How to Get a Virtual Phone Number and How It is Different from a Standard Phone Number?
In this blog post, we will look at how to set up a virtual phone number and how VoIP technology can help you tailor your communications, improving customer satisfaction, and supporting your business’s growth.
10 min read
Apr 23, 2021
As a business owner, finding new technologies that make your day-to-day operations more efficient and productive is great. Virtual phone numbers are a great example of this, as they provide a communication channel for modern businesses to stay connected to their customers that is versatile and highly scalable.
The invention of softphone systems and mobile apps has opened up new realms of flexibility for businesses, and as you can use virtual phone numbers on any existing device, they are perfect for international business and remote working. Along with providing flexibility, virtual phone numbers are easy to use, cost-effective, and come with a range of features and benefits.
What Is a VoIP Number?
Virtual phone numbers are designed to do the exact same task as regular phone numbers, which is to provide a communication channel for your customers to reach you and for you to reach your customers; the main difference between the two types of numbers is how they are transmitted.
Standard phone numbers are provided and managed by a local telephone company, with the phone number running through a phone line for landlines or a cellular tower for mobile phones. Whereas a virtual phone number does not rely on a phone line to make calls, it instead makes and receives phone calls over the Internet. Despite using the Internet to make calls, a virtual phone line still comes with a phone number in the same format as a standard phone number, meaning your callers would have no way of telling the difference between a standard and virtual phone number.
Difference Between VoIP Numbers and Standard Numbers
While both VoIP numbers and standard numbers are designed with the same end goal, they differ from each other in terms of flexibility, scalability, and access to features. Here are six key differences between virtual and standard phone numbers.
One of the most significant benefits of a virtual phone number is its flexibility. Unlike standard phone numbers where you would need to pay for a physical site for a landline number or purchase a sim card for a mobile number, both of which would face international phone charges, virtual phone numbers can be set up in international markets with ease. Suppose your office is in a different country from your target customer base; by setting up a virtual phone number, you can set up a localized number in your desired location at no additional cost, enabling you to operate and grow your business cross country and internationally.
No Need For Specific Equipment
Unlike physical phone numbers, virtual phone numbers do not require specific hardware. As they are run through the internet and via mobile apps, virtual phone numbers can instead be used on your current computer, mobile phone, or tablet. The ability to work on any communication device with access to the internet means that you will never miss an important client call again.
Virtual phone numbers are a cost-effective solution for business; not only are they easy to connect with no costly installations, but they can be used with any modern communications device, saving you money on purchasing additional hardware. Along with saving money on the installation, VoIP systems have the option for toll-free numbers and localized direct inward dialing (DID), which means that customers are able to call from anywhere in the world without facing expensive international chargers.
Packed with Features
Virtual phone numbers come with VoIP phone systems that have a range of features that are designed to help businesses run seamlessly; while you can often still get them on using standard phone numbers on softphone systems, they will usually come at an additional cost. Some of the features you can expect to see standard with a VoIP system are multi-line calling, caller ID, call waiting, call forwarding, call recording, and call transfers, as well as having hold music, remote access to voicemail, and the ability to set up an IVR menu.
VoIP features are not limited to simply making and receiving calls; it has additional communication features such as the ability to produce AI-based transcripts. AI-based transcripts improve efficiency by catching every detail of your conversations, saving time having to write up notes after meetings, and making the information easily accessible to your colleagues.
Access to Metrics
Unlike regular phones, VoIP systems can be integrated with other software systems such as your CRM to help you keep track of sales, marketing, and customer service metrics. Keeping track of the volume of calls, average call time, and call quality is important for businesses as they can impact your sales targets, customer satisfaction, and budgets. Along with keeping track of your daily metrics, VoIP systems enable you to allocate specific phone numbers to certain campaigns, allowing you to get further data insights and evaluate the effectiveness of a campaign.
While standard phone lines are not impossible to scale, as VoIP systems allow for an unlimited number of phone lines, it makes the job much easier. When scaling a business using traditional phone numbers and systems, you will most likely need an IT department or the assistance of a phone company’s technicians, whereas virtual phone numbers are so simple to set up and easy to use that you can do it yourself.
