What is a virtual telephone number - and how can you use them

What is a virtual telephone number

 

You may have heard about virtual phone numbers in the past but were not quite sure what they were all about. A virtual phone number is a non-geographic telephone number that doesn't get linked to a particular phone line or device. Many years ago, telephone numbers were geographically linked to physical telephone lines, and those services got provided by telecom companies to businesses via copper wires.

When it came to telephone numbers for businesses, they typically got provisioned through to multi-line PBX (private branch exchange) systems. PBX systems had specialist hardware located at the premises for each company, and they could get configured with extensions, voicemail, call routing rules, and so forth.

These days, businesses no longer worry about the expense and frustration of setting up PBX systems at their premises, thanks to virtual phone numbers. Here’s how a virtual phone number can benefit your business:

A virtual phone number offers easy routing

Arguably the most significant advantage of having a virtual phone number for your business is the ease with which you can route your calls. For example, let’s say that you are a self-employed consultant, and you divide your time between working from home and traversing the country. You don’t want to give your clients your home or mobile telephone numbers. And you certainly don’t want to go to the expense of paying for a business line at your home.

A virtual phone number provides the perfect solution for such a problem in several ways. For a start, you can direct calls to your home landline, mobile device, or even your hotel room if you’re staying away from home. Any routing changes can get made easily and quickly and is something that takes seconds to action rather than hours or even days in the case of old PBX systems.

You can unite remote workers from different areas

Do you run a business where most of your workforce operates from remote locations, such as their homes or from satellite offices? If the answer is yes, did you know that you can assign a virtual phone number to each employee?

As you now know, it’s simple to route telephone calls from virtual numbers to any destination of your choosing. By offering such flexibility to your remote workforce, they can ensure that they’ll never miss any potentially important telephone calls - both from head office and your clients.

Another way that you can unite remote workers is by grouping together each team. If you have sales staff that work from home but are geographically located hundreds of miles from each other and yourself, a virtual phone number can make your life easy. That’s because you have the possibility of creating a “ring” group of staff so that when a customer dials the group number, each number can ring simultaneously or sequentially.

You can have a virtual phone number for each city

If your business covers a vast regional area, some of your potential customers may likely be a bit hesitant about calling you. Sure, you’ll have some prospective clients that might be wary of calling an out of town number due to increased call costs. But, the main reason is that people would much rather deal with who they believe is a local business.

An easy and inexpensive way of targeting future customers in areas further afield from your base is by having several “local” virtual phone numbers. The beauty of such numbers is you can direct all calls to one endpoint, such as your mobile phone if you wanted to do so.

According to BrightLocal, 64% of people surveyed said they preferred to call a local business rather than one further afield whenever they needed any products or services. Offering your customers local telephone numbers to call is going to boost the likelihood of them contacting you significantly.

It’s easy to measure marketing campaign performance

Let’s say that you wish to run some marketing campaigns in the future where your customers must contact you by telephone to take advantage of a special offer. Measuring the performance of a telephone call is entirely different to checking how many visitors reached a web page, for instance.

To that end, how can you determine whether one telephone marketing campaign is better than another? The answer is simple: use different virtual telephone number endpoints.

It may surprise you to learn that it’s quite simple to find out how many people called each number, the times of days of those telephone calls, and even the area code of each caller. When you have virtual telephone numbers, you’ve got access to a set of powerful reporting features at your fingertips.

What happens when you can’t answer calls?

By now, you will doubtless realize there are many features and benefits of having a virtual telephone number. You can take advantage of those features for your business quite quickly, but what happens when it isn’t possible to receive any calls from your customers?

As you can appreciate, there will be times where it’s not possible to take calls. For example, you might be in a meeting with one of your clients. Or you may be on the road and unable to pull over to answer your mobile phone.

Fortunately, it’s simple enough to use a virtual phone number with a telephone answering service. In case you wondered, all you would need to do is divert all calls to the answering service and have them deal with any inquiries or take messages so you can call your clients back later.

The Ivy Answering Service is an ideal partner service for a virtual phone number and incredibly useful for sole traders wishing to make their business appear larger than it is. You can use it to do more than take messages from callers for you. For example, you can use the Ivy Answering Service to direct calls to other team members, or even answer basic questions about your business.

Saves you time and money

You can save a lot of money by going virtual with your receptionist. You only pay for the calls they answer.

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