For start-up companies and SMBs, cost and resource management are paramount, with great importance attached to every labour hour or sum of cash spent. Business communications can be a cost-intensive part of the enterprise – and finding alternatives to the hardware spend, management and maintenance associated with a traditional PBX (private branch exchange) telephone system is a smart move.
Virtual phone numbers are a powerful option for modern businesses – and a must-have technology for many start-ups and SMBs.
What Are Virtual Phone Numbers?
A virtual phone system is one in which infrastructure and services are supplied via the internet, by one or more providers. These are hosted services, typically charged on a “pay as you go” or monthly subscription basis, using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, and delivered to clients via software and web-based consoles.
Virtual phone numbers are hosted in the cloud, rather than being tied to a specific smartphone, desktop handset, or computer system. For businesses, one or more numbers may be connected via hosted services to produce a complete virtual telecommunications system.
Providers will typically give subscribers the option of choosing virtual phone numbers from a range of different types – and it’s these options that help modern businesses to expand their reach and enhance their image in various ways.
Projecting A High-Profile Image
It’s not uncommon for single proprietor and start-up businesses to rely on the use of personal phones for running their office affairs. Virtual phone numbers allow the owners of smaller companies to assign registered business lines to their personal devices.
Calls made or received by customers and contacts appear to originate or terminate at work numbers, rather than personal or domestic lines – which maintains a more formal and professional presence for business communications.
Virtual numbers may also be obtained as a set of extensions to a central “corporate headquarters” business number – allowing even the most modest-sized enterprise to give callers the impression of having numerous lines, departments, or branch offices.
Collaboration & Unified Communications
The use of VoIP technology for the provision of hosted services and telecommunications presents virtual phone system subscribers with the opportunity to gain access to fully featured business telecoms suites including call routing, auto-attendants (virtual receptionists), music on hold, video conferencing, voicemail to email transcription, and other enterprise-grade telephony functions.
Use of the internet as the medium for service delivery also enables integration with multimedia and multi-format data sources, collaboration platforms, and office productivity applications.
Separating Personal & Business
A virtual phone number system allows users to create a clear distinction between their personal and professional identities, with a separation of individual and business accounts and data. This not only helps to preserve business confidentiality and personal privacy – it also empowers business users to achieve a healthier balance between their working and personal lives.
Anywhere, Any Time Access
Having a virtual business phone number attached to a personal mobile or residential line means that team members can receive calls, handle transactions, and make vital contacts regardless of where they are, or the time of day. This is an immense benefit for business travellers, sales personnel, remote workers, or those based from home. And as far as their callers are concerned, communications are being made directly with a representative of the company.
The cloud-based VoIP infrastructure backing up a virtual phone system ensures that the full functionality of an office telecommunications suite remains available to virtual number users wherever there’s a stable internet connection.
Location and time independence extends to the virtual telephone numbers, themselves. For example, a service such as Swytch makes registered UK business numbers available to its subscribers – so companies doing a lot of transactions in the UK and Europe can maintain a regional presence there. And with an internet-backed phone system offering low call rates, there are no exorbitant data roaming charges to worry about.
In places like the US, where regional economics and customer convenience are paramount, virtual phone numbers can give companies a competitive edge by allowing them to establish a presence in local markets and directories with specific area codes, or to offer customers low-rate or toll-free access to their services.
Using a hosted service for telecommunications provision and the allocation of virtual phone numbers puts the overhead and responsibility for infrastructure, management, maintenance, and technical support on the service provider. This allows subscribers to devote more of their time and energy to the growth and prosperity of their businesses.
On the client side, service management is readily achieved via dedicated mobile apps which give access to a web-based control panel, from which easy adjustments may be made to order new lines, configure telephony features, and allocate resources.
And then there’s the money. By enabling subscribers to use their own devices for both business and personal applications, the need to spend on acquiring new hardware or infrastructure is eliminated.
In a thriving market, subscription rates for virtual telephone systems are very competitive. And the use of VoIP technology to route data across the internet contributes to a reduction in voice and data charges that typically sees enterprise savings of at least 50% over traditional telecoms set-ups.
With their cost-effectiveness, ease of management, and ability to empower even the smallest enterprise with an international and market presence, virtual phone numbers are a must-have technology for modern businesses.