Hack Google Voice to Send Clients Right to Voicemail

When my partner and I first signed up with Ruby Receptionists, we had a problem: 2% of our clients were eating up more than 30% of our monthly minutes. The calls were never urgent, these folks just called a lot. Our first solution, as I explained here, was to use RingCentral. RingCentral is a third party call routing service. But for some reason, it doesn’t play well with Google Voice. We set up filters for certain people to go to Ruby, and others to go right to voicemail. It ended up sending almost everyone to voicemail. Obviously a flawed solution. Then, with the help of the ladies at Ruby, we realized that Google Voice can do this internally.

The Easy Setup

In Google Voice, go to Settings, then Groups & Circles. By default, there is a group for “All Contacts” and “Anonymous Callers.” I send all anonymous callers right to voicemail.

Then there are the Groups listed below Anonymous Callers. These are generated from your Google Contacts groups. Annoyingly, you cannot create new groups from within Google Voice. So if the people you want to filter aren’t already in Groups, go to your contacts and do that now. Make sure that the people you want to filter are not in your “My Contacts” group in Google Contacts. Otherwise Google will grab them under the filter for “All Contacts” and defeat the whole purpose.

Now that your groups are organized, it’s time to set up your filters. click ‘Edit” next to the group you want to filter. If you want folks to go right to voicemail, just uncheck all of the phones and voila! You can also set up a custom greeting, or ring certain phones. For example, you can have calls from judges ring your cell phone instead of Ruby.

Words of Caution

If you use this technique to send some people right to voicemail, it’s critical that you stay on top of returning voicemails. When people go right to voicemail, it’s easy to forget to check your Google Voice voicemail regularly. To alleviate this problem I have Google e-mail me when there is a new voicemail. That way, when I’m sorting my e-mail, handling the voicemail is just part of the process.

(Photo: http://droidweb.com/

1 Comment

  1. Avatar Jeff Parker says:

    One of the solvable problems with using RingCentral is that there are “hidden” options which no one ever tells you about. On the “Answering Rules” screen, you have option number two (“Forward my calls”). At the very far right-hand side are “Options” and “Edit” next to each forwarding number. You MUST click edit and on the new screen which pops open, choose “Off” for “Prompt me before connecting.”

    Why that is even an option, I’ll never understand. But unless you turn prompting to off, all calls will skip that number and go to the next number until you run out of numbers, and then to voicemail.

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