Google Voice Helps You Appear More Local

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blackberry-google-voiceGoogle Voice is the cloud-computing giant’s foray into phone, text-messaging, and voicemail management. Still in closed beta, Google Voice is a terrific service to complement Gmail for total communication management.

However, the best part of Voice is the phone number all Voice subscribers get. Users can pick a phone number in almost any area code, and can choose from the available numbers. Voice can make you look like a local without investing in another phone line.

Signing up and forwarding calls

After signing up for Voice and getting a phone number, that number can be forwarded to ring on any cell phone or land line. The call can forward anywhere in the US, so your Texas number can forward to your Pennsylvania cell phone at the same time that it rings on your California office phone.

However, there is also an expansive array of customizable settings for call forwarding. For example, you can create groups based on your Google Contacts and specify which phone should ring when certain groups call. Further, you can set time profiles for when the calls will automatically go to voicemail. Google Voice is packed with other useful features too, including visual voicemail, a large voicemail inbox and the ability to download voice mails as audio files.

Use Google Voice with your mobile phone

Recently, Google Voice released a mobile application for Android and Blackberry devices. The application allows users to dial on their cell phones and have the call appear to come from their Google Voice number.

The mobile application is a terrific complement for Google Voice. Although I have had a Google Voice number for quite some time, it often seemed useless. Even though people could call me on my Google Voice phone number, whenever I called them it would show up with my cell phone number, thus defeating the purpose.

Now my Blackberry allows me to dial using the Google Voice phone number and not reveal my personal cell phone number to the people I am calling. Google Voice can also be used to send and receive text messages. With the mobile program, that has become significantly easier and more useful.

Google Voice for mobile | YouTube
Google Voice – Call screening | YouTube
Google Voice – Conference calling | YouTube

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  • Bob S.

    I’m just starting my own firm and am using Google Voice as my business number. I figure it’s the best way to handle transition from my home to a new office.

    But, as far as I’m concerned, you missed the best part about GV – voice mail transcription. All voice mails are transcribed automatically (by computer) and the transcription is sent by email (and SMS if you want), along with a copy of the recording.

  • I agree with Bob–the voicemail transcription feature is fantastic, even if it’s not perfect. And when you have the transcription sent to your gmail account, then you can search the voicemail just like the rest of your email.

    Also of interest is the ability to record incoming calls by pressing 4 at any point during the call. I haven’t used that much yet, but there is supposed to be a notification when that occurs, to help comply with local laws regarding phone recording.

    And for those of you without smartphones, you can still dial out via your GV number, but you have to go through an extra step by dialing your GV number directly, pressing 2, and then dialing the number. Obviously, this is not as convenient as dialing directly, but if you don’t want your personal number being given out to clients and business contacts, it’s a great free alternative.

  • Gregory Luce

    I like Google Voice and was very excited about its entrance into the phone business. I have to admit, though, I’m not overly impressed now that I have it. The voicemail transcription is nice but it is often full of errors and at times returns gibberish. Not so with other services like YouMail or PhoneTag, and I’m surprised Google cannot meet those services’ performance standards (though I imagine it will do so fairly quickly). I also have a Android-based phone but Google Voice doesn’t add a whole lot of functionality to the phone other than . Sure, you can text from it, but why not just text from the default system on your phone?

    The best feature is what is at its core: ringing whatever phones you have (work, personal, home) and setting up rules on how to handle groups of callers and even individual callers. It will take time to set those features up but, if you do so each time you add a new contact, it should be part of the way you manage your contacts. This is what is very cool about the service.

    Bottom line: worth having, but it has some distance to go before it challenges the way we use our phones. That’s what I was expecting it to do and it’s just not there yet.

  • John Allison

    This article as written doesn’t belong on this blog. The entire article can be taken from many other sources on the web as well as Google’s own website. Learning about technology is cool, but I come to Lawyerist to find neat and innovative ways to integrate technology in to the practice of law. I want to know the advantages, disadvantages, and risks with using specific technology in the practice of law.

    Here are a list of questions that I believe should have been answered if not addressed when evaluating Google Voice.

    1. Does having an “out of state” phone number create any sort of issues reaching out to that specific jurisdiction? Could another state claim I am holding out to practice law in a state because my phone number has that specific area code? Case in point: I got a Google number recently. I wanted it to be JOHN-ESQ. I got it. The area code is for Los Angeles, but I live in Minneapolis. Are there anything issues with this? Should there be? Let’s discuss it.

    2. What are the kinds of ways Google voice would be helpful to my law firm? You mention that I can appear more local. Well, wouldn’t a POTS area code already be specified by where I am practicing? How much more local can I get? I don’t see what google is offering here to be “more” local.

    I see the possibility of living in a state so large that it might be helpful. Perhaps I am practicing in Los Angeles, and I want to get a San Francisco number for NorCal clients. How helpful is that really? I don’t think it is at all. Any clients in SF that would use a local number would also have to have enough money to fly me up of fly themselves down to meet with me. With that much money, I don’t think they would give a damn about the area code or that local feel.

    3. Can I get more than one Google Voice number? If I am licensed to practice in IA, MN, and WI, will google let me have three different numbers? I’ve tried to get more than one number but have failed thus far. That kind of locality could be useful.

    4. What problems would a Google number cause outside of my firm? Try calling 1-800-4-RIGHTS from a number outside their practice area. Does google get around stuff like this? Is it something I should even care about?

    5. What does it feel like to be a client calling a Google Voice number? Will clients like having to say their name when they call you? Will they like the feeling that their calls are always screened? How do you think that will affect your practice and reputation?

    There is so much that can be discussed about this technology. However this post just turned into a copy/paste job from Google Marketing. I am disappointed.

  • Sorry we disappoint you, John.

    I guess it just goes to show that we can’t be all things to all people.

  • Peter Pitorri

    There are a couple of alternatives to those cited here. Try Vonage, and check out all their features.
    Re.: giving out your private number to clients, look into magicjack (I believe you can get there via http://www.magicjack.com).
    I believe that each of these programs allows you any area code you want. Both systems provide telephone numbers that are impossible to trace to a person’s name without learned skills, knowledge, and ability –along with time and money. I get the impression that each system will allow you as many numbers as you want to pay for. Investigators use Magicjack for various operations — with great success.
    Good luck!

  • Google Voice is useful for lawyers because it will ring your cell phone and office phone at the same time. That way, you are always reachable during business hours. I wrote up why Google Voice is very useful for law firms at my web site, but did not answer your exact points.