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For any business, investing in the right products is vital. What’s also important is choosing the right technology to manage and optimise business communication. That’s where a virtual mobile number comes in.
Gone are the days when small businesses and startups had to use expensive technological solutions just because large enterprises did so. Now you can get affordable and feature-rich systems that are easy to set up and use. A virtual mobile number is one such solution that’s disrupting the communications industry and encouraging more and more business owners and entrepreneurs to adopt it.
In this guide to virtual mobile numbers, we will explain what they are, how they work, their key features and how your business can benefit from a virtual mobile number.
What is a virtual mobile number?
Is a virtual mobile number a real phone number?
How does a virtual mobile number work?
What are the different types of virtual mobile numbers?
How your business can use a virtual mobile number
How to get a virtual mobile number
Differences between virtual and regular mobile numbers
Regular mobile numbers vs. virtual numbers: Not either/or
Key features you should expect when getting a virtual mobile number
9 benefits of a virtual mobile number for small businesses
Grow your business with a virtual mobile number
Chalkboard: Get your new virtual mobile number within minutes
A virtual mobile number works over the internet. It uses VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) to connect callers. Other than calls, you can also send texts and share documents using a virtual mobile number.
The traditional phone systems are tied to either a location or a device. Landline numbers are given to a specific location and you can only use them if you’re present there. To use a mobile phone, a user needs a SIM. But a virtual mobile number isn’t limited by a location or device.
You don’t have to buy an additional device or hardware to use a virtual mobile number. You can download an application from a VoIP provider and start using it on any device connected to the internet. This makes virtual mobile numbers device-agnostic.
Just like your landline or mobile, a virtual mobile number is indeed a real phone number. The primary difference is that virtual numbers are linked to an online account from a VoIP provider and not a device or SIM. When you make a call or send a text from a virtual number, the recipient will not notice any difference.
When you sign up for a VoIP provider, you can choose from a variety of numbers including local, toll-free or vanity. If you use any of these for your business, the customers won’t know that it’s a virtual mobile number.
Landlines use a physical network of copper wires to connect a user to a PSTN or Public Switched Telephone Network that consists of fibre optic cables, telephone lines and switching centres. Mobile phones use the cellular network comprising towers to connect callers.
VoIP, on the other hand, uses the internet. Any call on a VoIP service converts audio into smaller data packets. These are then reconverted at the receiver’s end to audio. Just like all other digital transmissions, it’s data that’s transmitted and unpacked.
When you sign up for a virtual mobile number, your chosen VoIP provider will give you one with your desired area code. When a call comes in, it will register as local and map to the user’s real number. The user can take the call on any device with the VoIP application.
One of the most notable advantages of virtual mobile numbers is that you can choose one from outside of your locality. This means a business can get a virtual mobile number in areas where they’re not physically present to come across as a local business.
Virtual mobile numbers are available as local, toll-free and vanity numbers.
You could be located in one country and get a virtual mobile number for another. Since it’s a virtual number, you will only be charged at local rates, which makes it exceptionally more cost-effective for long-distance or international calls.
A local virtual mobile number gets rid of all regional barriers. You can connect with customers from another part of the world without having to pay international rates. This also makes your business seem local to the customers in the region.
These numbers are free for customers to call and usually have three-digit prefixes. The receiver pays for these calls, which makes them ideal for customer support or marketing campaigns.
When customers know that they don’t have to pay for a call, they would be more likely to make the call. In marketing, this helps with lead generation and for customer service, this can help address concerns faster.
If you want to convey what kind of business you’re into, you can use a vanity number. These are a mixture of both words and numbers. For example, if you’re a chemist, you could get a virtual mobile number such as 1-800-CHEMIST.
Vanity numbers help with brand recall and can associate you with your category. The more people see your number on marketing collateral, the more they will remember to call you if they have a category-related need.
If you’ve been using landlines or mobile phones for business, you might wonder how a virtual mobile number will be of use to you. Here are some of the ways in which businesses can use virtual mobile numbers.
The biggest advantage of virtual mobile numbers is that they’re not location-bound. If you assign virtual numbers to your team, they will be able to use them from their homes, while travelling or from public spaces – as long as there’s an internet connection. You can even have an employee in a different country answer your client’s calls coming to your office number.
