When Google debuted its Duplex AI voice assistant last year, a lot of people freaked out over the way it sounded human enough to trick an actual person on the other end of the line. Sidestepping the ethical debate over human-sounding AI for a moment, I wasn’t as concerned because it seemed that at some point, Google would create a virtual assistant for small businesses. That way Google would own and get data from both the caller and the business on the receiving end.
This week, Google did just that — kinda. The company unveiled CallJoy, a phone-based virtual assistant for small businesses that can help with tasks like placing orders and provides a Google Analytics-like insights into customer calls.
Once CallJoy is activated, the small business gets a local phone number. CallJoy starts blocking spam calls, and the CallJoy assistant offers up a greeting with basic information like business hours, location, etc..
Based on a Google Blog post, CallJoy doesn’t appear to be a full-on AI assistant carrying on conversations with incoming callers. In the case of restaurants, if a caller wants to place a to-go order or make a reservation, the CallJoy assistant will text the caller with a link to complete those tasks online. Landline calls and other requests get forwarded to the business’ main number.
CallJoy records and transcribes all calls so a business owner can tag and search conversations for particular topics. CallJoy also provides a dashboard to keep track of metrics like call volume, returning callers, etc. Having these type of analytics can provide restaurants with insights that might otherwise be lost.
What Google doesn’t spell out is what happens if a Duplex rings up CallJoy. What does AI-driven virtual assistant small talk sound like?
Restaurants interested in CallJoy can sign up today to request early access. Once implemented, the service costs $39 a month.