Google Voice: Essential Features, Costs, and Benefits
By Natália Mrázová
| 27. February 2024 |
Business Phone System
By N. MrázováNatália Mrázová
| 27 Feb 2024 |
Business Phone System
    By N. MrázováNatália Mrázová
    | 27 Feb 2024
    Business Phone System

    The Reality of Google Voice in 2024:
    Overview of Features, Costs, and Benefits

    According to American Express, 75% of people believe phone calls are the best way to reach a company. Google Voice is what you get when a tech giant tries to meet that need. The question is, does it succeed?

    Over the past few years, the call center software market has grown significantly, becoming not only highly sophisticated but also crowded. So, it’s natural for someone just beginning to navigate the space to gravitate toward a name they know.


    Today, we look at Google Voice, including its features, costs, and benefits. And most importantly, answer the question – is it worth your money?

    KEY TAKEAWY #1

    Who is Google Voice for?
    Designed primarily for small businesses, Google Voice makes kicking off your calling operations simple with affordable pricing, easy onboarding, and basic VoIP features, including calls, video meetings, text messaging, and voicemail.

    KEY TAKEAWY #2

    What should you look out for?
    Google Voice lacks several key aspects necessary for growing businesses, including automation, 3rd party integrations, and international numbers. If you aim to expand locally or globally, you best look elsewhere.

    KEY TAKEAWY #3

    Why consider other solutions?
    Calling solutions like CloudTalk may be more expensive but offer many more options that will allow you to automate workflows, efficiently evaluate performance, optimize customer experience, and grow your revenue.

    First launched in 2009, Google Voice is one of the oldest VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calling platforms on the market today. In other words, it allows you to make calls and send messages over the Internet from any compatible smart device.

    Like other solutions in the call center software space, it doesn’t require a carrier plan or special hardware to be used. On its page, Google boasts solutions for Startups, SMBs, Enterprises, and other, more specific industries. 

    However, considering its easy onboarding, affordable pricing, and limited number of features, it is most well suited to fulfilling the needs of smaller companies with relatively low requirements for inbound (support and service) and outbound (sales) operations. 

    So, what do businesses use Google Voice for? Here are the top 6 use cases:

    #1 Handling a high volume of calls

    #2 SMS texting and CRM

    #3 Getting different area codes

    #4 Separating privacy from business interactions

    #5 Instant messaging and video calls

    #6 Redirecting calls to other number

    Now, let’s talk about these points in more depth.

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    Handling a High Volume of Calls 

    No business can afford missing out on important calls. It results in a loss of customers, and losing customers means losing money. This is where VoIP services, including Google Voice, are an excellent help. 

    If you are currently unavailable — on another call or out of office — a voicemail can easily be redirected to an email address. Google Voice then sends all information about missed calls, as well as email transcriptions of voicemails, to your corresponding team. This may save you hours of your valuable time.

    Messaging

    Businesses use messaging more often than meets the eye. Google Voice allows you to send and receive SMS to your account. You can do so from Google Voice page, but also directly from your smartphone or laptop apps. Those serve as front-end messaging. 

    All the messages are then saved on the website and uploaded in a well-organized format to Gmail, which makes them easy to search for. 

    Various Area Codes

    During Google Voice sign up, you can select your new number, including a wide range of area codes. It doesn’t have to be one that corresponds with your region. You may pick any area you need for your business. For example 212 for New York City or 415 for San Francisco. 

    Thanks to area codes, your current customers can call you directly on your cell phone or contact you on the same phone via Google Voice

    Protect Your Privacy 

    A big advantage of many VoIP systems is that they allow you to hide your personal phone number from your business contacts. Thanks to Google Voice number, you can have all calls automatically forwarded to your personal cell phone without losing privacy. 

    You can easily avoid unwanted people getting access to your personal number, as well as regulate when you receive business calls. With Google Voice number, you can also choose the time frame in which calls get forwarded. The calls that come  in outside of this time frame, for example after working hours, are directed to voicemail

    Instant Messaging and Video Calls

    Due to Google Voice and Google Hangouts integration, Google Voice acquired instant messaging and video chat capabilities. These services are offered for free in several countries, yet with several restrictions. For example, calls to a certain number can incur a small fee, such as $0.01 per minute. 

    Hangout users are able to make free video conference calls to other Hangouts users. Yet in order for the call to be free, it is restricted to a maximum of 10 participants. If you have a Google Apps for Work account, the limit rises to 15 people. 

