What Is a Virtual Phone Number?

Many cloud phone system providers advertise virtual phone numbers as part of their feature platforms. While we’re all familiar with what phone numbers are and how they work, what exactly makes a phone number...virtual?

Virtual Phone Numbers: Route Your Business Calls Anywhere

A virtual phone number is a telephone number that is not tied to a specific phone device or phone line. In the past, a phone number was provisioned to work over a single phone line, and that line was physically connected from the phone company to the destination (a home or business office) by telephone wires. Any calls made to that phone number could only be sent to that specific destination. And, in the case of a business phone number, the business would have phone system (PBX) hardware in the office to configure call routing rules, extensions, voicemail, etc.

A virtual number removes these physical limitations that previously “tied down” phone numbers and lets a business have greater control and flexibility in how they receive calls. When used with cloud phone systems or UCaaS providers, virtual numbers can be directly purchased from the provider and managed via the web in the service’s admin portal. This allows businesses to set the destination of a virtual phone number and change it in real-time, without having to wait for the service provider’s representatives to get around to the task.

What Can Your Business Do with a Virtual Phone Number?

Unite Sales or Support Departments that Are Scattered throughout Different Cities or States

For businesses that have multiple office branches, a virtual phone number will seamlessly unite scattered staff. Instead of incoming calls ringing phones in only one office, a virtual number will have those calls ring phones across the separate offices.

How? If you have sales reps in different cities, make the destination of the virtual number be a call queue or ring group. Incoming calls to the virtual number will then ring the phones of all reps who are a part of the queue or group— simultaneously or sequentially, depending on the ring strategy that you have set up. Any rep can then answer the call, no matter which office s/he is in.

Unite staff in separate office branches with a virtual phone number.

Use a Local Phone Number in an Area Where You Have Many Customers

If your business has many clients or customers located in a different city or state, let them call you by dialing a local phone number in their own area code. Virtual phone numbers will help you establish a presence in areas where you’re not physically located, while also reducing the cost of your incoming calls. Just purchase the phone number from your provider (OnSIP has a pool of phone numbers available to customers for immediate activation) and set the destination to ring phones in your office— even if your office is not in the area serviced by the number’s area code!

Measure the Performance of Sales, Marketing, or Advertising Campaigns

When running sales or advertising campaigns, it’s imperative that you measure the overall health and success of the efforts. Rather than funneling all calls through your main business line, assign a unique virtual phone number to each campaign that you are running. That way, you’ll know when a caller is coming in from a specific campaign just by the number that s/he dialed. And when the campaign(s) is over, download and review your business’s past call reports to see how many calls came in to the specific virtual number— it can be one of the data points that will help you evaluate how successful your efforts were.

Enable Remote Working and Geographic Flexibility

You can also use virtual phone numbers to support remote working and business travel. Perhaps your business’s owner wants to be reachable on his/her cell phone while away from the office, but doesn’t want to give out his/her personal cell number to the entire company. By using a virtual phone number and setting its destination to his/her cell phone, staff can reach the owner simply by dialing the virtual number.

Answer business calls anywhere with a virtual phone number.

Expand the Reach of Your Business with a Virtual Number

From uniting a distributed staff to providing new ways for a business to answer phone calls, virtual telephone numbers enable businesses to meet the needs of their staff members while still remaining accessible to callers and customers. For more information on the topic, read our related blog post on virtual number benefits, options, and providers.

Topics: Business Technology, Office Management, About VoIP