I am new to Odesk and not getting much help at all from Customer service, so I thought I would try this forum. What I am looking to do is have someone answer general phone calls for me but the caveat is I would like to use the existing business number which I've had for years. Can someone help me understand if this is possible and if so, what do I need to do in advance of posting a job in order that we are propertly prepared? So, for example, is it possible if I hire someone across the country to answer phone calls from our existing phone number? I imagine there is some sort of forwarding that can be done, but again, no one in customer service knew how to direct me.
Thank you in advance,
With respect, you're asking customer service for advice not on how to make the website work for you, but about the logistics of the actual job you want to create. Why should customer service help you with how someone can answer your phones for you? Would I expect them to help me with the best version of Word to use for my copy-editing and proofing service? Would a graphics artist ask them which file format it's best to save in, and how many vector layers to use (I just made that one up, so I hope it sounds real..)?
By all means ask here on the forum, but please don't expect customer service to advise you.
(and be assured I'm no poster boy for customer service on here - quite the opposite - I just know they don't seem to be able to handle things to do with actually running the site properly, and I haven't been shy about saying it).
Paige, I agree with what Stephen says here... that "Customer Support" is not the right place to ask that type of question.
Customer Support is routinely sending people to this Community discussion forum to ask questions that ARE directly related to their role. There are only a very small number of question types that Customer Support is able to answer and help with which we can't handle here (mainly changes to back-end account settings). In most cases, people are getting better, faster answers to their questions by searching for information in Customer Support files and Forum threads, and then asking questions here if they can't find the information or advice they need.
Anyway.... the answer you're looking for is Google Voice.
It's free and easy to use and is used by many people in your situation.
You also may want to combine Google Voice with MagicJack, which you purchase at RadioShack or Fry's Electronics or online and send to your Virtual Assistants wherever they are, overseas or in your own country. There's the tried-and-true extremly low-cost solution to your problem right there.
If you hire a steady virtual assistant overseas, you can buy a MagicJack device, configure the phone number to a U.S. phone number, set up Google Voice to forward to that number, and then send the MagicJack to your assistant who will answer calls via MagicJack device on a regular phone.
But you don't necessarily need MagicJack at all, depending on exactly how you set this up and who you hire to answer calls. You might use Google Voice only.
You can use Google Voice to create an entirely new phone number, or use an existing number. Search web for "Port your number into Google Voice".
(But keep in mind that although I'm offering advice based on my experience, I'm not an expert.)
I would suggest Skype over Google if you are going to forward calls as you can set up Skype with your phone number for call returns. Although I like Google Voice better for voicemail as you can download the calls which you can't do with Skype.
But if you are going to use an existing number and you prefer to keep that number I would suggest using Skype as you can set your number as the return number on it.
I definitely recommend paying attention to Suzanne's advice. I'm sure she has more first-hand experience with doing this sort of thing than I do. (I'm not really a phone person.) I believe that Google Voice can accomplish what you want to do, but maybe it is far better to do so with Skype.
If you don't have the time or patience to research the available resources and set something up, you could always hire three different phone forwarding/answering service systems experts to work up plans for you.
I imagine you should be able to get good plans proposed to you, or even just talk to people via Skype/phone on a consultative basis without having them set up the systems or write formal plans, for no more than $100 for a fixed rate project, or two to three hours of their time.
If you hire and pay three people to do exactly the same job, you can keep the best solution and throw away the other two. Or combine the best elements of each.
PM, I agree with SB and PH, that oDesk " 'Customer Support' is not the right place to ask that type of question."
Due to oDesk Community guidelines, other than publicly known, widely used apps like Google Voice, Skype, and others, I do not believe I am permitted to provide a specific list of suggested solutions e.g., online services, software, and sources.
Note: Professionally, although I do use Google Voice and Skype on a daily basis, I do not use or suggest either of them for a solution for the type of request described in this thread's original post.
When considering solutions of the requested type for integration into a website, there are readily available plugins, extensions, and other add-ins that are platform dependent. That is, dependent upon the Web host platform (e.g., Microsoft Windows Server, Unix, Linux, etc.) and application(s), (e.g., .NET, standalone PHP, PHP / WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Plone -- a seemingly endless list).
Gather information as needed starting with Google Search for: phone answering service software ... Perform subsequent searches for platform / application specific use. Solutions for standalone services can easily be found using Google Search for: phone answering services
Job Description - Using Google Search results as the baseline for your research should provide enough information to formulate a meaningful job description.
"Houston, we have a problem...." Newcomer [noob], "Dino" [PM] is apparently in need of assistance.
Utcursch "Houston, we have a problem." Wiktionary, 29 Oct. 2014. Web. 05 Jan. 2015. http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Houston,_we_have_a_problem
Edited 01/09/2015 RT/lwm