How to Set up a Virtual Phone System for Your Small Business

Remote worker on a mobile phone.

On-premise systems have dominated business communications for the longest time. In business, there are few unavoidable grudge buys. One of them is a telephone system. As a result, for smaller organizations, sophisticated call routing, and call control features have been out of scope.

Not only were telephony systems complicated and expensive, but they were also constrained to the company premises. As soon as users ventured out of their workplace, they are disconnected from the system, and they have to use their cellular minutes to communicate.

Thankfully, advances in technology and more acceptable pricing of virtual phone systems have introduced a new, cheaper way to implement a company phone service.

Gone are the days of buying expensive equipment, paying for installation and maintenance, and dreading the day when the system becomes obsolete. We can now do business on our existing cell phones as if it were a landline? You will be up and working with a professional phone system in less than a day with a virtual phone system.

What is a Virtual Phone System?

A virtual phone system is a cloud-based phone system that helps users to send and accept calls from anywhere on their desktop or mobile device. It offers versatility to companies and the consistency that conventional on-site PABX solutions are unable to provide without the associated costs. It doesn’t need any hardware since the service is provided over the internet with affordable plans and prices.

In reality, a virtual office phone system is a combination of various technologies such as VoIP for a telephone system, Cloud PBX for call routing and control, and other virtual communication tools brought together to offer a telephone system in the cloud.

Virtual phone networks are remote servers hosted by a service provider just as your website is hosted.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Phone Number for Business


Features Of the Virtual Phone System

While you can tailor-make your service to your needs, there are three broad service categories:

Call Forwarding

Entry-level systems are configured to forward a professional-sounding toll-free number to your cell phone and usually have the option to set up extensions for employees and departments.

Call Scheduling

It functions in two different ways. Your service provider can configure call forwarding to hit various numbers at other times of the day or forward via a number sequence before anyone responds. For companies with multiple workers, both work well, mainly if they spend a lot of time off-site or a shift system.

Interactive Call Greeting

They say you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Using a custom greeting in your virtual phone system is a great option.

As soon as the caller connects, they are greeted with a message that offers them choices based on their needs. That will begin the experience of each caller with your company professionally and significantly improve the customer experience.

You can also change the greeting as and when required – perhaps over the Festive Season or even alert the customer to any issues, you are experiencing at the time.

When Should you Think of a Virtual Phone System?

If your business needs a landline or toll-free number, then an interactive virtual phone system is ideal. These systems are designed for start-ups and small businesses, emphasizing ease of use, low costs, customizability, and flexibility.

Here are some considerations:

Do You Have a Distributed or Remote-Based Workforce?

A virtual phone system can become an invaluable asset as soon as workers operate from home or multiple branches. Each member of staff will have their own personal line.

It is possible to combine all workers under one phone number, but address calls on their mobile phones. That saves money and makes life convenient for clients and staff alike.

Do You Need to Work Out of the Office a Lot?

Being available on every web-connected computer from anywhere eliminates the need to be at a single workplace for all employees. The virtual phone system can also offer complete or partial opportunities for remote work to support both the company and its workers.

Do You Want to Contain Telephony Costs?

Companies having a remote workforce pick up another indirect benefit, which is savings in services and utilities. That should allow your company to publicize your carbon footprint reduction, which is a severe issue in today’s world.

How Does a Virtual Phone Service Work?

Few technologies are brought together to have a virtual phone system work. Although there may be some additional virtual communication elements for each virtual phone service, such as group messaging and video conferencing, the basic components are typically a virtual phone number, VoIP, and cloud PBX.

Let’s Talk VOIP

VOIP stands for voice-over-internet-protocol. Essentially, when a call is made, VOIP establishes a connection from the caller to another endpoint, also known as the receiver.

Voice information is broken down into small digital packets for transmission across the internet. It is then reverted to voice data when the voice data enters the receiver. That goes back and forth to execute voice telephone functions as long as the call is connected. Today, you can use practically any web-connected device.

What is a Virtual Phone Number?

virtual phone number is a telephone number that is not connected with a telephone line directly or physically. When a virtual phone number is allocated, the user can make VoIP calls from any device through the internet using that VoIP phone number.

That is not so with standard business telephone numbers that are connected to a physical telephone line.

Understanding PBX and PABX

In short, PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange, and PABX is for Private Automatic Branch Exchange. In the early days, a PBX was a room where switchboard operators could connect calls from one caller to another by clicking wires into slots manually to complete a call circuit.

When technology progressed, new improvements were added. With the introduction of electronic switching being one of these, automation and programming became a reality.

