When you want to be a remote control warrior and run your business from halfway across the world, proper call routing is of the utmost importance. Simply using a voicemail transcription service or having a virtual assistant check and deal with emails is amateur level, you can get very detailed with a couple of low cost tools and the right setup.
Several cell phone providers offer conditional forwarding. Generally all calls get forwarded to voicemail if you don't pick up but with conditional forwarding you can get specific and have calls forward to different numbers if you are out of reach, ignore a call, or simply don't answer. The three services I use in conjunction are Google Voice, TrapCall, and Skype. As with any good compound the ingredients are usually simple and readily available on their own but the method of combination is what makes them so powerful. Just as all roads lead to Rome in the end all calls lead to Google Voice. With Google Voice it has all of my contacts and knows who left a message, not just what number called. Voicemails are transcribed (badly but good enough for now) which means I can archive them, follow up with them using FollowUp.cc or forward them to my virtual assistant to deal with as needed. I can even block calls from telemarketers to eliminate distractions. So here's where it gets fun...I have an iPhone, which I love, but AT&T's service is notoriously...notorious, so when I am unavailable and there is no cell service, calls are forwarded to Skype. If I am at a computer, it will ring through there, if I'm in on my mobile but have no cell service, I usually will have wifi. Now that Skype can run in the background the call will come through regardless, then if I don't answer the call goes to Google Voice as usual. TrapCall is a sneaky service that I use almost daily. I set it up my phone to forward calls to TrapCall if I ignore a call (on the iphone this means declining it or hitting the power button twice). The magic of TrapCall is that it will unmask blocked calls. Not all blocked calls are telemarketers, my friend who is a doctor has a blocked number so patients don't call him at home. So when a blocked call comes in, I ignore it, it goes to TrapCall, and then right back to me with the actual number. Again, if I don't answer, the call goes to Google Voice.
Making It Stick
Obviously the goal sometimes is to be completely out of reach, which is fine, but when you are reachable, you should do it in the most efficient way possible and simply using voicemail is not enough. When it comes to phone calls you phone can be your guardian, secretary, and bloodhound all in one.
1) Use Google Voice as your main voicemail service
2) Use TrapCall as the forwarding number for ignored calls to unmask any blocked numbers
3) Use Skype as the forwarding number when you are unreachable due to poor cell service or to avoid international roaming charges