Blog Post

Creative Ways to Use Google Voice

Now that Google’s (s goog) free telephone forwarding, screening and voicemail service Google Voice is open to anyone in the U.S., web workers are finding many creative ways to use it. Google Voice has an extensive list of features; here are a few ideas on how to use them:

  • Forward cell or landline numbers to Google Voice. It’s not yet possible to port existing numbers to Google Voice, but forwarding allows you to take advantage of its automated message transcription service and some of its other features. Not surprisingly, the quality of the transcriptions varies, but they’re generally good enough to save the hassle of calling your voicemail to listen to messages.
  • Create a “voicemail-only” Google Voice number to use when you don’t want to give out your real phone number. When setting up such an account, you’ll need to forward it to an existing number in order to verify it, but you can then set the number to “Do Not Disturb, ” or delete the forwarding number entirely in the Google Voice web interface.
  • Create numbers in area codes other than your own. The phone company used to charge huge fees for “foreign exchange” numbers; now, you can create a Google Voice number in any U.S. area code where numbers are available (and there are lots to choose from, except in Alaska and Hawaii).
  • Create numbers that spell something memorable or fun. When searching for a new number, you can type in a word, and Google Voice will find numbers that spell what you’re looking for, or you can use a site like PhoneSpell.
  • Set up Google Voice numbers to track marketing campaigns. Using multiple numbers is an easy and free way to find out how effective a particular advertising medium is.

Note that Google Voice only allows you to sign up for one number per email address. But email addresses don’t have to be Gmail accounts; any valid email address will do. Also, you can only forward one Google Voice number to a specific phone number, and you can’t forward one Google Voice number to another Google Voice number.

What creative ways have you found for using Google Voice?

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Are You Empowering Your Mobile Workforce?

15 Responses to “Creative Ways to Use Google Voice”

  1. I started using Google voice for my business and it’s been a mistake. Not all carriers will honor calls into a Google voice number, and sadly for me, the two local ones don’t work with my number. So when people in town try to call me from a landline or Verizon mobile, they get a message that the number is not in service. I don’t know how widespread the problem is, but I don’t think a business should use Google voice yet, especially if you are national.

  2. This post is a good overview in the general ways you can leverage Google Voice.

    When we look at the general uses for Google Voice, the value-equation – my personal information for another phone service – isn’t wildly compelling. However, when we think more specifically, and creatively, about how we can leverage the functionality of Google Voice the tool becomes increasingly more valuable.

    I recently reevaluated Google Voice and came up with three specific and unique applications for the tool. While some are whimsical, like the phone number on your luggage tag (or the singles scene), there are powerful applications for job seekers and small businesses (further expanding on the idea stated here for using Google Voice for marketing campaigns).

    My blog post:

  3. Anonymous

    Here’s the bee’s knees —

    Sign up for a cell phone plan that allows you unlimited calls to certain numbers (Verizon’s Family & Friends, T-Mobile’s myFaves, etc.).

    Add your Google Voice number as one of your favorites and make all outgoing calls through the web interface or your favorite smartphone app. Also, in Google Voice settings -> Calls, set your Caller ID (in) to ‘Display my Google Voice number’.

    The carrier will only see this one number for all outgoing and incoming calls. Voila, free unlimited minutes!

  4. Charles –
    Great post! I’ve been using Google voice since I got a beta invite well over a year ago, and about 6 months into my GV experience I was able to get all my phones (including my Corporate desk phone) consolidated into one Voicemail box and have not looked back since! With all the “tools” our company provides, this was a free, huge productivity booster for me. I thought I’d drop a comment letting you know I documented the steps I took to make it happen, and thought your readers may like to see how one guy put ideas 1 and 2 on your list into action to make his life a little easier.

  5. voicerocks

    i highly recommend gvoice. i set up one for work and they loved the visual voicemail there. we set up some forwarding and hunting coz you cant just change numbers.

    as a secretary i find the texting feature very useful. some clients let me text them. and my boss who used to pull over just to get numbers to call don’t need to anymore. i just text him the numbers (very easy to do w/ the chrome extension) and he just clicks on them to make the call. no need to write the numbers in a piece of paper. the transcribing are funny but useful enough for names and numbers. and you get them instantly coz you get notified thru google notifier.

    for hiring, it’s soooo useful! i give gvoice number as the contact # and it goes straight to voicemail which has a customized greeting for applicants. i encourage them to say a bit about themselves and if i like what i hear, i call back. i tell them to call in 2 wks. when the position’s filled, the greeting will tell them. if we’re replacing someone in the ofc, she won’t even find out know we’re hiring.

    for personal use, it’s now easy for me to give my # to strangers coz later i can block them. and i get 1 # for life. i’ve never run into problems so far.

    LOVE IT!

  6. I love Google Voice and I’ve been using it for a long time for my freelancing business. I like the GV app on my phone that basically gives me two phone numbers associated with the handset. I can call out and text directly from the phone with GV and my actual cell number. It works seamlessly on my droid but I never had a problem when I using my BlackBerry either.

  7. I use the Google Voice extension for Chrome, which turns phone numbers on web pages into links that can be clicked to dial out from my GV number. It also notifies me when there’s anything in my GV inbox thru a ‘chime’ sound.

    Users can also highlight a phone number on a web page and the plugin will (usually) offer to dial the number for you.