With the passing of Google Talk, Google is forging ahead with Hangouts at the helm of its communication software offerings. It is expected that Google Hangouts will march forward offering new services to Google's customers. This has already become evident, as today it has been reported that a new feature that uses Hangout integration has come to life. First reported on the Twitter account of Matt Gibson (source link below) and confirmed by TechCrunch, a new experimental feature has been added to Google Search results where users are offered the ability to text a business via Google Hangouts.
The offering is placed on the search card right next to the phone number under the contact area. It also contains the address, reviews, and ratings, as well as a link to the companies website. The search result will have an indication if the business is available for chat so that users can click and open a Google Hangouts conversation with the business. This will allow customers to ask questions in real-time in order to obtain information pertinent to the users interest. One such way this feature can be used, for example, is with restaurants. You can verify a menu, check to see how busy the place is, or you can ask any other question you may have. This would also help retailers of things such as clothing, where you can ask if a place has a certain size or specific brand before you head out, and maybe they could even hold it aside for you so that you are assured that it will be available to you. The uses for this are endless and are yet another way for businesses to stay in contact with their customers.
This service is akin to the Path "Talk" application which enables businesses the ability to offer a text chat with customers, among other features. Path Talk offers listing of businesses in an area and allows users reach out and ask questions or to obtain information. Services such as Path Talk, and now Google's latest experiment will make it easier for customers to communicate their needs with businesses and improve communication as well as sales. With Google possibly entering this type of consumer to business communication space, smaller businesses such as Path Talk could be in trouble. Google has the ability to put its service in front of millions every single day, giving it a most decided advantage in this space.
It is important to keep in mind that this feature is experimental and is far from a finished product. Google conducts many experiments, some work and make it to mainstream while others fall by the wayside. But with the Internet of Things and a growing demand by consumers for faster more convenient ways to communicate with local businesses, Google may just keep this handy feature around. We will just have to wait and see if Google deploys this feature for prime-time use. Do you think this is a good idea? Would you use this type of service if it was available? Let us know in the comments or on our Google+ page.