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Summary:

Michael Dell likes Google’s new group video chat service Hangouts so much he wants to use it as a tool for customer service and sales. Dell revealed his thoughts about Hangouts on Google+, the social network that Google launched at the end of last month.

Michael Dell
photo: Dell

Dell could soon use Google’s new group video chat platform Google+ Hangouts as an alternative to the traditional customer service call, according to the company’s chairman and CEO, Michael Dell.

Hangouts has been hailed as the next big killer app, and Michael Dell is obviously a fan as well. He’s used the video chat more than a dozen times since he joined Google+ in early July, and this Sunday, he posted the following question on Google+:

I am thinking about hangouts for business. Would you like to be able to connect with your Dell service and sale teams via video directly from Dell.com?

The reaction to his post was overwhelmingly positive, with hundreds of comments agreeing that this would be a good idea for Dell. And the idea is indeed intriguing: Some customer service needs are very similar, so having a service representative talk to a small group of customers at the same time could be more economical than the traditional one-on-one call. Using video could also humanize tech support, and group settings could even initiate self-help between customers.

One should note that Dell’s idea of launching a Hangouts session directly from Dell.com isn’t currently possible; Google+ is still invite-only, and Hangouts can only be started or joined from within the network. Google also hasn’t opened its social network for businesses yet, but the company is currently evaluating how to integrate brands and businesses into Google+.

Customer service has been one of the applications that has made Twitter attractive to companies like Comcast. Having the ability to directly talk to customers via group video chat could be the next step for many of these companies as they look for ways to take customer service beyond the traditional call-center script.

  1. Great idea. Video is a perfect way for people to share exactly what is going on. I used video to solve a problem with Comcast suport via QIK video back in 2008:

    http://offonatangent.blogspot.com/2008/11/comcast-customer-success-story-using.html

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  2. Micheal dell is an innovator, he sure knows how to take his business to the heights! its an excellent idea. You can actually see the tech you are speaking to..

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  3. Christine Howell Monday, July 18, 2011

    It occurred to me the other day how ironic it is that the newest social media platform could possibly INCREASE face to face interaction. It seems like the days of people hiding behind a name and picture will eventually be just a memory. Why “chat” when we can “hangout”? It will certainly be interesting to see, especially its implications for B2C interaction. Just a little tidbit about other possible effects of Google+ http://www.goldlasso.com/learning-center/the-from-line-blog/entry/trend-the-second-wave-of-social-email-is-coming

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    1. Indeed. If Facebook was about getting people to show their personality through photos, I think Google+ will be all about getting people to show it directly through video, in a much more realistic way, and also to unite people in groups, which is what “social” is all about.

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  4. This spells big trouble for startups which are focused on social media based customer service apps. Google hangout, social networking and search & knowledge management could help solidify its position as a leader in the small business market.

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  5. So how do you hangout with the tech guy when your computer has issues? Maybe on your iPad?

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    1. That issue crossed my mind too, but I expect it to be less of an issue in the future – Dell are smart here by again demonstrating an innovative use of social media.

      As you say, iPads, other computers and eventually smartphones will be great for this sort of customer support in the future – the ability to clearly display the problem and solution will surely make the experience for both parties much smoother.

      I like that they are also thinking about group self-help, it’ll be interesting to see what ideas other brands have for using Google+’s features.

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  6. I sure look forward to this initiative by Dell.

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  7. Although good idea, Dell is going to have to wait, there’s currently no option for google apps for business to be incorporated in google plus (although it’s been promised).

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  8. cooperation between Dell with google which is very impressive, hopefully it can make a lot of positive reaction from most customers.

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  9. Great for online computer training / product introduction. Sometimes little problems with the computer could be solved easily by a brief talk. Far better than emails.

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  10. I believe using “hangout” would be a better option than Facebook Pages – Hangout is fast and easy, in my opinion. All the best Mr. Dell

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