Virtual Numbers for Startups and Small Businesses

After all, some callers won’t think twice about calling you at all hours. By giving callers your virtual number, they can call you 24/7 yet you won’t necessarily have to hear the phone ring while you’re trying to sleep or spend quality time with your family.

Virtual Numbers for Startups and Small BusinessesStartups and small businesses need to be accessible, yet they often run on a tight budget. Virtual numbers allow entrepreneurs, startups, and small business owners to receive phone calls professionally without the expense of a PBX system. Not only that, virtual numbers are highly portable.

Whether you need to work out of a temporary location at first before moving into your office, your virtual numbers can follow you wherever you may go – and your callers will never be aware of your movements.

How Virtual Numbers Work

Virtual phone numbers are essentially call forwarding numbers that are not associated with any given phone line or device. You can order virtual numbers with specific country and area codes so that they are “local” to a given region. For instance, you could order a virtual phone number for Los Angeles and another for Ireland and then set both of those numbers to ring to your New York apartment.

People in LA would see a familiar area code and think that they’re calling your Los Angeles office. At the same time, your contacts in Ireland would see a familiar local number and feel confident dialing your Ireland office without any concerns about paying international long distance charges.

As the account holder of those numbers, you would pay your virtual call forwarding service provider for each minute of service. Depending on the plan, you’d likely pay different rates based on the country of origin. Virtual numbers are quite similar to toll free numbers both in terms of how they work and how they are billed.

With a virtual number, you have complete control over the destination phone number. You can change this number at any time online. If you plan on working at the local coffee house for a few hours, you could change the ring-to number to your cell phone.

When you return to your home office, you could then change the ring-to number to your home office phone. Similarly, if you need to leave the country, you could change the ring-to number to your hotel room or temporary office space.  Meanwhile, your callers will not notice any disruptions because they can reach you as they normally do.

Virtual numbers are available for locations around the world. In addition to domestic and international virtual phone numbers, you can also get toll free virtual phone numbers if desired.

Benefits of Using Virtual Numbers for Your Startup or Small Business

Using virtual numbers can deliver several important benefits for startups and small businesses. Below are just a few to spark your imagination:

  • They can help you compete with “local” bidders. If you’re bidding on a project in another city or country, decision makers may have a preference for doing business with local companies. Getting a local call forwarding number, even if it’s just for short-term use as part of the bidding process, can give your business a local credibility boost.
  • Easy split testing. Use different virtual numbers to split test your advertisements and landing pages. Which phone number receives the most calls? Which phone number generates the most sales?
  • Look bigger. While your startup may be excelling despite the fact that you’re running it out of your garage, you may not want to appear as though you’re working out of your garage. By establishing a toll free number and a few virtual numbers in major cities, you can instantly appear to be a larger company. Many virtual number service plans include auto attendant, music on hold, and multiple mailbox features that can also help your company to look bigger than it currently is.
  • Protect your privacy. As an entrepreneur, you need to be readily accessible, but you may not want to give out your personal mobile phone number or home phone number. After all, some callers won’t think twice about calling you at all hours. By giving callers your virtual number, they can call you 24/7 yet you won’t necessarily have to hear the phone ring while you’re trying to sleep or spend quality time with your family. You decide when to accept calls from your virtual number and when to send them to voicemail or to an assistant.

Virtual numbers are ideal for startups and small businesses alike. With one or more virtual numbers, you can immediately establish your business in a given community as well as appear bigger than you are.

You can also move from one location to another, control where those calls go, compete with local bidders, test your ads, and maintain your privacy. Best of all, you can get virtual numbers on a pay-as-you-go basis with no contract or minimum usage requirements.

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Virtual Call Forwarding Numbers and Enhancing Customer Service

For example, your callers in Italy would dial an Italian toll free number which would then be forwarded to your designated ring-to number in the US.

Virtual Call Forwarding Numbers and Enhancing Customer ServiceDo you serve an international customer base?

Global call forwarding can play an important role in your customer service strategy as well as deliver several important cost advantages. Whether you run an international call center or a small business that serves a couple of different countries, using call forwarding smartly can improve service levels.

Connecting with Customers with a Global Call Forwarding Virtual Number

When properly configured, global call forwarding can ensure that your customers from around the world can reach a customer service representative with minimal hassles. Did you know that a toll free number issued in one country doesn’t necessarily work for callers in another country? While you may have a US or Canada toll free number, callers from other countries such as Italy, Egypt, or China will not get through if they attempt to dial that number.

If you want callers from other countries to be able to reach your business without incurring toll charges, you will need to establish toll free global call forwarding numbers specific to each country. For example, your callers in Italy would dial an Italian toll free number which would then be forwarded to your designated ring-to number in the US.

