If you don’t know what Duplex is, it is an AI-powered phone based-system for booking appointments with local businesses that don’t have online scheduling. Duplex was originally demonstrated at Google’s developer conference in May 2018.
Here’s Google’s description of the process (also shown in the video below):
Just ask the Assistant on your phone, “Book a table for four people at [restaurant name] tomorrow night.” The Assistant will then call the restaurant to see if it can accommodate your request. Once your reservation is successfully made, you’ll receive a notification on your phone, an email update and a calendar invite so you don’t forget.
According to Google, it is going to roll out Duplex restaurant bookings via the Assistant on other Android and iOS devices in the coming weeks.
The intent of Duplex is to mimic the cadence and sound of natural human speech. In the video, it’s clearly disclosed that exchange is with Google Assistant, a machine, and will be recorded. The disclosure is mandated by a new California law. And many states require disclosures when calls are being recorded.
Google started asking SMBs in November if they’d be willing to accept calls from the Google Assistant. Because it was an opt-out GMB and not opt-in, it isn’t clear how many local restaurants will notice. More than likely, the first time they will take notice is when they receive their first calls from Google Assistant.
Currently, Google is testing the technology in the restaurant vertical, and if it is successful, the company will expand to more industries, such as to businesses that book appointments. This coud represent to customers a great tool and help avoid lots of scheduling-related aggravation. It’s possible that it could even help businesses that aren’t using Reserve with Google or online scheduling capture more customer bookings.