What Is a Virtual Phone Line?
Virtual phone number or Direct Inward Dialing (DID) is a number that isn’t tied to a fixed location. You can use it to make or receive calls on devices like VoIP desk phones, cell phones, or softphones.
How do virtual phone numbers work? Calls are handled via Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. Fundamentally, it’s the same technology you use when making calls via Google Voice, Skype, or WhatsApp. When a caller contacts your company, using a virtual phone number, the call is automatically routed to the device (and phone number) you have chosen in advance. When you make a call from your device, a virtual number is displayed as your phone number on the receiver’s phone.
Virtual numbers have become increasingly popular as phone numbers for business. It’s a perfect option both for companies with multiple offices and those who have switched to remote work. It gives your business more flexibility because you can easily redirect and route calls from one number to another number, IP address, or device. Put it simply, you can take and make calls from almost anywhere in the world.
Now let’s think about regular phone numbers. Usually, they are provided by a local telephone company that assigns them to a certain physical address. When your business is growing and you need to move elsewhere, you can take only desk phones, not phone numbers. Cell phone numbers are more portable but they make you dependent on your local service provider rates when you need to contact customers overseas. It may definitely cost you a fortune in the long run. Moreover, you don’t come across as local so your prospects are less likely to pick up the phone. It’s simply impossible to have a collection of SIM cards from different countries at hand. Do you see the difference?
Why Get a Virtual Phone Number for Business? Benefits and Drawbacks
We’ve already mentioned some of the benefits your company can have from using virtual business phone numbers. Let’s dig a bit deeper into the topic. Here are the main pros and cons you may encounter.
The most important benefits of using virtual numbers are:
1.It saves your and your customers’ money
Let’s take an example. Your company has offices in different countries and, as a result, handles regular calls between them and headquarters. If you have virtual phone numbers it will be much cheaper to use them than to pay for a fixed foreign exchange line. Moreover, as virtual lines are 100% digital, you can save substantial sums on hardware, equipment, installation, or maintenance.
If your office is located in a different area than your customers, virtual numbers can be beneficial for both sides. Using a local area code, you can become closer to your target audience. They will be more likely to call you and answer your calls from a local number than one with an unfamiliar area code.
While the virtual number with local area code makes your business closer to customers, a toll-free number allows them to contact you without paying a penny for making calls. You’ve definitely made toll-free calls when contacting the customer support of some company. In the US, these numbers begin with distinct three-digit codes: 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, and 833. You can use toll-free numbers for marketing purposes as well. It is you who is charged for incoming calls in this case but this money will pay back in the end. Toll-free numbers aren’t restricted to some areas so you can take customer calls from different regions. To increase brand awareness, companies often buy so-called vanity numbers where they can add to digits some name, word, or acronym - for example, 1-800-LAWYER.
2. It increases customer satisfaction
As we’ve already mentioned, virtual numbers allow you to route calls to other numbers and devices: VoIP phones, cell phones, or softphones. That’s where call center software comes into play. Interactive Voice Response system (IVR) offers a voice menu to your callers and routes them based on their choice. They can use self-service options (check their account balance or purchase delivery status, change a service plan, etc.) or contact your support agents if the problem can’t be solved without their involvement. A well-thought IVR menu can save your customers’ time by providing them with answers to the most common questions, thus increasing their satisfaction. It can also provide your existing customers with personalized service, identifying them and routing their calls to appropriate agents.
3. It makes your business more flexible and gives you a global reach
Traditional telephony ties you to one particular location. When nobody picks up your desk phone, the call goes to voicemail. And this customer may never contact you again. Virtual numbers allow you to route calls to available agents regardless of where they are located - in your office or anywhere else.
Another benefit of buying virtual phone numbers is that you can provide efficient 24/7 cover for your business. All calls outside your opening hours can be routed to an outsourcing call center that is located in a different time zone. You won’t miss a single call or business opportunity and make your customers satisfied.
4. Your employees can maintain a work-life balance
As virtual numbers can be used for making outbound calls as well, your employees will be able to conceal their caller ID when contacting customers. It is especially important nowadays when many companies are still working remotely and team members use private numbers for communication. Virtual numbers ensure that customers won’t contact your employees outside business hours so they can maintain a balance between work and private life.
Although the pros of using virtual phone lines outweigh the cons you shouldn’t forget about drawbacks as well. One of them is the inconsistent call reliability. Virtual phone systems depend on an Internet connection so you need to find a provider who can ensure reliable signal. Aside from poor connection, your call quality may be affected by other common VoIP problems - jitter, latency, network congestion, and so on. To learn more about VoIP issues and how to solve them, check out our article.
What Countries Can You Get a Virtual Phone Number In?
Frankly speaking, there are plenty of them. However, there is one thing that you should take into account when buying international phone numbers. Check out local regulations before deciding on the purchase. In some countries, you can’t purchase the local number without presenting evidence that you live in the country or have a business there. Other countries require you to choose a local VoIP provider when buying local numbers (some Asian countries).
By using virtual numbers, your business can get an almost global reach with a local presence. You will be able to take and make calls from anywhere with a reliable internet connection without breaking a bank. Virtual numbers also give you an opportunity to deliver top-notch customer service and launch inbound marketing campaigns. And last but not least, you can get 24/7 cover, thanks to flexible routing rules. Voiptime Cloud will be more than happy to help you as local & toll-free numbers are one of the key features of our versatile call center solution. Feel free to contact us for more information.