your browser, you’ll be prompted to install it.
Here are some ideas on what to do with your Hangouts to engage your customers.
1. Introduce Products
Create a short presentation that introduces a new product and shows how it can be used to solve your customers’ problems. Invite several customers to each Hangout and after the presentation encourage them to ask questions and give you feedback.
2. Question and Answer Sessions
Choose a topic related to your business and its products or services and invite customers for a question and answer session. Ask them to prepare questions ahead of time. This is a great way to connect with customers by solving their real problems.
3. Face to Face Customer Service
Customer service is generally quite poor these days. You can make a strong impression on your customers by allowing them to reach you directly by starting a Hangout. They can contact you with their problems, questions, feedback, complaints or training needs. Several large corporations have already started using Google Plus for this.
4. Customer Meet-ups
Meet-ups are informal meetings where small groups of people discuss certain topics. They usually focus on challenges or difficulties that the members are having. You can host meet-ups online through Hangouts. In an online meet-up, you’re simply the moderator and not presenter. The focus should be on the participants.
5. Expert Interviews
Seek out experts in your field that your customers would enjoy hearing from. You can interview them live and allow your customers to watch. You can make the interview even better by making it interactive. Allow your customers to ask questions as well. In addition to the information they’ll gain, they also get a chance to ‘meet’ the expert.
6. Consulting and Coaching
Use Google Hangouts as a platform for consulting or coaching. This works especially well for tech-related businesses where you can walk the customer through computer-based tasks.
Google Hangouts Best Practices
Hangouts are easy to host but here are a few tips on making them as effective and valuable as possible for all:
• Designate one person to moderate the Hangout. They don’t need to dominate but simply lead it along.
• Ask all participants to introduce themselves at the beginning. This makes everyone feel more included.
• Set a time limit and stop it in a timely manner. If it needs to go longer, schedule a second Hangout.
Remember that your Hangouts don’t need to be live events only. They can be recorded and posted to YouTube or your website. Hangouts on Air is a feature offered by Google Plus that lets you stream them in real-time directly to YouTube. This way you can kill two birds with one stone by engaging your customers directly and also creating valuable content.