It’s common for new small business startups to select free and low-cost tools. Yet if you plan to grow your business, be aware that there is typically a hidden price to pay with many such “free” tools. Google Voice for business is one such application that can rain on your parade.

An inadequate phone system can instantly throw a monkey wrench into a business that starts to grow its sales rapidly. Communication with customers and team members is a daily business process that should be easy. The wrong phone system can turn simple transactions and support into customer service headaches, or worse.

Three Ways the Wrong Phone System Can Limit Your Small Business Growth

1) It Limits Your Geographical Expansion

On Google Voice you can sign up only for US numbers. This is adequate if you plan to limit your expansion within the United States.

But this would curb any plans to take your business overseas and establish a local presence in other areas. If you currently run a local business in the US, it might not seem like a big deal. But studies say that 80% of companies that started selling outside the US recorded significant growth in revenue in one year. Do you want to shut yourself off from potential overseas expansion in the future?

On the other hand, if you intend to expand overseas, you should choose a call center software that can help you purchase phone numbers outside the US. Local numbers are important because they make your business look easily accessible and more approachable. They help you establish a local presence anywhere in the world without having to physically set up a call center in that country.

Local numbers along with cloud-hosted PBX are also key to setting up virtual call centers that are global. You can hire employees anywhere in the world and enable them to work for you remotely, over the same call center software. All they’ll need is an internet connection, a laptop, and a login.

Another feature that makes your business more accessible is toll-free numbers. Google Voice does not provide toll-free numbers even in the US.

2) It Makes it Difficult to Build and Work with Your Team

Google Voice lets you add all your devices to one Google Voice number. So, it’s great for solopreneurs who want to manage calls easily across all devices.

However, any business with more than one employee is likely to have more than one individual handling phone calls. There must be provisions to transfer calls from one person to the other, escalate a call if a customer needs quicker resolution, or route calls to another team when you are offline or busy on another call.

Google Voice is simply not equipped to meet any of these scenarios. This means, if you ever need to build a phone team or want to make the lives of your administrative staff easy, you need to switch to a Google Voice alternative that’s built for business.

Here is a brief list of capabilities that are not available with Google Voice, but that you’ll want in a phone system for a team:

bullet-green15Interactive Voice response (IVR): IVR systems and virtual assistants help callers to reach the right person in your company quickly. They are presented with menu options on dialing in. Callers can choose, using key presses, the department or person to which their call has to be routed. They can be taken to recorded messages for routine queries.

bullet-green15Call flows: In Google Voice, a call gets hung up or sent to voicemail if you are busy on another one. A business phone system will have the capability to route this call to another person or to one of your available team members.

bullet-green15Multi-user accounts: This functionality allows you to create multiple user profiles for your one business number or multiple numbers. You can create an admin or supervisor profile with special privileges or a user profile with access only to the required functionalities. This way, you can make sure that your business lines are secure and not misused.

bullet-green15Call recording: Google Voice provides call recording for incoming calls only. Also, manual recording is the only option available. Recordings are a great training tool for people who are new to your team, and it’s ideal if you have the option for recording all calls, manually or automatically.

bullet-green15Shared lines: Shared phone lines allow multiple users to take calls on the same number without missing any.

bullet-green15Tech support: There is none with Google Voice. The only help that exists is in online documentation and online forums. And the future of Google Voice is always uncertain, as it is with nearly all free Google products. “You get what you pay for” applies here.

3) It Has a Direct Impact on Revenue Growth

Phone teams are usually more of a cost center than a profit center. Determining their actual impact on revenue growth is not always a simple task, often better left to the accountants.

But one thing you can track and improve with the right phone system is operational efficiency. With the right phone system you can measure and manage your phone team’s activity.

Your phone system should enable you to monitor all the operations of your call center in real-time. The Google Voice app does not come with a live dashboard. But there are several alternatives in the market that do.

However, phones do have a direct impact on revenue if you are using it as an outbound sales channel or lead generation mechanism. In this case, you should look for phone systems that have integrations with your customer resource management (CRM) software.

Conclusion – Google Voice, Phone Systems and Your Startup

We’ve only talked about very broad aspects of growth and how it’s connected to your phone system. This is only a starting point to decide if you need to stick with Google Voice or start searching for alternatives that are equipped to handle business scenarios.

However, the basics like we discussed above are often the most telling indicators to help you make the best decisions.

Apoorv Bhatnagar is a Digital marketer at Freshworks Inc. He generally writes about software that improves your marketing, sales, or hiring processes.

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