When I was considering what to do about getting a phone number for my local business in Gainesville, FL, I decided to go with Google Voice in tandem with my iPhone. Three years later, I am glad I did.
While Google Voice may not cut it as a big business/”Enterprise”-scale phone solution, it is great for entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to save money with a simple and sensible phone service.
- It’s free. With Google Voice there is no need to pay for a separate mobile or land line phone service for your business. You get a phone number instantly at voice.google.com. This phone number can be your dedicated business number and you can direct it to your personal mobile phone (your iPhone) or any other line. Note Google Voice is not a VOiP solution, so you DO need to have a functioning phone line, but Google Voice eliminates the need to take on additional costs for a business line by letting you merge your business number with your current phone line(s).
- Localize your phone number. If your mobile area code is not of the place where you are doing business, you can get a local phone number with Google Voice. For example, although I live in Gainesville, FL, I am from Miami, FL and my mobile area code reflects that. By getting a Google Voice number with an area code localized to Gainesville, it makes my business appear more legitimate with a local number.
- Maintain a separate account for business matters. Even if your current phone number is localized to the place where you are doing business, do you really want to give business contacts your personal phone number? With Google Voice, you can keep your phone number, text messages, and phone calls under a dedicated service so as to not mix your personal life with business.
You can even activate the “Do Not Disturb” feature in your Google Voice account to send business calls straight to voicemail, while still maintaining the ability to receive calls on your personal number.
- Text messages and voicemails are accessible and searchable from the web. One of the best features of Google Voice compared to your regular mobile phone service is its cloud capabilities and accessibility from the web. Log into voice.google.com and you can see all your text messages, incoming/outgoing calls, and text transcriptions of your voicemail.
Furthermore, you can search through your text message, call, and voicemail history to access communications from long ago.
Recently I wanted to return a call from a corporate prospect who had called me months before about a potential business deal. Back then, my company was not equipped to serve this client, but as we’ve grown and become more capable, I decided to call this person back with a new proposition. I didn’t have their number in my contacts, but searching Google Voice turned up their past voicemail immediately and we are now in communication about working together.
- Voicemail transcription saves you time. Beyond its searchability, Google Voice’s voicemail transcription feature is a great way to filter voicemails without necessarily having to listen to them. Sometimes someone leaves you a voicemail about something that you know is not a high priority for you at the moment. Instead of wasting time listening to the voicemail, you can scan the transcription and find keywords that indicate the subject matter of the call, then decide whether to address it immediately or set it aside to deal with later.
- Reduce spam phone calls. Google’s spam-busting expertise is also apparent in its Voice service. Google Voice allows you to send calls that Google identifies as spam straight to a Spam inbox where you are not disturbed by them. Although some spam calls still do make it through the filter, many do not. When you are a business with a public phone number, you are extremely vulnerable to intrusive commercial calls, so this spam filtering feature is a huge time saver for an entrepreneur.
- Archive and share calls with business partners. Perhaps you are not the only one in the business handling phone calls. In this case, you can forward your Google Voice calls to multiple phone numbers. You can also have records of all calls, voice mails, and text messages sent to your email to be shared with your secretary or business partners. Last but not least, Google Voice allows you to record phone calls, which can also be archived by email.
- Separate rules for different caller groups. Perhaps different partners and employees manage different areas of your business. If you know that a particular client is likely to call about a particular subject matter, you can have Google Voice forward that client’s call to the most relevant number. This is an enormously useful feature for delegating responsibilities and client relationships to your teammates.
You can also assign different voicemail greetings to different callers or groups.
Recently, Google Voice merged with Google Hangouts, so you can now receive your calls on a desktop using Hangouts in the Chrome browser. I am excited about the future of this integration between Voice and Hangouts.
Do you use Google Voice at your business or organization? Please share your experience in the comments.