Use Google Voice For Your Web Presence
This month’s theme is phone systems. Specifically, what do we use and why?
Personally, I utilize a motley assortment of systems, depending in large part on whether I’m wearing my “lawyer” hat or my “author” hat.
First, there’s the phone system used by the law office with which I’m affiliated. It’s a traditional set up: the secretaries answer calls and then notify me of calls or messages. Nothing unusual about that.
For my other persona as a legal technology author and speaker, I have a completely different system, which is necessary mainly because of my strong online presence. Before I instituted this system, I had difficulty sifting through the many calls that I received from multiple sources. It used to be that I simply published my cell phone’s number online and then used my iPhone’s voicemail system to keep track of the calls that came in.
After a while, I found that to be too cumbersome, since the calls originating from my online presence tended to be from complete strangers, many of whom were seeking legal assistance in matters outside my specific area of practice, DWI defense. When I receive those calls, I refer the callers to other local attorneys who handle the legal problem at issue. But when those calls used to come into my iPhone’s voicemail system, it was difficult to keep track of them and then later forward the relevant information on to another attorney.
Google Voice has simplified that process and made my life much easier. After I signed up for a Google Voice number, I changed all contact information at my various websites and blogs to reflect that new number. I don’t provide my Google Voice number to anyone with whom I interact with personally.
That way, I know that any call that comes in from that my Google Voice number originated from my online presence. And, many of those calls–approximately 10-20 in any given month–tend to be from people seeking legal assistance, mostly in criminal cases. I suspect the reason I receive so many calls from people seeking a criminal defense attorney in non-DWI cases is because I have a lengthy background in criminal defense and I co-author the Thomson West treatise “Criminal Law in New York.”
In any event, when those calls come in, the Google Voice system sends me an email notifying me of the new call. That email includes: the number from which the call originated (which is helpful when people forget to leave their phone number in the voice message), a digital file of the voice message, and a transcription of the voice message, which is automatically created by the Google Voice system. So, as soon as the email arrives in my inbox, I can skim the transcription and get a sense of the purpose of the call, without having to actually listen to the message. I can also, if necessary, forward that email message, with the digital voice mail file included, to the attorney whom the client later retains.
Although I sometimes receive Google Voice mail messages from reporters or others seeking to contact me because of my status as an author, I find that these contacts oftentimes find me online and then tend to either send an email or contact me via a web contact form at one of my websites. So I rarely get calls from those sources via Google Voice.
Finally, there’s my iPhone’s voice mail system, Most of the callers to that number are either people to whom I’ve provided that number or marketers with whom I’d rather not speak. If I recognize the caller, I’ll answer my phone, otherwise, I let the call go through to the iPhone’s voice mail.