What Is a Virtual Phone Number & How It Benefits Small Businesses
This article is part of a larger series on VoIP.
A virtual phone number is a completely cloud-based telephone number that relies on an internet connection to make and receive calls and messages on any phone (e.g., softphones, cellphones, and desk phones.) It isn’t tied to a fixed location or phone line, making it ideal for teams with remote employees and those who want a local number. Continue reading to learn what a virtual phone number is, its benefits, and the top providers to consider.
How a Virtual Phone Number Works
A virtual phone number, also called direct inward dialing (DID) number, relies on the internet to connect callers, in contrast to traditional phone lines that require cell towers or a copper wire network. It doesn’t need a SIM card or a physical address to place telephone calls. A virtual phone service uses voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) technology that routes calls over the internet while allowing you to reach other users using standard telephones.
Virtual phone numbers follow the same traditional number format: local numbers have 10 digits, including the three-digit area code followed by the phone number. They are purchased without a physical address that’s bound to the corresponding area code, giving businesses the appearance of a local presence in a certain geographic region.
To start using a virtual phone number, you need a stable internet connection and a compatible device, such as a desktop, cell phone, or laptop. Through a virtual phone service, users have access to the similar telephony features of traditional phone service, such as an automated attendant, custom greetings, voicemail, and call forwarding. Additionally, users will also enjoy the different types of virtual phone numbers, including local, vanity, and toll-free numbers.
Benefits of a Virtual Phone Number
Virtual phone numbers open several opportunities for businesses wanting to separate their personal and work-related calls. Additionally, some businesses invest in these services to establish a local presence in a certain key area. Here are the reasons switching to virtual phone numbers is a great idea for your business:
Receive Calls Anywhere
One of the chief benefits of having a virtual number is the ability to divert calls to whatever device you wish to receive them, whether it’s your computer, desk phone, or mobile device. Since virtual numbers aren’t bound to a physical location, this largely benefits remote employees wanting to make calls anywhere they are in the world. With a virtual number, you’re never going to worry about missing a call.
Localize Phone Numbers
Most customers prefer doing business with a local service provider. Virtual numbers come in handy by helping your business establish a local presence and add a more personalized feel to customer interactions. Also, customers are more likely to answer calls from a local phone number than one they don’t recognize.
Maintain Personal Privacy
Another main benefit of a virtual phone number is the ability to separate your business and personal calls. This keeps your personal number private while allowing you to purchase a new number for your business. What’s more, it significantly enhances your business image by keeping your communications organized and avoiding the cost of carrying a separate phone.
Advanced VoIP Functionality
When getting a virtual phone number, some providers offer additional benefits to businesses by offering additional VoIP features. It comes in the form of tiered plans with standard call management features, such as call forwarding, call recording, call transfer, and ring groups. These features are especially useful in helping your business communicate more efficiently.
Virtual Phone Number Providers
While many virtual phone number providers exist, each service differs in pricing and features. Before selecting a provider for your business, it’s important to consider your must-have features and the number of employees you want to connect with. To help you decide, here are the top virtual phone providers to choose from:
Grasshopper, our top virtual phone number provider, offers affordable pricing starting at $29 per user, per month. It provides users with a virtual phone number that can be local, toll-free, and vanity. Subscribing to any of their packages offers access to comprehensive call management capabilities, such as call forwarding, virtual fax, and voicemail.
Check out our Grasshopper review to learn more about its virtual phone services.
eVoice is a virtual phone number provider for businesses wanting an international presence. Aside from local, toll-free, and vanity numbers, eVoice also offers numbers in international territories. This provider also comes with the standard features of a virtual phone service, including an auto-attendant, conference calling, hold music, and call screening. Fees start at only $12 per user, per month.
Google Voice ranks as one of our best business phone systems, allowing you to make unlimited domestic and international calls for selected locations. It also offers a local phone number for free and basic call and messaging features, such as voicemail transcription and call forwarding. Freelancers and solopreneurs may subscribe to its free plan for personal use, while small businesses may avail of its paid plans starting at $10 per user, per month.
Considering Google Voice as a virtual phone number service? Check out our guide on how to use Google Voice.
If you can’t decide whether to invest in a full-featured VoIP platform or a virtual phone system, check out our article about VoIP vs virtual phone systems to distinguish the difference between the two solutions in terms of cost, features, and call quality.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I turn my traditional phone number into a virtual phone number?
Yes. It is possible to convert your existing traditional phone number into a virtual number through a process called number porting. Number porting is an additional VoIP feature offered by many phone system providers, such as Google Voice and RingCentral.
How do I get a free virtual phone number?
There are several providers that offer free business phone numbers in their calling plans. These providers include Google Voice, Phone.com, and Sideline. To learn the step-by-step process, check out our guide on how to get a free business phone number.
Are virtual phone numbers secure?
Yes, virtual phone numbers are secure because they use encryption to safeguard your data. Security layers may include transport layer security (TLS) and secure real-time transport protocol (SRTP). To ensure your personal information remains private, make sure your VoIP provider is Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-compliant.
A virtual phone number is an excellent solution to establish a professional image for your business without tying yourself to a specific location or device. It provides access to VoIP features, such as an automated attendant and call forwarding, and the flexibility to manage your remote workforce. With a virtual phone system, it’s easy to find low-cost plans and a virtual phone number to separate your work and personal lives.