Google Voice is an internet-based telecommunications service that allows you to make and receive calls 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 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.
What is Google Voice and how does it work?
To use Google Voice all you need is an Internet connection and a phone or a laptop with a mic. Then, you can start making unlimited calls and texts to any US or Canadian numbers.
This is good for small businesses and startups who want to keep costs down.
How do I set up Google Voice for my business?
Setup is easy. As mentioned earlier, the first thing you require is a smartphone or a desktop.
- Set up a Google account such as Gmail or Drive here.
- Choose a number from their dropdown menu here. They have a variety of local US numbers to choose from depending on your area code.
- Verify your phone number: When you input your phone number you will receive a verification code. Input the code, which will then verify your identity. *NOTE: This only works for US numbers
- That’s it! Depending on what device you are using, after you choose a phone number the steps can vary.
How can I use Google Voice for my business?
We know business owners use Google Voice in the following ways:
- For a customer service phone number
Using Google Voice as a customer service line is useful for businesses that are worried about losing clients or sales due to missed calls. Google Voice sends transcriptions of the voicemails to your phone so you can call back quickly.
2. To get a local US business number
During signup, you select your GV number from a variety of area codes. You don’t need to choose your local area code – reaching your clients with their local area code makes business comfortable and closer to home.
3. For unlimited text and call to clients in the US
Nobody likes to be limited. Google Voice offers unlimited texting and calling to US numbers. Depending on your client, using text may be easier than a phone call to get in touch. This makes your business more accessible to your clients.
4. To keep your personal number private
You shouldn’t be using your personal cellphone number for your business for many reasons – one being privacy. Google Voice allows your business phone 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 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 call you any day, at any time without having to pay a long-distance fee. The easier it is to reach you, the more likely a client is willing to remain loyal to your business.
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…
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 users. Google has been promising to implement this for other countries, but a time frame has not been released.
A better alternative for Canadians is OpenPhone – a modern smartphone specifically made for businesses.
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:
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.
App and call 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 laptop or 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).
You can have an unlimited amount of team members on your OpenPhone account and up to 5 numbers for each user. Furthermore, you can give multiple members in your company access to the same business phone number.
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
We mentioned earlier you shouldn’t be using your personal phone number for a business, not only for privacy, but you don’t want your clients to be confused when they reach your personal voicemail instead of your business one.
With an OpenPhone number, you can customize your voicemail. (Need some voicemail inspiration? Click here for 21 voicemail greeting ideas)
OpenPhone allows you to set a separate business voicemail greetings for when you’re outside of business hours – GV doesn’t. We allow multiple voicemails to be saved into your account, too. You can have one for holiday hours, business hours, after-hours – whatever you can think of!
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? Start calling and texting with your new OpenPhone business number here.