These three elements work together to create a telephone system for companies that allow customers to make calls from everywhere using official business phone numbers and redirect all incoming calls appropriately, wherever they are, to the right department or person.

Every Business Can Benefit From a Virtual Phone System

Let’s take a few minutes to look at a few more advanced business functions offered in many virtual phone systems.

Voicemail to Email

Customers are often unable to contact staff and need to leave a message, especially after business hours. Digital phone systems can forward attachments to a specified email address for voicemail or fax messages. That makes them easily accessible remotely via any mobile device or personal computer.

Ultimately, this leads to fast and successful follow-up. It also flawlessly connects multiple office locations and provides employees with the tools and flexibility needed to work remotely.

Automated Call Distribution

Every service-oriented organization, if not all businesses, need telephone support. We all know how frustrating it is to call a company and wait on hold or while you pass the call from one agent to the next.

A quality virtual phone system will offer Automated Call Delivery (ACD), a seamless service that allows callers to reach and speak to the correct agent quickly. Team members will receive calls in a preset sequence and share a mailbox where incoming calls are filtered. You can exchange progress reports and add follow-up feedback.

Calls can also be registered and saved to track customer service output.

Using Mobile and Personal Devices

We all have our preferences when it comes to the platforms we use for our day-to-day work. Some of us prefer to use our mobile phones, others tablets or laptops.

A quality virtual phone system is device agnostic. For simple accessibility, many virtual phone systems have a companion smartphone app such that your callers are not lost, and your staff never miss a beat.

Getting Started With Your Virtual Phone System

So you have decided that you want to move forward and set up your virtual phone system.

Choose a Reputable Service Provider

There are a lot of service providers out there. It would be best if you looked at a few factors when choosing a service provider.

Contact reference customers and ask for their opinion and experience.

Please make sure the service provider can provide their services at every location. Ask the service provider to detail the end to end service supply chain.

Be confident that your needs are understood and what you plan to do is known to the service provider. From start to finish, they should be able to manage the onboarding process for you.

The Technical Part of The Setup

Now that you have selected your service provider, there a few technical SEO activities that you need to understand have to be done.

Your Devices

You will need to make sure the devices and handsets you have, support SIP which is the protocol used to establish the required connection. There are two stages to the call, the connection and then the data transfer.

Make sure the devices you wish to use support both. It is not enough to assume that it will work with the virtual phone system because your mobile phone has a data connection.

Choose a Number

Unfortunately, not all numbers are charged at the same rate; just like a catchy domain name, easy to remember numbers come at a premium that you should have covered when selecting which service provider to use.

Many service providers refer to this number as the inbound element. Some offer more than one depending on the package you selected. It is important to note that outbound calls will display the caller ID you have linked to the extensions, sometimes referred to as the user number.

Setting Up the Extensions

Now that you know the inbound numbers, it is time to link those to a user or, more specifically, a SIP device. A quality service provider will give you access to a graphical user interface to set up user extensions.

You can choose to have all the outbound calls linked to one number, or if you have more than one inbound number, you can link users to different numbers. Maybe salespeople would like their own number, and operation another number.

Custom Greeting

You will want your users to have ease of use and your customers to have the best experience when contacting you using your virtual phone system. The voice greeting is vital from a quality and content perspective.

Consider having a professional voice over artist and scriptwriter complete this for you.

Conferencing Services

It may be necessary to call a colleague or manager to join a call from time to time. You can set up these conferencing systems at the user level. Not all users will be able to set up a conference call.

Speed Dialling

Speed dialing is a handy feature offered by quality service providers. You can also set up speed codes to make outbound calls, transfer calls to another extension, and escalate to team leaders.

Training Your Users

A virtual phone system is much the same as a traditional on-premise system with some nuances. Users will be using their own mobile devices in many cases and will need to learn how to use the app on their phones, tablets, and laptops.

Many of the interfaces are browser-based and easy to use. Nonetheless, some training will be required.

Answer Those Calls

Not every new organization wants an integrated telecommunications infrastructure from day one. A virtual phone system is a flexible, low-cost technology that will provide the organization with the competent communications resources it wants while you’re still getting going.

There has been a change in the ways we work in the new world we find ourselves in. Even when everyone returns to the daily office routine, you won’t really want to go back to the traditional phone system. A virtual phone system’s advantage is that you can receive calls from anywhere using only your laptop and mobile device—no need for expensive office infrastructure.

Ready to enjoy the best virtual phone system solution for your growing business? Contact us to sign up for a demo!


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