This unifies your business communication system even if your team is in different places. Since users don’t have to buy additional devices, they can quickly get started. Virtual number providers allow you to add and remove users and give them necessary privileges from a dashboard.
When employees use their personal numbers to call prospective clients, it raises several problems. It’s tedious to separate those calls when asking for reimbursements. Secondly, it gives unnecessary exposure to their private number. These challenges can discourage team members from calling potential clients.
A virtual mobile number, in essence, is a number dedicated to work. An employee can freely make calls from that number without fear of spammers getting their personal number. You can also use your virtual number in marketing, on your website and on social media platforms to solicit queries.
A virtual number can help improve your customer management in several ways. Some VoIP providers have number-sharing, which would allow multiple team members to use the same number. If an agent cannot take a customer’s call, someone else can answer it.
Since it’s your work number, you can confidently share it with your customers and encourage them to call you. In case you can’t answer the call, you can set up auto-reply to send pre-written messages. With business texting, you can talk to your customers individually or in groups to address their queries.
With BYOD or a Bring Your Own Device policy, businesses are encouraging employees to use their personal devices for office work. While it has several advantages, including cost savings for the business and flexibility for employees, it also raises certain challenges.
Managing two devices becomes cumbersome for employees. There’s also the added security threat and issues with tracking expenses. A virtual mobile number solves all these problems. There’s no need to buy an additional phone. Employees only have to download the app on their existing devices.
A virtual mobile number allows you to expand into newer markets. Merely having a local phone number gives you credibility and association with the place. People calling from that locality won’t know that they’re calling a non-native number.
Keep in mind that this expansion is without the need for an additional office or workforce. All you’re doing is reaching out to a new market and using existing resources to serve its customers.
Unlike landlines or mobile phones, it’s remarkably easy to get a virtual mobile number. There’s no need to buy a device or visit a store. Start by searching VoIP providers and look for those who have business features.
It would be helpful if you can get a provider who focuses on businesses like yours. For example, if you’re a small business, freelancer or an early-stage startup, Chalkboard is a smart choice. Simply create an account and you’ll be assigned a new number within minutes.
If you already use your regular mobile number for business, naturally, you might wonder why you need to consider a virtual number. These differences between the two should provide clarity on why you would be better off with a virtual number.
The biggest difference is that a regular mobile number is linked to a particular phone. If you need to use another phone with the same number, you have to take out your SIM and insert it into the other device. With a virtual number, as long as you have the application, you can use it on any connected device.
If you buy a regular mobile number from a carrier, you would have a limited number of devices to choose from. With virtual mobile numbers, you have the freedom to choose devices and operating systems. As long as they support the VoIP application, you can use your new number.
You have limited freedom when getting a new regular mobile number. Virtual mobile numbers offer you greater choice. You can get a local number with a different area code, which will help your business seem familiar to customers in that region. You can also go for a toll-free or vanity number according to your marketing objectives.
Mobile carriers have lengthy and binding contracts while most VoIP providers don’t have complex service commitments. This means that with a virtual mobile number, your money won’t be tied up in long-term contracts.
Losing a regular mobile phone means loss of the data stored in the device. Virtual numbers give you data backup in the cloud. Even if a device is stolen or damaged, you would be able to retrieve its contacts and messages from the cloud and carry on using your number on another device.
Just because virtual mobile numbers offer greater flexibility and freedom and are more cost-effective doesn’t mean it’s an either/or situation. You can retain your regular mobile number and get a virtual number.
Your new virtual mobile number can be the work number that you can share with colleagues and customers. You will know that all calls and messages coming to that number are work-related. This helps you achieve a better work-life balance.
You shouldn’t blindly switch to a technological solution just because it’s new. You should examine how it can serve your needs and then take a call. These are the top features you should look for when getting a virtual mobile number.
Sector specialisation: If you’re a small business, freelancer or startup, make sure that your virtual mobile number has specific features for businesses like yours.
Pricing: You should only have to pay for the features you need and not for extravagant tools that only larger businesses need.
Free trial: Even with the best features and pricing, you need a free trial to check out the features of your new virtual mobile number.
Contact organisation: Separating professional and personal contacts will go a long way in helping you achieve a better work-life balance.
Business texting: With broadcast SMS you will be able to reach more customers in one go and also instantly address customer queries.
