Google Voice is something nearly anyone could use.
Google has a great phone service that nearly any business with a website should take a serious look at.
While it has some real advantages to small businesses, you don’t even need a business to use it. In fact, I was surprised to discover that one of my nephews even has a Google Voice number (he’s not even in high school yet). Maybe it’s not for you, but I suggest taking a look at it first.
Seven reasons you should take a look at Google Voice:
1. It’s a phone number that you can add to any phone.
When you sign up for Google Voice, the number you get can be set to ring at nearly any phone (or several phones) you would like to use. You can have it ring your cell phone, your home phone, or your office phone. Or, have all three ring when the number is called. You don’t ever have to worry about missing that important return call. You can also change which phone or phones you use any time on the Google Voice website (so when you don’t want to be bothered by those business calls at home).
2. You can make personalized voicemail answers for different callers.
This is one of my favorite features (my top favorite is still coming up). Set up a standard business related voicemail answer that promotes your business. Create other messages and add your friends and family’s phone numbers to those. I have a special message for my wife and another for my mother (you may want to double check who is getting what message). Have a special message for that person you are trying to avoid: “I will be out of the country for the next 3 years.” Only that person will hear the voicemail.
3. The Google Voice spam filter.
We all get those annoying telemarketing calls (if you get them on your regular cell phone number, make sure to file a complaint with the FCC). You also know that no matter what you say, they call again. You can tell Google Voice you don’t want to hear calls from that number anymore and it will filter it as spam. No more calls from that number. Now if only they called my Google number instead of my cell phone number.
4. The Google Voice Call Widget
If you have a business with a website, this is probably one of the most useful features of Google Voice. You can create a widget to add to a web page (you can have more than one too with different settings). No more putting your regular phone number out on the internet so every telemarketer starts to call you. You can save your regular phone a ton of annoying calls this way ( don’t you hate it when you have more telemarketers calling than clients). The widget can have it’s own voicemail (or even go straight to voicemail).
I think this is the coolest feature. Run a blog? How about having readers comment by leaving a voicemail on a special post? Have your resume online and want a way for potential employers to call? Set up a widget just for your resume page. There are lots of ways to use this feature and I think I have only scratched the surface. In fact, I can see where any business could use this technology to enhance marketing.
I have seen some small software developers use Google Voice on the support page for their help line. It save a phone line and give clients and customers a way that may be more convenient to contact you than email.
5. Voicemail in email
Google Voice can send you an email whenever you get a voicemail. Have the website widget go right to voicemail but know right away when someone leaves a message. This is even better if you have email on your smartphone. You’ll know if you have a call you need to return and you don’t need to have your phone ring all the time. This gets better with the next feature.
6. Transcribed voicemail – voicemail in text.
First, it often does a lousy job of transcribing. That said, it still is kind of handy. You know the voicemail that goes on and on and you have to listen to the whole thing to find out if it is something you need to act on now, or if it can wait till your not busy. A quick glance can sometimes tell you what the voicemail is about without having to dial and listen. Check it in your email with a quick glance. A real timesaver if your office happens to get terrible cell coverage and you have to walk to a different part of the building to check your voicemail. Again, it is far from perfect, but you can help Google improve it also. This feature will get better.
7. It’s free.
Yes, Google Voice is free. I am sure Google has plans to make money with this eventually, and the service is something that they could charge for easily. For now, it’s free.
The only downside to Google Voice is that Google keeps ownership of the phone number. For a business, you may want to avoid using the Google Voice number in ways that might be permanent in case some time in the future Google wants it back. That, and the fact that Google will now be listening to your voicemail as well as your email.
Google is providing a fantastic tool here. It has a benefits for individuals, small businesses, and website owners. There are lots of ways you can use this tool. Care to share some? Comment below.
As a test of the widget (I’ve been wanting to use this since I saw it) I am going to put one up on this post for a while and see what happens.
**Update-I’ve taken down the widget. Nobody called anyway.
I’m just going to have it go to voicemail message, but I’ll have a custom message for it. If I can figure out a way, I’ll try to give credit to those who leave a good message. Maybe I can add the audio messages to the post later. If I can’t, I’ll try to post who left messages (you can comment normally also to this post to leave your website address, just be sure in the voicemail to let me know who you are.
If you haven’t signed up for Google Voice, visit the Google Voice site and sign up for an invite right away.