Tag Archives: small business

CallJoy’s new agent helps small businesses answer calls

If you own or have ever worked in a small business, you know how stressful it can be to juggle day-to-day tasks while also managing the ever-ringing phone line. According to research we conducted, nearly half of calls to local businesses go unanswered. And when calls do get picked up, conversations are often rushed, and follow-up details get lost in a pile of sticky notes. 


This May, my team within Area 120, Google’s workshop for experimental products, launched CallJoy, a virtual phone agent for small business owners. Today, we are greatly expanding our capabilities and releasing a smarter, more intuitive agent that can assist callers by asking a simple question: “How can I help you?” Then, the agent intelligently responds based on the caller’s answer.
CallJoy Call Actions

CallJoy’s Call Actions feature allows small business owners to customize their own virtual agent. 

A more intelligent phone agent 

With the launch of our new agent, owners or managers of local small businesses can easily enter a set of expected questions or phrases and define what action the agent will take when those phrases are used. The more information a small business owner gives to the agent, the smarter and more responsive CallJoy becomes. 

For example, a caller might ask a restaurant’s agent, “Do you have vegetarian options?” If the small business had entered the phrase “vegetarian” into CallJoy and defined a verbal response for the agent, the agent could respond, “Yes! Our menu has vegetarian and vegan-friendly choices. Can I text you the link to our online menu?” 

Since no small business is the same, CallJoy makes it simple to train the agent on how to handle customer inquiries. The agent can not only speak an answer, but also send a link and then continue the conversation or connect to the business’s phone number. Starting today, there are an unlimited number of ways to set up your CallJoy agent.

The entire virtual customer service experience is professional and friendly, without requiring any time from the business owner or staff. Of course, if you want to talk to customers live, you can customize that, too. With this major release, you have even more flexibility based on your small business’s specific needs and how you want to handle calls. You can choose exactly when the agent is involved in the call answering process, such as only answering after hours or after the phone rings six times. CallJoy is there to help, but you’re in control.

Focus on what you do best

If dozens of customers call your business at one time, CallJoy adapts to handle all calls and does so at any time of day. The virtual agent can help multiple patrons book appointments, learn about your business’s hours, route the call to the right staff member and more—all at once. This allows your business to serve a larger number of customers, all while freeing you up to do more valuable tasks.


You’ll probably be curious what the virtual agent did on your behalf during the day, and that’s why CallJoy records and transcribes each conversation and sends you a recap via email every day. Small business owners can easily search and tag transcripts to track the details that matter most. Best of all, these additional insights and features are available at our same flat monthly rate of $39.


With CallJoy, we’re helping small businesses across the U.S. save time while also providing customers with better service through a more intelligent phone experience. Small business owners who are interested in setting up a customized CallJoy phone agent can sign up for a 14-day free trial.

Grow your veteran-led business with digital tools

Running a small business can be great second career after serving in the military. As a U.S. Army veteran, I would know. In addition to my role at Google helping small businesses get found online, I also co-own an occupational therapy practice with my wife in Kirkland, Washington.

We were one of the first small businesses to add the “Veteran-Led” attribute to our business profile on Google My Business after it was introduced last August. It’s a simple way to share a piece of the personal history behind our business with fellow veterans and people in my community. Since then, thousands of veteran-led businesses across the U.S. have added the attribute to their business profiles, including Old School Boxing and Fitness Center in San Diego, California, and Honest Soul Yoga in Alexandria, Virginia.

At Propel Electric Bikes in Brooklyn, New York, owner and U.S. Army veteran Chris Nolte uses the attribute to help his veteran-led business stand out on Google Search and Maps. And with Google Ads, Chris is able to put his bikes in front of potential customers in New York and across the country. With support from digital tools like these, he’s successfully grown his business, even opening a second location in California.

Now, in honor of National Veterans Small Business Week, Grow with Google is introducing a resource hub where veterans like Chris can find products, tools, and programs to start or grow their businesses. Here’s a preview of what you’ll find there.

Almost one in four transitioning service members have an interest in starting their own business. So to make it simpler for veterans to grow their business and marketing skills, the Primer app offers quick, easy-to-understand lessons that they can access from anywhere. The lessons offer helpful tips on topics like creating a business plan, increasing sales, managing finances, and more. Primer also offers custom mini-courses tailored to veterans and military spouses that you can find by searching “veteranled” or “milspousebiz” in the app.

