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A dedicated business phone number isn’t a luxury. If you want to acquire and retain customers and grow your business, it is a necessity. This is true irrespective of the sector you operate in and the size of your business. But choosing a business phone number can be confusing, considering the options you have now.
This wasn’t the case just a few years ago. If you had to choose a business phone number, all you had to do was contact the phone company. In all likelihood, this would be the same provider who would have delivered your landline at home. Or you would have continued using your mobile phone for business.
Both these have problems, which we will discuss in more detail later. To effectively run a business now, whether it’s an independent business or early-stage startup or freelance operation, you need an exclusive business phone number.
In this guide to choosing a business phone number, we will explain what it is, why you need one, how to get it, the features you should look for, its advantages and disadvantages and the most popular options you can consider.
A business phone number gives customers, clients, suppliers, vendors and other entities a direct link to the business. Any call or message coming into this number will be treated as related to the business. This helps businesses streamline their communication.
Companies can have one or more business phone numbers. This is irrespective of the size of the company. Even a small business can have a business phone number dedicated to customer support and another to be used in marketing campaigns for generating leads.
With a business phone number, you can also establish your presence in a particular area. An email is location-neutral and a customer sending one doesn’t necessarily expect the recipient to be in their local area. But a business phone number with a local or vanity number can make you more relatable.
Business phone numbers come with versatile functionalities because customers now contact businesses in numerous ways. Some may call whereas others may prefer to text or use an instant messaging app. The business phone number you choose should help you engage with customers through all these channels.
The multi-channel engagement between customers and businesses necessitates another functionality in today’s business phone numbers; they need to enable multiple individuals to use it. For example, there could be a designated individual to handle shipping-related enquiries and another one to manage marketing messages.
So, while a business phone number might seem like a single channel of communication between a business and its audiences, there could be multiple platforms and individuals involved in it.
At the outset, there’s something that you need to understand if you’re searching for a business phone number. To call it merely a number can be misleading. What we mean by a business phone number is actually a business phone system.
A number allows you to make and receive calls. A system does so much more. And a modern business phone number will give you a comprehensive communication system with tools to manage your communication and grow your business.
Other than providing a direct line to your firm, a modern business phone number will come with features such as voicemail, IVR or interactive voice response, auto-reply, call forwarding and other communication and marketing tools.
Traditionally, a consumer or client had multiple but separate channels to get in touch with a company. Modern business phone numbers offer all these platforms as a unified package and that’s why they’re also referred to as unified communication systems.
Does it mean that conventional phone systems don’t have these features? Some of them do. But if you’re looking for a business phone number, you have several dynamic and feature-rich options that are cost-effective and easy to manage.
For decades, businesses had only one option when it came to getting a phone number. It was a landline with an area code. Now there are multiple options to choose from, including freephone numbers, local rate and second number apps.
With freephone numbers, the caller won’t be charged but the recipient will be. These numbers allow people to make free calls within the UK. So, a customer calling you won’t have to pay for the call but your business will be charged for the incoming call. Freephone numbers have prefixes such as 0800, 0808 and 0500.
Customer care: A customer might be already aggrieved or worried about an order or product and the last thing they want is to pay for the call. With more direct calls, there will be speedy resolutions, which will improve your customer service.
Marketing: Launching a new product or offer? A freephone number can incentivise potential customers to call you. If you’re in B2B, this is an effective way to generate leads.
Although initially they were used to refer to the cheapest call charges between local area landlines, now they can refer to any number with standard call rates. Phone companies now offer regular landline rates instead of local rate charges.
Customer helpline: If your business gets customer queries through calls, you can use a local rate number to address them.
Paid campaign involvement: You can use them in marketing campaigns to get customers to call you. But this won’t be a free service.
Collateral request: To get collateral such as leaflets or brochures, customers can be encouraged to call you at standard landline rates.
Instead of chargeable 08 numbers, 03 numbers were launched as an alternative in the UK. With these UK-wide numbers, your business can have a single national call number without callers having to pay extra. The charges are the same as those of landline numbers, whether the call is made from a landline or mobile.
National presence: With a 0333 number, your business can have a national number. This frees you from your immediate location and gives you greater reach among customers all across the UK.
These belong to the non-geographic number set and come with prefixes such as 09, 118, 0871, 0872 and 0873. Premium rate numbers are more expensive than the other options and are usually used for competitions or services including weather information. Some of the premium rate numbers can cost the caller up to £3 per minute.
Provide value: Businesses use premium rate numbers when the caller has a chance to get a greater value from the call and doesn’t mind paying for it.
Discourage calls: Some companies also use these numbers to discourage people from calling them.
You can also get a vanity or custom business phone number by customising numbers or letters to form or word or an association with your business in a memorable way. The numbers would correspond to a phone keypad’s letters. Usually, the recipient pays the call charges for vanity numbers.
Brand recognition: You can use vanity numbers in marketing campaigns for greater brand recall.
