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How does a virtual phone number work?

How does a virtual phone number work

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It may be hard to wrap your head around a virtual phone number. After all, we as communication consumers are used to products and services that are fixed. We know a regular phone number, whether it’s a mobile phone, landline, or VoIP, goes to a specific phone. It’s issued by a specific company and we pay the company to use that number.

Virtual phone numbers are nothing like that.

A virtual phone number is one that a computer assigns you through a third party. It isn’t attached to a specific phone or phone company. It can even be free. A virtual phone number is the telecommunications version of a ghost. It can float around from phone to phone to be used as needed without any serious structure, company, or assignment.

A virtual number can be used for business or personal use. They come with a variety of features that make it easier to build your brand by improving your customer experience.

Explaining Virtual Phone Numbers

Virtual phone numbers function using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). This is a technology that has been used for other things for years including text messages, instant messaging, phone calls over your computer, and communicating through different apps like WhatsApp or iMessage.

A virtual phone number works, for the most part, the same as those other applications but with a phone number assigned. A virtual phone number doesn’t have a SIM card like your cell phone nor does it have a physical address like your landline. It exists over your computer network.

A virtual phone number can work over any internet connection and that makes it highly versatile. It can be used over Wi-Fi or cellular phones that are either LTE or 5G through a mobile app to enable voice and text communications. It can be connected to almost any communication device, including older telephones that are associated with landlines.

Virtual phone numbers can be used by anyone sharing the cloud PBX so employees don’t have to be in the building to make and receive calls through the phone number. Since it is operated over a VoIP system, phone calls can be made anywhere in the world without additional charges. That makes a virtual phone number unique from both landline and cell phone numbers which are tied to a carrier that charges for global calls.

Using a Virtual Phone Number for Personal Use

A virtual phone number can be used by individuals and could offer several benefits for personal use. It offers more security and safety than using a landline or a cell phone number because it isn’t tied to a specific location or phone. Those who use it for personal use can forward calls to their unpublished cell phone or landlines they already own so their privacy is protected from callers using the publicized virtual lines.

This makes it easier for private individuals to do business or handle other matters where they don’t want their personal information or private phone numbers disclosed.

Using Virtual Phone Numbers for Business

Businesses, whether a startup, small businesses, or large companies, would see enormous advantages in using a virtual number in addition to their already publicized landlines. Some of the benefits are listed below.

It gives centralized phone-call access to all employees

Communication among employees has always been a challenge for many businesses, both large and small. Calls can be misrouted to a different employee and end up in the wrong voicemail, which can cause issues in sales, with suppliers, and others.

A virtual phone number would catch all those calls and allow for extensions. All employees would have access to the number and messages no matter where they were. They could be in the office, on the road, out of the country, or at home and still be able to make and receive calls along with messages through the company’s virtual phone number.

This is an enormous help to companies who are now employing many remote workers because the one phone number indicates to customers the remote worker is legitimate and working for the company. It provides a professional image for the remote worker and the company. Plus, the customer will never know the worker is working from home because the only number they see is the corporate number.

A virtual phone number protects employee privacy

A virtual phone number can forward calls to any device, including cell phones. That means employees can pick up a call from their cell phones without disclosing their private mobile numbers or where they are.

This protects the privacy of every employee because they will no longer be forced to hand out their cell phone numbers to potential customers, in essence publicizing a private number. Their locations won’t be disclosed, and that means would-be thieves or scammers wouldn’t know when they are on the road or out of the country. That offers some protection to their families and property.

A virtual phone number offers company consistency

One of the best benefits of having a virtual phone number is consistency. It’s one number that people can remember to reach anyone at your company.

There are some small businesses and startups that have an array of phone numbers because they haven’t had the money to invest in a centralized system. The result is a hodge-podge of cell phone numbers and a landline. That can be confusing and aggravating to both customers and would-be customers.

A virtual phone number that connects customers to the right staff member, whether they are in or out of the office, presents a consistent, organized professional image. That will net you more customers.

A virtual phone number helps with branding

A huge benefit of getting a virtual phone number for your business is branding. You, or your employees, may not feel comfortable using cell phone numbers in a marketing campaign. Your landline works great but you want something more memorable for marketing.

This is where a virtual phone number works well. With a virtual phone number, you can pick one that is memorable for your company that works well with your marketing campaign and advertising. Having one consistent number for your entire business is one way to build your brand.

