A virtual phone number is a number that isn’t associated with any specific phone line, and is used to route calls to the proper receiver. These calls can then be rerouted to a phone line, app, site, or voicemail inbox.
A virtual phone number works in the same way as a mall directory or guest services desk: You approach the directory in search of a specific store or general vicinity, and the directory will then point you in the right direction. In that sense, a virtual phone number can be thought of as the most central location between the available destination numbers.
What is VoIP?
VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, allows you to use the internet to make or receive phone calls. In this way, a virtual phone number can route a business call to a device without needing to be tied to a specific location or physical phone line.
Evolution of VoIP
This technology has actually been around for 25 years, first developed as the internet began to become such an important part of daily life. Developers were looking for a method to save money on long-distance calls.
Remember when you had to wait until after 7 p.m. to save money on a call? It wasn't very good for business. Today, people take for granted the ability to call anywhere in the world at any time. Phone companies were forced to modernize in part due to VoIP competition.
Of course, the early versions of VoIP involved a lot of, "Can you hear me now?" It took time to develop the infrastructure and backend development to make the quality of internet calls as good as (and sometimes better than) a traditional phone number.
VoIP progressed from computer-to-telephone calls to phone-to-phone calls. At first, the systems were funded through advertisements users were forced to hear to make a call. As the demand for a more flexible system grew, so did the technology's capabilities — more robust features, faster speeds, and lower costs.
As internet speeds grew, the quality of connection also improved. By the early 2000s, consumers had become far more comfortable with internet calling and even video calling.
How does VoIP benefit businesses?
Virtual phone numbers allow marketers to maintain a business presence in a given geographical region, without being tied to a physical number or landline. Without VoIP, a phone company would be forced to use a physical landline to route calls according to the caller’s area code.
No Need for Community Presence
Your business no longer needs to have an office in a specific community in order to present yourself as a local business. You can get a local virtual number without paying rent or owning property there.
Ability to Work Remotely
Some companies don't need an office at all. Perhaps your employees are working from home or even in cafes around the world. Your customers can contact them wherever they are with high-quality connections that make it sound like they're right next door.
Traditional phone services are expensive, especially when you have a large staff that needs a phone at every desk. It's simple economics: phone companies are, usually, monopolies. What's more, you are likely spending a lot on business data as well. You can often save money by paying for your data and your phone services in a combined way.
Ready to make the move?
There are many VoIP systems out in the marketing you can tap into, but it’s a general best practice to look for one that is more than just a virtual phone (check out this blog to learn why).
Instead, it’s best to look for a robust system that is both a softphone and a lead management tool. Doing so will save you time and money. A great place to start is with CallRail’s Lead Center platform, which helps you replace your old phone system while giving you all the tools you need in one place. And because it centralizes all your customer interactions in a single inbox, you also get the added benefit of never missing another lead again.