This is one of those default opt-in settings in Google My Business (GMB) that is also cleverly hidden in plain sight. What are Assistant Calls? Why is it turned on by default? Why should I care?
What is it? Its a intermediary Google
service feature between your customer and your business. (Google Service is an oxymoron of course) Following that logic, its a way for Google to be “in the middle”. What Google gets in return is information, ostensibly for marketing purposes. See the answers page at that link.
What does it do? It specifically integrates with the Google Assistant App on mobile devices. The Assistant App is activated when the user asks Google (for assistance) on their mobile to find something or other. I’ve seen people use it for the time – “Google, what time is it in Tierra del Fuego?” – very useful. But the feature on the Google My Business end is there to intercepting a booking or appointment. So if someone asks – “Google, book me a room at the Holiday Inn near La Guardia airport.” – Google can supposedly handle that for them.
The Assistant feature can also be activated from Google Maps on a mobile device. The user can click-to-call, activating the Assistant.
Who is the audience? Certainly this feature might appeal to a one-man-show or an small business which operates by appointment only. Google proposes to handle the bookings. But most hotels can handle the incoming calls themselves – (but you can see where this is going?)
After watching Google’s evolving service roll-outs over the years and how they evolve (or die), its easy to see that they are always targeting a successful online business model (that they do not yet own). Bookings.com makes @10% from hotels that “advertise” on their platform – see the Google Ads connection? We are talking a lot of dough if we can get more hotels to spend on Ads.
So back to our question: Should You Disable Google Assistant Calls in Your Google My Business Listing?
Its pretty clear that many businesses don’t want or don’t need an intermediary booking agent. So why is it enabled by default? Again: Google gets information, ostensibly for marketing purposes, even if its not doing anything for your business.
- You are giving Google permission to gathering even more data on your business. (see the Privacy link in the above answers page) Un-check that box.
- Google Assistant can intercept your customer’s call! (and interrogate them “waad’da waant?”) Un-check that box.
- Its a robot that you are enabling to talk to your customer before they even get to your service desk! (auto service,plumbers,restaurants) Your in-house people will have a far better chance of booking that appointment (if they answer the phone). Un-check that box!
Businesses that solely operate by appointment or could use a helping-hand answering phone calls should still take a moment:
- Its a robot (even if the fine print says sometimes it may be a real person)
- Google often starts things that it later throws away (remember Google+ | the Facebook-takeover attempt)
- There are alternatives (Bookings.com as mentioned, but I do not advocate these middle-man-parasite business models either)
- This is just a way to get more businesses to advertise on Google Ads, regardless of whether it functions as insinuated*.
- *There are no promises or service level assurances.
- It’s a robot!