This National Veterans Small Business Week, we’re also inviting veteran business owners to a livestream workshop focused on growing a small business. Viewers will learn how Google My Business can help an entrepreneur establish a local online presence, build a loyal customer base, show off products or services and drive online and physical traffic to their business. We’ll also be joined by the California Veterans Business Outreach Center, a program from the Small Business Administration, to hear more about their offerings for veteran-owned businesses. Tune in on YouTube for Tuesday’s livestream workshop.

When I was making my own transition to civilian life in 2013, I looked to fellow veterans for career guidance. As a Googler and a business owner myself, I’m proud to help fellow veteran-led businesses find new online resources to grow.

How we can help more American small businesses export

Technology has made it easier than ever before for small businesses to find new customers abroad. That’s been the experience for Ryan McFarland in South Dakota, who started Strider Bikes in 2007 after inventing a pedal-free bicycle for his young son. He’s since sold more than 2.5 million bikes to customers in 78 countries, and international sales account for over half of the company’s business. Through products and tools like Google Ads, YouTubeand Market Finder, small businesses like Strider Bikes are finding new markets and building relationships with customers around the world.

Still, we know that a majority of small businesses currently do not export their products, and many that do export continue to find it a difficult process. That’s where technology can come in -- helping small businesses access international markets that present great opportunity.

To better understand the opportunities and gaps for small businesses, we commissioned a study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Brunswick Research on small business exports. We wanted to dig deeper into the role small businesses play in U.S. export success, the challenges they face in exporting and the ways new technologies and policy approaches can support them. Their new report, “Growing Small Business Exports: How Technology Strengthens American Trade,” comes out today. 

Researchers surveyed more than 3,800 small businesses across the country to estimate the current and potential impact of small business exports on the U.S. economy. A few highlights: Small business exports support more than six million jobs across all 50 states, and add over $540 billion annually to the American economy. Still, there’s a huge opportunity for more small businesses to sell overseas. If policymakers and the business community can help small companies overcome some of the challenges of exporting—like language barriers, customs issues and payment challenges—we could create nearly 900,000 additional jobs in the U.S. 

Modernizing and updating trade policy is key to unlocking exports for small businesses. But better use of technology also plays a critical role. The survey found that the majority of non-exporting small businesses—more than 70 percent—aren’t familiar with digital tools that could help them reach global customers. Tools like translation services, digital marketing and advertising and online payment platforms can help small businesses reach beyond their local markets. 

Based on these findings, the report offers a few recommendations, including:

    • Develop a collaborative initiative between the federal government, state governments, the private sector and others to train and assist U.S. small businesses in using technology for exporting. This approach would modernize export promotion tools while driving coordination between the numerous federal and state export agencies that have a stake in helping small businesses engage in trade. 
    • Encourage innovators and technology providers to build new digital tools—and broaden awareness of existing tools—that address barriers facing small business exporters. Today, only 20 percent of small businesses use digital tools to export. By increasing awareness of these resources, we can set small businesses up for success.
    • Building on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), policymakers should prioritize additional market-opening trade agreements that benefit small business exporters, including through high-standard rules in areas such as digital trade and the removal of non-tariff barriers that disproportionately affect small businesses.

    At Google, small businesses have always been a top priority of ours. (In fact, the first company to sign up for our ads platform was a small business -- a mail-order lobster business from Maine!) By doing our part to lower barriers to exporting, we can help small businesses grow overseas and bring jobs and economic opportunities back to their communities. It’s crucial that policymakers across federal, state and local governments work with large and small businesses to meet this opportunity.


    13 shortcuts made possible by .new

    Who doesn’t love finding a good shortcut? A year ago, G Suite created a handful of shortcuts: docs.new, sheets.new, and slides.new. You can easily pull up a new document, spreadsheet or presentation by typing those shortcuts into your address bar. 

    This inspired Google Registry to release the .new domain extension as a way for people to perform online actions in one quick step. And now any company or organization can register its own .new domain to help people get things done faster, too. Here are some of our favorite shortcuts that you can use:

    1. Playlist.new: Create a new playlist to add songs on Spotify.
    2. Story.new: Write about what matters to you on Medium.
    3. Sell.new: Help people get exactly what they want through eBay.
    4. Canva.new: Create beautiful designs with your team.
    5. Reservation.new: Make an OpenTable reservation at the best restaurants near you.
    6. Word.new: With Microsoft, you can write with confidence, knowing intelligent technology can help with spelling, grammar and even stylistic writing suggestions.
    7. Webex.new: For an easy, fast, and secure way to start your personal meeting room from any browser, try this shortcut from Cisco Webex.
    8. Link.new: Instantly create trusted, powerful, recognizable links that maximize the impact of every digital initiative using Bitly.
    9. Invoice.new: Create, customize and send customer invoices directly from the Stripe Dashboard. 
    10. Api.new: Prototype and launch your ideas for new Node.js API endpoints with this shortcut from RunKit.
    11. Coda.new: Simplify your team’s work with a new doc that combines documents and spreadsheets into a single canvas.
    12. Music.new: Create personalized song artwork for OVO Sound artist releases, pre-save upcoming music, and play the latest content with a single click.
    13. Repo.new: Developing fast? Open new GitHub repositories and gists in record time.

