What is a Virtual Phone Number?

Virtual Phone Numbers in a Real World

As the world becomes increasingly more digital it isn’t surprising that virtual phone numbers have also become a firm reality in today’s field of telecoms. So what actually is a virtual phone number and how do they work? Basically these numbers are cloud-based, which enables businesses to be contacted without having to have a traditional phone system. All you need is an outbound phone line. These versatile virtual phone numbers are easily routed to a landline, mobile(s) or even SIP trunks. So wherever you are – in the office, on the road or away on your holidays, you can receive those all-important customer calls via your virtual phone number without the need for an expensive virtual phone system. No upfront fees and no extra equipment. Saving you time and money – that’s got to be a good move right?

How do Virtual Phone Numbers differ from Regular Numbers?

Unlike regular phone numbers virtual numbers do not restrict you to one specific location or particular device. As we previously mentioned, they can be easily routed to one or multiple locations – typically configured via an online portal or handy app. In a post-pandemic world of hybrid working having the flexibility to route to staff (wherever they are) is invaluable. Your service provider will usually provide logins to a configuration platform linked to your telecom account. Once on your platform you’ll soon discover that rerouting is a quick-click exercise.

Virtual Phone Numbers V Regular Phone Numbers

Incoming calls are received in exactly the same way regular incoming calls would be. There is no delay on the line, no change in tone and the quality is just a good. Of course choosing a Tier 1 service provider will ensure that you enjoy excellent quality at all times – even in the most rural areas.

Geographic and Non-Geographic Virtual Numbers

When choosing a virtual phone number for your business you’ll need to firstly ask yourself, do you want to create a local or national presence? Virtual phone numbers are available as 03, 08 or regional options – giving you the ability to create a virtual presence in your local area or much further afield. Just imagine living and working in Manchester yet advertising a London number – you can create a different geographic office(s) in an instant. It’s quick and much less expensive than actually being there.

03, 08 and local virtual numbers

Let’s take a closer look at the difference between 03, 08 and local virtual phone numbers…

  • 03 Numbers0333 and o330 numbers are the most popular in this range. The only difference between these 03 virtual phone numbers is the way they look. Many people like to choose their virtual phone number depending on how it appears, for instance it may be made up of a combination of numbers featuring memorable double or repeating digits. You’ll find 0345’s are also available however these were brought in as a caller-friendly version of their more expensive twin – 0845 numbers. Seeing 0345’s used as customer service numbers is commonplace.

    03s are attractive for callers in terms of price as they are usually included in free minute bundles and if on the rare occasion they’re not, they are never any more than a local rate call.

    0300s are a little different, these are specifically used for charities and government sector organisations. A charity or government sector registration number is required when setting up an 0300. Why? Not only is it Ofcom regulation, it provides a clear signal to callers that the organisation they are about to contact is the genuine article.

    08 Phone Calls

0800 Virtual Phone Numbers

Otherwise known as freephone or toll free numbers 0800s and now 0808 too don’t cost your caller anything to contact you. These long-standing virtual business phone numbers are a clear signal to your callers that you care – you’re looking after their pocket after all. 0800 and 0808s are UK freephone numbers however international toll free virtual phone numbers should also available from your service provider. Of course worldwide rates for you as a business owner can differ when international numbers come into play. Once again, choosing a Tier 1 provider will mean that you enjoy the most competitive rates.

Local Prefixes

From 0161 and 0207 to 0121 and 0141 there is a specific number for simply everywhere and anywhere throughout the UK. As we mentioned, virtual phone numbers are an easy way to reinforce your current location or to create a brand new one. Again these virtual phone numbers work in exactly the same way as regular phone numbers. What’s more, if you’re looking for an international number many service providers (particularly Tier 1) can supply those too – not only providing country-specific numbers but international regions too.

