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If an actual business landline or business cell phone are either beyond what you need at this moment or too expensive, a virtual phone number might suffice.
How do virtual phone numbers work?
Quite simply, a virtual phone number can be set up with a number of companies (a few outlined below) for a very low monthly charge of around ~$20 – $30 that can be set up with an auto-attendant (press 1 for sales, press 2 for service) with each option being forwarded to an existing landline or cellphone that you use.
While many of the companies offering a virtual phone number in Canada are not actually Canadian or even Canadian based, since everything is digital it doesn’t really make a difference as to where they are based. Personally, I’ve used eVoice for many years and have set it up for many consulting clients as well, and it works like a charm.
Keep in mind that virtual phone numbers aren’t only for incoming calls, you can also use them to dial out by essentially logging into the phone system through a virtual phone on your computer or by dialing in through your cell phone and then placing your outgoing call.
Main Things To Consider When Choosing A Service Provider
- How many incoming minutes are included/what is the rate per minute
- How many outgoing minutes are included/what is the rate per minute
- If you are calling internationally, again the rates / think about the best way or area codes to use to set up the numbers
Here are some of the virtual phone number providers that have been around for a while:
- Grasshopper – Starts at $29 per month USD for 1 phone number with 3 extensions including unlimited local calling
- eVoice – $29.99 per month USD for 5 users, 15 toll-free or local numbers and 1,000 minutes per month
- CallHippo – Starts at $18 per month for 1 user and free incoming calls
Pros and Cons of virtual phone numbers:
- Inexpensive (relatively speaking)
- No specific hardware is required, use you’re own
- Ability to have local and toll-free numbers
- Digital voicemail (it can be emailed to you)
- Ability to update where the number forwards to in real-time (Employee leaves or your on vacation and want to adjust where sales calls forward to)
- And a cool one – Ability to have multiple phones ring at once – i.e. the number (or an option on the automated greeting, ‘press 2 for sales’) can set up to forward to and ring multiple lines at the same time – Suppose you have 2 sales guys and yourself, the phone call can ring all 3 of you at the same time and the first one to pick up will take the call – Pretty neat!
- Customer service is outsourced with many of these companies and can be difficult to deal with (usually you won’t need assistance though)
- Limited tech support – If something isn’t working on your end you’ll pretty much have to figure it out yourself
- Comfort of having a big brand behind you – This only applies to some people who may not be comfortable with having their business hinge on a phone service provided by a small virtual phone number company