With a traditional phone line, you can only call or receive calls from a specific location. That means anytime you’re not around, you’ll miss calls and risk losing clients.
But with the need for businesses to be always available, cloud-based business phone systems were developed to allow you to make calls from anywhere using virtual phone numbers. These days, you can extend your business’s reach and meet your customers’ needs almost immediately. While we all know what phone numbers are, what makes a number virtual, and how can you use it?
What is a Virtual Phone Number?
A virtual phone number is a telephone number that’s not tied to a specific phone line, device, or location. You can route and redirect calls from one device, IP address, or even phone number to another with this number.
Instead of a cell tower or phone company, these numbers rely on the internet for coverage, allowing your callers to reach you by phone, computer, or another internet-enabled device. Virtual phone numbers are available in different types depending on your business needs, including;
Numbers with distinct three-digit toll-free codes, and the caller is not charged. While the cost-saving on calls isn’t as much of a concern as before, they offer another advantage. Numbers with 800, 844, 855, 888, etc., code prefixes give your business the appearance of an established nationwide presence.
Local Phone Numbers.
A local phone number starts with an area code specifically for that city, state, or region. It shows your customers that you’re a part of that community.
Since people prefer supporting local businesses, obtaining a local number can be the ideal choice for advertising your business within the community. If you serve different regions or communities, consider getting a local number for each one of them. You’ll be able to connect with your clients and amplify your brand.
Custom Phone Numbers.
Also known as vanity phone numbers, these are numbers that contain a word, phrase, or a sequence of numbers that are easy to remember. Examples of popular custom phone numbers include 1800-GoFedEx, 1800-MATTRESS, and 1800-FLOWERS.
Vanity phone numbers are easy to remember and can be an ideal choice for TV ads, radio ads, and billboards. They can be either local or toll-free.
How Is a Virtual Phone Number Different From a Traditional Phone Line?
Traditional phone numbers are designed to work over a single phone line, physically connected from the phone company to your business premises through telephone wires.
In order to configure extensions, voicemail, call routing rules, and other features, you have to install a PBX phone system on your premises. When someone calls a traditional phone line, calls can only be sent to that specific location.
A virtual phone number, in contrast, eliminates these physical limitations that tie down phone numbers. By using VoIP, you allow your business more control and flexibility in how and where it receives calls.
Related: The Difference Between a Virtual Phone Number and a Physical One
What is VoIP?
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology that converts voice into digital signals, allowing you to make calls over the internet from a VoIP phone, computer, or any other data-driven device.
The same technology is used to make calls through WhatsApp, iMessage, and other messaging apps. Using existing broadband connections, VoIP allows you to make real-time calls.
With a VoIP phone system and a virtual number, you can make and receive calls from anywhere, provided you have a reliable internet connection.
Why Would You Want a Virtual Phone Number?
Now that we’ve seen what a virtual number is and how it works, why would you want one?
Apart from being modern technology, here are other benefits a virtual phone number can have on your small business.
Receive and Route Calls Anywhere
Without being tied to a specific device or physical location, you can make and receive calls from anywhere and on your preferred device—as long as you have an internet connection.
If you or one of your staff members is away but needs to be reachable on the phone without giving out their personal numbers, you can still reach them by assigning a virtual number to their phone.
Employees can also separate personal from business phones. In addition, you can assign business hours for the virtual number to receive calls or direct them to another person or voicemail outside of business hours.
Establish a Presence With Local Numbers
If your customer base is located somewhere else, you can use a local number with their area code. As mentioned above, a virtual phone number can help you establish a local presence in areas where you’re not physically located.
Being part of the community will help you reach local customers. You can also use it for local marketing campaigns and create a good customer relationship with your prospects.
Improve Flexibility and Enable Remote Working
Over 26% of the American workforce work remotely, and the numbers are expected to rise in the future.
If you have remote workers, lack of both flexibility and ease of communication are major drawbacks to business success. Employees need to communicate regularly, collaborate on projects, and provide clients with quality services.
With a virtual business number you can reach your remote workers and, even when you’re not in the office, they can reach you–without you giving out your personal number.
Integrate With Marketing and Advertising Campaigns
The numbers you choose can, of course, impact your marketing. Local numbers can be excellent for local marketing campaigns. Likewise, for tv ads, billboards, etc. where you need an easy-to-remember number, a custom number is the best option.
When running marketing campaigns, it’s essential to measure the success of your efforts. Virtual phone numbers can help you do this. Instead of channeling all calls through your business line, you can assign a specific virtual number to each campaign.
Many CRM systems allow you to do this so you can track key customer and campaign metrics through your virtual phone line. Using this tool, it’s easy to know when a call is coming in from a certain campaign by the number that was called.
To gauge the success of your efforts, review your call reports to see how many calls came in through the specific virtual number.
Improve Your Callers’ Satisfaction With Auto Attendants
Cloud phone services providers often include auto attendants in their features. An auto attendant directs your incoming calls to the right person or department, so that your customer’s call can be directed quicklty and efficiently.
Auto attendants help intelligently route your incoming calls to your team with options to reach support, sales, service, etc. For example, when a customer calls your virtual number to get help with tracking their dispatched order, the call will be transferred to an agent in the shipping department. Your customer only needs to talk to the person who can handle their issue.
Related: Local Number Vs. Toll-Free? Which is Best?
Are There Disadvantages to a Virtual Phone Number?
Although virtual phone numbers are becoming increasingly popular and the standard among business communications, there are a couple of drawbacks.
- Call Quality Depends on the Internet. VoIP relies on the internet to make calls. Thus, you need a strong internet connection to make quality calls. Otherwise, you’ll encounter inconsistent call reliability.
- You’re Always Available. As much as you want your clients to be able to reach you, work-life balance is equally essential. Virtual numbers affect that balance, as you’re always accessible. The ability to work and make calls from anywhere can cause burnout.
How Can You Mitigate These Disadvantages?
You can mitigate the risk of poor-quality calls simply by ensuring you have reliable internet. Talk to your internet provider to ensure your bandwidth can accommodate the calls.
To combat excessive always-on availability, use the features of VoIP to turn your connection off and forward the calls to other available agents to avoid overworking yourself or your staff.
This ensures your calls don’t go to voicemail, risking losing the customers calling, and you can get the time off. And if the calls still go to voicemail, the virtual phone system can transcribe the message and send it to you in the form of an email.
Get a Virtual Number and Experience Flexibility
A virtual business number means increased flexibility and the ability to control your calls anywhere, at any time. Whether you’re in the office, field, or taking some time off, your business can continue to grow while maintaining consistent communication and customer service.
At Phone.com, we make your business stand out with our business communication solutions. Whether you want to create a nationwide presence with a toll-free number or keep it local, we have millions of numbers to choose from. More than that, you’ll get video conferencing, text messaging, queues, voice tagging, unparalleled support, and more.
Sign up today and see your business communications transform into more than you imagined.