It seems like a minister must be in 5 different places at the same time!
We are called upon for multiple tasks at uncommon hours. Well, I may have a tool that will help – and it is FREE (like everything else I offer).
The tool is called Google Voice. “What IS that?” you may be asking yourself right now. If so, I hope to not only explain Google Voice (GV) but also share some ideas of how a minister, church or any other leader could use it to multiply their presence to others.
Unique (local) phone number:
GV provides a FREE phone number. In most cases, it will can be local to you. Or, you may have friends or family in distant locations that you want to talk to frequently. You may choose a GV phone number in that location so that your friends in a distant city can call you for free. This is a valid option but be careful since some of the other features may not work as you would like if you select a distant city for your phone number.
Single number rings multiple phones:
This is a very interesting feature. After you select your phone number, you can go online to setup which phones will ring when that number is called. Say, you have a church number 999-888-1111, a home number 999-888-2222 & a cell phone 999-888-3333. Then you receive a GV number 999-888-5555. You can set up GV so that when others call 999-888-5555 during normal office hours, the church phone will ring and your cell phone will also ring (you can pick up either and even transfer between the two). After hours, when someone calls the GV number, it will ring your home phone or, your home & cell. Or, almost any combination of phones and voice mail.
Voicemail is included in with your GV account. Not only that, you can have the recording sent to you in email. That function alone can be a tremendous help to an on-the-go minister. If you have a “smart” cell phone that can receive email, you are all set! Also, the system will transcribe the voice recording to text and send that to email or to SMS on your phone.
You can set up groups of users and record unique greetings for each group of callers. Some groups may be sent directly to your active phone while others are sent to voicemail with a specific greeting. This function can help you to leave SOME work at the office. If certain callers are only related to your business functions, you can assign them to a group that you only accept calls from during office hours. At any other time, they will automatically be sent to voicemail – without ringing any of your phones!
You can listen in on your callers to decide whether to receive the call or send them to voicemail. You can even block callers if you wish. We all have some people who call TOO frequently. With this feature, you may allow them to speak to voice mail and describe the reason for their call BEFORE you decide to pick up.
Adding users to an existing call is easy with GV. Add more callers and it becomes a conference call. It can even be ad hoc – on the spur of the moment. It does not require advance preparation or confusing numbers to call – just add each person as they call.
Free Long Distance Calling:
Free calls & text messages to the U.S. & Canada. This can be a tremendous cost savings – if not a time saver. It can save time by allowing you to make LD calls from anywhere – even from other people’s phones – and still not incur a LD charge. Note: some users have reported that outgoing calls (and incoming calling via the “widget”) are limited to just three minutes but that has not been the case for me. YMMV – “Your Mileage May Vary.” International calls may also be made at a small charge.
Google Voice provides you with the simple “cut and paste” code to place on a website or in email. When others click on the widget, they are prompted to enter their phone number then GV will ring you and them and connect the call without cost to either. This is almost as good as an ‘800’ number and may benefit your ministry greatly. Set up a section on your church’s website for prayer requests and allow users to call in their request via the widget.
The OFFICAL List of Features (with a Google number) Note: if you elect to use an existing number, some of these features may not work:
- Use one number to manage all your phones; your Google Voice number is tied to you, not to a particular device or location.
- Voicemail like email: Save voicemail messages for as long as you’d like, star important ones, and search through them
- Voicemail transcription: Voicemail messages will be automatically transcribed to text and sent to you via email and/or SMS.
- Customize your callers’ experience (custom voicemail greetings, decide which of your phones ring based on who’s calling, send some callers straight to voicemail, etc.)
- Define which phones ring, based on who’s calling, and even ListenInTM on voicemail before answering the call. We use smart technology to route your calls. So, if you’re already on a Google Voice call, we’ll recognize it and use call waiting to reach you on the phone you’re on.
- Works with mobile phones, desk phones, and work phones. There’s nothing to download, upload, or install, and you don’t have to make or take calls using a computer.
- International calling: Make low priced international calls from the web or from your phone.
Summary of the OTHER great things about Google Voice:
- Did I mention – it is FREE?
- Unique Local (or distant) phone number
- Multi-ring of any registered phones
- Unique call responses (based upon grouping)
- Transfer calls from one phone to another
- Easy conference calling
- Free Long Distance calling
- Internet widgets (allow free incoming calls)
There is still no way to literally be in 5 different places at once but, with Google Voice, you can be more efficient with some of the MANY phone calls that you make and receive. Until recently, Google Voice was restricted to invitees. But it is now open to anyone who requests it. Check it out today… Here is the link: http://www.google.com/voice/