It gives your business legitimacy

One number that is heavily advertised shows potential customers that you are a legitimate business.

It is the best way to go for startups who don’t yet have an in-house phone number. A virtual phone number can be gotten quickly, and cost-effectively while allowing you to provide customers with a professional contact number even though you don’t have a line in the office and are operating off personal cell phones.

When people call, they’ll be greeted by a friendly voice or a professional greeting which leaves the impression that they’re calling a real company. It’s good for suppliers too because they can all have a professional number to call rather than trying to reach you on your cell after hours.

A virtual phone number builds trust between you and potential customers, suppliers, and vendors. They will feel more comfortable doing business with someone whose name, location, and phone number are familiar.

When used correctly, this tool can be extremely beneficial for getting leads, increasing signups, or even closing deals faster than ever before!

It offers a better customer experience

No customers want a hassle when it comes to dealing with a company. They want to have a phone number handy, be able to call it, and reach the person they need. Having a virtual phone number can improve the customer experience.

The virtual phone number can be tied to a receptionist on a landline in your office who greets all callers with a friendly tone and can direct them to the right person. It can also be directed to a particular employee’s cell phone if they want direct access to customers. Giving customers direct access with immediate responses can build a customer’s experience.

Employees who are out of the office can respond more directly to customers’ needs. Calls can be directed automatically to an employee’s backup partner if they are on vacation so the customer isn’t searching for someone to.

Suppliers and other vendors can be directed automatically to the right person too, making for a more streamlined logistics operation.

One of the best ways to use a virtual phone number is for after-hours customer service. A virtual number can ring the employees on call, even if they are in a call center or working remotely from home. It is completely streamlined where customers or suppliers are immediately helped without knowing that customer service isn’t at the corporate office.

The result is positive feedback from customers, suppliers, and vendors about your company’s quick response time and customer service.

A virtual number is good for expansion

People like local businesses and nothing shows that you’re a local business than a phone number with a local area code. The problem is many businesses want to expand to different cities but remain headquartered in one city. They can’t afford to build offices in all the cities from the start until they get enough customers there to warrant it.

This is where virtual numbers are useful. You can get a virtual number with the area code in the city you’re expanding into. That helps you build your presence and solidify your branding in the new city or town. You can gain customers there and start doing work there to build your reputation.

Customers, suppliers, and vendors call your virtual phone number which is a local number to them with ease. They get the person they are accustomed to talking to and you are expanding your business without expanding your cost.

A virtual phone number is good for emergencies

One unique aspect of a virtual phone number is that it is more reliable than landlines or cell phones. The VoIP system is designed to have a backup access line if a storm or other calamity shuts down a main line. That means your calls will be automatically redirected to the backup access.

Virtual numbers can be tied to any type of telephony device so you can have them go to cell phones if landlines are down or landlines phones if cell phones don’t work. You can easily tie an old-fashioned landline telephone directly into the VoIP router for instant communication if the landlines are down.

This ensures that you will always have communications up and running without any downtime.

A virtual phone number saves money.

Businesses could end up paying a lot of money for communications with landlines, cell phones, extensions, added features, multiple lines, and video conferencing. A VoIP system using a virtual phone number can give you all of that at less cost.

A virtual phone number eliminates the need for long-distance or global call costs, additional costs for 800-help numbers, and separate numbers for different departments like sales or customer service. You can have a streamlined process where all your employees can access their messages, make and receive calls, and handle multiple lines without missing a beat.

A Look at the Types of Virtual Phone Numbers

Virtual phone numbers come in several types. Unlike landlines and cell phone numbers, you can choose the type of virtual phone number you need for your business. You can even choose the exact number to suit your branding.

Below are the types of virtual phone numbers available.

Vanity Numbers

Vanity numbers are some of the most popular virtual phone numbers given to businesses. These are easy to remember and are perfect for branding. The number can contain the name of the business or a word or catchphrase people will remember. Numbers like 1-800-CONTACTS or 1-800-FLOWERS are two examples of vanity phone numbers that everyone is familiar with.

Other types of vanity numbers include repeated numbers. Food delivery and taxi companies love to use repeated digits in their phone numbers. This has proved successful because For instance, the food chain Pizza Pizza loved their phone number of 967-1111 so much they trademarked it.

Toll-free Numbers

Toll-free numbers allow customers and others to call your business as free calls, even if they are calling long-distance. These numbers start with numbers like 888, 800, and 866. A toll-free number is a perfect solution for a company with a nationwide presence and distribution because it allows customers to call customer service about products or services.

