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Virtual phones are becoming commonplace, but not everyone has gotten on board. As more people look for digital communication tools, legacy phone systems are no longer doing the job. Not only are they costly, but traditional business landlines just can't keep up with the growing demand for agile, scalable solutions.
Fortunately, there is a better way to handle business communications, no matter the size of your company. From budding startups to longstanding enterprise corporations, virtual phone services abound, ready and waiting to customize a solution to suit your needs. But what is a virtual phone number, and how does it work?
Here's what you need to know.
What is a Virtual Phone Number?
A virtual phone number is simply a number that is not tied to a physical location or landline. These numbers can make and receive calls on all phones, including softphones (virtual phone platforms), smartphones, and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) desk phones. These numbers make your business accessible to customers all over the world.
Plus, customers can't tell whether you're using a virtual phone or a standard landline number, and many providers even let you keep your existing local, toll-free, or vanity number when you choose their service. Speaking of which, that brings us to the three main types of virtual phone numbers:
- Local numbers: Phone numbers local to a specific city or geographic region.
- Vanity numbers: These numbers are often used for easy identification and advertising, such as 1-800-CONTACTS or 1-800-HURT-NOW, and are worth purchasing and porting into your virtual phone service if you want to stand out.
- Toll-free numbers typically start with 800, 866, etc., and allow anyone to call from anywhere in the world without fees or tolls.
What are the Benefits?
There is no shortage of benefits when you invest in a virtual phone number for your business. For starters, you can take calls from anywhere, as long as you've access to your software platform, either through the desktop site, mobile site, or an app for your iOS or Android device. You can also ensure that someone's always there to answer the call and that no more clients are getting sent to voicemail because one person is out of the office.
Of course, there will always be a place for voicemail, another benefit of virtual phone numbers. Most come with a modern voicemail system that lets you set custom greetings, transcribe messages to email, and more.
Many VoIP providers also include auto attendants to assist with call routing, which has improved caller satisfaction significantly compared to waiting on hold or having to talk to five different people to get to the one person they need. It makes it easy for your employees to separate business from personal matters when you're dealing with remote workers supplying their phones, too.
And finally, this is a great way to eliminate all those additional fees and expensive charges. With virtual phone systems and numbers, you can have local numbers in multiple locations or just use a toll-free number that won't cost your customers anything.
What's the Difference Between Traditional and Virtual Phone Numbers?
The biggest difference between these two options is that a traditional phone number is issued by a local telephone company based on the location of the business. Mobile phones are usually also issued this way—the provider will inquire about the area code you prefer and then give you a number based on that information. Telephone numbers require telephone lines and hardwired desk handsets—the costs can increase quickly.
Virtual phone numbers are not issued by the phone company but by virtual providers. They aren't connected to a physical location, either. Most are cloud-based and can be answered or dialed out anywhere. You can choose who gets these calls during certain times based on staffing, call volumes, etc.
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How Do Virtual Phone Numbers for Business Work?
Now that we've explained the basics and gone over the benefits of using virtual phone numbers, you're probably wondering exactly how they will work for your business. These numbers don't require a physical address or SIM card. They accept and make all calls through the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.
Your phone calls are turned into digital connections, and you can reach people across traditional phone lines and Internet connections. It's the technology you see with calling features in Google Voice, WhatsApp, iMessage, and others. This technology can even work on WiFi and 4G connections, making it great for smart devices.
You simply make the call through the virtual phone app, and then you can have a conversation just as you would over a traditional landline. However, virtual calling offers more privacy, affordability, flexibility, and scalability than the "traditional" way of making calls.
Where Do I Get a Virtual Phone Number?
It's not difficult to find a virtual phone number or a service provider that you can use to port in your existing number. A simple Google search will result in more than a dozen VoIP and virtual phone service providers, including several Google Voice alternatives for those who want something more dynamic and customizable.
Determine whether you want a local area code, a toll-free number, or if you'll port in the number(s) you already have for your business. If you choose to port, you'll want to ensure that's an option with your VoIP provider. Then, compare the plans, other features, and pricing options to see what best fits your needs.
The Bottom Line
Keeping up with technology is necessary if you're trying to stay ahead of the competition. A virtual phone number and a dedicated virtual phone platform will make all the difference. If you're considering adding an SMS marketing strategy to your new digital technology, ask how Esendex can help.
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