Area 120 is “Google’s workshop for experimental projects” and its latest service is “CallJoy.” Aimed at small businesses, it is essentially Call Screen for spam blocking and Google Duplex for automated help rolled into one product.

CallJoy — a cloud-based phone agent that enables small business owners to measure, improve, and automate customer service — addresses two problems for smaller companies that larger corporations often already have solutions for.

After signing up, businesses are provided a local phone number, similar to Google Voice, with CallJoy automatically blocking unwanted spam calls. Google notes that “nearly half of small business calls go unanswered” because owners assume it’s spam or are too busy.

When that happens, business owners can experience customer disloyalty, loss of revenue and negative online reviews.

Legitimate calls can be answered by a CallJoy virtual agent that provides basic business information like hours and a custom greeting message. The reverse Duplex-like functionality comes into play when customers inquire about a task that can be completed online. CallJoy will send customers an SMS text message containing a URL.

Another aspect of the new Area 120 service is getting data about what customers are interested in. All calls, including those handled by an agent or employee at the store, will be transcribed for quality purposes. An online dashboard will also provide daily email updates with metrics like call volume and new versus returning callers.

This allows small business owners to tag and search each conversation based on topic. For example, a hair salon owner can search how many times a day callers ask about “men’s haircut pricing” or “wedding hairstyles.”

Google has been testing CallJoy in beta, and it is now available in early access for some small businesses at a flat monthly rate of $39.

Take for example one of the top Chinese fusion takeout eateries in Austin, Texas. Before joining CallJoy’s beta program, the restaurant staff didn’t have the bandwidth to answer incoming calls while juggling food preparation and in-restaurant diner needs. Since adding CallJoy’s textback feature, the restaurant has decreased hold times and increased productivity by automatically texting callers a URL to place their orders online.


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