Quick Guide to Google Voice for (Very) Small Businesses

Introducing Google Voice. Whether you have heard of Google Voice before or not, it may be time to take another look. Stop using your cell phone or personal home phone number as your business line. It isn’t professional and it isn’t necessary. Plus, Google Voice offers a TON of other awesome features that once you try them, you might not be able to live without.Google Voice is a service that sits on top of your existing phone services. That means you don’t have to purchase anything to get a new business phone number. Once you sign up for the free service, you will be assigned a phone number to start using. This is your new business phone number. Setup your voice mail and forwarding options (which phones you want to ring) and you can immediately start giving this phone number out to people as your business line.When people dial your new Google Voice number, they are immediately routed to whatever phone or phones that you choose. For this example, lets say you setup Google Voice to route to your cell phone, and your home phone. When people dial that phone number, both your cell phone and home phone will ring simultaneously. The call is routed to whatever phone you pick up first. You can setup the service so the caller ID tells you the call is coming from your Google Voice number. This way you always know whether you are getting a business or a personal call.Talking on your home phone but want to talk on your cell phone instead? Just hit the “*” button and transfer the call. You can also record calls if you want to, or opt to send a caller directly to voicemail.So right off the bat you can see why having a Google Voice number can make your business life a little easier and definitely more professional. If that wasn’t enough to get you excited, check out these other awesome features you can’t get anywhere else:Online Voicemail & Voicemail Transcriptions – Google Voice keeps all of your voicemail in your online account. Log in via your web browser or use the App on your Android phone. All of your voicemail messages are stored in an email like format and allow you to play messages, add notes to the message, email or download the voicemail as an attachment, or even embed the message as an multimedia component on a website or blog. If you don’t want to hear from this particular caller again, just block the caller right from the voice mail and your phone will never ring again if they try to contact you. Comes in handy for psycho ex-girlfriends or solicitors.Setting Hours & Do Not Disturb – One of the best features for your business hands down. If you want to set hours that you are available, now your phone can help you out. Easily setup schedules for when your phone rings and when it doesn’t. If you only want to be available from 8am – 5pm then your phone will only ring between those hours. If you only want to be available on the weekends, that’s easy to do as well. Furthermore, you have an option of setting your “Do Not Disturb”. This will temporarily (for whatever time period you specify) route all incoming calls to voicemail. Very handy when you have a deadline and need to focus without interruptions. This by far is one of the best things for your small business because it allows you to separate business life from personal life and never the two shall meet (unless of course you want them to).Text Messaging – In addition to phone calls and voice mail, Google voice also allows you to send and receive text messages from your account. If you have integrated your Google Voice account with your Android phone, you can send and receive text messages directly from your phone as well. All text messages are saved online for look up and review later on. I love this feature because I can text message my wife directly from my computer without needing to divert my attention to my phone.Integrated with your contacts – If you already have a regular Google Account, all of your contacts will show up in your Google Voice account as well. This means if your friend Jim calls your new number (and you have Jim’s number saved) his name will show up on your caller ID. Similarly, all voice mails and text messages sent and received from Jim will be attached to his contact record for future reference. This comes in handy when you want to look up that phone number he left for you a few months back on your voice mail. Got a call from someone new? Easily add a name to their phone number and all future and historical calls will now have that person’s name attached to it.Unlimited Custom Voicemail Greetings – This feature is both useful and fun! Create custom voice mail greetings for a specific person, or for people you assign to a group. This means if your best friend Joe calls you, you can have a completely customized greeting for him and him only. Similarly, if you group all of your vendors in to a “Vendors” group, whenever anyone from that group calls, they will get a custom message you’ve created just for those types of contacts. As you can imagine, this can lead to all sorts of interesting things you can do with your voice mail that up until now has never been possible. Go ahead and have fun with it!There are definitely a few other cool features that I’ve deliberately left out of this quick guide. After all, what fun would it be if you didn’t get to do a little exploring on your own eh?If you are a small business – especially a one or two person business – its time to give Google Voice a try. Its simple to use, will increase your professionalism, and also help you separate your business world from your personal world. Oh, and its free so there really is nothing holding you back. Setup your account today and use the comments section below to let me know your experience with it!

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