May 9, 2019

Google’s CallJoy vs CallRail, ZipWhip, and Smith.ai

Google recently launched CallJoy, an “easy-to-use phone technology platform for small businesses.” In their marketing, CallJoy claims to improve customer service and help small business owners better manage their inbound phone calls. Naturally, we found this product very interesting, as it falls within the field of automation and call-answering services. So here we look into the details of CallJoy, and how it differs from CallRail, ZipWhip, and of course Smith.ai. And for small businesses who are interested in using CallJoy, we provide tips on using it alongside Smith.ai.

Before we begin, please note that CallJoy is currently available by invitation only. Businesses need to request a spot on the waitlist and must have a Google My Business account to be considered. Eventually, CallJoy plans to open the service up to all businesses.

What Is CallJoy?

On their website, Google calls CallJoy an “easy-to-use cloud-based phone agent,” but don’t be fooled into thinking your calls will be answered by a person. Instead, CallJoy is an IVR with some interesting automated texting functionality.

When you set up your CallJoy account, your callers will reach an automated recording that can provide basic business information (hours, location, etc.), route calls to your business line, or text them directly with an action like booking an appointment. With this “textback” feature, your caller can opt in to having a scheduling link (like Calendly) sent directly to their cell phone.

CallJoy also records and transcribes all of your calls through their platform, so you can analyze trends and use various metrics to improve your processes, change your services, and/or update your website to address topics that come up most frequently in your calls.

How CallJoy is different than other platforms

At a flat fee of $39/month (per location), CallJoy is a fairly affordable option for small business owners who don’t currently have any platform helping them filter calls. They claim some spam blocking, but they’re vague on the details except to mention that spammers will likely hang up when told their call will be recorded. And the call-to-text (or textback) function is definitely interesting for addressing the needs of your callers who are just looking to book an appointment and nothing else.

Downsides to using CallJoy

If your clients are used to having a real person pick up when they call, using CallJoy as your first line of defense could actually negatively affect sales and client happiness. And businesses that already use an IVR may find CallJoy’s functionality less robust than what they currently use and need.

Also, CallJoy provides you with a new local number (you can’t use your current business number). So you’ll have to update your website, business cards, Google listing, email signature, mom’s speed dial, anywhere your old number still exists. This can be bad for SEO and frustrating for existing clients who likely have your previous number saved.

Lastly, CallJoy records ALL YOUR CALLS, even after the call has been directed to your line and you are talking to the caller. They turn your calls into transcripts that are searchable in the CallJoy platform, which they promote as a tracking tool to improve customer service quality and efficiency. But lawyers and financial advisors (and other service providers) who handle sensitive client data should be wary of an external company recording their calls. Even if you trust Google’s encryption, clients and potential clients could easily be turned off by knowing their private call is being recorded.

How is CallJoy different than CallRail?

CallRail is a robust call tracking software used by business owners and marketers to judge the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, although it has other features. CallRail’s IVR, which is available with their “Essentials” plan at $45/month, works similarly to CallJoy: It answers simple questions and directs calls.

CallRail does not have CallJoy’s textback feature, which can text callers a url to book an appointment directly from the call. Note: You can set up your CallRail number to send and receive texts, but it won’t automatically send a text from a phone prompt.

Unlike CallJoy, you can keep your current business number and port it into CallRail’s system, avoiding confusion and SEO problems. Furthermore, your number is yours. If you want to cancel your CallRail plan and bring your number elsewhere, you can. When you cancel your CallJoy account, your number is gone.

For businesses already using CallRail, CallJoy is NOT simply a cheaper option; you will likely miss many of CallRail’s features and functions if you switch. But for a simple and affordable automated call answering platform with a textback feature, CallJoy could be all you need.

How is CallJoy different than ZipWhip?

ZipWhip is a texting-for-business software. You and your team can use it to send, receive, and organize text messages on your computer using your existing business phone number. In industries where many clients prefer SMS texting to phone calls, ZipWhip can be a useful tool.

For example, a chiropractor or therapist might be busy in appointments all day, so they ask patients to text them their availability. When they have time, they can use ZipWhip to filter through and respond to client texts, making appointments.

Alternatively, a restaurant owner likely gets many more calls than texts. They might prefer using CallJoy to answer frequently asked questions about hours and locations, then use the textback feature to have the caller book a table.

Service providers like lawyers and financial advisors may find that neither of these platforms fit with the way their leads and clients prefer to contact them.

How is CallJoy different than Smith.ai?

Smith.ai is a virtual receptionists service for phone calls and web chat. When a business uses Smith.ai’s services, their clients and potential clients communicate with a real person (during service hours -- 8am - 9pm ET).

Although CallJoy may seem similar to Smith.ai, their platform is automated so your client will not speak to a person, but rather be directed through a series of recorded answers and options (we all know what these sound like). Smith.ai’s virtual receptionists answer a variety of FAQ, qualify leads, collect payments, fill out intake forms, and generally address your caller’s (or web visitor’s) need in a natural way, like only a human can.

CallJoy does have a textback feature that can text your caller a link to an appointment url, but Smith.ai’s receptionists actually book the appointment, confirm it, and can even call the person at a later date for a reminder.

And with Smith.ai, you keep your own phone number. Your calls come through our system and we answer them based on your instructions, but you won’t have to change your existing business phone number and if at any time you wish to answer all your own calls, we are happy to have you do so.

How to use CallJoy with Smith.ai

Are you dying to jump on board with CallJoy, Google’s newest service for small businesses? Do you think a combination of an IVR and live-answering service could be the right answer for your business calls? You can use CallJoy and Smith.ai’s virtual receptionists together. Here’s how:

  1. Set up your CallJoy account to provide basic information like office hours, business address, and service areas.
  2. Prompt the listener for a CallJoy textback containing your email address, a link to your contact form, or useful links to other pages on your website (like services). Note: We do not recommend using CallJoy’s textback for scheduling, as our receptionists can better complete the appointment scheduling process. Your text has a high chance of being ignored by callers who may be uncomfortable with online scheduling platforms.
  3. Forward callers whose needs are not addressed by the automated recordings or textback links to your Smith.ai receptionists. They can qualify leads, schedule appointments, and provide assistance that only live receptionist can.
  4. For callers who filled out a contact form you texted them, have your Smith.ai receptionists call them back to confirm times and do preliminary client intake.

We hope you can use this information to implement an effective and efficient call-answering process for your business. Keep in mind that, although it can be exciting to have new options for managing your small business, there can be risks to working with brand new ventures (even ones created by Google).

If you have any further questions about using CallJoy alongside Smith.ai, please don’t hesitate to contact us at support@smith.ai or call us at (650) 727-6484 from Monday - Friday, 5am – 6pm PT / 8am – 9pm ET.

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