    Therefore, if you want a tool for a bigger audience, you may consider a more complex VoIP solution for video conferencing. One that is suitable for mid and larger businesses. For example, check out our CloudTalk Conference Call Software

    Redirecting Calls to Other Numbers

    Even if your team is currently small, there is of course a possibility that you will grow much larger. This may happen faster than you expect. Having an ability to distribute your incoming calls is something that may become very important to you down the line. 

    Like many VoIP solutions, Google Voice allows you to redirect calls to several phone numbers. You can therefore share the same phone number on several platforms and let your team share the responsibility of answering phone calls with their own separate devices

    Yet, there is one drawback. Setting this feature can be time consuming. It’s managed through the Google Workspace admin dashboard. Further, an IT admin has to set up linked numbers, as well as verify them with a 6 digit code. 

    How Does Google Voice Work?

    Understanding how your desired VoIP system works is crucial for making an informed decision. That’s why we will now take an in-depth look at how Google Voice works.

    Basics

    In order to use Google Voice, you’ll need a device with a stable internet connection, such as a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desk computer. It works through wi-fi and data plan, so you can connect during commuting. No hardware is necessary, though you may use headphones.

    Besides the mentioned features, Google Voice for business can give you a new number, but also offers a number porting

    Integrations

    In comparison with other SaaS softwares, the Google Voice integration palette is not so rich. While CloudTalk integrates with almost 40 industry leading solutions (HubSpot, Salesforce, Zapier, and more), Google Voice pairs mostly with other Google services, like Calendar, Gmail, Drive or the above-mentioned Hangouts. It is also compatible with a Polycom personal computer-based desktop video conferencing hardware system.

    Further, you can also use Smith software, which offers an option to have live chat or a virtual receptionist.

    We should mention that Google Voice also offers a mobile application that can be synchronized across devices. Therefore, you and your team can access Google Voice from anywhere you might happen to be. The app is compatible with both iOS and Androidoperating systems. 

    YouTube video

    Google Voice: Personal vs. Business Usage

    These two differ tremendously. Google Voice’s personal plan is completely free, yet you“get what you pay for”. It’s not a fit for a company that has more than 2 people, since the features are highly limited

    Acquiring more than one number is a complicated process. Basically, all Google Voice for personal use gives you is a free phone number suitable to calltext and use voicemail. That’s it. 

    In contrast to Google Voice for business, there are no productivityautomation or team collaboration features, such as call forwarding, voicemail transcripts to email or area code.

    Google Voice: Personal Vs. Business

    Parameter

    Personal

    Business

    Maximum Users

    1

    Unlimited

    Local Number

    US only

    13 countries/regions

    International Numbers

    None

    Unlimited

    Multiple Numbers

    No

    Yes

    Unlimited Calls

    No

    US & Canada only

    Call Forwarding

    Yes

    Yes

    Voicemail Transcripts

    Yes

    Yes

    Mobile Apps

    Yes

    Yes

    Verification Required

    Yes

    No

    “Do-Not-Disturb”

    No

    Yes

    Incoming Call ID

    No

    Yes

    Corporate Contacts

    No

    Yes

    Desk Phone Compatible

    No

    Yes

    Auto-Attendants

    No

    Yes

    Ring Groups

    No

    Yes

    Pricing

    Starts at $0

    Starts at $6

    Porting Fees

    $20 in
    $3 out

    Free

    Google Voice Business In-Depth Pricing

    Parameter

    Starter

    Standard

    Plus

    Enterprise

    Meet Video & Voice Conferencing

    100 participants

    150 participants

    500 participants

    1000 participants

    Max. Meeting Length

    24 hours

    24 hours

    24 hours

    24 hours

    US or International Dial-In

    Digital Whiteboarding

    Noise Cancellation

    Meeting Recording

    Polling & QA

    Moderation Controls

    Hand Raising

    Breakout Rooms

    Attendance Tracking

    In-Domain Live Streaming

    Pricing

    $6 per user

    $12 per user

    $18 per user

    Per request

    Technical Requirements

    Google Voice for business is supported by 3 computer operating systems:

    • Chrome OS
    • MacOS
    • Microsoft Windows

    It may be available on other platforms, but its functionality will be limited. 

    Supported web browsers are:

    • Google Chrome
    • Mozilla Firefox
    • Microsoft Edge
    • Safari

    Availability by regions

    Google Voice for Google Workspace is not available in every country. Yet, if you didn’t find yours, you can still contact your administrator for information about further possibilities.

