Too many interruptions from disinterested parties created a chasm from staying in close contact with clients and partners. The inability to keep pace with critical discussions was increasing, and the current solution was only decreasing the amount of time available for these relationship-building opportunities. As the site / product / service / campaign / solution increased in demand, the number of inbound phone calls increased, which increased the number of missed calls, which meant more time spent wading through voicemails and less time focused on meeting demand.
Adopting a directory service allowed the user to take back the control of their communications, and keeping them in contact with their clients and partners.
The directory service is Google Voice, a free* telephone directory service allowing users to control where and when incoming calls are delivered. In addition, specific outgoing messages can be used for specific groups and voicemails can be transcribed to text, then sent via text or / and email (among many, many other options).
Using Google Voice, phone calls are melded into a unified communication platform, allowing users to respond no matter the situation.
I'm in a board meeting, and my Google Voice number is switched to Do Not Disturb. I'm expecting very important family news during the meeting but I won't be able to immediately answer the phone.
The expected call comes in to my Google Voice number, is sent to my voicemail (since my DND is on), the voicemail is transcribed and sent to me via text / email.
I am alerted to the new message, and can respond silently.
The challenge in setting up and using Google Voice is a mental shift in how voice communications are viewed. Comparable to Facebook or Google+, contacts tend to be grouped into levels of importance, and responded to accordingly. Google Voice allows incoming phone calls to follow the same path. At 8pm, it's important to receive all calls from your wife, but not from your coworkers.
In addition, your phone's number is now obsolete. The provided Google Voice number routes incoming calls to any phone that is registered with the account. Therefore, when you move or purchase a new phone, the Google Voice number never changes (and your contacts do not have to change your details) - the new phone's number is simply added to the Google Voice account and calls are no longer routed to the old number.
Outbound calls can also be a challenge, but this is an issue of control. If you want the Caller ID to display your Google Voice number, a handful of changes need to be made. If not, no changes need to be made to the way calls are placed.
Google Voice provides a number of benefits:
- If you own your own business, Google Voice allows customized greetings for different contacts, groups, etc.
- Integrates with Google Talk, allowing you to pick up a call right from your computer!
- Widgets extend how clients / prospects can reach you.
- Leverages your Google Contacts for simple contact management
- A single phone number for all your needs!
The most important benefit is taking back control of your telephone communications.
* There is a for-pay component, mainly built around outbound calls.