Most businesses in the United States and other countries rely on the traditional phone system to conduct business. Landlines are over a century old and have proven to be quite reliable. Since you can make calls without the need for an internet connection, landline numbers are dependable. But a VoIP number can do so much more.
VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a technology that lets you make calls and receive calls over the internet. At first glance, there might not seem to be a big difference between VoIP numbers and traditional phone numbers. But once you understand how a VoIP phone system works, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.
How Landline Phone Numbers Work
Let’s start with the defending champion. In this corner, we have the aged veteran, the landline. Your local phone company runs phone lines along telephone poles and underground to deliver service to your physical location. Even though the cell phone has taken home plenty of titles in the past two decades, the traditional phone hasn’t given up its belt yet.
The up and coming contender is the virtual phone number. It’s young, fresh, and poised to knock the grizzled geezer out of the ring. It boasts the latest features, fancy VoIP technology, and is looking to take business to the next level. Will your local service succumb to the VoIP phone service?
When you study the matchup, it’s looking like a sure knockout for the challenger. Landline numbers few advantages are quickly wilting away, while their limitations are becoming too large to ignore.
Limitations of Landlines
The traditional phone has virtually no features. While your service provider can hook up some advanced features, like caller ID or call forwarding, Voice over IP shines a light on the weaknesses of landline numbers.
For instance, your standard phone line is tied to your physical location. You are limited to whatever area codes your provider offers. In addition, you need to have a real address to link the number to. A single location can’t have more than one local number unless you run another physical line to the building.
Worst of all, you’re stuck using a tired old desk phone. While it can be fun to slam the phone down on someone who’s driving you crazy, that’s pretty much the only special feature that your old number offers.
What Is a VoIP Number?
So if your traditional phone service is on its last legs, what’s the replacement? VoIP is ready to do everything your regular phone service can, and so much more. A virtual phone number allows you to receive calls on any device, including your cell phone or desktop computer.
Virtual phone numbers work seamlessly with standard phone systems. When you dial a virtual phone number, the service provider captures the voice data you produce when you speak into the microphone and sends it over the internet to the VoIP users’ devices. The same thing happens in reverse when they talk to you, allowing for a smooth call as long as the VoIP user has an internet connection.
The Advantages of Virtual Phone Numbers
There are so many advantages to using virtual phone numbers that it’s hard to even find room to mention them all! But we’ll give it a shot. These are the most popular features of VoIP technology. When you’re done reading, you’ll be ready to get a VoIP number in no time.
The Freedom of Voice Over IP
By far, the biggest advantage is freedom. You’re never tied to a single location with virtual phone numbers. Say you have a business in Madagascar, but you want a phone number in the United States. The odds are the phone company isn’t going to run a line down to Madagascar. So you get a business VoIP system and you can get a number in any country.
You can even choose your area codes so that your business appears to be in the local area of your clients. Just be sure to practice your Texan accent before you chose 469 local numbers. VoIP service is perfect for small business customers who want to have a local presence but can’t afford to set up shop in every area they want to target. Best of all, your customers won’t have to pay for long-distance rates.
It’s also really easy to get started with VoIP. You can have it set up in minutes with a single call to a service provider. Compared that to a traditional phone line, which probably requires a visit from your local phone service.
Manage Incoming Calls More Easily
Do you remember when someone used to call your house and every phone in the house exploded into a cacophony of noise? If you’re a small business and have several desk phones, the same thing will happen unless you set up extensions or get multiple phone lines.
But with VoIP, you can handle calls according to what your business needs. Assign one VoIP number to your front desk phone, another to the back office. You might even want to put one in the bathroom for those really important calls that just can’t wait.
With VoIP, you can have multiple users on the same number using multiple devices. So, even when your secretary is off to find the perfect salad for lunch, she can pick up her cell phone and your business won’t miss a beat.
Unlimited VoIP Numbers, Unlimited Users
But what if you want to have, say, a hundred numbers? Perhaps you want different numbers for different types of calls or different customers from around the world. Well, now you can. With VoIP, there’s no limit to how many numbers your business can have. You could have one number for every area code in the United States and make your customers feel like you’re right around the corner when in reality you’re operating from the International Space Station.
The same goes for the number of users. A great VoIP company will have an online platform, desktop app, or mobile app that you can install on your devices. Anybody in your organization can access the platform and handle calls from any of your numbers. You decide who has access to what number. It’s that simple!
Better Customer Support
VoIP customer service makes your VoIP system easy to use. Sometimes new technology can be confusing, but when you have good customer service from your VoIP provider, you have nothing to worry about. In fact, the big VoIP companies have dedicated staff and can even pay you a visit if you need advanced features!
Customer service can help you set up new virtual numbers and solve any problems you have with your system. VoIP services are also much faster at responding than your typical phone service.
Use Your Virtual Phone Number on Multiple Devices
Now here’s something your landline number can’t do. A virtual phone call works on any device with an internet connection. So you could be sitting at your computer when you pick up the VoIP call, or riding the subway and using your mobile phone. Calls using VoIP work anywhere, on any device. Just add internet.
This is perfect for the business traveler who frequently finds themselves on the go. Instead of setting up forwarding, you can just bring your number with you wherever you go.
Get a Virtual Toll Free Number
“But hold on!” I hear you crying, “How will I market my toothbrush toilet brush combo without one of those cool 1-800 numbers?” Have no fear, because you can also set up toll-free numbers using VoIP. You can add toll-free numbers to your VoIP network easily. In fact, some companies include them for free.
