What Is A Virtual Landline, And How Does It Work?
A virtual landline is just one of many types of virtual phone systems that makes it look like, to the person making the call, you have a physical business landline phone. Whereas, in actuality, your ‘office phone’ is just a number that automatically redirects to your current phone or any internet device that can be used for calls, be it a mobile smartphone, cloud-based VOIP phone system, tablet, or even a smartwatch!
A virtual landline telephone, from telephone system providers such as Prestige Telecom Group, allows you to have one, simple, phone number that can be used across your business. This simplicity reduces confusion for people and clients, be they existing customers or prospective ones, when they are looking to call you. For your business, you can rest assured knowing you’ll never miss out on a call containing vital information or potential new business opportunities.
As well as allowing you to give great service to customers no matter where you are, a virtual landline number is also much cheaper. Rather than paying for costly phone bills or phone contracts, instead, you can benefit from a landline phone provider that reduces phone number costs because you’re using a digital phone, as opposed to a single cell phone, or a temporary phone, that is being used for office calls only.
Here at Prestige Telecom, we have offered these types of solutions for clients for years now and feel confident that we’re able to help you set up the best virtual landline for your business. We can help with the entire process, from educating you as to the benefits of minimum call charges, incoming call management, and secret call screening, to helping you select an appropriate solution based on tariffs and monthly plan, which, incidentally, range from 12 months to 36 months. Once your very own Prestige account manager has set your system up, you can start to enjoy all these benefits, and more, knowing that you’ll now never miss a phone call that could, potentially, take your business to new heights.
Types Of Virtual Landlines
There are plenty of virtual numbers that are available to choose from, however, you can broadly split them into two different categories. The first category of numbers are ones with a geographical code, for instance, if you live in Greater Manchester your number would begin with 0161, or, if you operated in Birmingham, your number would begin with 0121. The second category of virtual landlines are national UK numbers, this section is split into two numbers – 0800 (which is a freephone) and 033 (which charges a normal rate).
Selecting your number may seem like a straightforward process and one that doesn’t require a lot of planning – however, that is only half right. When choosing what type of number, keep in mind your business, its presence in the local area, and what your customers are more likely to respond to. For example, let’s say you’re a local business that helps people when they have issues with their plumbing, there is a good chance that your reach, as a business, only extends to the borders of your local area. In this instance, a local number may be far more appropriate as people are more likely to answer/dial that phone number because they recognise the start of the number and will work out that it is the local plumbing company calling them.
Here at Prestige Telecom, we provide a business, with several local presences, multiple location-based numbers that are automatically routed to their one phone, via our mobile app for no extra cost. For example, let’s say you work in construction and operate in Sheffield, Leeds and Nottingham, our team can set up your virtual landline package so that people in those areas can dial an 0114, 0113, or 0115 number like they would a local business, and that call will be directed to your phone. This gives you the ability to grow your business without losing that local touch that attracted people to you in the first place.
On the other hand, for bigger businesses, that operate nationally, a UK number may be more appropriate and, especially with an 0800 number, people know they won’t get charged so are more likely to pick up. This option is great if you spend your days on the phone calling prospective clients. Also, the public knows that companies with an 0800 number can be contacted for free and, as a result, they may well see an increased number of leads for potential sales, and longer interactions with customers, especially when they are calling a customer support team because they have a problem that needs fixing. This time spent with customers, especially for small businesses that are looking to make their mark, can be the difference, in the long-run at least, between success and failure. People over time will see that you’re a business who is willing to spend the time with the customer. To sum up, then, it’s easy to see why selecting the right number for your business is actually quite important.
What Is The Difference Between VoIP And A Virtual Landline System?
Both VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and virtual landlines are very similar and, in many ways, interlinked. They are similar because they both use a virtual number that prospective clients, or existing customers, use to ring your business. Traditionally, however, a VoIP does tend to offer more features such as auto-attendant mode and call management. In general, a virtual landline is just a call forwarding system that can be linked to any number of phone devices, both mobile, and landline. For VoIP, existing and potential customers use the same number throughout the entire call journey whereas, with a virtual landline, the customer begins the conversation dialling the virtual phone number that they see advertised, and ends it on the fixed number of the person receiving the call.
The differences are apparent but ultimately the choice about which one you pick is up to you. Differing business needs and priorities, amount of users, money available for telecoms investment, as well as dozens of other reasons may persuade you to choose either one of these systems. Neither one is necessarily better than the other, you just might find that one suits you more.
Thankfully, here at Prestige Telecom, you don’t have to choose between either system because we actually include all of the features you would receive on a VoIP system, within our Virtual Landline package. This includes features such as an auto-attendant, call recording, ring groups, operating hours, voicemail to email, and much more. While most suppliers favour offering two different services that have stark differences, we don’t think you should miss out on a feature-rich VoIP platform just because a virtual landline works better for you.
A Brief History Of Telephones: From Alexander Graham Bell, To A Virtual Network Of Landlines
In a little over 140 years, the world has gone from clunky landlines that were expensive, unreliable and poor, to phone systems, and conversations, that are done entirely online, with no physical hardware – be that from a switchboard or cable. So, here, we thought we’d take a look back at the history of the telephone to see how we arrived at this point, and what the future looks like for companies and organisations that use telephony to grow their business.
Before the invention of the landline in 1876 by a certain Alexander Graham Bell, there was no way of being able to communicate with people over any reasonable distance (other than maybe shouting really loud!). Once Graham Bell had had his epiphany, the world of telecoms was revolutionised. It’s not inaccurate to say that this invention helped pave the way for the smartphones, smartwatches and other devices that we use to communicate with clients and customers. The first telephone call occurred on 10th March 1876 once Graham Bell, who heralded from Scotland, received the patent for his device.