Setting up a global call forwarding number is not difficult. In fact, the process is similar to setting up a traditional toll free business number. Like a traditional toll free number, toll charges for an international toll free call forwarding number are paid by the account holder and not the caller.

By setting up a toll free global call forwarding number for each country that you serve, your international customers will not need to incur any long distance charges to call your customer service center.

In addition, seeing a local number overcomes potential concerns about calling outside of the country as well as gives callers the impression that they are dialing a company located within their country.

While global toll free numbers work in much the same way as domestic toll free numbers, time zone and language differences add complexity to the equation. If you are serious about serving a global audience, consider staffing your call center with native speakers during hours that coincide with business hours in the callers’ countries. Depending on where your call center is located, you may need to schedule native speaking CSRs to answer calls in the middle of the night.

To ensure the best service possible, you can set up calls to ring to specific extensions based on their country codes as well as route calls based on the time of day they are made. For example, if a call originates in Spain, you could route that call to one of your Spanish-speaking CSRs.

Similarly, if a call from Spain originates after-hours, you could send that call to voicemail as callers are not expecting to be served after-hours.

Global call forwarding isn’t just for large businesses who can afford to staff international call centers. Small businesses often use call forwarding on a smaller scale. For example, if you’re a business consultant with clients in the Philippines, you could establish a phone number in the Philippines and then route those calls to your home office.

Your clients will appreciate being able to call you without incurring high costs, and you can become more accessible. In fact, you’d likely have an advantage over a business consultant who has not bothered to establish a local presence.

Because time differences are a major concern, consider adjusting your work schedule to accommodate clients in your target country. You may have just a small window of time each day that works for both you and your clients. However, by letting them know the best time to reach you, you’ll be better able to connect.

Another option is to use an answering service to prescreen calls that arrive in the middle of the night. Provide your answering service with guidelines as to when to notify you of an urgent call. This can ensure that you’re available to handle emergencies yet not constantly bothered at all hours with non-urgent matters. At the same time, your international callers will reach a live person regardless of when they call you.

Cutting Costs with Global Call Forwarding

Many businesses use global call forwarding as an alternative to physical locations. The cost savings can become significant. It is far more efficient to have a central office than it is to lease office space and staff offices around the world. By keeping operations central, you can also reduce your travel costs as you will no longer need to travel from one office to the next.

Whether you run a large business with international call centers or a one-person consultancy that caters to international clients, global call forwarding is a great way to deliver customer service.

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Become More Flexible with Global Call Forwarding

At the same time, you could establish several international forwarding numbers in countries around the world and have them ring to your call center.

Become More Flexible with Global Call Forwarding

Whether you run a small business or an enterprise organization, global call forwarding can help you become more flexible and agile.

With global call forwarding, you have several options. For example, you could establish a virtual number that follows you no matter where in the world you may happen to be.

At the same time, you could establish several international forwarding numbers in countries around the world and have them ring to your call center.

Imagine the possibilities! Below are just a few examples of how your company can take advantage of global call forwarding.

Using Global Call Forwarding to Stay in Touch Globally

As an individual who travels frequently, you may want to check into using global call forwarding as a means of staying in touch with employees, clients, and family members back home when you travel overseas. As you know, your cell phone doesn’t always work in  other countries, and when it does, international roaming rates make accepting calls from people back home an expensive proposition.

Many business travels find it cheaper to buy a disposable mobile phone once they arrive in a country but that brings problems of its own. For example, you need to inform everyone that you have a new number for them to call if they need to reach you when you’re in that country. Since the phone number is local to the country you’re in, your contacts will face international long distance charges should they need to call you. Plus, once you dispose of that phone, you’ll need to tell your contacts that that phone number is no longer valid.

With global call forwarding, you establish a local phone number within your own country (or a toll free one depending on your preferences). You can keep this virtual number indefinitely. The beauty of global call forwarding is that you can change the “ring to” number on the fly. When you purchase a disposable mobile phone in a new country, you simply switch the global call forwarding number’s ring to number to your new mobile phone. You do not need to inform your contacts. They simply dial the same number they always dial. Since the virtual number is local to your own country, your in-country employees, clients, and family members do not need to worry about international dialing costs.

Meanwhile, if you use a reliable, low-cost global call forwarding service, the rates that you are charged will be far more affordable than international roaming rates. In fact, you can view per minute rates for each country you frequently visit before you sign up for a plan.

Using Global Call Forwarding to Establish an International Presence

Another way to use global call forwarding for your business is to establish local phone numbers in the countries that you serve and then have those calls diverted to your call center or main office. To customers in various countries, the phone numbers are completely local. They may even feel as though they’re dialing a business across town thanks to the way the number appears and even the sound of the ringtone. However, the phone will ring to your designated number whether it’s in the same country or not. This provides your business with a flexible alternative to setting up physical locations around the world.

Using Global Call Forwarding to Route Calls by Time of Day