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virtual phone systems

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.

Moving to a virtual phone system from a traditional landline or PBX system brings with it many questions. This list of frequently asked questions will help you find the answers to the most common questions asked of virtual phone system providers.
What is Unified Messaging?
Unified messaging integrates all of your communication tools including cell phones, desk phones, laptops, PDAs, fax machines and voicemail into one system. One phone number is used for all of these telecommunication options, making it simpler to manage your communications system. Typically a virtual phone system provider will give you the option of a local or toll-free number. Unified messaging eliminates the needs for multiple numbers, passwords, accounts, and the integrated costs of all these options.
Will I still have voicemail?
Yes, you will still have voicemail. Voicemail is a standard option with all virtual phone system providers. Using your provider’s web-based intuitive tool you can create a custom recording and set-up voicemail properties. You can even add music for callers to listen to while on hold.
Can I still use my current phone number?
Yes, most virtual phone system providers will let you transfer your existing number for free. This includes all number options such as a local and toll-free number. During the initial set-up you’ll be prompted to enter your number or choose a new number. Really the choice is up to you.
Do I need a phone line?
You do not need a phone line to work with most virtual phone system providers but you do need a phone number.
Can I send and receive faxes?
This really depends on your virtual phone system provider. Some providers including Internet fax options in their packages while others simply do not. If your service provider does provide fax support, ensure you find out how receiving and sending faxes impacts your monthly minute allotment.
Do I need any special equipment?
No, you do not need any special equipment. Because this is a virtual phone system, all hosting and behind-the-scenes management is done off-site at a datacenter managed by your phone system provider. You manage your virtual phone system using a web-based interface from your computer. Nextiva is a service you should look in to.

There are lots of phone options out there for you: virtual phone systems, traditional landlines, and the use of only cell phones. With each option there is a list of pros and cons. In this blog post we’ll discuss the pros of using a virtual phone system.
Cost: the costs of a virtual phone system are relatively low. For as little as $30 a month, you can have a phone system in place that supports multiple lines, call forwarding, voicemail, includes an auto-attendant and includes a toll-free number. There are no costs associated with new hardware, maintenance or training – typically the most expensive aspects of integrating a new phone system into a business. To top it off, you can use the phones you currently own – so essentially the only cost associated with your new virtual phone system is the monthly rate.
Activation Speed; remember when you got your landline installed in your office? You had to schedule an appointment with a technician weeks or even months ahead, the installation of the phones took all day and then there was the time it took to get your employees up-to-speed with the new phone system. With a virtual phone system, you get a completely different experience. With a few clicks on your chosen phone system provider’s web site and with some basic set-up using a web-based interface and you’ve got a virtual phone system.
Ease of Maintenance; maybe this should be changed to no maintenance. Because there isn’t a server in you office that supports and runs your phone system, you don’t need to worry about any of the maintenance associated with a traditional PBX phone system. Your virtual phone system service provider takes care of the maintenance for you – including updating the system and performing general maintenance.
Simple Management: the majority of the virtual phone system providers have developed intuitive web-based interfaces that allow you to self-manage your phone system. Using such an interface, you can add phone lines, change your greeting, set-up office hours, change call forwarding options, etc. You do not need to contact the phone company to make changes to your phone system – you do this all yourself.
Advanced Tracking: depending on the type of business you have, it may be critical to manage and track the number of incoming and outgoing calls that happen. With a virtual phone system, you can easily track and manage your phone statistics with your online management account. Everything that happens with your virtual phone system is tracked, so you can see how many minutes you have remaining, your busiest days, track faxes, etc.
Five reasons why the move to a virtual phone system makes sense – save money, fast activation, simple management, advanced tracking options and little-to-no maintenance all weigh in favor of choosing a virtual phone system. My1Voice is something you should look in to.