When it comes to your VoIP phone business system, you have many choices these days. One of the more recent additions some small businesses are turning to is Google Voice for business. While medium and larger sized organizations tend to secure dedicated VoIP services, entrepreneurs and those on shoestring budgets find the lure of free services to be especially enticing.
But Google Voice (which now offers VoIP as well) does offer some features that can make it a decent option for those just starting out. However, you need to keep several things in mind before making the decision to use it for your business.
First, let’s look at what Google Voice actually does.
The Google Voice app allows you to get a phone number and select from a set of tools you can use for business communications on any mobile device.
It all starts with getting a Google business phone number or a Google Voice (GV) number. There are several numbers you can choose from with a variety of US area codes. Some popular area codes are not available, but Google adds new numbers on a regular basis. The numbers are recycled quite a bit though, and you might not be able to get the area code you want. But, for getting a free number to start with, it will work fine.
With this number, you have the option of routing to all of your other numbers, like home, cell phone, or another number, through Google Voice. There might be times of the day when you want your number to ring through to your cell phone or you might prefer it come straight to your office phone. GV allows you to do that.
Number privacy and screening area big draws for Google Voice. Many who are starting businesses want a dedicated business number without having to give their personal cell or home number out to potential clients. Then, having separate numbers helps you to screen calls more effectively.
Some other features include transcribing voicemail to text, forwarding voicemail to your email, call blocking, and sending texts. But, of course, the biggest benefit for most is free calls throughout the US and Canada, and some budget-friendly pricing for making international calls as well.
The Google Voice system works with the Google suite of other tools such as Gmail, Chat, and Google Hangouts. However, now with the latest Google Voice upgrade, there is VoIP capability without having to use the Hangouts app to make calls over the net. Basically this means you can make calls using Wifi while signed in to Google Voice instead of using your phone carrier.
Not necessarily. While the features of Google Voice business solutions might be fine for a one-person operation, it’s not ideal for most small businesses even with only a few employees, much less larger ones. It might work when you are just starting out and trying to get your plans off the ground. But if you have even a few employees, Google Voice will be difficult to use. Here’s why...
One factor to consider with VoIP is a function called QoS or Quality of Service. Having a dedicated VoIP service provider instead of using Google's VoIP may help you avoid several potential pitfalls. You see, your internet ability is limited by your overall bandwidth. When your bandwidth gets busy, or clogged, you may notice problems with various services. You might have videos that won't load or freeze up, or the speed of your web might be at a snail's pace.
The same thing can happen with your work internet and your online business phone system. It means dropped calls, lots of delay, and poor timing. However, QoS will regulate the overall traffic and allow your phone system to have the right of way during busy times. This ensures that your customers calling be taken care of first and also ensures the call quality will be high. You want to be sure to select a provider that combines quality Internet service and has robust QoS to prioritize your calls over all the other activities on your bandwidth. Google Voice by itself is limited in this capability.
We mentioned a few of the features Google Voice offers like voicemail forwarding and call blocking, but advanced features are limited. For instance, want a toll-free number for your business? You're not going to get that with Google Voice. There are certain PBX system features that businesses have relied on for decades for top-notch communications. Hold music, boss-secretary lines, call transfer, intercom, custom greetings and menus, call monitoring, and directories are just a few of the added benefits of using a dedicated system. If your business needs to integrate its voice service with other platforms like Salesforce, you'll have trouble doing this, if at all, with Google Voice.
While you might have noticed an HD notification on some of your mobile calls with Google Voice, these are just the initial contact with your phone carrier. This can lead you to believe that all Google calls are HD supported. However, you actual calls with the party on the other end are not HD supported as the Google Voice backend only supports regular codec versus HD quality.
Unified Communications allows for real-time collaboration, complete systems integration, communications platforms as a Service (CPaaS), and the ultimate in flexibility and ease of use, all in one platform. Unified Communications means you can make a call directly to your prospect from your CRM, patch in other callers to make a conference call, share your computer screen to show processes, and send a recording of the entire engagement once it's done. This is typically provided with the flexibility of a desktop client/softphone and can bee fully-integrated with a desktop phone or mobile device. You won't find the same capability with Google Voice as you would a full CPaaS provider.
You don’t get crucial support services with Google Voice. If anything should malfunction, you’re on your own as far as getting it fixed. When you agree to use Google Voice, you agree to all of the updates that may come down the road. Any one of these updates can cause a snafu to your current setup.
With a free service, you don’t receive any type of guarantee that it will work properly. If your phone system is down, that means you can’t do business, and you have no recourse for recouping any losses.
The other consideration is the quality of your calls. The service may not be as reliable as a dedicated VoIP with a service provider. You might have poor audio or calls that drop off. Calls may forward incorrectly or get sent to your Google voicemail when you prefer your calls to be answered live by a person. Remember, to receive calls, you need to make sure you stay signed in on your device to Google. Not everyone wants to have to do that.
And then there is no means for emergency calling. 911 will not work which could put you in a legal bind if there is any type of accident on your worksite or in your office.
Your business phone system is often one of the first glimpses potential customers get into how well you operate. It’s critical that you have a functioning solution that can keep up with your growing demands. While free is always enticing, you could end up paying more in the end if you go with an option that doesn’t ultimately work for your business.