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Google's CallJoy is an AI phone operator for small businesses

It follows Google's automated reservation tool Duplex.
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jacoblund via Getty Images

Around a year ago, Google unveiled Duplex, an AI-powered feature that can call businesses and book appointments for you. Ahead of this year's I/O, Google revealed the other half of the equation, a virtual customer service agent that can automatically handle inbound calls for small businesses.

When a customer calls, CallJoy will answer with a custom message and offer basic business details such as opening hours. If the caller wants to inquire about a task that can be carried out online, like placing an order or arranging an appointment, CallJoy will send them a text with the relevant URL if they agree. If they want to talk to someone or if they call from a landline, their call will go through to the business' phone. The system will also filter out unwanted spam calls.

Whether it fully handles a call itself or a human hops on the line to chat with the customer, CallJoy will record and transcribe the calls. The small business owner will then be able to categorize calls by topic, while they can search the transcripts through a dashboard. CallJoy will also provide data on factors including call volume and returning vs. new callers.

Google won't port phone numbers to CallJoy, however. Users will have to select a virtual number with their own area code, and they'll have to update their contact information to include the number. CallJoy will also only be linked to one location and one phone number. Small business owners will be able to add other locations and lines, but Google is charging $39/month per line.

The system could reduce call waiting times by helping you get the information you need faster. If it works as promised, it should free up small business owners to have more time for fulfilling orders and assisting customers who are there in person. Given there are an estimated 400 million calls to small businesses each day, such a system could save entrepreneurs a ton of time.

It's early days for CallJoy, but it's easy to foresee possible features for the system in the future. It might handle food orders for restaurants that don't have an online ordering option, handle reservations or connect to inventory systems to tell customers whether an item is in stock or reserve it for them. We might soon live in a world where Google's services are calling each other to handle our requests. Wild. Small business owners in the US can apply now for early access.

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