One of the greatest benefits of relying on Business VoIP over the legacy phone network is the abundance of features the service can provide. Without the physical limitations of the PSTN, and hardware necessary to establish any new feature, VoIP can deliver even the most powerful enterprise tools at a fraction of the cost, and hassle.
And with so many features available right out of the box, many of them never get second look, or even switched on. For example, we recently took a look at Presence Indication, as an overlooked UC and VOIP feature that can go a long way.
In a similar vein, we wanted to focus in on another particularly powerful feature: Virtual Phone Numbers. Now, virtual numbers aren't as overlooked as presence indication, but there still exists a bit of confusion around the idea, and just how it can benefit your business in the long run.
So, lets take a closer look at virtual numbers to understand how they work, and why your organization might want to utilize this unique feature.
What are Virtual Numbers?
Well, the idea is pretty self explanatory - virtual numbers really are just that, virtual numbers. But, of course, that doesn't help us to establish a deep understanding of the idea.
To give virtual numbers a nice, clean definition:
"Virtual numbers are telephone numbers not directly associated to a telephone line. Virtual numbers can be assigned to any device, whether it be a hardware desk IP phone, a mobile phone app, or a desktop soft phone app. Essentially, users can assign more than one telephone number to their phone line."
While not directly unique to VoIP, virtual numbers absolutely gain the benefit of IP connections. Since VoIP doesn't have to rely on the copper lines that make up the PTSN, all VoIP numbers can technically be considered virtual. The biggest example of a virtual number service would be Google Voice.
Users can use their google account to create a virtual phone line, and assign an virtual phone number that is available, from anywhere in the United States. Users then use the website's soft phone to place and receive calls, or can even redirect phone calls to their actual cell phone.
Why Does My Business Need Virtual Numbers?
Now, we're not convinced a business should be using only Google Voice for their telephony needs. But, that doesn't mean Virtual Numbers are useless.
At the very minimum, you can utilize virtual numbers for simple cost savings. For example, with the power to utilize any number, from almost any location, your business can remove the hurdles that normally surround long distant phone calls.
Contact centers in particular would love virtual numbers -- agents could adopt local numbers when calling clients or leads for a more personalized touch -- while working to improve their customer experience at the exact same time.
For example, if your business is based in New York, but often serves customers on the West Coast, your business can use a provide a local number to clients, with a local area code, to avoid any long distance charges. Overall, virtual numbers help to create a simple and professional experience for clients.
The Main Benefits of Virtual Numbers
Of course there could be a million different use cases for virtual numbers, but I wanted to focus directly some of the bigger elements.
1. Establish a Local Presence
We already touched on this one above briefly, but its absolutely worth mentioning again. Virtual numbers allow your business to assign two or more phone numbers to one specific line. Of course, if your business is located on the opposite side of the country to your customers, local numbers make it easier to call in for support.
But using virtual numbers also allows your business to establish a local presence without actually having one. Dedicated agents, for example, can give out specific local numbers to their clients, adding a personalized touch to the experience, making it easier for clients to dial, and agents to know who is calling.
2. Cut Costs with Local Area Codes
Building off of establishing a local presence, doing so will also help your business save costs. With local area codes, both your business and your clients can bypass any fees associated with making long distance phone calls. This is especially true for any business with an international presence.
By establishing virtual numbers based in the country your organization does business, both parties can avoid otherwise drastic international fees. Now, some VoIP providers make it easy to dial international numbers, but virtual numbers can make it even easier.
3. Establish a Professional Image
With virtual numbers, a SMB can create that professional Enterprise image otherwise previously locked behind expensive equipment. Virtual numbers allow any business to establish as many phone numbers as they need -- different numbers can be used to call in different services within your business.
Vanity virtual numbers can be customized to boost an organization's image, or standard virtual numbers can be utilized to ensure consistency across the board.
4. Flexibility Around the World
We already touched on how virtual numbers can provide a local presence for your business, even internationally. But on the other side of the equation, virtual numbers also help provide this flexibility for your employees.
Since virtual numbers aren't directly tied to one specific phone, teams can essentially work from anywhere, and never miss a phone call. Virtual numbers can be used to ensure your smart phone rings when out of the office.
5. One Device, Two Numbers
Virtual numbers are specifically a massive benefit for small businesses. The cost savings alone will be felt at a much greater magnitude for a smaller business, reducing the need for purchasing new phone lines.
Just like our favorite VoIP feature, Call Hunting (or find me, follow me), virtual numbers can allow users to rely on one single phone, yet keep all business and personal use separate. By utilizing a virtual number, users don't even necessarily need a desk phone in their office, and can do everything off one device.
A Small Feature That Goes a Long Way
While the concept of virtual numbers is fairly simple, the benefits your business can gain really do go a long way. Even if cost savings are the only real concern for your organization, virtual numbers can be a great way to cut down on some overhead. For small teams, or businesses with multiple locations, virtual numbers add a new level of flexibility and mobility otherwise non-existent to legacy solutions.
Whether your business is simply looking to adopt Google Voice, or add the feature to an existing hosted PBX solution, virtual numbers can go a long way for any size business, and can absolutely be a huge help to contact centers looking to improve their customer experience.