In recent years, there has been a major upheaval when it comes to what was previously considered “standard” work hours. As mobile technology evolved, businesses expected their employees to be available even after they left the office.
Employees had to frequently take calls on their personal devices, keep up with complex call routing back and forth on their personal and office phones, or tote around a second mobile device provided at their employer’s expense. None of the options were great.
Virtual phone numbers, however, solve many of today’s modern work problems when it comes to phone systems, especially following the work-from-home safety restrictions we experienced in 2020.
In this post, we’re going to go over everything you need to know about virtual phone numbers, including what they are, why you should use one, and how to get started.
What Is a Virtual Phone Number Exactly?
A virtual phone number operates completely online and isn’t tied to a physical device, like a landline or even a mobile line. You don’t need to purchase a device with it, instead, you can access it through the provider’s app, which can be downloaded on any smartphone.
As long as you have cell coverage, you can make or receive calls and text messages, check your voicemail, and even advanced features like call recording.
What Are the Benefits of a Virtual Phone Number?
There are a number of benefits that come with virtual business phone systems, which is a core reason why so many businesses of all sizes are making the switch.
Significant Cost Savings
Virtual phone numbers are typically much more cost-effective than standard lines, especially once you factor in the lack of hardware associated with landlines, VoIP systems, and secondary mobile devices. Those savings quickly add up to an investment that can go elsewhere in the business.
Separate Personal and Professional Lives
You don’t want to need to take business calls on your personal phone at 9 PM; when a business virtual phone number will show up on your phone, you’ll know the call is coming from the business number and not to your personal number. (Or you can take advantage of schedules that allow you to send after-hours calls elsewhere to begin with.)
This can also give you more privacy and security, as you don’t need to give out a personal number to clients, team members, or vendors. Plus, you can opt for a toll-free number will make you stand out as more professional and credible.
Gained Flexibility for Remote Work
After the COVID-19 pandemic first set in, we all understood the importance of having the flexibility to work remotely, even if it’s only for short periods of time.
Virtual phone numbers allow that flexibility. You aren’t tied to an office phone, or even the need to cart around a second business phone. You can make outgoing calls, receive incoming calls, alter call flows, and access your voicemail from anywhere.
Added Professionalism and Credibility
Let’s say it’s 6PM and you call a lawyer’s phone number. They answer “…Hello?”
That isn’t exactly the most credible greeting, and it likely won’t instill a lot of confidence compared to “Thank you for calling Jones Law Practice, this is Marty speaking, how can I help you?”
When you know it’s a business call that’s incoming, you can react accordingly. You can also set up a business voicemail recording instead of your personal one. Both look much more professional, giving you more credibility in the eyes of new clients.
Access to Additional Features Traditional Systems Lack
Virtual phone numbers typically come with advanced features that other systems don’t always offer.
- Real-time analytics
- Custom greetings
- Business texting
- Smart routing
- Ring groups
- Auto attendants
- Call recording
How a Virtual Phone Number Works
Virtual phone numbers work on a mobile device that you’re already using.
To access a virtual phone number on your smartphone, download the mobile app and log in. You can then make and take calls from multiple numbers through the app.
A customer service representative, for example, would have their own direct number and extension, but they could also receive calls made to the general customer service user group to ensure a fast answer.
The virtual phone system doesn’t interfere with your personal phone in any way; you can still make and receive calls from your personal number even while the app is running in the background. With dynamic caller ID, all incoming business calls will show that you have an incoming call from the virtual business phone number, which you can choose to accept or decline.
Tresta’s virtual phone numbers allow you to set up intuitive smart routing and schedules, so if you want to send calls straight to voicemail or to other numbers after five or even temporarily while you’re in meetings, you have that option. You won’t be receiving business calls 24/7 unless you want to.
What to Look For in a Virtual Phone Number Provider
If you’re considering making the switch to a virtual phone number, it’s important to find a provider that will have everything that you need.
Here’s what we recommend looking for in a virtual phone number provider:
- They’re transparent, with simple, all-inclusive pricing and no hidden fees
- Pay per user, not per minutes
- Easy-to-use and configure, with intuitive mobile and web apps
- Enough features to scale with your business you grow over the years
- Accessible support that will be ready to help you the second something is ever needed
Remember that even if you’re a small four-person team who only wants to save money on a business phone, your business will likely grow overtime. As it does, your needs will evolve; it’s essential to pick a provider that will be ready to evolve with you so you don’t have to make a change several years down the line.
How to Get Started
Once you’ve chosen a virtual phone number provider, it’s time to dive into your new phone system and take advantage of all its new features!
Here are the most important steps to getting started.
1. Choose Your Number
Some virtual phone number providers like Tresta give you the option to either choose new numbers (toll-free and local numbers are both available) or to port in existing numbers. So don’t worry; if you’ve got phone numbers that are printed on business cards and saved in clients’ phones, you can keep those!
The porting system is easy with Tresta. It’s also seamless, so you aren’t going to be missing calls or experiencing downtime.
2. Add Users & Configure Permissions
If you’re adding new virtual phone numbers, you can do so once you set up your base service. Add new users for your employee and departments as needed. Each new user includes a phone number, or you can add numbers independently.
Once you do this, you can adjust user permissions, including adding users to different admin groups that would give them access to different aspects of the account, including billing or management. This simplifies permissions by granting access to specific tools to the users who need it.
3. Set Up Smart Routing
An enormous asset of virtual phone numbers is how easy it is to set up smart call routing. You can set up advanced call flows like the following:
- A customer calls your business’s main number. They instantly reach your auto attendant, who offers a menu of routing options.
- They choose the customer service option, instantly being routed to a ring group of customer service representatives.
- All three of your customer service agents will see the call, and whoever can answer first will take it.
- You can set the call to either ring until someone answers or to go to a voicemail if unanswered after a set amount of time. Or, after a specified amount of time, the call can be transferred somewhere else completely, like your answering service.
These call flows can be adjusted at any point in time, even if it’s only temporarily while someone is on vacation or taking PTO.
4. Access Recordings, Texts, & Voicemails On Demand
Want to listen back to what was discussed on a client call? Pull up the recording anywhere, any time to make sure you got all the details of an impending contract straight.
Need to send a quick text to a client to let them know you’re running behind? Simply open the mobile app and send a text just like you would natively on your device.
You can also access your voicemails anywhere as long as you can log in to the web app or mobile app, even if you lost your phone. This allows you to return client and vendor calls promptly, no matter where you are (and whether your device is with you or not!).
Tresta offers unlimited storage for no extra cost. As long as your service is active, you’ll have access to any of your recordings or messages indefinitely.
5. Gain Valuable Insights With Real-Time Analytics
Many phone systems don’t offer analytics; they simply offer call histories.
Here at Tresta, however, you can see real-time information like which departments, phone numbers, and individuals are receiving calls, how long the calls are lasting, and how many are going to voicemail.
You may realize that your IT department is drowning and that you need another team member. You can also assign each marketing campaign a different number to see which ads are driving the most calls to your business.
There are an enormous number of use cases that come with call analytics, so this is a feature you don’t want to overlook.
Virtual phone numbers offer flexibility and convenience while granting access to more advanced features compared to many of their “traditional” counterparts. When you combine these benefits with enormous cost savings, it’s easy to see why so many businesses are making the change for themselves.
Ready to make the switch and want to see if Tresta’s virtual phone number is right for your business? Start your free 30-day trial here.