You’ll get a certain amount of toll-free minutes that you can assign to a specific number. It’s a great way to get customers to call in without paying any long distance charges or to encourage new business opportunities.
By now, it looks like the best business phone belt is going to the VoIP service. The landline number doesn’t stand a chance. It’s round 6 and he’s reeling. Here comes the final blow: The advanced features. Your VoIP phone number has advanced features like the auto-attendant, able to answer calls using AI.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Check out all the other amazing features you can get with VoIP phones.
Call Routing and Call Forwarding Options
VoIP calls have those fancy features that your regular phones have too. If you’re familiar with routing and forwarding features, you can get started right away. But instead of calling your local phone provider, you just log into the website of your VoIP provider and configure everything there. Much easier than dealing with those irate customer service people.
You can make your business more efficient by routing calls to where they need to go and make sure your customers always reach the right person.
Make Your Desk Phones Smarter
VoIP phone numbers let you do some amazing things with your desk phones. There are VoIP phone systems that bring the internet right to your desk. When someone calls your old number, nothing special really happens. You might get some caller ID information, but wouldn’t it be great if, say, you got all the info from your Google Contacts when someone called?
With VoIP, you can do that and much more! When you receive a phone call on your VoIP phone number, your smart stationary phone can display plenty of personal information about the caller. You can even set it up to show your call history and record of interactions so that if someone calls back after having a problem, they won’t have to explain it twice.
However, to get started, you’ll need to buy some new gear. There are tons of smart business phone systems out there, so ask your VoIP provider what products they recommend.
Call Recording for Quality Control
Back in the day, the only way to record calls from local numbers was to use an answering machine or a special recording system. But when you use a virtual number, you can record everything that happens on the call. You can save the recording to your computer, or you can even opt for cloud storage and save your calls online.
This gives your business a huge advantage. You can review recorded calls at any time, and you can configure recording for all of your VoIP virtual numbers. Use these recordings to evaluate employees and improve your interactions with customers. Aren’t VoIP phones amazing?
Just be sure to ask the VoIP company about their cloud storage costs. They may include some free cloud storage, but they can also sneak hidden overage fees into the bill. You can set up your system to auto-delete old recordings when your cloud storage fills up, however.
One of the Best Caller ID Solutions
Regardless of the area code, you use for your VoIP phone numbers you’ll be able to get detailed ID information about anyone who dials in. Some phone systems only give specific information
about calls from local numbers. With a VoIP number, you have the power of the internet at your disposal.
Smart caller ID can identify the name of the caller, the business they represent, and even integrate with your existing contacts to get more information. Connect your VoIP software to Google or Microsoft and whenever your contacts ring your VoIP phone, you’ll have all the info you need.
You can also set up filters that keep scammers at bay and prevent unwanted calls. For instance, block an area code from calling a particular VoIP phone number, ensuring that they always use the right number for their region.
Common VoIP Questions
How Do I Get a VoIP Number?
See, we knew you’d want one once you got done reading. There are dozens of VoIP number providers out there. You can check out some of our other articles that compare companies if you need some help choosing the best ones.
Not every company offers the same level of VoIP features. Some only give you a VoIP phone number, and that’s it. Others provide full software solutions that let you use VoIP on multiple devices.
Similarly, some give you unlimited phone calls, while others may impose a limit to how many minutes you can use your virtual numbers.
Can You Trace a VoIP Number?
That’s an oddly suspicious question, but we’ll answer it anyway. It’s not quite as easy as it would be to trace a call from a normal phone number, but it’s still possible.
You can look up the number and you might be able to determine which VoIP company provided it. In that case, file a complaint with them and they will review the call records and punish the offender if they violated the terms of service.
If you’re in the United States, you can also file a complaint with the FTC. They have imposed stricter call rules, so they can take action for you if someone is harassing you with a VoIP phone number.
Can You Text a VoIP Number?
In most cases, you can absolutely send SMS messages to a VoIP number. It’s even possible to leave voicemails and have them transcribed to text on some VoIP systems. When you buy a VoIP number, you’ll get a certain number of SMS messages that you can send as well.
What’s more, if you’re using VoIP phone numbers to handle your SMS messages, you can access them through the same software you use to make a call. Now you can read and reply to your SMS messages while sitting at your desk.
Are There Any Disadvantages?
We’d be lying if we said that VoIP was completely perfect. Its greatest advantage has often been cited as its biggest weakness. VoIP depends on the internet to function, so if your internet goes down, so does your VoIP number. This can be a big issue for certain businesses that need 100% uptime.
However, even this problem can be solved by cleverly combining your landline with your VoIP phone number. If someone tries to call while your internet is down, it can be routed through the landline and then sent to your VoIP numbers. RingCentral, for instance, offers this feature with its RingCentral persist system.
What About Emergency Numbers?
Most VoIP companies tell you not to use their service for emergencies. However, it is possible to make a call to e911 in the event of an emergency. This feature usually costs as little as $1 a month. Ask your VoIP company if they can add it to your bill. E911 is actually superior to regular 911, as it can use the internet to determine your exact location and deliver more vital details to first responders.
In short, everything is possible with your VoIP number. Looks like it’s time for the old landline to hang up the gloves and retire. Will VoIP reign supreme for the next century?