Google Voice is a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone service that allows you to make and receive calls and messages from anywhere in the world to any US number.


Virtual phone numbers are changing the way we do business. They use the Internet as opposed to a cell tower to make calls. Now, you can make calls from all your devices. This makes communicating with your clients, colleagues, and business connections way more accessible. Can you say goodbye to landlines?

Google Voice is one of these free telecommunication services. Of course, with free services, comes limitations. So the question is, Google Voice right for you?

This is a comprehensive guide on what Google Voice is, how it works, and if it’s the right service for you and your business.

How does Google Voice work?

Google Voice is a VoIP service. It uses your Internet connection to transmit calls and messages. 

To use Google Voice, you need a smartphone or computer with Internet access. It works via wifi or your data plan on the smartphone so you can be connected no matter where you go. 

You can get a new Google Voice number or port your existing phone number. Google Voice allows calls and texts to any US or Canadian numbers.

You can also get a Google Voice number and forward calls coming to that number to any other phone number you own – whether it’s your personal cell phone number, office landline (though who has those anymore?), or home phone. With this approach, you don’t even need to have a smartphone with Internet access. You can simply forward Google Voice calls elsewhere.

Here’s what Google Voice iOS and web apps look like.

How do I set up Google Voice for my business?

If you want to get a new Google Voice number, the process is pretty easy.

  1. On your computer, go to the Google Voice website – voice.google.com
  2. Sign in to your Google account. Use the same account you use for services like Gmail, Hangouts, and Drive. Don’t have one? Create a Google Account here.
  3. After reviewing the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, tap Continue.
  4. Search by city or area code for a phone number. Voice offers local US number. It doesn’t offer 1-800 numbers or local Canadian numbers. Looking for a service that supports toll-free numbers and works in Canada? Check out OpenPhone ⤴️
  5. Next to the phone number you want, click Select.
  6. Verify your identity by entering your existing phone number. Google Voice enforces a phone number verification before issuing you a new number. When you input your existing phone number, you will receive a verification code. Enter that code, which will then verify your identity. Note: This only works for US numbers. Looking for a service that works in Canada and abroad? Check out Google Voice Alternatives – OpenPhone or Skype.
  7. That’s it! Use Google Voice on your computer, set up call forwarding for incoming calls, or install the Google Voice app for your mobile device.

How can I use Google Voice for my business?

We know business owners use Google Voice in the following ways:

1 – For a customer service phone number

Using Google Voice as a customer service line is useful for businesses that offer phone support to their clients. Though if you have clients across the country (Canada + the US), having a toll-free phone number for your support line will be beneficial. Google Voice doesn’t provide 1-800 numbers, but alternatives like OpenPhone do.

2 – To get local US business numbers in the areas they serve

If you’re serving clients in a specific area, but don’t have a local phone number for that region, getting a local business phone number in that state or city would be very handy. 

Some even opt to have multiple phone numbers for different cities or states they serve in order to appear more local to their clients. Google Voice doesn’t allow having multiple phone numbers in one account (unless you’re ok with having to log out and log back in multiple times to different accounts). If you want to have multiple numbers, check out a Google Voice alternative.

3 – To keep their personal phone number private

You shouldn’t be using your personal cell phone number for your business for many reasons – one being the complete lack of privacy. Google Voice allows your business phone number to forward to your cell phone. You can also configure it to ring during the specific hours you set so you’re not answering calls all through the night.

What are the limitations of using Google Voice for business?

Google actually doesn’t recommend the business use of Google Voice. They said it themselves:

“GV (Google Voice) is a consumer-targeted offering that is great for personal, non-business use. It does not have any direct technical support, and it does have occasional outages and hard-to-diagnose bugs.” – Learn more about this on the Google Voice Help Forum.

If you’re serious about your business, you probably want to use a service that is designed for you and your business.

Zero customer support

If anything happens, you’re stuck. Google Voice is a consumer product with no actual customer support. If your clients can’t reach you, that’s a hit to your credibility. Plus, you’ll be spending your time Googling forums and other websites on how to solve any issues you are dealing with instead of troubleshooting with a real person.

Doesn’t grow with your business

Google Voice has a limit of 1 user per number. This means that once your business grows (which it will!), that you’re unable to share your number. This makes distributing work difficult among your team members.

No toll-free numbers

Toll-free numbers (1-800 numbers) are important especially if you’re looking to expand your small business. Toll-free numbers make your business look more legit and bigger to potential clients.

On a customer service level, your clients should be able to reach out without having to pay a long-distance fee.

Toll-free numbers are usually easier to port over to a different service or carrier. So if you ever move, your number can easily move with you. Speaking of porting…

Porting limitations

Google Voice also has porting limitations. Want to port out your number from Google Voice to a different carrier? No problem! Change your mind and want to port back? Too bad. Google Voice only allows you to port out once, and they won’t welcome you back once you’ve done so.

Not available in Canada

Google Voice is not available for Canadian customers. Google has been promising to bring Google Voice to Canada, but it’s not clear when / if it will happen.

A better alternative for Canadians is OpenPhone – a modern business phone specifically made for professionals.

Google Voice isn’t for me – is there an alternative?

Saw some deal breakers in that limitations list? Not surprised, many OpenPhone users have ported their number over from Google Voice due to the limitations of their free service.

After all, you get what you pay for.

OpenPhone is a clean, simple, and delightful modern phone number service that is specifically made to fit you and your business. You can see the full comparison between OpenPhone and Google voice here.

Here’s what our users love about OpenPhone and why they made the switch:

Here’s what our users love about OpenPhone and why they made the switch:

Better customer support

OpenPhone is available right from the app through text or call and is there to help.

I decided it was worth paying a small amount for a more business-oriented solution. Google has no real-time help available, only a bunch of previously asked questions with answers. I was sick of searching the internet for a way to fix problems with Google Voice.

Better reliability

With OpenPhone, not only do you get unlimited calls and texts – you get crystal clear sound quality both incoming and outgoing. This includes iPhone, Android, and desktop.

I am porting away [from Google Voice] because we get too many dropped calls, poor connections and are unable to have multiple greetings (after hours).

Team flexibility

You can invite your team members to get access to your OpenPhone business phone number. This way, you can team up on responding to customer calls and messages. It’s affordable, too. You can get started at $10/mo per user so you only pay based on the number of team members you invite to manage your phone number(s).

The main reason for switching is to allow more than one person to pick up calls on their mobile devices and respond to voice mail or text messages. Google only allows one mobile number to be tied to a google voice account.

Set up a custom voicemail greeting for business

OpenPhone allows you to set a separate business voicemail greeting for when you’re outside of business hours so that clients and potential clients know when to expect a response from you. Google Voice doesn’t have this capability. On OpenPhone, you can have multiple voicemails in your account, too. You can have one for holiday hours, business hours, after-hours – whatever you can think of!

Want some inspiration? Check out 21 examples of professional voicemail messages you could use immediately.

Google Voice forces my inbound calls to hear something like, “this is google voice please state your name”. If I deactivate that call screening feature, inbound calls from my Google Voice phone number then go to my personal voicemail.


Ready to make the switch? Sign up for a new OpenPhone business phone number here. 

Have an existing phone number with Google Voice or another service? We can port it over to OpenPhone. Fill out this 1-minute porting form and we’ll take care of the rest for you.

Author

Customer Service and Operations at OpenPhone. Founder of SOUL House artist showcase in the GTA. Art is life!

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