How to Get a Virtual Phone Number
Businesses and individuals get a virtual phone number to improve their operations, decrease costs, add flexibility, and become able to connect with any client and/or employee anywhere in the world.
In the age of modern technology, old school telephone systems have become a hindrance in terms of costs, security, and reliability. Customer satisfaction and retention are essential for the growth and survival of every small business. Therefore, having an efficient and productive phone service is a priority you can’t ignore.
According to a recent survey, 31.9% of U.S. customers prefer to chat with a customer service representative over the phone. This statistic is just above email (29.1%) and live chat (30.7%) options. Phone calls remain the top preferred communication channel across all age groups.
Below we will explore and answer questions like what is a virtual phone number, what are the benefits and use cases, how to get a virtual phone number, and how much will it cost.
What is a virtual phone number?
Virtual phone numbers are software programs that are coded to forward incoming calls to various telephone lines or devices. These tools usually represent cloud-based apps. This means that they can be accessed from any device, anywhere in the world, as long as there is an internet connection.
For those who are new to the technology, it’s important to understand that virtual phone numbers aren’t mobile numbers. They also aren’t the same as VoIP, which is a group of technologies used to deliver voice and multimedia communications over the internet. To understand the difference, keep in mind that virtual phone numbers can be used in conjunction with VoIP systems. They allow you to forward incoming calls from the virtual phone number to a VoIP system.
Many seasoned VoIP providers like RingCentral and Vonage describe virtual phone numbers as numbers that aren’t attached to any hardware. All incoming calls can be forwarded to existing phone lines, smartphones, tablets, laptops, and voicemails. Finally, like many other tools, virtual phone numbers bring a lot of analytics and utility to the table. Features including marketing, sales, and productivity reports, call and ring scheduling, voicemail to email, etc.
Virtual phone number use cases and benefits
Virtual Phone numbers have a ton of different applications both in the business world and for individuals. We will explore the most prominent ones in detail.
Uniting employees all over the globe
Let’s say your business operates in different geographical locations and has offices in multiple countries. Maintaining a high communication standard with customers can be very challenging. With traditional phone systems, international calls soak up tons of resources and represent a hefty check at the end of each month.
Distance is also an issue. The voice message has to travel a lot of distance taking more time to reach the recipient with the risks of breaking up and resulting in poor customer experience. On top of that, the quality of the call is going to suffer as well. In short, traditional phone systems are a headache, and a costly one, too.
If you get a virtual phone number though, you’ll be able to unite all office branches into one group. The incoming calls will ring in all offices at once. When paired with a VoIP system you get access to additional perks and management options like setting up simultaneous or sequential rings, depending on your ring strategy. After this, any representative will be able to answer the call, regardless of the office he/she is in.
Establishing a local presence
Nowadays, many businesses have begun using virtual phone numbers together with traditional telephone lines to develop a presence in cities and/or countries that they aren’t physically present in. This strategy eliminates long-distance charges for anyone calling within that number’s area code.
For example, a San-Francisco-based company that wants to offer high-quality customer service or attract new customers in Florida can get a virtual phone number with a Florida area code. When everything is set up, calls made to the Florida number get instantly redirected to the main business telephone line. This is important because according to research, users are twice as likely to answer an unknown local number rather than an out of state call. Furthermore, they are almost three times more likely to answer a local call than respond to a toll-free call.
The reasoning behind these metrics is pretty straightforward. Businesses often use toll-free calls for cold calling. If there is no caller ID, it’s more likely that the user will engage in a sales call. Similarly, while out-of-state calls have a lower chance of being a cold call, the high costs and the discrepancy will often lead to users not responding to the call.
Remote working and flexibility
Applicable to both businesses and individuals, this feature allows you to be reachable anywhere in the world. Whether you’re a freelancer on the other side of the continent or a business executive away from his or her physical office, you can use a virtual phone number and forward all incoming calls directly to your cellphone or mobile app.
Cost reductions for individuals
Are you a sole proprietor in need of a separate business line? You can get a virtual phone number and program it to forward all incoming calls to your mobile phone. This eliminates the need for installing costly hardware required for maintaining a separate line. While there are no completely free virtual phone number apps, programs like Google Voice charge a small fee only for international calls. As for the paid services, you can get a virtual phone number for as little as $2/monthly.
Sales and marketing analytics
When running a sales or marketing campaign, analyzing the results of your efforts is critical. To make everything structured and receive as much information as possible, assign a different virtual phone number to each campaign. Market-leading VoIP system providers like OnSIP suggests that this way, instead of accepting all incoming calls directly through your main business line, you can identify and group various leads coming from specific campaigns by their dialed numbers.
Once the campaigns are over, you can download the call report to count the number of calls that came into each virtual number. This data can serve as a key metric in determining the success of your efforts and give you a hint on the direction you’re going.
How to get a virtual phone number?
It’s possible to get a virtual phone number in a few ways. If you’re currently using a VoIP system, ask your provider to add the service to your existing package. Most leading VoIP system providers do not have limits on the number of virtual numbers you can have. The added cost will generally be around $5-10 for each number per month.
Some vendors offer stand-alone virtual phone numbers and even virtual phone number systems. These generally provide at least one virtual number, minutes, and other perks included in the package. The minutes are calculated based on the amount of time you spend on your forwarded telephone line. If a customer calls your virtual number and gets redirected to an existing phone line, for instance, minutes are calculated based on that call’s duration. Depending on what you need, these services will cost around $10-50/monthly for 1-2 virtual numbers and 500-3000 minutes.
If quality customer support and interaction is a priority for your business, you should absolutely get a virtual phone number. It’s an affordable and highly effective service to boost your marketing, sales, and customer support initiatives. It also allows you to generate reports on various KPIs and strengthen internal communications between office branches in different parts of the world.