    Similar to .app, .page, and .dev, .new will be secure because all domains will be served overHTTPS connections. Through January 14, 2020, trademark owners can register their trademarked .new domains. Starting December 2, 2019, anyone can apply for a .new domain during the Limited Registration Period. If you’ve got an idea for a .new domain, you can learn more about our policies and how to register at whats.new


    With .new, you can help people take action faster. We hope to see .new shortcuts for all the things people frequently do online. 


    10 shortcuts made possible by .new

    Who doesn’t love finding a good shortcut? A year ago, G Suite created a handful of shortcuts: docs.new, sheets.new, and slides.new. You can easily pull up a new document, spreadsheet or presentation by typing those shortcuts into your address bar. 

    This inspired Google Registry to release the .new domain extension as a way for people to perform online actions in one quick step. And now any company or organization can register its own .new domain to help people get things done faster, too. Here are some of our favorite shortcuts that you can use:

    • Playlist.new: Create a new playlist to add songs on Spotify.

    • Story.new: Write about what matters to you on Medium.

    • Canva.new: Create beautiful designs with your team.

    • Webex.new: For an easy, fast, and secure way to start your personal meeting room from any browser, try this shortcut from Cisco Webex.

    • Link.new: Instantly create trusted, powerful, recognizable links that maximize the impact of every digital initiative using Bitly.

    • Invoice.new: Create, customize and send customer invoices directly from the Stripe Dashboard. 

    • Api.new: Prototype and launch your ideas for new Node.js API endpoints with this shortcut from RunKit.

    • Coda.new: Simplify your team’s work with a new doc that combines documents and spreadsheets into a single canvas.

    • Music.new: Create personalized song artwork for OVO Sound artist releases, pre-save upcoming music, and play the latest content with a single click.

    • Cal.new: Create a new Google Calendar event right from your browser.

    Similar to .app, .page, and .dev, .new will be secure because all domains will be served overHTTPS connections. Through January 14, 2020, trademark owners can register their trademarked .new domains. Starting December 2, 2019, anyone can apply for a .new domain during the Limited Registration Period. If you’ve got an idea for a .new domain, you can learn more about our policies and how to register at whats.new

    With .new, you can help people take action faster. We hope to see .new shortcuts for all the things people frequently do online. 


    Get your business holiday-ready with help from Google

    The holidays may feel far away, but businesses are already preparing for the shoppers that will show up in the next couple months. Here are a few ways to make sure you’re ready for the holiday rush:  


    Stand out to local shoppers 

    If you’re a local business, keep your Business Profile on Google updated using Google My Business


    Show up when people are searching for what you have to offer  

    Most people will start their holiday shopping by searching, and Google Ads will help your product or business show up. To take advantage of a specific holiday, create a seasonal campaign and consider adjusting your budgets to match search growth for holiday peaks so your ads don’t go dark mid-season. After the holidays, review your past account performance to improve future campaigns.  


    Get a free personalized plan to help you reach your business goals 

    Answer a few questions about your business and the Google for Small Business site will create a personalized plan with Google tools to help you stand out online, reach more customers and work more efficiently during the holidays and throughout the year. 


    Dive deeper into your holiday marketing plan 

    If you want to learn more about how to spruce up your holiday marketing plan, watch this free holiday livestream


    Support for job seekers and businesses across the U.S.

    We believe that Google only succeeds when others do. So whenever we’re expanding a local office or breaking ground on a data center, we think about how we can invest in the community as a whole. That includes the people who live in the community, the teachers and students in the local schools and the small businesses that form the backbone of the local economy. To help drive this work, two years ago we launched our Grow with Google initiative to ensure that the opportunities created by technology are truly available to everyone. Since then, we’ve formed partnerships and introduced programs to create economic opportunity for people in all 50 states and around the world.


    Today I was thrilled to be able to return to one of those states—Texas—where Google has been operating since 2007. In June, we announced a series of new investments to expand our presence in Austin and broke ground on a new data center in Midlothian as part of our $13 billion investment in data center and office expansions across the U.S. We’ve also made recent investments to expand our offices in Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Minnesota and Massachusetts, and data centers in Virginia and Nebraska.


