For $39 per month, businesses can access CallJoy, which helps filter out spam calls, gives callers basic company information and directs customers to the services they are seeking, according to a company press release sent to Retail Dive. Each business gets a local phone number that integrates with existing phone services.
The service also records, transcribes and encrypts conversations as well as offer a textback option for callers, according to the company's website. CallJoy also compiles call data, such as how often callers ask for specific services, and shares it with companies via email and an online dashboard, per Google's Keyword blog.
The service is currently available on an invitation-only basis, but eventually the company will expand to all small businesses when its initial launch period ends, per the release.
Prior to its launch, CallJoy tested its service with small businesses in restaurants, retail shops, beauty salons, service providers and automotive services.
"The telephone continues to be a small business' lifeline. But, this volume can easily overwhelm any small business when coupled with other factors such as peak call times and the ever-increasing monsoon of spam callers," Bob Summers, founder of CallJoy said in a release. "We created CallJoy to help business owners turn the burden of calls into an efficient, delightful experience for their customers that can also give them actionable insights to improve their business."
CallJoy, which emerged from Google's internal incubator, isn't the first tech company to attempt to use technology to automate customer communications further. Other firms, such as IBM and Lamps Plus, have created text, call and chatbot tools to help customers with basic tasks like tracking their orders and provide businesses with customer service chatbot data analytics.
While retailers have been betting big on chatbots, consumers sometimes get annoyed with customer service tech. A majority of consumers would rather talk with a person than talk to a digital customer service representative or chatbot, according to a 2018 Sitel Group report. Twenty-eight percent of customers prefer phone calls over other communication channels, but 38% of consumers are especially frustrated with having to repeat inquiries to digital customer service, the report also found. These tools can help businesses connect with customers to an extent, but research suggests that it will be some time before they'll come close to replacing the human touch.