Number sharing: By allowing your employees to share a number, you can ensure uninterrupted access to your business and improve customer service.
Auto-reply: Too busy to take a call? Auto-reply can send a pre-written message to the caller to keep the conversation going.
Auto-attendant: Your virtual mobile number's auto-attendant feature should transfer calls to the desired extension without the need for manual intervention.
Integrations: If you use communication or project management software, your virtual number should seamlessly integrate with those applications.
Customer support: You need dedicated customer support and shouldn’t have to rely on online forums when you have a problem.
These benefits will encourage you to switch to a virtual mobile number for your small business.
Unlike traditional phones, you don’t have to buy an additional device to get a new virtual mobile number. There’s no need to get a new SIM either. Download the app and you and your team can get started with your new business number. Virtual mobile numbers also have lower call charges, particularly for long-distance and international calls.
Getting a landline means contacting a company, paying the deposit, getting the hardware and then waiting for its installation. With mobile phones, you have to get a SIM and get it activated. With virtual mobile numbers, all you have to do is download the application, create an account and choose a plan. All this can be done in a few minutes.
Since you can get a virtual mobile number for any location, your business can create new local numbers for areas that you want to expand into. Your small business won’t have to pay premium charges for long-distance calls as you reach new neighbourhoods to find more customers.
Remote and hybrid work is here to stay and conventional phone systems aren’t suited for this new reality. Since they’re location and device-neutral, virtual mobile numbers are the right solution for remote work. You can easily onboard employees and give them their work numbers. Your team can function as a cohesive unit, even when working from different locations.
Without any line limitations or the need for additional devices and hardware, you can easily create more virtual mobile numbers as the need arises. If you’re hiring more members for your sales or customer support teams, you can go to the dashboard and create the numbers they would need whether they work from your office or remotely.
Unlike landlines or mobile phones, you have greater choice when getting a virtual mobile number. You can get a local, vanity or toll-free number. This will significantly aid in brand recall.
It’s difficult to store, digitise or analyse a traditional phone call. But virtual mobile numbers make it easy to record, transcribe or archive calls. This allows you to measure and manage your team’s performance. For example, you can find out the average duration of customer calls to improve your service.
Businesses that get a virtual mobile number usually use it for work-related calls and messages. This way there’s no need to use their personal number for work. This protects their privacy, helps them demarcate work and personal communication and gives them a better work-life balance.
With a virtual mobile number, you won’t be getting just another number. You will be getting a comprehensive communication system with business tools such as auto-reply, voicemail, call forwarding, call recording, contact organisation and broadcast SMS. These will empower your marketing and customer management tactics.
No matter the size of your business or the sector you’re in, a virtual mobile number can help you grow. In particular, virtual mobile numbers offer several advantages to small businesses that have ambitions to expand their operations.
Advantages of the cloud. There’s a demonstrable shift to the cloud in the business world. In the case of virtual numbers, since they’re cloud-based, there’s no need to make any initial investments in hardware, devices or their installation. You get all the features without having to pay for the infrastructure.
Business-centric tools. Along with making your business – no matter its size – look professional, a virtual mobile number gives you tools to grow your business. Auto-attendant, voicemail, auto-reply, business texting and call forwarding help you improve your customer service and grow your bottom line.
Flexible and agile system. Virtual mobile numbers can work whether you have two or twenty people on your team. You can unify your remote employees and empower them with the necessary tools to generate leads and track their performance.
With Chalkboard, what you get is a virtual mobile number tailor-made for small businesses, startups, freelancers and sole traders. Now you have a second number for work that you can use exclusively for work-related communication.
Number-sharing allows your team members to share their numbers, which will improve customer service. Auto-reply sends pre-written messages explaining why you can’t take a call and what the caller can do in the meanwhile. Advanced chat and broadcast SMS empower you to engage with more customers, share marketing messages and address their concerns.
These features not only improve collaboration and productivity but also help you separate your work and personal life. But what makes Chalkboard such a compelling proposition for small businesses is the affordable subscription. There are no complex or binding contracts – and you can exit whenever you like.
All information provided in this guide was believed to be correct at the time of publishing. However, please be aware of future changes.
An in-depth guide for business owners looking for more information about virtual phone numbers