Operating a business in 2023 requires having a professional and reliable phone system. Rather than using your cell phone number, getting a virtual phone number can make your business appear more legitimate and help separate your work and personal life.
We will cover everything you need to know about getting a virtual phone number for your business, including the benefits, choosing the correct number, what features to look for, and tips for avoiding common pitfalls.
Why Should Businesses Use Virtual Phone Numbers?
Virtual phone numbers provide many advantages over traditional landlines and personal cell phones for businesses. Here are some of the top reasons to get a virtual phone number for business:
- Professionalism – A customized virtual number with your business name builds credibility and makes your company seem larger. Customers will take you more seriously.
- Privacy – Keep your personal number private while providing a professional business number to clients. This prevents cold calls to your cell phone.
- Flexibility – Easily get numbers with different area codes and forward calls to any device. Virtual numbers are not tied to a physical location.
- Availability – Have a dedicated business line that is always open, even when you’re away from your landline phone. Set up automated attendants and voicemail.
- Scale – It’s easy to add new virtual numbers as you grow. No need to get new physical phone lines installed.
- Analytics – Many providers offer call tracking and analytics so you can see what marketing channels drive calls.
- Affordability – Virtual numbers are much cheaper than installing a new traditional phone line. Some are even free.
How to Choose the Best Virtual Phone Number
Choosing the right virtual phone number for your business takes some careful consideration:
Local Area Code
Having a local area code helps build trust with customers who prefer to work with businesses in their community. Make sure it matches where most of your customers are located.
Memorable Phone Number
A number that spells out your business name or keywords makes it easy to remember. 1-800-FLOWERS is a classic example.
Keyword in Number
If possible, work relevant keywords like “support” or “sales” into the virtual number. This helps with SEO and communication.
Look at reviews and talk to other businesses using the service. Ensure the provider offers reliable uptime and call quality.
Compare features like voicemail, call forwarding, call analytics, after-hours messages, etc. The best value depends on your needs.
Monthly costs typically range from $10 to $50 per month. Some offer free options if you don’t need many features. Avoid super cheap options.
See if you can transfer over an existing business phone number so customers can use the same one.
Make sure the provider offers stellar customer service in case any issues come up.
Virtual Phone Number Features to Look For
The best virtual phone services offer a robust suite of features to maximize functionality. Here are some key features to look for when comparing providers:
- Voicemail – Custom voicemail greetings make your business sound professional.
- Call Forwarding – Forward calls to any phone, like your cell. Never miss an important call.
- Call Routing – Send calls to specific departments or employees based on menus.
- Toll-Free Numbers – 800/888 numbers make it free for customers to call you.
- Text Messaging – Respond to customer texts quickly and efficiently right from your virtual number.
- Analytics – View reports on call volume, missed calls, response times, and more.
- Phone Tree/IVR – Automated attendants and menus streamline call routing.
- Extensions – Add extensions like 101, 102, etc, to route calls internally.
- CRM Integrations – Integrate your virtual number with CRM platforms.
- Support – Get 24/7 customer support in case any call issues arise.
Review all of the features before choosing the right virtual phone service for your specific business needs and budget. Most of the time, the more robust options may be worth a slightly higher monthly fee.
Avoid These Types of Virtual Numbers
While virtual phone numbers offer many perks, you’ll want to avoid certain types of virtual numbers that can hurt your business:
- Non-Local Area Codes – Having an area code far from your customer base seems suspicious. In this case, you should stick with local area codes.
- Spam Trigger Words – Avoid virtual numbers with spammy words like “free,” “deal,” etc., or they may get flagged as spam.
- Uncustomized Numbers – Get your business name in the number. Generic “random” numbers are easier to forget. Do you see the advantage for your brand?
- Poor Call Quality – If calls are frequently dropping or have static, it will frustrate customers.
- No Number Porting Option – The ability to transfer your existing number over to the new service ensures no disruption.
- Unreliable Providers – Vet providers thoroughly and read recent customer reviews before purchasing a number.
- Limited Customer Service – Issues will inevitably come up, so prioritize providers with stellar 24/7 support.
5 FAQs About Virtual Phone Numbers
Q: Are virtual phone numbers reliable?
Virtual phone numbers from top providers work just as reliably as traditional landlines, with full 911 access, crisp call quality, and very little downtime. Highly rated services are extremely dependable.
Q: Can you tell it’s a virtual number?
No, callers cannot distinguish that they are calling a virtual number vs. a traditional landline since the call quality is the same. The only potential giveaway is if they recognize your area code as being from out of town.
Q: How much do virtual phone numbers cost?
Costs range from free (just the basic number) up to around $50 per month, depending on features. But even $50 monthly is cheaper than installing a new phone line. Many options cost $10-$20 per month.
Q: Can you port your current business number?
Most of the top providers allow you to port over an existing number so customers can call your same phone number. Just make sure to ask about their number porting process before signing up.
Q: How quickly can you get set up with a new number?
In most cases, you can sign up and start using virtual numbers instantly. However, porting over old numbers can take a few weeks, so account for this lead time.
Key Takeaways on Virtual Phone Numbers
- Virtual phone numbers offer many advantages for SMBs over traditional phone lines, especially in terms of flexibility, affordability, and professionalism.
- Carefully choose a local area code and customize your virtual number to build SEO and brand recognition.
- Compare providers based on cost, reliability, features, and support. Focus on providers with stellar reviews.
- Port over your old business number for continuity. Avoid numbers with spam trigger words.
- Use virtual phone numbers to keep your personal and work life separate for improved work-life balance.
- Leading providers offer robust call routing, tracking, and auto-attendant features to streamline communications.
Equipping your startup or small business with a virtual phone number is one of the smartest investments this year. Follow this guide to find the ideal virtual phone service at the right price. Your future customers are waiting for your call!