Types of Virtual Numbers

Types of Virtual NumbersVirtual numbers come in two basic flavors

Local and Toll Free. With a local virtual number, you are not restricted to numbers available to your locally. In other words, if you live in San Diego, California, you are not restricted to San Diego numbers. You can get local numbers for cities all over the world and have them ring to any phone you choose.

Toll free numbers are toll free versions such as 800 and 888 numbers. Like local virtual numbers, you can get toll free virtual numbers for various countries including the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, and dozens of other countries.

Both local and toll free virtual numbers involve routing calls to the phone number that you designate. As the virtual number account holder, you would be responsible for paying the costs associated with forwarding those calls to your ring-to number.

You can choose a plan that includes monthly minutes or begin with a buy-the-minute plan and can decide to change the plan later after you know your typical usage pattern.  The plans are month-to-month so there are no long term contracts.

How Virtual Numbers Make You Look More Professional

Having a toll free number for your business immediately makes your business look larger and more professional. It shows that you are serious, and it eliminates any concerns callers may have about dialing long distance.

If you’d like your business to appear more professional, consider setting up your virtual number with an auto attendant. This is an affordable alternative to a traditional PBX. You could assign separate mailboxes for individuals or departments and have the auto attendant route calls based on the caller’s choices. For example, your auto attendant could prompt users to “press 1 for sales, 2 for accounting, and 3 for shipping.” This is an efficient way to route calls to the appropriate person, and it can also give the illusion of a larger operation.

In addition to routing calls based on caller input, you could also take advantage of a lesser known feature called time of day routing to route calls. For example, if a call comes in after 5:00 PM, you could have it automatically sent to voicemail. You could do the same at lunch time.

Virtual numbers with simultaneous call processing also ensure that callers do not hear a busy signal. When several callers dial the virtual number at once, the extra calls will be sent to the next available extension or voicemail.

In addition, virtual numbers can also double as fax numbers. Whenever someone needs to send you a fax, they can fax documents directly to your virtual number and you’ll receive it as an email attachment. You’ll never miss a fax again due to a lack of paper, toner, or ink. Plus, you’ll no longer need to maintain a separate fax line and fax machine.

Virtual numbers can also make you look local which in turn can increase your credibility.

For example, if you run a small mom-and-pop graphic design firm in a rural community, you may have difficulty competing with firms from New York City simply because of your rural location. By ordering a virtual number with a New York area code, your business can overcome this perceptional problem.

Overseas example

You offer a service on the Web and are located in London.  Since your customers are located worldwide, you want to make it easy for a customer in Argentina or Costa Rica to reach you.  You have the option to own an Argentina local number in Buenos Aires or an Argentina toll-free number.  For Costa Rica, choose from Costa Rica toll-free or a national Costa Rica number.  The possibilities include your ability to acquire a local number in a country of your choice spanning most of the civilized world.

From setting up a toll free number to creating a virtual PBX system and beyond, virtual numbers can help small businesses and solo professionals look more professional. Even better, virtual numbers are an inexpensive alternative to traditional phone systems and fax machines.

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