Customer support: Custom phone numbers can also be used for customer helplines.
Unlike traditional phones, second-line or virtual phone numbers use the internet to connect callers. You don’t need to buy a device and these modern phone systems can work on any connected device. They’re quick to deploy, cost-effective and come with enhanced features such as number sharing, contact organisation, auto-reply, voicemail, call forwarding and other marketing functionalities.
Exclusive business phone: A second-line number can be your dedicated number for work, which will help you achieve a work-life balance.
Lead generation: You can make cold calls at highly affordable rates while protecting your primary number.
Marketing: Top-rated second-line numbers also give you advanced texting and chat features to engage in conversational marketing.
Long-distance communication: Second-line numbers have highly competitive rates for long-distance and international calls.
With global suppliers to choose from, businesses don’t need to have their own manufacturing anymore. With dropshipping, you don’t even have to produce anything. With increasing digitalisation, a business may not even need an office.
But every business, from a one-person operation to one with multiple teams needs a business phone number. Here’s why.
Every interaction with a business has to be a professional interaction. With a business phone number, the caller knows that the business has a dedicated channel for customers and clients. The more professional you appear, the more credible you will be.
Using your personal number for business calls makes it easy for spammers and robocalls. By posting your business phone number on your website, social media channels, marketing collateral and business directories, you will be protecting your private number. Fewer calls from strangers mean greater peace of mind.
Greeting messages can convey important information about your business and also your brand characteristics. Modern business phone numbers allow you to customise your greetings, for example, for when your business is open and when it’s closed.
Modern business phone numbers give you tools to unify and optimise your communication. You can forward calls to multiple numbers, share your numbers, use voicemail and auto-reply. You can also monitor and manage your communication and make the necessary changes.
A business phone number allows you to set your working hours. If you get any calls during your off hours or holidays, you can use auto-reply to send pre-written messages or direct callers to an emergency number or website. This allows you to separate your work and personal lives and achieve a better work-life balance.
Why give out multiple numbers – yours or those of your colleagues – when you can share one number and direct all communication to that line? A business phone number, when shared on your website, online directories, storefronts and social media channels, gives a consistent brand message.
Now that you know the different kinds of business phone numbers and their advantages, the question becomes which one should you choose. Considering the technological differences, the answer is quite simple.
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol technology) has redefined telephony by taking the network online. It uses the internet to make and receive calls as opposed to the traditional physical network. Businesses are shifting to VoIP services due to the following benefits.
Choosing a VoIP service means you’re getting a business phone number without the burden associated with devices and hardware. Since it operates like any other application, you don’t have to buy an additional device. You also don’t have to invest in special hardware and dedicated phone lines.
VoIP services come with easy access. While there are VoIP-enabled devices, you can also get a second-line app and get started within a matter of minutes. Once you download the app and choose your subscription package, you can use your VoIP service on any connected device.
Not only is VoIP cheaper than traditional office phone systems to install, but the charges are also low. This is particularly true for long-distance and international calls. These translate to significant savings on operational expenses. Since there’s little maintenance, you don’t have to keep trained IT personnel on your team. That makes VoIP extremely cost-effective.
Along with high-definition voice calling, cloud PBX, advanced texting, auto-reply and other business features, a VoIP service allows you to unify your communication. You will be able to monitor and manage everything from one place. Adding or removing users is exceptionally easy and doesn’t require you to contact the provider.
A VoIP service is the right system for distributed teams. You can effortlessly integrate new team members into your business phone system and give them the necessary features. Since they don’t require any new devices, they can quickly start by downloading the service.
With conventional phone systems, adding new numbers means getting new devices, extending phone lines and then taking care of their maintenance. With VoIP, it’s as simple as upgrading your package and adding features through your dashboard. It can be done easily and efficiently, without any unnecessary expenditure.
When we say that a VoIP service is easy to set up, we really mean it. You can get started in these four steps. No need to call an IT technician, no need to wait for someone from your phone company.
1. Install the app: Once you choose your business phone number provider, install the app.
2. Instantly choose your second phone number: Now you can quickly select your new second phone number. For Chalkboard, you can select from a UK mobile or US local number.
3. Customise your number to suit your business: Select the features you want and customise your new business phone number. Don’t worry if you miss something, as you can always add or remove it later.
4. You pay a simple, affordable subscription fee: Chalkboard has an affordable subscription plan with no binding long-term contracts. Your subscription includes all call and text charges and there won’t be any extra fees.
Before you decide on a new business phone number, it’s good to know about its advantages and disadvantages.
If you use the same number for work and business, you have to be constantly available and all your communication and contacts will get mixed. It would be difficult not to answer a call when you’re with your family or friends. It would also be a challenge to look for your business contacts among your saved numbers
With a dedicated number for work, you can organise your communication. You will know that any call coming into that number will be work-related, which will help you prioritise. This allows you to separate your work and personal lives, which will help achieve a greater work-life balance.
