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Did you see or, rather, hear Google’s presentation of their new artificial intelligence assistant? We’re pretty sure it’s going to be their next big thing.  Google Duplex will operate through Google Home and other Android enabled devices.  When it officially rolls out later this year, it still won’t be available everywhere due to legal constraints around call recording (yes, technically all voice assistants like Google Home, Siri, and Alexa record your voice in order to process your questions and return a response). Consider that detail just a technicality because this is BIG and as a restaurant owner, you should be prepared.. Here is our take on the positives and the potential risks of Google Duplex.

google duplex

Accessibility

Let’s face it, you don’t really have much control over how consumers search online for you or anything else they want.  That’s why you’ve probably already made sure that you have a website and that you can be found on Google, Facebook, Yelp and other websites.  (IF you haven’t at least figured this out, then we need to have a different conversation!)  Technology and consumer habits are evolving faster than most of us can follow. Consumers can talk to their phones, home assistants, and even their televisions to search the Internet. In fact, there are already over 1 billion voice searches PER MONTH and that number is growing rapidly!  You absolutely want to ensure that they can find you no matter how or where they are searching.

Ensuring that your business information is accessible via these devices is only going to help your business get discovered.  How great is it that, if you have a Google listing, then a consumer can ask Google to call you and make a reservation or find out when you are open?  Yes, it’s incredible, space-age stuff!

Think about it, a diner can tell their Google Home device to contact your restaurant, “call Chez Josh to make a reservation for 7 or 8 pm on Thursday.”  Google has a realistic sounding bot that will make that phone call for them and have a real conversation with your restaurant host. And the host will most likely not know they’re talking to a robot.  

So what could be bad about that?  Well, for starters, just how smart and flexible will the bot be?  If a customer wants a reservation at 7 or 8 and nothing is available until 9:30, then will the Google Duplex bot call them back to deliver the news?  We all know what a game of phone tag looks like. For simple requests that have a definitive outcome, this could be a great way to have an assistant take care of tasks. If you have to synchronize plans with numerous other people and the outcome is less certain, then it might be easier for a customer to pick up the phone and call you themselves!  At least for now, as the technology is still in its beginning stages.

Discoverability

Being accessible isn’t exactly the same thing as being discoverable.  Consider how using a voice assistant like Google Duplex will affect search engine optimization and discoverability. Today if, like most people, you search for “Joe’s Pizza in New York City” or if you search for “restaurants that serve Pad Thai in Peoria”, then Google will return a search engine results page (SERP) with a few ads and 10 actual search results.  Plus, the researcher has control over the experience and has the option to scroll through additional pages of results to find what they want even if they are, statistically, most likely to select something on the first page of results. When using a voice assistant, is your potential customer more or less likely to ask Google to read through even the first ten results, not to mention the first fifty?  Voice searching through Google Duplex, or a similar technology, will probably reduce discoverability because we will be more inclined to cede our control to these voice assistants rather than spend time listening to the options that they enable.

Finally, Google is, so far, only talking about using Google Duplex to be a consumer assistant. What happens when Google and other tech companies decide to release the merchant assistant version of Google Duplex?  Does that mean we’ll have robots talking to robots? That reality is, for sure, closer at hand than we all expect!

To listen to some examples of Google Duplex conversations with real businesses and read more about it click here.

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