‘Back in the day’ I heard about GrandCentral so I signed up. Then never used it again. Not sure why, whether it was the product itself or my ability to grasp the benefits. Either way, I didn’t adopt. The benefit of trying that product out was that when they were acquired by Google, I immediately became part of the beta Google Voice club.
Google Voice is another product out there allowing you to have one number but use it with multiple devices (land line, office line, cell phone, etc). The value is that you can change numbers all you want (move to a new house, change offices, change cell phone numbers), but the Google Voice number you’ve picked stays the same. You also don’t have to give out your “real” numbers if you don’t like to. For the entrepreneur/small business type, this helps to solve the work/life separation issue many struggle with. Definitely a good topic for another post.
I have used a similar service to Google Voice in the past, quite extensively, called RingCentral. There are a ton of similarities, though at the moment, RingCentral has more value-add in terms of features. For instance, with Google Voice you can’t port a number or have an 800# associated. However with Google Voice you can select voice mail greetings for specific people/groups or even set up specific rules as to how those numbers should be treated (ring a phone or straight to voice mail).
Here’s a list of things I like about Google Voice:
- Very simple to set up in and integrate with my other Google products
- So far the up-time has been great and only a few instances of a delay in speaking with someone
- Did I say free?
- I LOVE the transcription feature, though it could also fall under the cons. If you don’t know, Google Voice transcribes your voice mails and delivers them to your inbox (email and/or account). The transcription needs a bit of work, but for the most part you get the gist of what someone is saying. It does a great job transcribing the actual call-back number if someone leaves one.
- There’s a handy Blackberry App that integrates with your contacts on the phone so you can call/sms FROM your Google Voice number even though you’re on your cell (for instance). Sorry iPhone uses, there’s still quite a brew-ha-ha going on between AT&T and Google.
- Grouping is nice. You can create groups and then create specific actions for those groups. Now I can actually do something productive with “those customers” – send them straight to voice mail! I wouldn’t do that to you, honest.
- Can record calls. This is sweet for those important meetings where you don’t want to miss something or that customer you know you need to reference a call later to.
Here’s a list of things I wish Google Voice did:
- Allow for an 800# to be ported over (or allowed for number porting to begin with, though I guess it’s in the mix)
- “Find” feature…ring Number A 3x, then if no answer, ring Number B 3x, then…that way you don’t have to remember what number you have your Google Voice number forwarding to
- I wish there was a notifier as to an incoming call so while I’m at my desk I could decide how to take the call (cell, office, home, or voicemail/other)
- On that note, have a good desktop integration tool. I downloaded Voice Mac and so far it seems like it does a good job, but there could definitely be some room for improvement on features.
- The ability to transfer a call. This would be sweet. When I’m on the phone and need to switch from home to cell phone, being able to “put them on hold” and then pick up the call on my cell for seamless experience would be great. Or to be able to transfer to “another extension” aka my business partners cell phone.
- An easier tool/process for recording calls
So far that’s my review of Google Voice. I’m sure I’ll add more to this as I continue to use it. I think this is a great solution for the entrepreneur who never knows where they’re going to be at any given time, for the small business that wants agility as they continue to grow, the mobile professional, and so many others. If they could integrate this as a standard part of their Apps suite, man, that would awesome.
Well done Google, well done.