While cell phones may dominate the market, they haven’t yet replaced the need for a dedicated phone line for businesses. They provide reliable connections, which is important for a business’ professional image.
But adding multiple landline connections can be expensive and time-consuming. That’s where virtual phone numbers come in. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is a Virtual Phone Number
A virtual phone number is any number added to an existing phone line. These numbers route incoming calls through a third-party data center, sending it to any destination—whether landline, mobile or voice over IP (VoIP).
Because virtual phone numbers aren’t tied to a line with a physical address, you can choose your area code. This is great for businesses that primarily operate in one location, but want to reach customers in a different locale.
Another benefit of a virtual phone number is that it allows you to draw a line between business and personal communications. You can use multiple phone numbers on a single device.
Also, virtual phone numbers provide flexibility in how your businesses receive calls. You purchase a virtual phone number from a provider and you can manage the service online. This allows you to set the destination of your virtual phone number instantaneously and change it as needed, all without the hassle and expense of managing hardware and routing calls through a business phone system.
How to Get a Virtual Phone Number
Traditional phone companies don’t provide virtual phone numbers. Instead, virtual phone numbers come from VoIP and cloud phone system providers. Once you choose and sign up for a virtual phone number package, most providers make set-up instantaneously.
With so many providers out there, all you have to do is narrow your options and choose the right one. Whether you’re looking for basics, like a free number, or advanced features, there’s a VoIP or cloud phone system provider out there that can help.
Top Virtual Phone Number Providers
When you need the benefits of a virtual phone number, but can’t afford to spend money on even the most affordable VoIP provider services, Google may have just the solution.
Google Voice offers a free virtual phone number service that you can use on any internet-enabled device, including your smartphone. It allows you to perform many of the same functions you’ll find from other providers.
Only Google Voice’s personal plan is free, which may be ideal for freelancers or solopreneurs. They also offer several affordable plans for small businesses. Each of the 3 plans provides a variety of features so you can choose the program suited to your individual business needs.
Some of the features that come with Google Voice include:
- Call forwarding and blocking
- Text messaging
- A basic automated attendant that prompts callers to provide their name before the call is answered
What Google Voice lacks in features it makes up for in a streamlined interface that’s simple to use right from the start. Plus, the same powerful AI that brought us tools like Google Translate also provides transcription services for voicemail and blocks spam calls.
Many VoIP providers place a limit on the number of minutes users have a month. You can increase your minutes, but it will come at a fee, which can negate some of the cost-savings that virtual numbers can provide in the first place. Grasshopper is unique in that they offer unlimited calling, so you’ll never have to worry about running out of minutes at the end of the month.
Other features that Grasshopper has to offer include:
- Call management solutions like call forwarding and transfer, blocking and a calling screen
- Auto-attendant feature for answering calls without adding additional employees
- Call routing and extensions to manage incoming calls better
Grasshopper now offers an advanced service called Grasshopper Connect. Connect brings all of your business inboxes together in one location. Access your emails, call history, voicemails and even text messages from one convenient homepage.
Not all virtual phone numbers are available for use on your existing devices. But for small businesses in need of an equipment upgrade, some providers do offer phone systems. Callture provides a wide variety of phones to choose from, each pre-configured to plug straight into your existing internet connection and start working right away. They also come equipped with essential features a standard phone won’t give you access to, like off-hook call placements, hold music and more.
Other features Callture has to offer include:
- A call queue for managing multiple incoming calls
- Conference calling
- Call transfers and extensions
Many VoIP providers offer features that cover most small businesses’ needs. But for those needing more advanced tools, you need to choose a provider with the tools to help you connect with your customers on a deeper level and track and share analytics. Nextiva is one of the best on the market for just that.
You’ll get number porting, unlimited fax and multiple users. Upgrade to one of their higher-tier packages, and you’ll also get SMS messaging, conference bridges and a variety of other features to help your small business communicate better.
Features that come with every Nextiva package include:
- Customer information management system
- Feedback tracking
- Automated chat systems
- Workspace collaboration
Businesses with clients or connections around the world can rack up international calling fees fast with a traditional phone provider. Luckily, there are a few VoIP providers that can help. 8×8 shines in that it offers free international calling to a whopping 47 countries. You’ll have to pay for their advanced package to reach all 47, but lower-tier packages include free international calls to the 14 most common countries doing business with U.S.-based companies.
Other features you’ll get with your 8×8 package include:
- Unlimited fax
- Audio and video conferencing
Not only are you able to call out to numerous countries, but you can also conduct business through your virtual phone number. Even 8×8’s basic package offers audio and video conferencing for up to 100 participants. If your company has to make any virtual calls, make sure you weigh the cost of those calls through other providers against what you would pay for 8×8’s services.
Choosing the Best Virtual Phone Number Providers
Selecting the best virtual phone number provider for your small business means considering the options you need and weighing the investment you’re willing to make in your company’s communication.
While a virtual phone number can save you loads of money compared to adding additional landlines, many services do come with a monthly fee. Luckily, with so many options out there, it’s easy to find a provider that offers the features you’re looking for at a price that your business can afford.