Even though it is 2020 and there are many ways for businesses and customers to communicate, the phone remains an essential channel. You’ve probably put a lot of thought into the name of your business and your website URL, but what about your phone number? Like your name and web address, it is part of your brand’s identity.
This post covers your options and provides some advice for picking the best phone number for your business.
Types of Business Phone Numbers
Whether you want to get a new business phone number or replace an old one, you’ll start by deciding which type of number you want. Here are the various types to choose from.
Local Phone Number
A local phone number starts with the area code for the city or area where you are located. If you are signing up for new phone services, local numbers are usually included at no additional charge. You might, however, pay a fee if you want an easy to remember number like (555) 705-5555. These are called “Premium” local numbers.
There is no difference between a local phone number for an individual and a phone number for a business in terms of setup.
Toll-Free Phone Number
Another option is to opt for toll-free number. A toll-free number is not tied to a particular location. In the United States of America, Canada, and other countries participating in the North American Numbering Plan, a toll-free telephone number has one of the area codes 800, 833, 844, 855, 866, 877, and 888. All toll-free number prefixes are regulated and function the same way as the original 800 number prefix released in 1963. Although often referred to as prefixes, technically these 3-digit numbers are area codes as part of the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). There are no long-distance charges for callers, regardless of where they call from.
Although most people don’t pay per minute for long-distance calls anymore, the benefit of a toll-free number is that it makes your business appear larger and more sophisticated. They are also easy to remember.
If your business operates across the country or internationally, a toll-free phone number is an excellent choice.
Vanity Phone Number
A vanity phone number is a toll-free or local number that also spells a word. This makes it easy for customers to remember your phone number without memorizing it. Good examples are 1-800-GOT-JUNK and 1-800-FLOWERS. Vanity numbers make the business phone number an integral part of the company’s branding and marketing efforts.
There is a fee to acquire a vanity number, but making it easy for your customers to remember and reach your business is well worth the investment. If your business name isn’t available, think creatively or try one of the newer toll-free area codes. (Here’s a number picker you can use to see what’s available.)
Virtual Phone Numbers
A virtual number is a phone service that forwards calls to a different number or voicemail service. Virtual numbers can be local, toll-free, or vanity.
This is handy if you want to give your customers a business number to call instead of your personal phone number. Yet, you can still get both personal and business calls on the same phone.
With plans from $9.99 a month, this is an affordable solution for your company.
Now that you understand the options when getting a business phone number, let’s talk about the kinds of phone lines.
Separate Line vs VOIP
Your next decision is whether you want a traditional phone line or want to go with voice over IP.
Let’s look at both.
If you have a home-based business that already has a phone line, you might want to add a separate line for business calls.
All you then need to do is contact your phone provider and ask them to run a new line. There is usually a setup fee for this. After that, you will just pay for the new line on your monthly bill.
The downside is that your business number is physically tied to your home or office location.
If your business depends on mobility, you might get a secondary cell phone that is for business use. The con to this is having to juggle and keep two phones on you. Also, this can get very expensive, especially with smartphones.
Your other option is to use your internet instead of a phone line. Voice over IP is often less expensive than a traditional landline. It is also more customizable to suit your needs.
VoIP can be used both for physical phones on your office desk but also can be used on smartphones through an installed app. That way, even when you are not in the office, you can take and place calls from your work phone.
You can also have multiple lines if needed.
The last thing to think about when getting a business phone number is to choose whether or not you want extensions.
Additional extensions are a great way to automatically direct customers to the right department, team, or person while still calling the same central phone number.
With business extensions, your customers can easily reach the right person quickly.
Porting Phone Numbers
If you already have a business phone number that you love, but you want to get all the advantages of VoIP, you’re in luck. You can port your old number to your new VoIP service. It takes a little while for the old carrier to complete the process, so you’ll receive a temporary VoIP number to use while you wait. You can simply forward your old number to the new one temporarily.
You will need to prove that you are the legitimate owner of the old number, so expect a bit of paperwork.
Enjoy Your New Business Phone Number
There you have it! A detailed guide on how to switch from your old phone numbers to new ones for your business.
Remember, your business phone number can make an impression on your customers. You want to ensure that you convey professionalism without overpaying.
Are you looking for ways to improve your communications? Request a free demo to learn how phone.com products and services can help your business.