What Are Virtual Phone Numbers?

You may have heard of virtual numbers and wondered what they are.

Well, wonder no more, as it’s really very simple – a virtual number is the same as a regular phone number, except that it is hosted in the cloud, rather than being tied to one specific physical line and location.

virtual phone numbersThe next question is, of course, why you might want one instead of a regular phone number.

Do more with a virtual number

For a start they give you more options – you can link them to one or more cloud-hosted call handling services, such as a virtual switchboard or call divert, to handle your calls in any way you like.

There’s nothing to stop you just redirecting calls made to your virtual number to your existing landline or mobile number, or even switching between them if you’re in and out of the office. You can even divert calls to a virtual number on to an international number if you’re overseas on business but need to stay in touch.

However, you needn’t stop with a simple call redirect – by connecting your virtual number to more sophisticated services you could set up a phone system to perfectly match your company’s needs. For example you could use the virtual switchboard service to set up a company switchboard, complete with call waiting, call menus, extension numbers for departments / key staff members, group divert services to distribute incoming calls to a team ready to talk to them, and much, much more.

Stay location independent

Another key advantage of virtual numbers is that they are location independent and therefore very portable.

This can come in very handy in a number of situations:

  1. If you’re a sole trader and you work in different locations or are often out on the road. You can give people a regular number to call (such as an 01/02 number or an 0800 number) and have the call reach you wherever you are. It looks more professional and is less off-putting than using your mobile number, but it still means you need never miss a call.
  2. If you want to move premises, or have more than one premises you want to connect under a single number. As a virtual number is cloud-based it’s easy to decide where your calls end up by changing the destination number or service in your online account. It’s fast and easy to change and doesn’t require you paying any redirection fees. It’s also a good way to connect home-workers and even contractors you work with so they are directly reachable via your number.
  3. In the event of your business being hit with a disaster of some kind, such as a fire or flood, you can still keep the phone lines open to update customers and staff. We have a range of disaster recovery and business continuity solutions (see our guide here) you can choose from, but the fact that your phone service isn’t tied to your physical premises means it’s easy to switch over where your calls are diverted to whilst you sort out the mess. Whether you end up in a temporary office, or just handling calls on mobile phones, your phone system is one less thing to worry about when you’ve got other big problems to deal with.

As you can see, virtual numbers and hosted services are actually a smart choice.

What number ranges are available?

You can get just about any number range you want when you choose a virtual number.

A popular choice is a regular 01/02 regional number, as they are instantly recognised and signal that the business is local. It’s also possible to have multiple numbers covering different area codes all redirecting calls back to your office, which is ideal if your business operates in an area covering different codes and you want to give the impression that you’re based in each.

There is also the 03 number range, which is charged at the same rate as 01 and 02 number. Whilst  the 0300 range is reserved for charities and other not-for-profits, the 0333 range is available for business use. It’s a good choice and one that is becoming more popular.

Other than that Freephone numbers are also popular and widely known. We offer both 0800 and 0808 number ranges.

Local rate and national rate numbers are available too and some are even revenue generating, which can help offset the costs. Check out the numbers starting 084 and 087 to see the difference in costs and how much number they generate. If you think you might want one of these and you’re not sure where to start, an 0844 number is a popular choice.

You can also get 070 personal numbers and 090 premium rate numbers. These have more specialist uses so we recommend you talk to us about them first to make sure they are right for you.

We also offer wide range of international virtual numbers from over 100 countries, so if you do business abroad you can set up a number and direct calls made to it wherever you want, such as to a representative in tht country, or else a specialist language team back in the UK.

So, there you have it. Virtual numbers are just like regular numbers but better, with more options, more flexibility and more choice.

What next?

If you’d like to discover which number type and services would best benefit your business, please give us a call on 0333 247 00 00 or send us message now.

Written by Matt