    Supported countries: 

    • Belgium
    • Canada
    • Denmark
    • France
    • Germany
    • Ireland
    • Italy
    • Netherlands
    • Portugal
    • Spain
    • Sweden (available for Stockholm, Malmö, and Göteborg numbers)
    • Switzerland
    • U.K.
    • U.S. (excluding Alaska, Hawaii, the US territories of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands)

    Other Useful Information

    Google Voice, of course, has it’s security features, though these are not the most advanced. An example would be that the text messages and attachments are always encrypted before being transferred to Google’s data center. 

    Google Voice presents 24/7 customer service, yet the type of support you can get varies based on your subscription plan. You may also gather information in a community hub or knowledge base articles.

    Last, a very important piece of information is that Google Voice doesn’t support emergency calls. You can’t use it to contact 911 (or corresponding emergency numbers based on your region).

    10 Steps to Set up Google Voice

    If you get a new Google Voice number for Google Workspace, the set-up requires quite a lot of time and energy. 

    Here is how to do it:

     #1 Go to the Google Voice website on your computer and click “Get Started”. 

     #2 Sign in to your Google Workspace account. Without this account, you cannot use Google Voice for business extension. 

    If you don’t yet have a Google Workspace account, create one. But keep in mind that the Google Workspace plans are paid. They start at $6 per user. This is an additional cost separate from your Google Voice plan. 

    #3 After you’ve signed in, you need to click “Add or upgrade subscription”.

    #4 In the left sidebar, click “Google Voice”. Choose from the mentioned Starter, Standard or Premier plans. 

    #5 Now click “get started” – “Checkout” – “Place Order”.

    #6 At this point, you choose a primary or secondary location. 

    #7 Before using Google Voice for business, you need to assign licenses to each member of your team.

    #8 Now we’ve gotten to the point when you need to assign area codes and phone numbers to your employees. They can choose to keep their own number or you can provide them with a new one. 

    #9 Keep in mind that as we mentioned above, not every plan offers an option to assign a number outside of your home region. Only a Premium plan allows this.

    In case you want to keep your old number, you need to port it yourself. Start a port order and fill out the details to start a request. 

    #10 Your Google Voice account and number are now ready. You can set up additional features according to your plan. 

    Afterwards, you may start using your new VoIP system. 

    The Most Significant Google Voice Limitations

    Parameter

    Google Voice Limitation

    CloudTalk Benefit

    Caller ID

    Outbound Caller ID limited to Google Voice app only.

    Inbound calls often get mixed in with personal contacts.

    Automatic Outbound Caller ID based on preference.

    No overlap between personal and business contacts.

    Call Quality

    Call quality relies completely on Internet connection with no HD support.

    Telco providers across 160+ countries support crystal-clear call quality.

    Number Optimization

    Limited international numbers and no toll-free or mobile numbers.

    Offers 160+ international, toll-free, and mobile numbers.

    SMS Campaigns

    SMS is limited to 1-on-1 conversations.

    Outbound SMS Campaigns for sales and promotions.

    Integrations

    Limited to Google’s suite of tools

    35+ integrations with CRMs, Helpdesks, and more.

    Numbers Per User

    Limited to 1 number per user.

    Unlimited numbers per user.

    Automation

    No workflow automation.

    Workflow Automation, Call-Flow Designer, Interactive Voice Response, and more.

    The #1 Google Voice Alternative

    Let’s be frank. Google Voice can struggle to keep up with companies that grow rapidly. It is built for micro businesses that do not plan to expand. Thankfully, there are plenty of other high-quality Google Voice alternatives on the market.

    If you have an ambition to grow big, you may want to search for more complex VoIP systems. In contrast to Google Voice, CloudTalk expands with your company. It allows you to scale your activities by adapting to your business needs. 

    Thus, there is no need to waste time and resources on changing solutions each time your business grows out of the old one.

