Clients often expect to be able to communicate with you 24/7 via Email, texts, Facebook messages, or any other way they find to contact us.
Some photographers don’t offer clients the ability to contact them by phone. But putting up walls for clients makes it harder for them to book you, and some people prefer to use the phone. So today I am going to share one tool that will make it easier for you to use the phone in your business, stop getting annoyed by client calls and texts at all hours of the day, and how to make it effective even if you prefer not to talk to clients on the phone.
Google Voice has been an indispensable tool for me in my photography business for the last eight years.
It’s even free, only requiring a Google account. When you sign up, Google will assign you a phone number (with some input preferences from you first).
Here is why I believe every photography business owner should be using Google Voice.
One Number to Rule them all!
The greatest benefit of Google Voice is the ability to receive calls and texts on any phone with your Google Voice phone number. Being able to use any phone you are near is useful for not missing a call.
It gives you the ability to control when and where you want to be reached by setting up rules for it to follow.
I had a home office for a few years. My Google Voice number was set up to call my cell phone 24 hours a day BUT only ring my home number from 8am-5pm. That way, if a client called at 7pm, my wife and I could be watching a movie at home and not be interrupted. But at noon, I could answer on my home line (if I was home) OR my cell (if I was out and about).
When I went on vacation, stopped it from forwarding to any of my phones altogether. This meant I was not bothered by client calls at all and could actually relax.
Never Have to Listen to Voicemail Again
Not only does Google Voice provides you the ability to set a variety of voicemails easily, it will transcribe and send the voicemails right to your inbox or text messages. This is one of my favorite features of Google Voice and one that leaves many other phone providers in the dust.
Just like every client email I need to respond to, my Google Voice voicemails in my inbox are a reminder I have to get back to someone quickly. My regular voicemails tend to linger in some box somewhere, avoided and forgotten for days.
The same number for life
While you can change your phone number from provider to provider these days, having one number which you know will never change is helpful when establishing your business identity. You want the number you put on a business card today to be the one people can call when that card gets pulled out of a drawer after their friend gets engaged in three years.
When you get a new cell or home phone, just forward your Google Voice number to that new phone and “boom!” you’re still reachable as normal. Nothing changes for your business and potential clients can still connect with you.
No more having to redo business cards or wonder if you’ll be missing out on business if potential clients call the old number.
Get set up quickly
With just a few clicks, you have a free phone number you can put on your website. Set it to go to voicemail or ring your cell phone. Either way, you have a convenient way for your client to book you and you didn’t need to pay for an extra business line. Lower expenses mean more profit for you.
Respond when you want in your own way
Set Google Voice to go to voicemail and respond in your own way and your own time. Don’t be a slave to the phone, just be available so you’re not creating walls to working with clients.
No more client texts waking you up at 2am
It doesn’t matter when your clients text you now! Just set your Google Voice to stop forwarding those texts to you after 6pm and be done answering clients for the day. Get back to them tomorrow after great nights sleep.
Use a computer to respond instead of your phone
You can log into the Google Voice site on your computer or use the Google Voice extension in Chrome to text right from your browser (much quicker than typing on a phone). I use this all day long.
And if you have your Google account open, you can answer your phone from your computer. I often take calls this way so I can take notes while talking. It’s a better speakerphone than the one on my phone.
Have a local number for clients in another state or marketplace
Do you already work in two different states or markets? It’s easy to use Google Voice to have a local number in that area. Potential clients will see you as local although you might be a few time zones apart.
Transfer your calls to an assistant to answer
Whether you are there now or want to be in a year, having a dedicated Google Voice number will be helpful if you plan to have an offsite assistant to answer your emails and calls. When you are at that point, just direct the Google Voice number to their phone and they are now able to answer the calls as if they were sitting next to you in your home office! And there’s no change on the client end, no business cards or websites to update.
But what’s the catch?
As far as I know, in the US numbers are only available for the lower 48 states.
You have to make sure that you’re calling back in such a way that it shows your Google Voice number instead of your personal phone number.
There are two ways simple ways to do this:
1) If you’re on Sprint (which I stayed on Sprint for this very reason) you can use what they call Google Voice Integration. It means that my cell phone and Google Voice’s servers talk in a way that if I call you all you see is my Google Voice number. But if you call my Google Voice number OR my Sprint number, my cell phone will ring. It works pretty flawlessly.
This is great when I’m going on vacation. My family has my Sprint # and can call me anytime. My clients get my Google Voice number which has been turned off from ringing my phone when I’m out! Relaxation, here I come.
2) If you don’t have Sprint, you can download the Google Voice app on your cell (iOS or Android) and make calls using their app. It’s essentially a telephone app which will show your Google Voice Caller ID on the client’s phone. The app also lets you manage voicemails, texts, and has a “Do not disturb” button that lets you easily turn it on and off on your phone. It works just like your built in phone app (so just put them next to each other on your home screen and use the Google Voice app as needed).
Sign up for Google Voice now.
Andy Stenz is a wedding and couple’s photographer based in Wisconsin, and soon Hawaii. He also writes a blog about the best things to do and see in Hawaii. Follow him on Instagram (@andystenz). He’s an aspiring surfer and can be found out in the water when he’s not shooting sunsets or hanging out with his wife and dog. His Google Voice number is 262-649-1019.