Virtual phone numbers are run through VoIP systems, which follow a standardized encryption protocol that makes them highly secure, a feature not available for standard phone numbers on regular phone systems. Along with encrypting data and keeping your location hidden from hackers, VoIP systems can be integrated with call screening and call blocking software that can block unwanted calls and quarantine suspected spam calls. VoIP systems are also packed with security features such as administrative control, two-factor authentication, firmware, and call history, ensuring that your data is kept safe and secure.Benefits for Small to Medium-Sized Business
VoIP solutions have become increasingly popular in recent years, and despite a common misconception, they are not just beneficial for large enterprises; their solutions are also extremely beneficial for small to medium-sized businesses. One of the most significant benefits of VoIP systems for SMBs is that they enable businesses to access a wide range of features at an affordable price. These features not only help to deliver a premium service for your customers but also provide the foundations for growth. Due to the setup costs and ongoing long-distance fees for calls, global expansion has traditionally been more difficult for smaller businesses; however, with the introduction of virtual phone numbers, SMBs can expand their customer base and access international markets such as the US with ease.
How to Set Up a Virtual Phone Number
Any business that is concerned with efficient and cost-effective solutions for their telecommunications would agree that setting up a VoIP phone is the way to go. Virtual phone numbers are the best choice in today’s tech-driven world; along with providing a cost-effective solution for your customers to reach you, VoIP systems go one step further by gathering metrics, enabling flexible working, and providing a wide range of added features.
Despite coming with all the bells and whistles, VoIPs are surprisingly easy to set up; here are three easy steps to help you set up a virtual number.
Choose a Type of Business Phone Number
There are three main types of business phone numbers; however, depending on the size and scale of your business, you may choose to have more than one.
- Local Phone Numbers: These numbers are based on geographical locations and will have localized area codes. When selecting your virtual phone number, you are able to choose your desired location; it does not have to be where your office is located. Despite being a virtual phone number, visually, these numbers can look like standard landline numbers or mobile numbers.
- Toll-Free-Number: These numbers allow your customers to call you with no fees, often starting with an 800 number they are not tied to a specific location.
- Vanity Numbers: These are personalized numbers that are designed to be memorable by representing your company or a catchy phrase; for example, 1-800-SAMS-PIZZA
If you have already got a number for your business, then this step is easy for you; porting your existing number over to a virtual network is simple; all you have to do is authorize it. Virtual phone numbers are also easy to update, giving you the freedom to swap them or take on additional ones as your company grows.
Once you have selected your phone number, you need to set up your employees as users. They can either have a virtual extension, which simply forwards all the calls to their existing number, or a full extension which is a virtual number that they can use on their laptop, softphone, or mobile app.
Set Up Your Features
VoIP systems come with a wide range of features that enable you to tailor the communication experience, making virtual phone numbers beneficial for both your customers and your business. So the next step is choosing features for your business, here are a few essentials you may need.
- Hunt Groups: Also known as ring groups, this is when a number of extensions are grouped together, allowing an assigned number to ring all handsets in that group at once or in a sequence.
- IVR: A more advanced version of auto-attendant, this feature provides a professionally recorded greeting to direct your callers to the department they wish to speak to by pressing an allocated number on the keypad, for example, 1=Reception, 2=Sales.
- Queuing: This is great for companies with large volumes of inbound calls, as it lets them know their position in the queue.
- Hold Music or Hold Message: A large number of customers will end the call if they are placed on hold, hold music or a hold message is a great way to keep their attention.
- Conferencing: This enables you to collaborate as a team by having multiple numbers on the line in a group conversation.
- Custom Business Hours: Set up your system so that calls are only answered when your team is available to respond.
Once you have set up your features, you’re ready to dive in and start using your virtual phone number.
How to Set Up an International VoIP Number
If you are a business looking to expand internationally to a country like the US, here is how you can set up a localized number in a different country to your HQ.
Virtual phone numbers have made running a successful business internationally accessible; for example, even if the company isn’t based in the US, you can still set up a localized number there. Setting up a localized number in the US is important for any businesses that currently works with or aspires to work with US customers, as having a US number legitimizes your company with your US customer base, and US customers are more likely to answer to a US number. A localized phone number will also make customers more likely to use your service with you as they won’t have to worry about international fees.
Unlike standard phone systems, where you have to set up expensive infrastructure, have long wait times. With the introduction of virtual phone numbers, getting a number in an international market like the US has never been so easy. No wait time, no expensive infrastructure, all you need to do is set up an account with a VoIP provider, and when you are choosing your location, select your area code to be in the US.
The way we work has changed, and compared to traditional phone systems, virtual phone numbers are designed with features to promote growth, providing the landscape for businesses to support flexible workers and expand globally. Along with providing a reliable and cost-effective solution, VoIP technology provides businesses of all sizes with a comprehensive communication system with a wide range of customizable features that are adaptable to your business’s specific needs. Upgrading your standard phone line to a virtual phone number will change the way you do business, improving productivity, efficiency, and overall customer satisfaction.