Are you a small business owner or freelance individual that takes business calls on your personal phone? Or are you paying for an additional line and cell phone? My suggestion to you – save money and get Google Voice.
When I was first introduced to Google Voice, I was a little hesitant and skeptical. It was marketed as another phone line that could ring multiple phones with different rules for different callers. That was pointless for me. Why would I want all my phones to ring? It also seemed too complex to set up. But once I started my own business, it became essential. So this post will focus on the reasons Google Voice would be good for you as a business person, and not necessarily all the other bells and whistles it comes with.
1. Custom Phone Number
You essentially get a second phone line, and have it ring your same cell phone. No need to get another phone. No need to pay for another phone line. It’s free. You can choose your area code, making it easier to target certain customers. And then browse through a list of phone numbers. This allows you to choose one that’s relatively easy to repeat. Mine is (323) 744-0707
2. Free Calls
Domestic calls over wifi are free. Regular calls just use your regular phone minutes. International calls are super cheap, about $0.02 a minute for most countries.
3. Custom Voicemail Greetings
Record a professional voicemail greeting for your business, and keep your personal one. When customers get your voicemail greeting, it will seem as though they reached your “office line.”
4. Transcribed Voice Messages and Text Messages
All your voice messages are transcribed. This is super useful if you want to scan through your messages, search for a particular message, or are in a position where you can’t listen to your voicemail (like a boring meeting). You can also have voice messages sent to you as a text or email. For the most part, the voice to text is fairly accurate, though it does make a few mistakes for fast talkers. And of course, you can receive and send text messages from your Google Voice number.
5. Screen Calls
I love this feature. You can set up your phone so that when someone rings your number, you can choose whether to answer it or send to voicemail and listen in. So say it’s an unknown number, or someone you don’t really feel like talking to. Send them to your voicemail. You can listen to them as they are leaving the voice message, and choose to pick up the phone in the middle if it’s something important.
6. Take Vacations
Turn off your Google Voice number. All calls will not ring your phone, but go straight to Voicemail. Leave your personal number on for friends and family. Take a real vacation.
7. Smooth Integration
If you have an Android, Blackberry or iPhone, Google Voice apps make using the second line very natural. Other smartphones can access Google Voice via the mobile web browser. Other phones are a little tricky – Google Voice generates a second “Google number” for all contacts, which you use if you want to call through your Google Voice number. So for example, if one of your customer’s numbers is 555-555-5555, then Google will generate a new number for them, like 333-333-3333. So if you call their real number (555) then it calls from your personal phone number. If you call their Google-generated number (333), it calls from your Google number. So you essentially have to keep track of 2 phone numbers for each business contact. Confusing? Yes. But you’ll get past it. It does this for all phones, but those with Google Voice apps can make calls through the app, so you don’t even have to worry about all this.
Those are just some of the main features that I find useful when for running a small business operation, or just for individuals needing a separate line. Before my business, I actually used Google Voice for all my job applications and interviews. This can be adapted for anything – a sports line, school line, club line, spam line, whatever – any situation in which you want to keep your personal phone number private and separate from anything else.
Check out Google Voice at www.google.com/googlevoice/about.html. You can find more features there as well as guides on how to use the features. There are also numerous tutorial blogs out there on how to use Google Voice. If you’re currently using it, do you find it helpful? What are your favorite features?