By Lars Lofgren
Traditional phone systems are expensive. But cloud-based phone solutions offer a cheaper alternative for business and personal use alike.
Enter Google Voice—an affordable way to make and receive phone calls from any device.
Say goodbye to expensive business phone plans. Google Voice makes it easy to add new users and locations without a hefty phone bill.
What is Google Voice?
Google Voice is a cloud telephone service that works with smartphones and web browsers. The phone service comes with a free number for calls, voicemail, and text messaging.
The platform even supports call forwarding to existing phone numbers, including landlines, business phones, and mobile phones.
All Google Voice business plans offer free unlimited calling in the US, unlimited calling to Canada from the US, and unlimited SMS messaging in the US. Starting at just $10 per user per month with no equipment required, it’s one of the cheapest business phone solutions on the market today.
5 Google Voice Alternatives
Google Voice is just one of many great business phone systems on the market today. I’ve highlighted some alternative recommendations below, and you can check out our full list of the best VOIP phone systems for businesses here.
#1 — Nextiva
Nextiva is an excellent cloud-based VoIP phone solution trusted by 100,000+ businesses of all shapes and sizes. In addition to business voice, Nextiva offers additional resources for call centers, sales pipelines, CRMs, and more.
They have all-in-one solutions to make small businesses feel like a Fortune 500 organization. You can use Nextiva for phone, video, and messaging with a single subscription.
Some of the top features and benefits of Nextiva include unlimited calling, unlimited Internet fax, team messaging, call recording, and more. The software also integrates with third-party business tools like Zendesk, Salesforce, and HubSpot. You can view a free demo to get started.
#2 — RingCentral
RingCentral is an all-in-one business communication platform. The software is used by 400,000+ organizations worldwide, making it one of the most popular VoIP phone systems on the market today. RingCentral offers plans that bundle phone, messaging, video meetings. All plans support unlimited calling within the US and Canada and unlimited business SMS.
You can also benefit from premium features like automatic call recording, Internet fax, document sharing, quality of service reports, auto-attendant, and more.
Whether you need a solution for internal business communication, customer communication, or both, RingCentral has you covered. Try it for free with a 15-day trial.
#3 — Ooma
Ooma is the perfect VoIP phone solution for small businesses and startup companies. It’s easy to deploy, and best of all—affordable.
I like Ooma because the plans are straightforward. You can get a basic package with just the core features or pay a little more for advanced capabilities like video conferencing, call recording, voicemail subscription, and higher usage limits.
Every Ooma business plan comes with essential features like a virtual receptionist, SMS messaging, virtual fax, a call log, hold music, call transfers, extension dialing, and more.
If simplicity and affordability are your two top priorities, Ooma should be a top consideration for your business. There are no long-term contracts, so you can cancel at any time. Learn more at Ooma.
#4 — Vonage
Vonage is a unified communications system built for small and large organizations alike. This provider offers unlimited phone calls, unlimited SMS, paperless faxing, and a virtual receptionist. All of this can easily be managed from the web and Vonage’s mobile app.
Vonage is an excellent choice for sales and service contact centers with CRM integration for all communication channels.
Another unique standout of Vonage is its versatility. They offer industry-specific solutions for businesses in categories like retail, ecommerce, manufacturing, healthcare, education, finance, transportation, logistics, and more. It’s affordable, easy to deploy, and built to scale. Get a free quote.
#5 — 8×8
8×8 is another top Google Voice alternative. Similar to the other recommendations on our list, this provider offers all-in-one business communication solutions.
You can use 8×8 from anywhere, with any device for business phone, chat, and video conferencing. Whether you’re a small business or multi-site contact center, 8×8 can accommodate your needs.
Noteworthy advantages offered by 8×8 include unlimited calling, unlimited SMS, and unlimited faxes. They also offer features like call monitoring, call recording, call forwarding, overhead paging, role-based access controls, directory assistance, and more.
From simple to advanced and everything in-between, 8×8 has it all. Sign up today to try it free for one month.
The Basics of Google Voice
Now that you’ve had a chance to see some alternative business voice solutions on the market, it’s time to take a closer look at Google Voice. Below we’ll break down Google Voice’s core components.
Connect From Any Device
Google Voice gives you a free phone number that can be accessed from any device. You can use it to make and receive calls using the iOS mobile app, Android app, or web application.
This allows everyone on your team to stay connected from anywhere. Users aren’t tied to a physical landline or office desk. Most people keep their smartphones within arm’s reach 24/7. By downloading the Google Voice app, your business phone is essentially with you at all times.
It’s worth noting that some VoIP phone providers offer a desktop app as well. Google Voice does not. Aside from the mobile apps, everything is web-based on your computer.
Unlimited Calling and SMS
Every Google Voice plan offers free calling to the US from any country. Free calling to Canada from the US is another standard feature. In addition to the unlimited calling capabilities, Google Voice packages come with free unlimited SMS messaging in the United States.
