Google debuted an AI-powered, customer-facing phone answering service yesterday.
- Google's CallJoy service launched yesterday on an invite-only basis.
- The system was created to give SMBs "access to the same customer service options that have historically only been available to larger corporations."
- It handles multiple phone answering needs for $39 per month.
For a small business owner, communicating with your customers is a top priority. While social media and other online channels are paramount, speaking over the telephone is still a major point of interaction for SMBs and their customers.
In a blog post announcing the service's launch, CallJoy General Manager Bob Summers said it was built to give small businesses "the same customer service options that have historically only been available to larger corporations."
Prior to CallJoy's creation, Summers said, his team at Google's experimental workshop Area 120 conducted a study and found most small businesses receive approximately 13 calls each day. Considering there are approximately 30.2 million small businesses in the U.S., the number jumps to about 400 million incoming calls from potential customers. [Looking for a business phone system? Check out our best picks and reviews.]
"High call volume can overwhelm any small business, especially when coupled with peak call times and the ever-increasing monsoon of spam callers," Summers wrote. "CallJoy helps small business owners offer better customer service, make more informed business decisions and ultimately increase productivity."
Answering the call
To keep high call volumes from hampering productivity throughout the day, CallJoy provides a sort of virtual customer service representative to handle calls.
Rather than someone answering common questions like a store's business hours over the phone, CallJoy's virtual agent can provide that information through its integration with Google My Business. Similarly, if the answer to a caller's question is available online, the virtual agent can offer to send a text message with a link to the relevant answer.
Along with the service's ability to answer queries, CallJoy includes a local phone number – you can't port existing numbers – and allows users to set a custom greeting for the AI to use. Once online, the service also immediately begins blocking spam calls.
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Analyzing the conversation
While Google says this new service could make it easier for customers to get basic information about a business, it claims the service will also give business owners a better understanding of what their customers expect from them.
Whether the virtual assistant handles the entire call or an actual person picks up the phone to finish a conversation, CallJoy will record and transcribe each call. Transcripts are then stored in the cloud, where users can filter and tag conversations for future use. It can also compile additional data – including call volume, call length, and the number of new vs. repeat callers – and share it in a daily email update.
CallJoy is still in the invite-only phase, though small business owners in the U.S. can fill out an application to receive more information when the service is available to more users. Given Google's propensity for announcing new products and initiatives only to ax them later, we'll see if this virtual answering service takes off.