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Voice Off

Features like call routing, screening and voice-to-text functionality--and the lack of a price tag--give Google Voice strong appeal to more than 1 million users. Others can't get over the quirks. Sometimes you get what you pay for.
September 20, 2010
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/217308

Can't Live With It
William Wnekowicz, founder of Altum Design Studios, a web design firm in Cedar Grove, N.J.

Altum Design Studios would seem to be an ideal Google Voice user. The upstart web design firm specializing in business-to-business marketing has only two-and-a-half staffers, including founder William Wnekowicz. The firm's high-end and often demanding clients need to be able to reach Wnekowicz and his employees.

Although Wnekowicz loves the idea of Google Voice--he dreams of the simplicity of call routing and screening depending on his team's schedule--there's one big problem with the service: It won't allow him to port his existing cell phone number to the service.

"That's the phone number I used when I was growing the business--that's pretty much what everybody calls," he says. "The problem is that Google Voice doesn't allow porting. I could use the service, but I would have to get a new Google Voice number and then I'd have to tell all of my clients and change all of my materials to reflect that number."

He's hoping that Google changes this policy, but in the meantime, he's sticking with his good, old-fashioned calling service.

Can't Live Without It
Allen Gannett, president and CEO of Future Civic Leaders, a nonprofit youth development organization in Washington, D.C.

Future Civic Leaders operates with two basic goals. The first is to run a summer camp for about 40 students across the country. The students convene in Washington, D.C., for four days to conduct simulated campaigns and meet with legislators, White House press corps and other stars of the political world--all on the organization's dime. The second goal is to create a network of school chapters dedicated to continuing student civic education year-round. In just over a year of existence, the organization has recruited about 400 students.

Future Civic Leaders president Allen Gannett says Google Voice has made it possible for him and his eight staffers to stay more connected with students around the country. "We can't necessarily afford to have an office with a top-flight landline system," he says. "But giving someone a cell phone number seems unprofessional. We rely on Google Voice because having local numbers that we can use around the country really helps get stuff done."

The organization has recruiters working with students all across the country, and Google Voice facilitates call forwarding to the right recruiter without using a complicated switchboard or message service. The platform's screening, blocking and routing features give the organization the flexibility it needs during busier times, such as the summer camp ramp-up, Gannet says. "It's definitely made things a lot easier in how we communicate," he says.