    In addition to growing our footprint in communities across the U.S., we’re making investments in America’s workers. This morning we visited El Centro College in Dallas to announce the expansion of our Google IT Support Professional Certificate program. The program is currently offered at 30 community colleges and will be available for students in 100 community colleges throughout the U.S. by the end of 2020.


    For many people, the Google IT Support Professional Certificate is the first step to getting a well-paying job in a high-growth field. (As proof of the fast growth, when we first announced the certificate in 2017, there were 150,000 open IT jobs in the U.S. Now there are closer to 215,000.) We’ve also created a consortium of employers who are eager to hire these graduates.  


    More than 5.7 million students are enrolled in U.S. community colleges—40 percent of whom are the first in their families to attend college. These schools play a vital role in creating economic opportunities for the people they serve, and we're excited to be a part of that with the IT Support Professional Certificate program.


    While in Texas today, we were joined by Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump to talk about Google’s commitment to providing Americans with skills training through Grow with Google. Google is proud to join more than 350 other American companies in signing the White House’s “Pledge to America’s Workers,” and committing to training more than 250,000 Americans to help them prepare for new jobs. 


    We’re also helping small businesses to succeed and thrive. In 2018, Google helped provide $335 billion of economic activity for more than 1.3 million businesses, website publishers and nonprofits nationwide, including $20.8 billion of economic activity in Texas alone. Today we met with several of these businesses to hear how they’ve used Google products and services to grow and export their goods to customers around the world.


    Peacock Alley is a small textile business based in Dallas. Its founder Mary Ella Gabler has used Google Ads for more than 15 years, which has enabled the company to sell its bedding direct to consumers and grow exponentially. We also met the founders of an app that connects salon and barbershop owners to customers where 30 percent of users found the app via Google Ads. And we talked with the owner of a commercial kitchen cleaning company who attracts 90 percent of his customers with Google Ads in English and Spanish.


    To help more businesses like this succeed, Google.org will be making a $10 million pledge to help low-income and underrepresented entrepreneurs start new businesses via access to training and capital. The first grant will be a $2 million contribution to the American Library Association to support entrepreneurship centers at libraries in 10 states and help libraries across the country to develop new offerings for small business creators. 


    From small business partnerships to education initiatives, we continue to make it a priority to invest in the communities where we live and work, and beyond.


    How we’re helping small businesses succeed

    Owning a small business often means wearing many hats, and I know this firsthand. When I started my winery, I found I was not only a winemaker but also an accountant, marketer, sales person and tech support provider all at once. There was never enough time! Now that I’m at Google, I apply the lessons I learned every day as our team works to build products and solutions designed to meet the needs of small businesses.

    Starting a small business can be a pathway to economic prosperity for both business owners and their communities. In fact, 67 cents out of every dollar spent at a local business stays in the local economy. Through our products like Search and Google Ads and Grow with Google, our initiative to create economic opportunity across the U.S., we’re committed to helping small businesses succeed. Being online is the way to win. Today we are releasing a new report that shows how Americans are searching for local businesses, and I can tell you that there is tremendous momentum. In fact, we’ve seen 350 times more search interest in "local" + "near me" than there was 10 years ago. 

    To deepen our commitment to small businesses, Google.org is making a $10 million pledge to help low-income and underrepresented entrepreneurs start new businesses via access to training and capital.

    Almost half of all libraries in the U.S. provide assistance to entrepreneurs looking to start a business of their own. That’s why the first grant will benefit the American Library Association (ALA) to support entrepreneurship centers at 10 libraries and to help libraries across the U.S. develop new offerings for small business owners. The grant will also support the ALA’s efforts to develop a guide for libraries on building their own entrepreneurship programs, including recommendations for better serving entrepreneurs from diverse communities and underrepresented backgrounds. This grant builds on our ongoing support for libraries, including the $1 million in funding that Grow with Google gave ALA earlier this year to help libraries across the U.S. provide communities with digital skills. The collaboration has already supported 130 libraries across 18 states and will continue to all 50 states. We are proud to be continuing our work with this important organization.

    Google.org’s $10 million pledge is not the only way we’re investing in the success of American small businesses. In June, we introduced Google for Small Business - a website that offers free personalized plans for small businesses so they know which Google tools will help them reach more customers and work more efficiently. 

