What is Google Voice and how can I benefit from it?
The concept of the basic voice call has transformed over recent years, with the flexibility of Google Voice allowing users to access their accounts and numbers remotely from multiple devices, over the internet. We’ve seen scores of customers deploy the product to their own teams during Covid-19, enjoying all the benefits of a best-in-class solution whilst cutting telephone overheads along the way. This week, Fintan demos the main ways you can access your Google Voice number, picking out some awesome features that highlight the power of Google Workshop (formerly G Suite) and Google Voice together.
Google Voice’s key selling point is its flexibility, with users now able to access their number and contacts from their web browser; their mobile device or their Deskphone from Poly (formerly Polycom). However, before we jump into each of these devices and their individual settings and features, let’s look at some of the benefits of Google Voice in its own right. For us at Damson Cloud, the main benefit has to be the ability to access numbers and contacts remotely on any device. We’ve been enjoying this neat feature for over a year now, and we believe recent updates to the product have made it an ideal candidate as a primary telephones solution for businesses, big and small.
Cloud is the Present, Cloud is the Future
The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has presented challenges to all sectors of business, and we saw cases of companies who experienced difficulties when accepting and diverting work-related calls during the rush to remote working some months ago. Google is leading the way in offering solutions to these kinds of challenges, and it’s fair to say that traditional telephone solutions are being gradually replaced by products like Google Voice – and that was true long before Covid, which has only sped up that process. Yes – cloud based telephone technology is the future.
Let’s take a look at the three main supporting devices in detail. We’ve even juggled around our camera setup to show you details on-screen:
Google Voice on a Desktop Browser
Let’s get started with browsers on a desktop computer, which the vast majority of us will be highly familiar with. There’s a few ways you can access Google Voice on your browser: you can access it via the drop down menu on Gmail, or you can quickly access the platform by searching voice.google.com.
The interface is simple, visually appealing and easy to use. Along the left-hand panel you can view contacts and recently called numbers, with suggested contacts visible along the right-hand panel. There’s some really hand quick-access features along that right-hand panel, and we couldn’t recommend checking them out enough.
These features cover three main areas, including the microphone, the ring tone and speakers. These can be used with any device that plugs into Google Voice – we even do this ourselves with our studio microphone, as well as Fintan’s fancy bluetooth headphones. Bluetooth connectivity is fast, and Google Voice swaps around default devices when they are connected. It’s about as convenient as it gets.
In the settings you’ve got your phone number; the list of devices you can connect to, linked numbers, call forwarding, missed calls, as well as settings around incoming calls, caller ID and more. Maybe you only want incoming calls to go to one device – that’s your call to make, and those preferences are easily made in the settings. What we really love in this section is how it links in with Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) and Google Calendar, diverting calls in the event that you’re out of office. You can even record answering machine messages and set security filters, which are both really useful features.
It’s also worth pointing out that you can access all of your voicemail along the left panel, and that comes with its own list of awesome features. We love its ability to transcribe voicemail messages into text, as you can see in Fintan’s screen share. Google Voice is a truly flexible telephone solution, and web browsers are the perfect way to explore all of those features.
Google Voice on a Smartphone Device
Now it’s time to take a look at Google Voice using a smartphone device. Here we can see that the interface is really simple, with all of those same features and settings accessible via the drop down dot menu at the right of the top of the screen. This includes all of your recorded voicemail along with the transcribed text. It’s also important to note that you can change accounts in this lockdown menu, which is perfect for jumping between personal and work accounts on the platform.
Meanwhile, the left hand menu is really similar to desktop, containing your archive, mark as read, bin, credit and settings. Whilst the similarities with desktop are clear, there are some settings here that are unique to mobile, including Do Not Disturb, mobile greetings, Wi-Fi calling and more. The strength of Google Voice on mobile devices really highlights just how powerful the tool can be for remote working and collaboration.
That covers us for mobile. Now let’s take a look at our third and final Google Voice device: the deskphone by Polycom.
Google Voice on Polycom’s Deskphone
We’ve been using Polycom’s deskphone for quite a while now, and it does require some time to set up. You’ve got three connections in the back, including the connection that goes directly into the handset and an ethernet port. Let’s take a look at the device itself. You have your usual features including dial-in and transfer, as well as a nice big mute button at the bottom. However, the most useful features are encompassed in the deskphone’s neat digital screen.
Along the bottom of the digital display, you can see that tabs exist for redial lists, call forwarding, do not disturb and lines. However, you must connect your device first by accessing the admin console via Google Workspace. To do this, access your Google Voice settings and click desktop phones under the service management section. All you have to do is type in the MAC address for your deskphone, along with your email address. Once you register these details, you’ll notice that your desk phone automatically reboots.
One of the huge benefits of linking your deskphone to Gmail is that it can be set up remotely – a fact which will come as a huge relief to those from an IT background who have experienced the difficulties of setting up a deskphone on other networks. After the device is rebooted you can see that it’s connected to your Google Voice account. As far as desktop phones go, the set up is simple, seamless and straightforward.
Let’s look at some of the administrative settings inside the control panel for desk phones. All settings and features can be amended remotely within the console, including users and ring groups, which allows users to dial a number which rings on multiple users phones at the same time. Locations is another feature which is especially useful – at Damson Cloud, we’ve used this ourselves to create British and Irish numbers which divert to each other when they need to. Number porting offers similar functions around diverting international calls, and it’s fair to say that it doesn’t get much more convenient.
Auto attendants is another great feature which is always worth checking out. This is particularly useful for larger organisations with multiple departments and teams, with a selection of various prompts (‘dial 1 for accounts’, ‘dial 2 for marketing’ – you get the drift). The auto attendant offers various functions depending on what you click, and this kind of feature would come at a significant price on rival networks and platforms.
More About Damson Cloud
We hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s Google Voice demo, especially if you’re already using the product in your business or if you’re considering using it. We think it’s an extremely valuable addition to the Google Workspace set of tools, and it really does finish off that truly mobile office, blending cloud-based technology with traditional devices in a way that is totally harmonious and essential for remote working environments. Before we take a break until week, we’d love to hear from you about your own preferred methods of taking work calls – so let us know in the comments!
We have some really cool announcements coming up over the next few weeks, so stay tuned. For regular updates and industry-leading advice on changing the way we work, don’t forget to subscribe to Damson Cloud on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube – you can thank us later. Our followers will also be excited to hear about our upcoming newsletter, so watch this space!
As a longstanding member of the Google Cloud Partner program, Damson Cloud specialises in bringing people and ideas together through new ways of working. We champion the very best practices in remote working and change management, helping companies and their teams collaborate productively from anywhere in the world. To find out more about our services, check out our library of tutorial videos or our blog.