Google Voice for Google Workspace is a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone service that allows you to make and receive business-related calls and messages.
Virtual phone numbers are changing the way entrepreneurs run their small businesses. The best small business phone systems use the internet, as opposed to a cell tower — allowing you to place and take calls from all your devices. As you know, this makes communicating with your clients, colleagues, and business connections way more accessible — and easier as you don’t have to worry about clients calling your personal cell number or worry about SIM cards when you’re overseas. Can you say goodbye to cell plans? This is a comprehensive guide on what Google Voice for business is, how it works, and if it’s the right service for you and your small business.
How does Google Voice work?
Google Voice for Google Workspace is different from a Google Voice personal plan. While a Google Voice personal plan is free, it offers very limited features, is not fit for teams, isn’t available outside the US, and is difficult to have more than one Google number. Google Voice personal gives you a phone number for calling, texting, and voicemail — that’s it. It doesn’t offer any productivity or team collaboration features to actually run a business.
Since Google Voice is a VoIP service, it uses your Internet connection to transmit calls and messages.
To use Google Voice, you need a smartphone, tablet, or computer with internet access. It works via Wi-Fi or a data plan, so you can be connected on the go.
You can get a new Google Voice number or port your existing phone number. You can also get a Google Voice number and forward calls coming to that number to any other phone number you own — whether it’s your personal cell phone number, office landline (though who has those anymore?), or home phone. With this approach, you don’t need to have a smartphone with internet access — you can simply forward Google Voice calls elsewhere.
How to set up Google Voice for your small business
If you want to get a new Google Voice number for Google Workspace, the setup requires some heavy lifting:
- On your computer, go to the Google Voice website.
- Click “Get Started.” (If it prompts you to select a pricing plan, do so — you will have to re-select your choice in step 5.)
- You will be prompted to sign in to your Google Workspace account (only Workspace customers are eligible to use Google Voice for business). Don’t have an account? Create a Google Workspace account. Google Workspace plans start at $6 per user (that’s on top of whatever plan you sign up for on Google Voice for Google Workspace!).
- Once you’re signed in, click “Add or upgrade a subscription.”
- Click “Google Voice” in the left sidebar. You can choose between three plans: Google Voice Starter, Google Voice Standard, or Google Voice Premier. Select your plan by clicking “Get Started.”
- Click “Get Started” again, then “Checkout,” and “Place Order” when prompted.
- Set your primary or secondary locations (your country or region) in the Google Admin.
- Assign licenses for everyone in your team (even if you’re a solopreneur, you will need to assign yourself a license before using Google Voice).
- Finally, you’re ready to assign area codes and phone numbers to your team. You can let employees choose their own number or assign a new number for them. (Note: To assign phone numbers outside your home region or to assign a Canadian number, you’ll need to have a Premier subscription.) Google Voice does not support toll-free numbers.
- If you want to keep your old number rather than choose a new one, you’ll need to port your number (only available in the US and Canada) to Google Voice. Start a port order, then fill out your port details to begin the request.
- Now that your Google Voice account and phone numbers are ready to go, you can also set up your Ring Groups (so multiple numbers can answer the same incoming phone call) and auto-attendant — if you have a Google Voice Standard or Google Voice Premier plan.
- You’re now ready to use Google Voice on your computer, set up call forwarding for incoming calls, or install the Google Voice app for your mobile device.
How can you use Google Voice for your own business
Small business owners use Google Voice in the following ways:
- Customer service: Using Google Voice as a customer service line is useful for small businesses that offer phone support to their clients.
- Using numbers outside your service area: If you’re serving clients in a specific area, but don’t have a local phone number for that region, getting a local business phone number in that state or city would be very handy.
- Privacy: You shouldn’t be using your personal cell phone number for your business for many reasons — one being the complete lack of privacy. Google Voice allows your business phone number to forward to your cell phone.
Set business hours: You can also configure Google Voice so your phone only rings during the specific hours you set so you’re not answering calls all through the night.
Google Voice for Workspace limitations
Google Voice is a VoIP solution with an affordable pricing model. Unfortunately, it comes with several limitations, including:
1. Lacks flexibility
As a rule, each Google Voice user can only have one phone number associated with it. If you need multiple phone numbers (i.e., if you serve multiple states and want to appear local to various clients) you should choose a Google Voice alternative. Additionally, as previously mentioned, Google Voice for Google Workspace is only available in:
- US (but not US territories)
If you’re based outside these countries and want a US number (or Canadian), OpenPhone is still available to you.
