What is MyHelpster?
By Felix Strasser On August 11, 2014
MyHelpster is a new disruptive Start-up from Manchester
One question I hear a lot recently is: What are you doing after graduation? Being in my last year at University not only friends, fellow students but also of course my parents want to know what the next steps are outside University, in the real world. Having recently started a business called MyHelpster, I usually respond that I am working with my best friend on my start-up business in Manchester. Then the responses become quite positive and interested, because who doesn’t like the underdog kids who launch in their garage while studying at university? But naturally one of the next few questions in our conversation is then, what is MyHelpster and what are you doing? My 150 word answer, which we have sent to most accelerator programmes I have applied to was:
‘Excel how to’ – a term searched only in the USA 45,500,000 times a month. This number of searches doesn’t reflect how many people don’t find an answer or lack patience to google, but it’s a hint for the number of problems people face when they use Microsoft Office. No matter if time pressured student, less pc-savvy baby boomer or freelancer without helpdesk access, what many people want is a quick and easy solution to their specific problem.
MyHelpster answer: An on demand support service for private end-users, which answers, solves but also explains problems and questions with productivity suits remotely and over the phone. Our handpicked freelancers, experts are working in a virtual helpdesk on commission. Customers “pay what-ever-they want” (min. transaction fee of £0.99). The price point will be set after the session with a “star ranking”, which guides the customer to a suitable price.
MyHelpster makes your life with technology easier
But that is maybe only a too carefully crafted 150 word summary, which maybe does not really reflect the true motivation I have with MyHelpster. If I describe MyHelpster in one sentence I would say it is a place where you can get professional on-demand help on a pay-as-you-go basis for tech questions, problems or any issue you do not want to deal with – at the moment most Microsoft Office or productivity suite related.
However, in the spirit of thinking big, of course that is not the big, underlying problem we see and which we want to solve (at least offering additional valuable solution). The real, deep-seated problem we are trying to solve is related to our relation to technology. So what is technology? Technology is something what we all like and love to use, because it helps us to reach certain means. We want to create, build, work, experience or maybe just enjoy ourselves and technology helps us to do that in better, faster, easier and new ways. That is the great thing about technology; it brings people together, opens opportunities and creates a new and different world. This could mean chatting on your IPhone with your old school friends, who you found on Facebook, while you are listing to Spotify on your tablet which is connected to your home audio system. Technology can be fucking awesome! Despite the fascinating nature of technology, I think that technology is not a means in itself, despite the fact that a small number of people in the tech community can be obsessed with technology. Jack Ma, founder and CEO of Alibaba Group, Chinas biggest internet-based e-commerce business with a valuation of $120 billion, likes to tell people that he cannot code a single line and does not really like technology. Unlike most famous US tech entrepreneurs who tend to display themselves as these programming or technologies geniuses and gurus, Mr Ma takes the position of what he calls the 80 percent. The 80 percent of the people in this world who are fascinated by technology, but are also more often than not scared, insecure, overwhelmed and annoyed by it. His mission is to make his services as simple as possible, so that everyone can use Alibaba.
This mission is everything but new, can be found in many web development agency statements and is probably the right to exist for most User Experience Designers. Luckily these people are not alone, but can also refer to great people like Steve Jobs or Dieter Rams, who also tried to make his products as simple and intuitive as possible, whether motives come from a customer experience or design and aesthetic point of view does not really matter, right? What matters is that when we interact with technology we want to have an easy and smooth experience that is just great. So what solutions are there to reach this?
1. Design fantastic easy to use and intuitive products, so that people rarely face challenges, questions, problems and issues.
Naturally, one answer to the question how we can presumably solve the problem of facing challenges with technology, is to smoothen the interaction with technology – to make technology as simple and intuitive as possible. That is an obvious solution, but unfortunately is does not always work. It does not work always work for two main reasons:
1) Technology and the interface changes (some might say improves) continuously. Yet at some point in our life we all become reluctant to change. Marketing expert Rory Sutherland makes an excellent point about the relation we have with technology and cited Douglas Adams. They say that there are three stages in our relationship with technology.
First, the technologies that were invented before we are ten. These are considered not technologies, but infrastructure because they are so embedded in our world.
Second, the technologies that are invented between the age 10 and 35 – these are the magical, wonderful and glorious things that make life so much better, that we cannot imagine to have every lived without them.
Finally, the third group of things are invented after or about 45 years old, which are utterly ridiculous that we cannot imagine what anybody wants from this.
2) We still favour and value human interaction more than most geeks like to think. When it comes down to any kind of interaction, speaking and dealing with a human being is what we prefer, particularly in service environments and when we are paying for a product. Who really likes the “help function” in their device or software? Who really reads the handbook to find a solution, wants to click through self-serving FAQ website or just post a forum to an anonymous mass?
This is common sense and has been supported by research in customer interaction for many years. For example most recently by Keeling and McGoldrick (2013), who found in their research on the retail relationship in a digital area, that people perceive human-to-human retail relationships as more friendly and co-operative (see picture below). This is particularly important when customers are experiencing a failure or are unsatisfied. So how does this relate to technology?
We still prefer human interactions in certain situations and particularly in situations when we are seeking help, support, advice or a particular solution to an annoying problem. Thus we should not ignore the human component in our relationship with technology and despite minimizing to cut cost, we should find a way to combine human interaction with technology.
That is, to make a long story short, what MyHelpster is all about and what the deep underlying problem is we want to address. It comes down to helping people with their technology and to make their daily life easier, particularly in situations of stress, annoyance and anger – it is in these situations when technology fails.
This is what we have understood at MyHelpster and why we think that personal service are still in an infant stage in the digital revolution, because too many business still dismiss personal customer support and help. Our service will bring you the quality and convenience of a B2B helpdesk to your fingertips. Let’s see how it goes. Follow my blog to stay updated on my start-up journey. Also please share any comment or feedback – I always want to learn!
MyHelpster’s potential was identified by several leading initiatives. One of them are Sirius programme and Founders Dock incubator. You can also read our interview with Manchester Business School here.