Using Google Voice to create a phone line for your small business
What is Google Voice?
Google Voice is a free service you can access online which allows you to create a second phone line that rings into your current phone line. I believe that this application can be especially useful to new and small businesses that may not want to pay for a new business cell phone or business land line. I happen to use it for my own business, and I like the fact that it gives the business a more professional feel, as opposed to if I were to just give out my personal cell phone number.
Sign up for a Google Voice Account
By signing up for a free Google Voice account, you can create your own exclusive business phone number that can ring to your preferred phone line (or phone lines, if you choose to add multiple users to your Google Voice phone number). To get started all you have to do is Google the word “Google Voice” and follow the simple directions, or click here.
Additional Features of Google Voice
The new number from Google Voice also allow you to set up a personalized voicemail that is similar to a regular phone numbers voicemail, except there are additional features that allow you to have the voicemail transcribed and delivered to your email inbox or in text form to your cell phone. As I mentioned earlier, all these services are free.
Creating a Professional Dynamic
My favorite part about using Google Voice for my small business, aside from the fact that it does not cost me anything, is that I can advertise, and leave behind business cards, without having to worry about who might be calling my personal phone number. On my website, for instance, I list my Google Voice phone number so that I don’t have to have to list my personal cell phone number for any and every crazy person out there to see. Google Voice also has a nice screening option that gives me the option to show which callers dialed my personal line and which callers are calling into the business line. I set up the call screener so that when calls to the business line come in they are announced differently from calls that come into my personal cell phone number. The way this works is that when a customer calls the business line and I answer, an automated voice comes on saying that I have received a call from phone number xxx-xxx-xxxx, and that I can press 1 to answer the call or 2 to send directly to voicemail (which I had set up explicitly for the business).
Having this notification that distinguishes personal and business calls gives me the option to take the call immediately and answer in a business appropriate manner, or I can choose to send it to the business voicemail and return the call at a later time. The notification can really help you make the call more professional, because it allows you the opportunity to answer as the business rather than how you would answer the call if it were to come directly to your personal cell phone without the screening option.
Other options for small businesses besides Google Voice
Based on my own usage of Google Voice, I strongly suggest that any new business owners sign up and try it for themselves. It's absolutely free so you have nothing to lose. If you should decide that you don't like it for any reason you can always either buy a new cell phone and service contract for your business (and carry around 2 phones all the time...), or set up a business land line. It's your money, so do what you would like with it, but I really love the Google Voice application and hope you will give it a chance!