Local Phone Numbers

Virtual phone numbers can be local phone numbers used for your business even if you are located outside the area. This can help build your business in a town before you physically locate there.

International Numbers

An international virtual phone number can help organizations, including both corporations and non-profits, who have a worldwide presence. These look and function like local virtual phone numbers in that the number is one from the country where you are seeking a presence. Having an international number allows those in your organization to both make and receive calls internationally while building a presence in foreign countries.

What if I like my current number?

Those who already have a phone number they like and have marketed don’t have to give it up to get into a virtual phone number system. You can move your current phone number into a virtual phone system and use it as your virtual phone number. You can also add numbers or select new virtual numbers later if you expand the company.

A Wealth of Virtual Phone Number Features

Virtual phone numbers have a ton of features that make old telephone business systems obsolete. Below is a list of features.

Hides Caller ID for Personal Phones

One of the best features of a virtual phone number is that it doesn’t display the personal numbers of cell phones or landline phones when employees make calls with the virtual number. That means salespeople on the go or remote workers can call clients or customers from anywhere and only the virtual number of your business is displayed.

Auto Attendants

Auto attendants make sure all callers can reach the right department. An auto attendant greets callers and gives them a choice of who to speak with to address their needs. That can include talking to customer support or ringing you personally.

Auto attendants can also route numbers to someone else covering your desk or to another department.

Better Voicemail

Virtual phone numbers give you voicemail that functions much better than other types of similar products. Virtual services send all voice mails to your email so you can glance through them and select the ones you want to answer first. The voicemail is transcribed in the email so you don’t have to listen to the whole message but can easily scan it for important information.

Real-time Monitoring of Calls

Virtual phone systems with virtual phone numbers allow managers and CEOs to monitor all calls coming into the system in real-time. This tells you who is using the system and the time spent on each call. This helps you gauge how to better use communications for optimal effectiveness.

Set Your Office Times

A virtual phone number through a VoIP provider allows you to pick the business hours you want the virtual phone number to take inbound calls and when you want to have calls automatically diverted to an after-hours voicemail. This ensures that employees are not contacted when they aren’t on the clock.

Set Who Gets to Use a Virtual Phone Number

Virtual phone numbers are incredibly versatile because you can allow who has access to the virtual phone number. You can also get other virtual phone numbers that are similar to the main number for some employees who get a lot of calls. There are multiple options for those using virtual phone numbers.

Switching, adding, or creating new numbers is an easy task with virtual phone numbers. There aren’t any penalties for making changes either, although VoIP companies may have different policies about changes.

Enjoy Savings With No Long-Term Contracts

One of the best things about having a virtual number is that you don’t have to commit to a long-term contract. With a virtual number, you can cancel your service at any time. You can set up a virtual number, then decide if you want to keep it or not.

If you do decide to keep it, the good news is that there are no contracts and no minimum-term commitments. You can make changes at any point according to your needs, whether it’s changing cities to target, adding more employees, creating a remote team, or cutting back on staff.

Virtual Numbers Streamline Your Communication

Virtual phone numbers are good for businesses of all types, even though it tends to be used mostly by startups. Small and mid-size companies can add them as they promote their sales staff or add remote workers.

Using a virtual number can eliminate the need for a funding complete call center because you can use remote workers instead. That can cut costs significantly for growing companies.

Companies based in the US that operates internationally will find that virtual numbers are an ideal solution. They allow customers in other countries to call your number without worrying about international rates or roaming charges. You can also set up multiple virtual numbers on one account so you don’t have to pay more than one monthly fee!

The benefits of using a virtual phone number are so valuable to businesses. Getting a virtual phone number is easy and transferring your system to a VoIP system is simple. Your business won’t suffer during installation and you’ll find that this type of system will streamline all of your communication. That gives you a professional image to all those you and your employee contact about business.

And if all this sounds good but you’re still not sure whether virtual numbers are right for your business, we’d love to chat with you about it. We offer free trials so there’s no risk involved when trying out our services and finding out what they can do for your business!

Amruth Laxman
About the Author

Amruth Laxman

25+ years of telecom experience, specializing in high availability software and systems, I’ve seen the transformative impact they have on businesses. As the founding partner of 4Voice, I deliver customized, reliable phone solutions and can’t wait to share my insights with you in this blog.

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