I’ve been trying out Google Voice for about 6 months now. I like the service, most notably the voicemail transcriptions, but I know I’m not taking advantage of the majority of the features of the service. You know who would, though? Smaller volunteer-run organizations.
I’ve spent several years in such organizations, and I just took on the role of Public Relations Committee Chairman for the Denver Roller Dolls Roller Derby League. Like many volunteer-run organizations, we have yearly elections, and membership of the overall organization is somewhat transient. We also don’t have a huge operating budget. Enter Google Voice.
- Establish a free “info line.” If the organization is small, there may not be the budget for a generic line people can call. Having such a line can help establish credibility, and help those neophytes that don’t yet do everything on a computer!
- Separate “individual” contact information from “positional” contact information. In an organization where leadership changes yearly, contacts should stay the same. Just as we can reassign an email alias like email@example.com, a google voice line can be forwarded to the new party with no inconvenience to those trying to reach her.
- Reroute inquiries using custom groups. Recognized callers can be assigned to different groups, and receive different greetings or be routed to different phones. When the accountant calls, it can forward to the treasurer’s phone. When it’s a reporter, the media contact can answer. And when a member of the organization itself calls, they may hear a recording of upcoming events or latest news.
- Concerned about that info line and the manpower needed to staff it? Set the line to “do not disturb” on a schedule and let it go right to voicemail.
- Track phone messages as easily as emails. When messages are transcribed, they are either emailed or texted to a specified contact when can then forwarded them to the responsible party. If more than one individual needs to be apprised of the message, it can be tracked and archived for future use. No more lost messages or inaccurate recounts of a conversation.
- Record entire conversations. And yes, both parties are made aware of it at the time. Need to conduct interviews, or want to be able to listen to a conversation later to ensure all the details are correct? Google Voice can allow you to record conversations (when someone calls you) to review or share later.
And one tip to setting up your account: be sure it is associated with a new google account. The same password is used to log into all associated google services, so you will want to establish a new account (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org) for the google voice service so someone is not compelled to share their password. That way you are truly overcoming the challenge of tying this service to a specific individual that may later leave your organization.
What other benefits can you think Google Voice have to offer organizations? Have you tried the service yourself? Thoughts?