If you’re like most people learning about the options that come with virtual phone systems, you’ve quickly discovered that it is a steep learning curve. Each and every web site and comparison chart highlights a different feature of the phone systems as being a “must-have”.
One such “must-have” are phone number options. That is the choice to choose between local and toll free/1-800 numbers. And along with these number options often comes a different number of minutes for each choice. So the big question is: what exactly are the differences between these numbers?
We’ll do our best here to explain the differences between these numbers and hopefully this will equip with you some extra knowledge that will help you make the best decision for your business and its virtual phone system requirements.
A virtual local number is really a product or by-product of the virtual phone system industry. The main purpose of a local number is to provide a simple number with a local area code that you can easily remember and can be used to forward to a virtual phone system. One of the most typical uses of a local number for a business is during an advertising campaign – it allows you to demonstrate a local presence and also track the number of calls you receive as a result of the advertising campaign.
One of the biggest pluses of a virtual local number is its cost – because the overhead is reduced, so too is the cost. Making it an excellent option for your virtual phone system set-up. Typically your virtual phone system company will host this local number for you so it is completely maintenance free from your perspective. Working with your virtual phone system you configure your calls to go to this local number – giving you flexibility and freedom to really work from wherever you want. For example, you might have an office in Oregon but are exploring the option of expanding into Rhode Island, well with the help of your virtual phone system provider, a local number with the 401 area code will be created which can then be used in advertising and promotional campaigns – all while you continue to operate your business in Oregon.
So a local phone number allows you to have a presence in areas in which you don’t currently operate, provides an easy-to-remember number, and gives you some flexibility with advertising and promotional campaigns. Now what about the toll-free/1-800 number option?
First off, lets explain the terminology – 800 telephone numbers and toll free numbers are the same thing. The difference in the terminology simply stems from the actual number used: 1-800 compared to 1-866, 877 or 888. The 866, 877 and 888 extensions were created because we simply ran out of 1-800 extension options.
Such telephone numbers allow your customers, clients, business partners, and employees to call you at no charge. Instead you and your virtual phone system company incur the charges. This is why you will often see an extra charge to enable a toll free number service.
The toll free number is set-up by your virtual phone system company to forward incoming calls to your existing local line. There are three groups who are interested in using toll free numbers and depending on your business, this may impact your choice to use a toll free number or local number.
- Your own use – for a customer support line. Having a toll free number makes you more accessible to your clients and it allows customers to call technical support for free.
- Small businesses – such companies use toll free numbers to give the appearance of being larger then they are. If you’re a small business looking to establish a nation-wide presence, a toll free number could be the right choice.
- Individual customers – depending on your business, it might be more appealing and feasible for your customers to use a toll free number to contact you regarding your products and services.
So these are your standard number options with virtual phone systems. The choice really comes down to: what do you want the virtual phone numbers for and how are they going to be used? Once you can answer this, you can determine if you need a local virtual number, a toll free number, or maybe even both. FreedomVoice is one service you might need.