    This work is important to me, both in my role at Google and as a former small business owner. Today, I’m back in my hometown of Dallas, Texas to share this news and to see some of Texas’s finest small business owners in action.

    As a Googler, Texas native, woman and former small business owner, I am so proud to work alongside entrepreneurs and help American small businesses find new success in the 21st century. 

    Take a look at our report below to check out how people across the U.S. are searching for small businesses.

    Small Business Infographic

    Build security into your next website

    Posted by Ben Fried, VP, CIO & Chief Domains Enthusiast

    If you wanted to send a secret message by mail, would you rather send it in an envelope, or on a postcard? If you send it on a postcard, anyone who saw the postcard on its way to the recipient could read the message, or even make changes to what’s written.

    Encryption on a website functions like an envelope, protecting information passed between your website and its visitors so it can’t be snooped on or changed. It’s what keeps your visitors safe from bad actors who may try to alter your site’s content, misdirect traffic, spy on open Wi-Fi networks, and inject malware or tracking. You achieve encryption on a website by installing an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. This certificate ensures that the data passed between a web server and a browser remains private.

    To kick off National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we’re highlighting something that many website owners don’t realize—a single page that isn’t encrypted could potentially be used to gain access to the rest of the website. To avoid this, you need encryption on your entire website, not just for pages that are collecting credit card numbers or log-in info. Even unencrypted landing pages that redirect to an HTTPS page can pose risks. A single unprotected page can become a backdoor for bad actors to snoop on the rest of the site. How do you ensure your entire website is encrypted?

    Use a top-level domain that is HSTS preloaded.

    The HSTS preload list tells modern browsers which websites to only load over an encrypted connection. The fastest way to get on this list is to use a top-level domain that’s already on the HSTS preload list, such as .app, .dev, or .page. Any website on those extensions gets the security benefits of HSTS preloading from day one, so all you need to do is install your SSL certificate.

    Add your website to the HSTS preload list yourself.

    Websites can be individually added to the HSTS preload list by the website owner at hstspreload.org. Keep in mind this can be a slow process because the list is manually built into the browser. That means updates to the list are made as new browser releases come out, which can take months to occur for all browsers.

    More people are creating websites than ever before, with 48 percent of the U.S. population planning to create one. To help make building your secure website a bit easier, we’ve teamed up with some of our registrar partners, who are offering a discount on .dev, .app, and .page domains plus free SSL certificates during the month of October. We’re also kicking off a video series where existing creators will share their tips for launching a website. You can check them out at safe.page/buildsecurely.

    Stephanie Duchesneau, Domains Security Expert, explains the importance of website encryption and the benefits of HSTS-preloading.

    Build security into your next website

    If you wanted to send a secret message by mail, would you rather send it in an envelope, or on a postcard? If you send it on a postcard, anyone who saw the postcard on its way to the recipient could read the message, or even make changes to what’s written.

    Encryption on a website functions like an envelope, protecting information passed between your website and its visitors so it can’t be snooped on or changed. It’s what keeps your visitors safe from bad actors who may try to alter your site’s content, misdirect traffic, spy on open Wi-Fi networks, and inject malware or tracking. You achieve encryption on a website by installing an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. This certificate ensures that the data passed between a web server and a browser remains private. 

    To kick off National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we’re highlighting something that many website owners don’t realize—a single page that isn’t encrypted could potentially be used to gain access to the rest of the website. To avoid this, you need encryption on your entire website, not just for pages that are collecting credit card numbers or log-in info. Even unencrypted landing pages that redirect to an HTTPS page can pose risks. A single unprotected page can become a backdoor for bad actors to snoop on the rest of the site. How do you ensure your entire website is encrypted?

    Use a top-level domain that is HSTS preloaded. 

    The HSTS preload list tells modern browsers which websites  to only load over an encrypted connection. The fastest way to get on this list is to use a top-level domain that’s already on the HSTS preload list, such as .app.dev, or .page. Any website on those extensions gets the security benefits of HSTS preloading from day one, so all you need to do is install your SSL certificate.

    Add your website to the HSTS preload list yourself. 

    Websites can be individually added to the HSTS preload list by the website owner at hstspreload.org. Keep in mind this can be a slow process because the list is manually built into the browser. That means updates to the list are made as new browser releases come out, which can take months to occur for all browsers.

    More people are creating websites than ever before, with 48 percent of the U.S. population planning to create one.  To help make building your secure website a bit easier, we’ve teamed up with some of our registrar partners, who are offering free SSL certificates during the month of October. We’re also kicking off a video series where existing creators will share their tips for launching a website. You can check them out at safe.page/buildsecurely.