Google Voice for G Suite is integrated with other G Suite apps. Find out how it might help businesses modernize and consolidate voice communications.
Google has offered Google Voice for personal use since 2009. The service put powerful calling features--such as multi-device ring, browser-based calling, voicemail transcription, and spam filtering--in the hands of consumers.
In April 2019, the company launched Google Voice for G Suite, with the intent to deliver modern calling features to organizations. Google Voice joins Gmail, Hangouts Chat, and Hangouts Meet as an additional G Suite core communication service. At launch, administrators of G Suite customers in 9 countries could select and deploy Google Voice for the enterprise.
SEE: G Suite: Tips and tricks for business professionals (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Now, an organization can switch from a legacy phone provider to Google Voice for G Suite. For businesses that still use an on-site phone system, the move to a modern, easier-to-manage, cloud-based system, such as Google Voice, makes a great deal of sense. The move may save you money, too, since Google elected to price Google Voice for G Suite quite competitively.
So if your company uses G Suite, take a few minutes to read through the following 10 Google Voice features and compare those to what is offered by your phone provider.
Google Voice works on almost any device. Install the Google Voice app on Android or iOS, sign in, and then place or receive calls with your Google Voice number. Or, sign in to Google Voice in Chrome on a laptop or a desktop to handle calls on your computer.
People who prefer a desk phone will be able to choose from a set of devices approved for Google Voice. At Google Next '19, the Poly booth showcased devices compatible with Google Voice--additional partners and devices will be added over time. Desk phone options will be available for Standard and Premier customers.
You control which devices ring when you receive a call; for instance, you can configure calls so that only one device rings or enable every device you've linked to your Google Voice account to ring all at once. There is also the option to enable Do Not Disturb for silence.
Google Voice makes voicemail messages readable with world-class speech-to-text transcription. Even when you don't answer a call, you can read the transcript, and then choose whether (or how) to respond.
Unlike legacy phone systems, every Google Voice number in the US supports SMS. So people in your organization can text, in addition to talk, from Google Voice web and mobile apps.
4. Spam detection
Google delivers spam detection not only in Gmail, but also in Google Voice. Calls identified as spam get routed to your Google Voice spam folder, which you can review at any time.
5. Administrative management
G Suite administrators can assign or remove a number quickly from the Admin console; additionally, they can manage all of G Suite's communication services, including Gmail, Hangouts Chat, Hangouts Meet, and Google Voice.
6. Text-to-speech auto-attendant
Standard or Premier editions of Google Voice support an auto-attendant. You know the system: "To reach accounting, press 1, for tech support, press 2," and so on. But with G Suite, you don't have to record any of these prompts; instead, you type your automated prompts, and G Suite synthesizes speech in the language you select.
7. G Suite integration
Google Voice integrates with other apps in Google's core enterprise communication suite--for example, Google Voice already handles dial-in and phone services within Hangouts Meet. Although not available as of the April 2019 launch, the Google Voice app will also display in the side panel in Gmail, so you can quickly place a call in response to an email. A similar integration within Hangouts Chat will let you talk to team members.
Each person can also set Google Voice to sync with working and out-of-office hours on Google Calendar. With two separate settings, you may choose to send calls directly to voicemail outside of working hours or when your Calendar shows you're out of the office.
Organizations that must comply with HIPAA should know that as a core G Suite service, Google Voice for G Suite is covered by Google's business associate's agreement (BAA) with customers. Google Voice complies with telecom regulations wherever the service is available.
Google offers three editions of Google Voice: Starter, Standard, and Premier. Organizations that want local numbers within a single country, desktop support, and the auto-attendant will likely want Standard, available at $20 per person per month. Multi-national organizations will require Premier, which is available for $30 per person, per month. Organizations with fewer than 10 people--who also don't need desk phones--may choose the Starter edition at $10 per person per month.
Note: You can't mix-and-match editions for your G Suite domain--you select one edition for your domain, although you only need to purchase licenses for people in your organization that need Google Voice.
10. Number porting
Google Voice supports number porting, which allows an organization to retain phone numbers while switching voice providers. The system uses a Google Sheet, with each person's information in a row, to facilitate batch migration of numbers, as well as to identify any issues with a specific person's service during the porting process.
Real-world experience using Google Voice
To get some sense of how the system actually works in practice, I spoke with Ryan Bass of Portland State University (PSU), where about 100 people--most of whom are members of the IT team--participated in a pilot of Google Voice for G Suite. His take was that the trial was both easy to roll out and working well.
Bass said that "voicemail transcription is fantastic" and that support for "Do Not Disturb integration with Google Calendar's working and out-of-office hours is really nice." But more importantly, "Google Voice lets people make calls using their PSU phone identity, which means people don't have to reveal their personal mobile number when making calls on the go."
In the long-term, Bass said, a transition to Google Voice at PSU could potentially mean a move of about 4,300 lines. Users who are often on the go, such as admissions professionals or adjunct faculty, would likely opt-in to Google Voice first, due to the nature of their work. Additional deployment won't mean the removal of all copper lines, since (as of May 2019) Google Voice can't yet replace fax or elevator lines, for example. Bass also noted that many people liked to "not have a handset on their desk," since they could instead handle all calls with a headset and an app.
If you've already deployed Google Voice for G Suite, what was your experience? If you're considering the move, what questions or concerns do you have? Let me know your thoughts--either in the comments below, or on Twitter (@awolber).
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