Even though most of us prefer text messages over a phone call in our everyday life, when it comes to business phone calls, the situation is completely different. Clients like to get a real person on the other line and know that someone is dealing with their issues immediately. A reliable business phone system is essential for great customer service, which is why you should make the switch to a virtual phone system.
A virtual phone system gives you all of the features that your existing phone service does, and so much more. By using the power of the internet to transmit call data, you can open up a world of possibilities and make your business run better. Whether you’re a small business or a gargantuan enterprise, a virtual phone system is just what you need to succeed.
VoIPVirtual Selection – Virtual Phone Systems and Why Should You Get One in 2021
What Is a Virtual Phone System?
If you’re wondering how a phone could be virtual or how a virtual phone system would even work, have no fear. It’s actually very simple. A virtual phone system is basically a phone system that runs on Voice over Internet Protocol, also known as VoIP. Unlike your normal phone service, which runs on phone lines laid by the local phone company, VoIP allows a virtual phone system to make and receive calls over the internet.
The internet is capable of transmitting virtually any kind of data, as long as you use the right protocol to do so. You are using hypertext transmission protocol, or HTTP, to view this website right now! That protocol is optimized for text, but voice is a completely different animal. You need real-time, high-quality audio for a voice call to go well.
The biggest advantage of a virtual phone system is that you can enjoy a bevy of other features on your device besides simply making calls. Your regular desk phone just can’t do much more than make and receive calls, while a virtual phone system can do so much more. But can you really put your trust in a virtual phone system?
Can VoIP Replace Your Business Phone System?
More and more companies are realizing that the answer to that question is a resounding yes! VoIP phone systems were, in all honesty, a bit unreliable even a decade ago. Internet connections weren’t what they are today. The technology has matured to the point where it really doesn’t even make sense to stick to a landline anymore.
Remember how early GPS systems were clunky and required you to download new maps and didn’t always work with updated information? Now think about how easy they are to use. The same maturation process has happened with virtual phone systems. In fact, there are so many virtual phone system providers these days that there are options for every kind of business.
If you would like to replace all of your physical phones with VoIP phones, you can do that. If the upfront cost of doing so makes you wince, then abandon your desk phones completely and use VoIP on all of your devices. With a virtual phone system, you can make and receive calls on literally any device with an internet connection, including your cell phone or laptop.
Can You Keep Your Business Phone Number on a Virtual System?
But you filled out all those forms and paid the extra money to the local phone company so that your business phone number would be 1-Call-Bob-Now, and you just can’t let it go. Don’t worry, you can actually port your business number to your virtual phone system in as little as a few days. Most virtual phone systems offer additional vanity numbers as well for a reasonable fee.
So there really is no excuse not to opt for a VoIP system when you look at the features and flexibility that it offers. But you know that your business calls are important and need to be handled properly. You can’t have any downtime, and you need to make sure your calls are promptly picked up and given a warm reception. On a virtual phone service, that’s never been easier.
What Happens to Your Calls on a Virtual Service?
So if there’s no phone line to dial, what exactly happens when someone calls your business number? Virtual phone systems have links to the public telephone network, so even if someone is calling your business number from a landline, it’ll go through! But that’s just where the magic begins.
Normally, when you dial a phone number your call goes straight to a single line, which is attached to a single phone. Perhaps your business has a fancy menu system and extensions to allow your callers to direct their call to a specific desk, but in most cases, it’s one number, one phone. If that phone is unattended, perhaps because it’s company crumpet time, then your caller sits there and wastes their time.
With a virtual phone system, your call can go to any device. The desk phone, cell phone, computer, they all ring at the same time! Somebody is bound to pick up that call. Even if nobody is in the office, your calls can be rerouted to workers’ personal devices or home computers, as long as they’re logged into the virtual phone system.
Advantages of a Virtual Business Phone System
Besides being able to direct your calls to any device, a virtual phone system can do much more than a traditional phone service. There are several other advantages that VoIP brings to the table. You’ll be able to save money while getting more done. In addition, virtual systems scale easily, meaning you can add features and extra phone numbers as your business grows, without the hassle of dealing with the phone company.
A virtual phone system can actually save you money, whether you’re a small business or a massive corporation. Your local phone company often charges for extras like long-distance calling, and international rates can be outrageous. Features like call forwarding and call routing may require additional hardware to be installed, which comes at a cost.
If you need another line, that’s more money you’re going to have to spend. When you add in the fact that any problems require a technician to come out and investigate, you quickly realize that not only is your local phone service a bad value, but it’s also the least efficient option.
Virtual phone services charge you a fixed rate per user per month, with the rate going down as you add more users. You don’t necessarily need to make every employee a paid user, as many features are available to your employees for free once you’ve signed up. Overall, a virtual phone system cuts costs while providing you with more power.
Make Your Office More Productive
Not only does a virtual phone system make incoming calls easier to handle and process, but it also gives your business several powerful tools to improve internal communications and increase productivity. For example, with a virtual receptionist, or auto attendant, you can take incoming calls and direct them to the correct person by letting the caller provide some information or use a menu.
This is much faster than just having a receptionist constantly pick up the phone to figure out what a caller needs. That’s not even the best part! Most virtual phone systems include software that allows your workers to send text messages and create chat groups for work.
There are several other features we’ll look at that provide even more benefits to your business. A virtual phone system is much more than just a phone system: it’s an entire communications system for your whole company.