2. You have to have a Google Workspace account
To use Google Voice for business, you must have a Google Workspace account. Since Google Workspace isn’t a free service, this adds an additional $6 per month to your plan (at minimum).
3. No toll-free numbers
Toll-free numbers (1-800 numbers) are important, especially for small businesses looking to take care of their customers and allow them to reach you without having to pay a long-distance fee. If you offer customer support across the country (Canada + the US), having a toll-free phone number for your support line will be beneficial. Google Voice doesn’t provide toll-free numbers, but alternatives like OpenPhone do.
4. Porting limitations
If you decide to move away from Google Voice for Google Workspace, porting your number to another service can be difficult. For US numbers, the address in the port request must match the primary location you set up in the Google Admin console.
5. No external integrations
Google Voice only integrates with other Google Workspace apps, including Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, and Google Meet (formerly Google Hangouts). Your phone system won’t integrate with other providers, such as CRM systems (like Hubspot), Zapier, or Slack.
6. No team collaboration
With Google Voice, you can’t easily message your teammates (and Ring Groups come at an added cost). Instead, you have to switch to another app — Google Chat — to enable team messaging. Plus, Google Voice doesn’t allow teaming up on a conversation.
7. No auto-replies or snippets
With Google Voice, you can’t save time on repeat messages you need to send throughout the day by using auto-replies or snippets. Instead, you have to individually craft responses for each customer question or message, which wastes time and increases your workload.
8. You can’t launch text marketing campaigns
With Google Voice, text messages are meant for one-to-one conversations only. In other words, text messaging is meant for texting individuals — not one-to-many texts. You can’t launch marketing campaigns that send promos or special offers to clients or prospects.
9. More difficult to catch up
In Google Voice, calls, texts, and voice messages all live in separate inboxes. If your team needs to review communication it can be far more difficult to get up to speed, creating major bottlenecks for any team that wants to stay responsive.
Is there a better alternative to Google Voice?
Were there some deal-breakers in that limitations list? Not surprisingly, many OpenPhone users have ported their number over from Google Voice due to the lack of features.
OpenPhone is a clean, simple, and user-friendly modern phone number service that is specifically made to fit you and your small business.
Here’s what our users love about OpenPhone and why they made the switch:
Better customer support: Email customer support at OpenPhone to get help.
I decided it was worth paying a small amount for a more business-oriented solution. Google has no real-time help available, only a bunch of previously asked questions with answers. I was sick of searching the internet for a way to fix problems with Google Voice.
More reliable: Is Google Voice not working for you? With OpenPhone, not only do you get unlimited calls and texts – you get crystal clear sound quality both incoming and outgoing. This includes iPhone, Android, and desktop.
I am porting away [from Google Voice] because we get too many dropped calls, poor connections and are unable to have multiple greetings (after hours).
Team flexibility: You can invite your team members to get access to your OpenPhone business phone number. This way, you can team up on responding to customer calls and messages. Plus, all texts, calls, and messages associated with a specific number are in one box so anyone on your team can continue the conversation. It’s affordable, too, with plans starting at just $10 per month per user.
The main reason for switching is to allow more than one person to pick up calls on their mobile devices and respond to voice mail or text messages. Google only allows one mobile number to be tied to a Google Voice account.
Here’s how OpenPhone measures up against Google Voice for business:
|Pricing||Starts at $10 per month per user||Starts at $10 per month per user, plus $6 per month per user Workspace account|
|Voicemail to text||✓||✓|
|Set business hours||✓||✓|
|Additional phone numbers||$5 per number||Varies|
|Shared phone numbers||✓||X|
|Dedicated business address book||✓||X|
|IVR (phone menu) with extensions||✓||X|
|Group text messaging||Up to 10 business contacts||Up to 7 contacts|
|iOS and Android apps||✓||✓|
Switch from Google Voice to OpenPhone
Google Voice is an affordable VoIP service for small businesses. Unfortunately, the setup is rather rigorous, it hinders team collaboration, and it lacks external integrations.
OpenPhone is the Google Voice alternative that’s easy to set up, strengthens team and client communication, and offers thousands of integrations through Zapier. Plus, OpenPhone offers a number of advanced features Google Voice does not, such as auto-replies, snippets, and shared phone numbers.
Ready to make the switch from Google Voice to OpenPhone? Sign up for a new OpenPhone business phone number and try a seven-day free trial today.