The toughest part of having a service like Google Voice is figuring out the best way to use it. I've finally settled on a plan and after a few weeks it appears to be working for me.
Instead of having it ring a variety of phones, I send all incoming calls to my cell phone. My cell is always with me, and besides I share my home phone and don't want to have it answered professionally.
I can hand out my number freely. If ever there should be someone I regret giving my number to, it is a simple matter to flag them in GV's settings so they always are sent to voice mail.
I see that as a great boon for many professionals. When our dog had a minor procedure recently, he was in great pain his first night home. Our vet gave me her cell phone number and we did call her a time or two that night. Now, I'll never again use her number without permission, but what if we were the kind of people who would call her at two AM because our dog sneezed? If she handed out a GV number, she could channel all patients to voice mail except for the ones she expects might have complications because of surgery that day. Any messages left will be transcribed and texted to her so she can choose who to call back.
I keep my most active customers in my GV Contacts list with Cust- appended to their name. I have bookmarked the GV Mobile page with that search for "Cust-" so I an display all my customers in one screen and easily call them when out, if need be.
My GV phone number is now on my business card, and my email signature (both work and personal). I've changed my office voice mail to encourage people to call it. I tell everyone it is my mobile number.
On a recent trip to the home office, I was able to keep in contact with customers as well as I could at my office. The best part, I was telling my boss about GV when my phone rang, with a customer who'd called my GV number.
I have been using Chad Smith's excellent Google Voice add-on for Firefox. It turns any phone number into a link that when clicked, dials through GV. So to make outgoing calls to customers I just click their phone number in my web based CRM system. Those outgoing calls go through my Gizmo5 softphone. I recently bought a good pair of padded headphones, so it is comfortable sitting and making calls. Online demos, Webex's are a breeze; the headphones leave my hands free to type.
Back in February, after unceremoniously dropping my smart phone in water, I worried about how long it took my cell phone company to replace it. Even a day, as it was for me, was too long if I had customers trained to call that number. GV avoids that issue. If my phone goes swimming again, I simply confiscate my son's phone for a day (Hey-I pay for it!), and change the routing at Google Voice setup to send calls to his phone. If he's quick on his feet and gets out of the house with his phone, then to my soft phone on my PC.