Flexibility for Small Businesses
The great thing about having a virtual phone system is how flexible it is. You only pay for the users you need, and each user will get their own virtual phone number in most systems. When your business grows, you can add new users in minutes and they’ll be able to access all of the features of your virtual phone system.
But let’s say you don’t need all of the features offered by a service provider. Well, the good news is that most providers have multiple plans, ranging from VoIP basics to complex, advanced features. That freedom to customize your plan and tailor it to your needs is yet another reason why small businesses love using a virtual phone system.
If you’re a startup still working out of a home office, VoIP is perfect for you too! You can keep your home calls and business calls separate, run your business from anywhere in the world, and still come off as professional with a proper business phone system.
Features That You Need for Your Company
So what features are essential for any virtual phone system? These are the basics you should look for, the core components that every business needs.
Call Forwarding and Call Routing
Call forwarding and call routing are fundamental services that every business should have in their phone system. The great thing about VoIP systems is that you don’t have to use complex hardware to handle this, and you don’t even need to call your service provider to set it up. Just configure call forwarding in your admin account and you’re set!
You can configure your call forwarding to try all of a user’s devices first, ringing their computer, cell phone, tablet, laptop, whatever you want. If they still don’t answer, then you can specify who should get the call next. This way, you never miss a phone call.
Toll-free numbers are a great way to encourage people to call your business for free. Plus, they look great on websites and marketing materials. Most of the time, your virtual phone system will include one toll-free number with a limit to how many minutes can be used toll-free, after which your company assumes the cost.
You can add more toll-free numbers if you need them, or you can expand the limit on a given number for a low cost.
You obviously need to know who’s calling you, and Caller ID powered by VoIP is better than ever. You can link your contacts list to your virtual number, so any time someone calls you, you get their information right away. But virtual systems go further than that!
Smart caller ID can even perform a quick search on the number calling you so that you know if it’s another business or a potential client. It can even filter out spam and block calls from numbers you no longer want to hear from.
Mobile and Desktop Apps
Before signing up for any virtual phone system, make sure you verify that they have apps for all of your platforms. If your office uses a mix of PCs and Macs, make sure they have support for both. The same is true for your cell phone: make sure there’s an app for both Android and iOS.
Having a desktop app is great because then your workers won’t ever have to stop what they’re doing to take a call. Instead of fiddling with a phone tucked under their ears, they can put on a headset and keep working. This is the best way to handle calls in your office, even better than just using a typical office phone.
Having a mobile app is likewise essential. Especially now that many people aren’t working in an office 24/7, you need to be able to make and receive calls wherever you are. With a mobile app, you’ll never miss a call to your business number.
Text Messages for Team Members
Unified communications is the name of the game. Text messages are a big part of internal communications in the office, and your desktop app and mobile app will give you this feature in addition to high-quality voice calls. Text messages are ideal for communicating between departments or between coworkers.
They’re also great for customer service. You can even set up a chatbot or customer service account for texting your customers directly.
The Best Advanced Features of Virtual Phones
If text messages and basic call features aren’t enough for you, then check out these awesome advanced features that can supercharge your business.
If you opt for a cloud-based virtual phone system, then you’ll be able to do a lot more than just make calls and perform routine call management. If you’re a large organization that needs to completely replace your business phone system, a cloud phone system with a hosted PBX can allow you to set up extensions for all of your team members.
You can also save data and share files in the cloud if your provider includes cloud storage as part of your plan. Just be mindful that if you go over your limit you could get hit with extra fees, so keep an eye on how much data you’re putting into the cloud.
Cloud-based systems also give you access to cloud computing, which means you can unlock even more advanced features.
Automation Can Run Your Business
Imagine a world where your business manages itself. Someone calls your company and the call is picked up by your auto-attendant, which greets the caller with a warm, pre-recorded voice. Or better yet, it uses an AI-generated voice that can actually understand what the caller says and then uses call routing to send their call to the right person.
And when you’re done, you get a report that shows you how long the call took, what it was about, and how much time your employees are spending on similar calls. You see an opportunity to simplify your call management by posting a helpful tutorial video, and now you don’t have 30 calls asking the same basic question.
All of this is possible with automation, and it’s one of the key features that the best virtual phone systems offer.
Call Recording and Analysis
Let’s take that one step further. What if you could record all of your calls to protect your company from legal issues and improve customer support? What if the artificial intelligence listened to those calls and gave your employees feedback about their mood and tone, even recommending better words and phrases that they could use? That’s possible right now.
AI-driven analytics is fast becoming the best way to analyze your calls and improve customer service. What was once science fiction is quickly becoming available to everyone, even small businesses! Granted, these features are only available on more expensive plans from the best providers, but the fact that it’s even possible is amazing in and of itself.
Like every other feature, you can configure the settings to record all calls or just ones from key workers. You should also make sure to delete calls after a while: otherwise, that cloud storage bill is going to hurt.
Use a VoIP Phone for a Smart Office
If you’re going to go full virtual phone system, you might as well replace your office phone with a smart IP phone that uses VoIP to make calls straight from your desk. This is one incredible upgrade. VoIP phones have touchscreens, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi connectivity, and are much easier to use than old school phones.
Businesses worldwide have realized that upgrading to a virtual phone system is a long term investment towards better productivity and better service. Your business calls will never be the same once you switch to a virtual phone system. If you’re looking for the best provider, check out our other pages where we review virtual systems and recommend the best options for your business.