9 Creative Ways to Use Google Voice for Your Business (or Side Business)
Did you know that my business phone number is 919-886-STORY?
And at the same time, it's not actually my phone number.
Let me explain. My business phone number is a number I have through the incredible app, Google Voice. Google Voice is a free VOIP service available to Google users (I use Gmail). Among the many things it does, it forwards all calls to my business number directly to my personal cell phone - without my personal cell phone number being revealed.
Yep, you read that right. I use it as a separate business line, with its own voicemail and so many other features that make life as an entrepreneur so.much.easier. It's an app that you can access on your phone and on your desktop.
Today, here are some of the ways you can leverage this free service/resource to make a big difference in your side business or full-time business. (And this isn't a sponsored post... I just really like this tool and recommend it to other small business owners).
Just Some of The Neat Stuff Google Voice Can Do
Here are some of the features you can put into action now with Google Voice.
1. More Control and Privacy for Your Private Cell Number
I used to give out my personal cell phone to clients before Google Voice. It was even on my business cards. About a year ago, I got Google Voice and quickly swapped out my personal number for the business one. As my business has grown and I've met so many more people in a business context, it's a lot nicer to know that only close friends and family have my personal cell. I'm able to have better boundaries and control over that information.
By contrast, it's also allowed me to share my business number more freely - making me more accessible and giving me more confidence to put the number on my website.
2. Help You Be More Memorable and Appear in a Specific Area Code
When picking a Google Voice number, Google will allow you to select what area code you'd like. This is great if your personal cell area code doesn't match where you live or where you work, and you want it to. And as evidence of my number (with STORY), it will also let you integrate phrases and letters (provided your short phrase is available in that area). Note: I added the "Y" to Stor... because I couldn't get story. The best part is that it still dials through with the extra "Y!"
3. Position Your Side Biz or Full-Time Biz with a Custom Voicemail Greeting
Google Voice is perfect if you're starting a side business. You can create a custom voicemail, tailored to that business (like an Etsy store, etc.), without having to get a separate business phone number. It's the perfect way to position yourself as a business owner - even if you're just now getting started or doing something special or temporary on the side.
4. Tailor Your Greeting (Voicemail Message) For a Specific Person or Groups of People!
I discovered this gem while researching this article. Apparently, via these instructions, you can create / record custom voicemail greetings for individuals and for groups! Imagine - you can have one just for current clients, one for retailers (if you have a product based business), etc. - only limited by your imagination and need. Aaaaamazing.
5. Maintain Better Work / Life Balance & Set Phone Ringing Hours
Oh man, I just learned about this one. Via these instructions, you can set your Google Voice number to only ring during specific hours. This is perfect if you're worried about getting business calls at a day job, for example - or you're really trying to go on vacation from your biz.
6. Get Messages WITHOUT Having to Listen to Them!
I use this all the time. Every time someone calls my Google Voice number, the voicemail they leave is quickly transcribed automatically by Google and EMAILED to me. This transcription isn't perfect, but it's amazing to have a record and a quick idea of what the message is about via my email. Same for TEXTS, they come straight to my email.
7. Know Who is Calling and Choose Whether to Jump in or Not!
These days, I'm often blocking my time to be most efficient. At times, I'll be in the zone for an hour or two at a time and refrain from taking calls. When someone calls my Google voice number, Google says "You have an incoming call from ____" (the person has said their name). I can then choose 1 to talk to the person or 2, to send them to voicemail. If I press 2, I can continue to listen to that person leave a message in real time AND pick-up if it's something time-sensitive that I need to address. This is especially great if you get unannounced sales calls and don't want to get stuck on the phone.
8. Record Your Conversations With Others For Future Use / Playback
I also just found out about this one! I have started recording client feedback for reference (more on that in a future newsletter) and love this feature. By pressing "4" during a Google Voice conversation, Google will announce "This conversation is now being recorded" and proceed to record the convo. You can login to your Google Voice dashboard on your desktop and access the file / download it an mp3, etc. There's one catch: the call has to be incoming. So essentially, the other person has to be calling you. But still a nifty feature.
9. Dictate Ideas and More to Yourself!
Using the same feature, simply call your own Google Voice number and leave yourself a voicemail. I've read that people will create a specific word to state at the beginning of their message as a way to "tag" the conversation. Let's say you choose the word "watermelon." Just make sure to say "watermelon" in your voicemail and it'll have it in the content. Then you can just search them via the Google Voice desktop app and or in the emails you get in your designated inbox. Instant way to collect groups of notes, story ideas, and more. Soooo for those long car rides, call yourself and dictate your next book - voicemail by voicemail!
A Few Things to Keep in Mind
I did do some research to look into drawbacks/considerations for using Google Voice.
From what I could find, some have said the audio quality is not as good as a regular phone service (I would disagree, but I only use a cell phone, not a landline). It is linked to having a Google account, so you need to have one that you use regularly to use Google Voice.
I also have no idea if there should be security considerations for using this vs. your cell itself or other business line options. I do use Google for my business email too, so for me - I suppose that risk is out there already. I do really like and appreciate that with things like call recording - an announcement comes on so all parties know they are being recorded, for example. So I feel like some of that is addressed. And at the end of the day, for me, the risks outweigh the benefits and the huge value to my business.
I'm glad I was able to share this with you this week. Until I sat down to write this, I don't think I realized just how much having a Google Voice number has changed for me and empowered me to do for my business! I think it's the perfect example of why I try to include posts like this from time to time to tell you about important resources I use in my own business. Share the wealth, right?