Virtual Phone System

Virtual phone number providers

Virtual phone number providers may also offer a variety of call features to help with those incoming calls. This is especially true of Tier 1 providers who typically give higher quality services. So, in addition to simply being able to forward calls to mobile phones, landlines or SIP trunks there is often a plethora of features which await – all designed to help with the call handling process. That means less pressure on call handlers even at the busiest times of day.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular features you can expect:

  • Call Queue – this function allows you to place a set number of callers in a queue as they waiting for their call to be answered. Music and bespoke messages can be played as callers wait. Along with notifications callers can also be informed of their position in the queue. Callers can also be given the opportunity to jump out of the queue and leave a voicemail. Not only does this handy feature keep callers entertained and informed as they wait, it means call handlers can focus on calls in hand knowing callers waiting are being dealt with.
  • Voice2Email – as the name suggests this innovative features allows callers to leave a voicemail which is then delivered into a designated email box or boxes as an audio file. This service supersedes the voicemail on your mobile phone or office landline, and as messages aren’t tied to a specific device you or your staff can listen wherever you are. Simply log onto your email and listen, safe in the knowledge you’ll never miss a call.24/7 Functionality
  • Out-of-Hours – gives you the ability to operate your virtual phone numbers right around the clock. That means your business can continue long after you’ve finished for the day. Weekly out-of-hours schedules can typically be set up to one week in advance and are built to route to mobiles, landlines, SIP trunks, voicemail or prerecorded messages (e.g informing callers of opening hours, services or inviting them leave a message). Just imagine, this is a great way for you to switch off and relax whilst your virtual phone system continues to work for you 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.
  • Disaster Recovery – your virtual phone number should in most cases come complete with a contingency plan should disaster strike. That give you a second routing plan which sits in the background, almost like a ‘Plan B’ ready to activate should anything happen. Fallen cables, power outages – they are out of our control but should anything happen, your virtual phone number you can have you up and running again in seconds – avoiding expensive downtime. So, there is never a reason you should ever miss a call.

Virtual Phone System Facts & Stats

Did you know that your virtual phone number will often come along with a whole host of invaluable real-time call data? Some virtual phone number providers also give you access to call data via a handy portal where you can check out the following:

Number of calls received – which date they came in and at what time of day

Number of calls missed

Your busiest times of day/week

Which destination number or numbers your virtual phone number was routed to

There are often insightful functions such as ‘heat maps’ which show where calls are coming from in the UK. Many customers find the re-marketing value of this function invaluable i.e. as they’re then able to push for more custom in the most fruitful areas or target the quieter locations.

Staff Management

So, this is where your virtual phone number becomes an effective management tool too, enabling you to monitor call handling and allocate staff where and when they’re needed the most.

It' s a business phone number and then some...

Call Handling Improvements

Once you have identified call patterns you will also be able to see where call handling and/or customer care improvements can be made. For instance, perhaps you could add a call queue when callers aren’t able to get through during busy periods/lower staffing levels or maybe it’s a case of adding an overflow of destination numbers (hunt groups) for calls to route to when primary lines are engaged.

Campaign Performance Tracking

A healthy ROI (return on investment) is the golden goose of a successful advertising campaign. That is all well and good however as you know, tracking campaign results can be tricky. Thankfully if using a virtual phone number as part of your ad campaign that makes it easy to monitor how effective the campaign has been. Simply log on to your telecom portal, check out the number of inbound calls from your dedicated virtual phone number and check out your conversions – easy! Of course if you have multiple campaigns all that’s needed are multiple virtual phone numbers.

Tomorrow's Innovation

Looking into the future…

It’s pretty clear to see that your virtual phone number can be easily routed to landlines and or mobile(s) – that’s the flexible beauty of them. OK, now lets fast-forward to 2025. You may or may not know that in three years time telecoms is going cloud based as fixed lines become obsolete and VoIP solutions take over. Rest assured, your virtual phone number can make the transition too – simply by routing your telephone number to a SIP trunk/IP address. Your telephone number is integral to your branding and underpins your communication so it’s good to know that your virtual number can adapt with the times.

In Conclusion

Hopefully we’ve given you an in-depth insight, answering key questions such as: What is a virtual phone number? How do virtual phone numbers fit into your business? and…What are the benefits of a virtual phone number?

We’ve established that you don’t need an expensive phone system to receive calls via virtual numbers – a mobile phone or landline will do just fine. Of course, with the ability to route to multiple outbound lines these flexible phone numbers lend themselves to businesses of all sizes – from one-man bands through to multisite concerns. So, whether it’s a single mobile or entire call centre virtual phone numbers are the ideal solution.

Let’s Talk

If you would like more information or want to activate a virtual telephone number call 0330 332 0400 or visit www.numbersupermarket.co.uk We’re always more than happy to tell you more about our feature-packed options.

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