If you use your cell phone for business calls, you will want to set up a “filter” between your phone and your business contacts i.e. clients, customers, co-workers, supervisors.
Google Voice is that filter.
How does Google Voice work?
You receive a unique telephone number. When someone calls that number, it seamlessly forwards to your cell phone. When you place a call, your Google Voice number shows up on caller ID.
Likewise, when someone sends a text to your GV number, it shows up on your phone. And when you text, it shows up as having come from your GV number.
And the best thing: it is free.
What does Google Voice do?
As mentioned above,when someone dials your GV number, it can ring your cell phone. It can also ring your landline too, if you have one.
If your phone is lost or damaged, you can borrow someone else’s phone, or buy a cheap pay-as-you go phone and simply tell GV to forward calls to that phone until you find or replace your phone.
Without GV, any business (or personal) calls to your lost or broken phone would go to voicemail you would have to pick up periodically from another phone. Not good customer service.
GV gives you a lot of power to control when your receive calls. There is a Do Not Disturb function you can set from the mobile apps. When you go into a meeting, you can set the phone to send all phone calls to voicemail, and not notify you of text messages until you turn Do Not Disturb off.
You can set up GV so any calls from numbers you do not know, are answered with an announcement asking the caller’s name. GV then plays you the name, and lets you decide whether to take the call or not.
Voice mails are transcribed by Artificial Intelligence and text and/or emailed to you. While not perfect, it gives you the gist of what the message is about.
Voice mails and text messages are stored forever; giving you an audit trail of your business communications.
Calls placed from GV in the US are free, and low cost for international calls.
Unfortunately, GV is only available for US customers.
What if a former client insists on contacting you?
You can make a custom voicemail announcement for a specific phone number. That client calling it, would get a message reminding them that someone else is working with their account, and giving out that phone number.
What if I leave the company?
You can simply have all of the calls go to an announcement advising your business contacts you have moved on. And then you can create a new Google Voice number for your new job.
How do I get a Google Voice number?
In an Incognito Mode window of your desktop or laptop web browser go to accounts.google.com
That window may be called InPrivate, or some other name depending on your browser.
Click More Options
And then Create Account
Go through the prompts to create a Google Account. You can have as many free Google accounts as you want. So if your personal account is JohnDoe@gmail.com, you can make the one you are using while at IBM as JohnDoeIBM@gmail.com.
It really does not matter what the name is; you are not going to use that email address. You just need to have a Google Account to get a new Google Voice Account.
Next, go to voice.google.com
Click the blue button, and follow the prompts.
Choose Web for now.
Follow the rest of the prompts to create and setup a Google Voice number.
Finally, search the Google Play Store, or Apple App Store as appropriate, to find the Google Voice app for your phone and install it.
You can manage your Google Voice at : https://voice.google.com/messages
Some settings are still on the legacy Google voice at : https://www.google.com/voice#phones
This is not meant to be a comprehensive user's guide for Google Voice. There is a ton of help information and articles about Google Voice online to help you be productive.
I've been using Google Voice since it was Grand Central; before Google bought them in 2009. Since about 2006, my Grand Central/Google Voice number has been the only one I have handed out.
This might sound like an ad. It isn't. I'm just a fan.