Do you know how many people have your number? Thought so. Using the same phone number for business and personal calls gives unlimited coverage for your number. And along with it, potentially, other details too. Soon, you could be inundated with spammers and robocalls because they can easily get your number from your website or social media channels.
A business phone number gives you the freedom to share it everywhere without worrying about your digital privacy. You can safely presume that all incoming calls and messages will be related to work. If it gets into the hands of spammers, there’s always the option of changing it.
Modern business phone numbers like Chalkboard give you a world of features to monitor, manage and grow your business. From customised voicemail greetings to call forwarding, there’s an array of tools that you can easily use for your business.
Auto-reply allows you to send messages to calls that you might miss. Advanced chat gives you the power of conversational marketing. Plus, you can easily monitor and manage your employees’ usage, add features and upgrade plans from your dashboard.
With a dedicated business phone number, you’re supposed to be constantly available. It might convey to customers that you have the necessary resources to handle calls 24/7, unlike with a personal number. The solution is to clearly specify your working hours and set auto-reply for when you’re not available.
Keep in mind the following features when you compare business phone numbers. Some of these are hardware-related (if you’re buying a device) and the others are about the functionalities (if you opt for a second-line number).
Camera: If you take product photos and videos with your phone, you need a good camera with excellent resolution and plenty of filters.
Storage: You need sufficient storage if you take photos and access documents through your business phone. Along with current usage, do consider future requirements.
Processing power: To ensure that your phone doesn’t hang, especially if you use multiple apps, you need one with top-notch processing power.
Email and social media support: Your business phone should make it easy to access your email and social media channels.
Integrations: If your team uses any project management, communication or customer relationship management app, it should seamlessly work on your business phone.
Contact separation: It might seem obvious but this will make it easy to find any previous communication from clients or customers.
Intuitive texting: Any business phone that can help you send marketing and customer service texts will help drive your customer engagement.
Price: You shouldn’t have to pay needlessly high subscription fees. That’s why it helps to look for sector-specific business phone numbers.
Customer support: Your business phone number provider needs to have dedicated support instead of online forums or tedious guides.
Like any other technology, you have business phone number providers who specialise in certain specific audiences. If you’re in the market for a new business number, these are some of the providers that you can consider.
Chalkboard is built with modern businesses in mind. With no special hardware required, it’s a great alternative to older VoIP phone services. Chalkboard's affordable pricing and features provide everything you need from a business phone number without the additional hardware seen in other, less-modern solutions.
You can instantly choose a local phone number to be your second line for work and get started in minutes. To increase collaboration and enable multiple individuals to answer incoming calls, Chalkboard has number-sharing. Contact organisation and auto-reply will help you achieve a better work-life balance.
This modern business phone number also has group broadcast and advanced chat. Now you can share multimedia messages by adding photos, files, videos, voice notes and contact cards. For independent businesses, early-stage startups and freelancers, this is the ideal business phone number.
Powered by AI, Dialpad offers a unified communications system for distributed teams, companies with call centres, and large sales teams. This business phone comes with a voice intelligence application that enables you to provide coaching, deliver sales recommendations, capture notes and detect caller sentiments in real-time.
Dialpad integrates well with Office365, Slack and G Suite, helping unlock the synergy between project management and business communication. More than a business phone number, Dialpad is an integrated communication analysis system suited for businesses with sales personnel and a large team of customer service agents. For small businesses with limited resources and needs, it could turn out to be complex.
For medium and large enterprises looking for unified communications, RingCentral is a credible choice. This VoIP service provider delivers integrated messaging that includes videos, texts and calls. Along with auto-attendant and other business augmentation tools, you also get service reports to analyse the performance of your teams.
You also get integrations with a wide range of apps including Salesforce, Google and Microsoft365 to improve collaboration between internal and external actors. If you run an integrated agency or a medium-sized enterprise, RingCentral should be on your list of potential business phone providers.
As an early entrant, Grasshopper helped define the VoIP phone market, although it uses cellular signals for internet connection. One of the most popular brands in the sector, the app is known for its ease of use. Both the desktop and mobile versions of the app are user-friendly and intuitive, which will help ordinary users.
Grasshopper allows you to separate your work and personal communication. One of the striking features is the alert for an incoming text or call that will tell you whether it’s personal or work-related. But those looking for enhanced texting features may be left disappointed.
Chalkboard has been designed with smaller, growing businesses in mind. This modern, device-neutral business phone number combines ease of use with advanced functionalities. It’s affordable, effortless to manage and has all the features you need to acquire and retain customers and grow your business.
Number sharing, contact organisation, auto-reply and advanced texting are tools to separate your work and personal lives and help you to get more out of your marketing. Plus, unlike most business phone numbers, there are no binding contracts.
All information provided in this guide was believed to be correct at the time of publishing. However, please be aware of future changes.
Read this complete guide if you’re considering implementing a BYOD policy for your business
While 'bring your own device' or BYOD may have its advantages, it's a bad idea to combine your work phone and personal phone