    Google Voice for Business Vs. CloudTalk: Cost Comparison

    Parameter

    Google Voice

    CloudTalk

    Starter vs. Starter

    Click-to-Call

    Call Recording

    Call Transcription

    Voicemail

    Call Queuing

    SMS

    Campaigns

    Power Dialer

    Call-Flow Designer

    Interactive Voice Response

    Workflow Automation

    Analytics

    International Numbers

    14 countries

    160+ countries

    Integrations

    limited to Google Apps + Open API

    35+ integrations for CRMs, Helpdesks, and more + Open API

    Free Trial

    14 days free

    14 days free

    Pricing

    $6 per user

    $25 per user

    Standard vs. Essential

    Click-to-Call

    Call Recording

    Call Transcription

    Voicemail

    Call Queuing

    SMS

    Campaigns

    Power Dialer

    Call-Flow Designer

    Interactive Voice Response

    Workflow Automation

    Analytics

    International Numbers

    14 countries

    160+ countries

    Integrations

    limited to Google Apps + Open API

    35+ integrations for CRMs, Helpdesks, and more + Open API

    Free Trial

    14 days free

    14 days free

    Pricing

    $12 per user

    $30 per user

    Plus vs. Expert

    Click-to-Call

    Call Recording

    Call Transcription

    Voicemail

    Call Queuing

    SMS

    Campaigns

    Power Dialer

    Call-Flow Designer

    Interactive Voice Response

    Workflow Automation

    Analytics

    International Numbers

    14 countries

    160+ countries

    Integrations

    limited to Google Apps + Open API

    35+ integrations for CRMs, Helpdesks, and more + Open API

    Free Trial

    14 days free

    14 days free

    Pricing

    $18 per user

    $50 per user

    How to Switch from Google Voice to CloudTalk

    If you’re convinced that you want to make CloudTalk your go-to calling tool, you can just pick a plan, contact our Sales team, cancel your old subscription (if you used a different tool), and let us take care of the rest. Here’s how the process works:

    1. Start with Strategy: Schedule a quick, 15-minute strategy call with our team to introduce us to your company and specific use case.
    2. See It in Action: Attend a product demo, where our experts will showcase the product as a whole, as well as features fit for you specifically.
    3. Set Up a Profile: Our team will help set up your first profile and prepare you for software onboarding.
    4. Download the App: Download CloudTalk’s Phone App on your device of choice (Windows, Android, iOS), log in, and start exploring the solution.
    5. Migrate: During the following few days, CloudTalk will set up profiles for your managers, supervisors, and agents, as well as migrate any existing information you had from your previous tool (contacts, numbers, call center statistics, etc.)
    6. Satisfaction Guaranteed: Start onboarding your users into CloudTalk with full, 24/7 support from our experts and get calling! 

    Alternatively, you can first see CloudTalk for yourself via our free trial. For 14 days, it is completely free. You can use any pricing plan and get to know the system inside and out. Then, after two weeks, you can choose to buy or move on – simple!

    FAQs

    u003cstrongu003eIs Google Voice free for a business?u003c/strongu003e

    u003cbru003eNo, Google Voice offers a 14-day free trial, but its business pricing plans start at $6 per user, paid annually.

    u003cstrongu003eCan I use Google Voice Personal plan for business?u003c/strongu003e

    If you’re running a one-person shop, then you can certainly use Google Voice’s Personal Plan for your business. However, if you have multiple employees or want access to some of Google Voice’s advanced features, you’ll have to purchase a Business Plan.

    u003cstrongu003eHow do I set up Google Voice for business?u003c/strongu003e

    Setting up Google Voice for business is simple. You can sign up for a Google account if you don’t have one already, then visit the Google Voice website or download the app. Follow the prompts to select a phone number and customize your settings to suit your business needs.

    u003cstrongu003eDoes Google Voice work internationally?u003c/strongu003e

    Yes, Google Voice offers international calling capabilities, allowing users to make calls to various countries at affordable rates. However, it is currently limited to only 13 countries worldwide.

    u003cstrongu003eCan I use Google Voice Business plan with a landline?u003c/strongu003e

    Google Voice is primarily a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service, but it does offer the option to forward calls to a landline or mobile phone. This feature can be particularly useful for businesses that prefer to use existing phone systems.

    u003cstrongu003eHow do I know if someone is calling me from a Google Voice number?u003c/strongu003e

    Google Voice calls typically display a caller ID with the caller’s Google Voice number. Additionally, you may notice unique ringing patterns or hear a distinct message when receiving calls from Google Voice numbers.

    u003cstrongu003eCan I use Google phone service with my existing phone number?u003c/strongu003e

    Yes, Google Voice allows you to port your existing phone number to their service for a one-time fee. This feature enables you to maintain continuity with your current contact information while enjoying the benefits of Google Voice.

    u003cstrongu003eIs it possible to change a Google Voice number without paying?u003c/strongu003e

    Google Voice typically charges a fee for changing your phone number. However, some exceptions may apply, such as if you’re porting your existing number or encountering technical issues. It’s best to check Google Voice’s current policies for specific details on number changes and associated costs.