With plans starting as low as $10 per user per month, this is one of the most affordable business phone solutions on the market today.
If you compare this price to a traditional landline or cell phone package, Google Voice is much less expensive. You won’t have to worry about minute restrictions or overages either. All of this is included in the base rate.
Many VoIP business phone providers offer video chat and conference calling. But you’ll need to use Google Meet or Hangouts for that. These aren’t standard features for Google Voice.
Call forwarding to other numbers is another unique standout of Google Voice. If a call isn’t answered directly from Voice, you can have those calls forwarded to a mobile number or landline number.
These settings can easily be managed from your Google Voice admin center. You’ll just need to set up a linked number and verify those numbers using a six-digit code. Google Voice lets you link up to six phone numbers to your voice account.
Stop call forwarding to linked numbers at any time. Just turn off those numbers in the call forwarding section of your dashboard. You can also turn off any specific devices that you don’t want to receive calls on.
Spam calls have become an epidemic. I get at least a few spam calls to my personal cell phone every day. My business phone lines receive even more. Aside from being a colossal pain and exposing your staff to potential scams, spam calls kill productivity.
Google Voice has a solution for this problem. Using robust artificial intelligence technology, Google Voice will automatically filter spam calls. You can view spam calls, texts, and voicemails from a separate section of your Google Voice app. It’s similar to the way spam messages are filtered in your Gmail inbox.
Not every VoIP phone system has this feature, and it’s nice to see Google Voice stand out from the crowd in this category.
Businesses can use Google Voice to customize daily workflows. The admin control center gives you the ability to customize number assignments, locations, porting, auto attendants, forwarding, and billing from a single location. If you want to do something like assign one of your numbers to a different user, you’ll be able to do this with just a few clicks from Google Voice.
Google Voice is really easy to use. Overall, the customization capabilities are a bit limited compared to other VoIP business phone systems on the market.
That’s the trade-off that comes with simplicity. If the customization options were more advanced, the platform wouldn’t be as simple. Aside from making someone on your team an admin, there aren’t a ton of other role-based permission features.
The platform also lacks third-party integrations. It’s not really compatible with software outside of the Google family. So you won’t be able to sync it with your CRM, helpdesk, or anything like that.
Google Voice supports teams of all sizes with scalable options that are virtually limitless. The Starter plan for $10 per user per month only works for teams of up to ten users. You’ll be limited to ten domestic locations with this package as well. But if you upgrade to the Standard plan, you’ll benefit from unlimited users and unlimited domestic locations.
This upgraded plan costs $20 per user per month. In addition to the lifted limitations for users and locations, you’ll also benefit from multi-level auto attendant, ring groups, desk phone support, and eDiscovery for calls, SMS, and voicemail records.
For those of you who operate internationally, the Premier package will be the best option for you. At $30 per user per month, Google Voice supports unlimited international locations, in addition to unlimited users and unlimited domestic locations.
Compared to other VoIP solutions, Google Voice isn’t the best option for call centers. But it’s still a great way to scale numbers and users for business use.
How to Optimize Google Voice
There are some quick hacks and tricks that you can implement when using Google Voice to optimize your experience. Here are three of my favorites.
Trick #1: Call Recording (For Personal Use Only)
Google Voice makes it easy to record calls. This can be managed with the click of a single button. Here’s how it works.
Once all participants are on the call, just press the number “4” on your dial pad. This works regardless of the device you’re using, including the web application. An automated announcement will play for all call participants, explaining that the call is being recorded. Remember that it’s illegal to record calls in some jurisdictions without the consent of all participants.
To stop the recording, just press “4” again. Alternatively, hanging up the call will automatically stop the recording as well. All call recordings can be accessed and played back in your voicemail tab.
Unfortunately, call recording is unavailable for business use and workspace accounts. For those who want call recording capabilities built-in to your business package, check out our list of the best VoIP business phone systems for some Google Voice alternatives. The majority of solutions on that list can record calls for businesses.
Trick #2: Link a New Phone Number
You can use any active phone number to make and receive calls and texts with Google Voice. Here’s how you do it:
All linked numbers will ring when you get a call to your Google Voice number. But you can control those settings and make changes as you please.
You’re able to link up to six different phone numbers. However, you can’t link numbers that have already been linked to a different Google Voice number.
Trick #3: Keep Your Personal Number Private
Arguably the best way to use Google Voice is to create separation between your personal and business phone lines. Rather than using your cell phone number or home number when you’re out of the office, Google Voice gives you a free number that can be accessed from any device.
If you want to call a client while you’re away from your desk, just reach into your pocket, take out your smartphone, and use the Google Voice app. Co-workers, colleagues, and customers can even text your Google Voice number to communicate with you via SMS as well.
The best part about Google Voice is that it doesn’t require any additional hardware. Just use it with your existing phone and computer. You can sign up now and start using that new number in a matter of minutes.