A far cry from today’s super-fast, fibre optic VoIP systems and virtual landlines, the original telephones were far more analogue and simplistic. They mainly consisted of magnets, copper coils, and iron membranes. Landline telephones quickly became a popular way of communicating, especially for people that could afford it. This system of landlines became known as the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) which is, today, a network that covers the entire world.
Fast forward to the 1980s and phones were just as clunky and unreliable as their previous models. It wasn’t uncommon for people to have to carry around a battery pack to keep their phone operating, and the idea of automatic call routing, and on-brand on-hold music, was still just a pipe dream. For businesses who were interested in selling to clients, call tracking, and the ability to offer a constant customer service was limited and could only be done on a hunch. Records were kept by hand, or on very rudimentary computers, and, therefore, weren’t very accurate. This led to processes and client calls just taking far longer than needed.
140 odd years later and the world of telephony is completely unrecognisable. In fact, if you showed virtual landlines and VoIP to Alexander Graham Bell now he’d probably have to sit down! Nowadays, the cost, accessibility, and features that come with business telecoms are just as revolutionary as that famed original design and first conversation. For businesses that use different communication solutions, such as virtual landlines, the ability to speak to anyone, anywhere in the world as if they were next to them, leave voicemails detailing important information at the push of a button, and enjoy affordable pricing structures is the difference between success and failure. Despite all this advancement in technology and features, the core purpose remains the same all these years later. That core purpose is about being able to stay in touch with customers and clients so that you’re recognised as a business that puts them at the heart of your daily activities.
What Are The Benefits Of This Type Of Phone System?
As we’ve said, a virtual landline, or virtual phone number, uses IP telephony and call forwarding so you can use handsets for calls to customers. A caller, be they an outbound caller or inbound caller, can dial one number and think they are calling a physical landline, unaware that the call is being diverted to a team of people across mobile devices, VOIP systems or laptops and computers that can make and receive phone calls.
There are plenty of benefits to using a system that creates a virtual landline number on mobile, as we’ll explain in this section. A fundamental benefit to using virtual landlines in the UK is that you can, essentially, split your one mobile device into two phones. A virtual landline allows your mobile device to act as a business telecommunication solution, it also separates personal contacts from business contacts, and stops potentially nuisance callers from having your personal number and contacting you at busy times of the day.
Another key benefit is that a virtual landline ensures you have consistency across your branding. One number allows you to post it on your website, social media channels, such as Instagram or Twitter, or in physical spaces such as billboards, safe in the knowledge that that is the only point of contact. Keeping things streamlined and professional makes you look good and ensures actual callers aren’t left to leave a voicemail.
Communication solutions such as these require no hardware. Opting for a virtual landline doesn’t require you, or your business, to invest in new equipment, be that phones, tablets or aerials. The packages that we offer here at Prestige Telecom Group are compatible with all smartphones, be they personal or otherwise, and can be installed on there without any fuss or extra cost.
A final key benefit is the level of customisation that comes with a phone system such as this. There are so many features that come with using virtual landlines for mobiles. From call forwarding, which allows you, in real-time, to divert a call to another employee, to SMS and email notifications, and the ability to engage in conferencing. It doesn’t matter where members of your team are in the country, or the world, you can get extensions for each and every one of them.
4 Other Reasons To Purchase A Virtual Landline:
- A virtual landline gives your business a local identity. With so many people purchasing goods and services within a relatively small radius of where they live, the need to appear local to them is vital. This is something that is often underappreciated but is no less effective. And, what’s great about our virtual landline solution is that we can create several numbers, for several areas, that are relevant to a host of different target customers, all of which redirect back to your one device. We can create a virtual landline package suitable for hosting several numbers, and help you get connected to countless target markets across the country, without losing the critical ‘local touch’.
- Appropriate numbers go beyond just being able to receive calls, they also enhance your marketing capabilities. With various numbers for different towns, cities, and areas, you can tailor your marketing for each area – from social media feeds, business cards, letters, and online advertising, you’re able to create marketing content that features details that are relevant to a specific target audience.
- The host of benefits don’t stop there, from a practical sense virtual landlines require no extra equipment, lines, or phones. There is no need to book an installation slot, take time out of your day to install new equipment, or wait on a technician to do it because everything is done on the cloud, you simply speak to your dedicated account manager who will add another virtual landline to your plan.
- Smart numbers, even on our most basic package, are for life. The number isn’t tied to a physical line or premises meaning you’re free to move, relocate, and work in ways that suit you, safe in the knowledge the appearance of having a local office, close to your customers, remains strong.
Is A Virtual Number Safe?
Broadly, yes. Virtual numbers are very safe and the chances of them being hacked or abused by people with mal intentions are very small, especially for small to medium-sized businesses that have no reason to suspect people are out to get them. However, as the old saying goes, “it’s better to be safe than sorry”, so, as well as dedicated support from our team of experts, there are a few things you can do to ensure maximum security for your virtual landline service.
The first thing you should do, for virtual landlines, VoIP devices, laptop devices, and any other piece of equipment, is to update their operating systems (OS) as and when they request. Putting this off for an extended period of time can leave you potentially vulnerable to more sophisticated attacks that may have developed beyond the security capabilities of the now-defunct OS that you’ve yet to update.
Using complex, secure passwords is another thing that you should do. By using special characters (e.g. !, ?, @), capital letters, and numbers, you make it that bit harder for any potential hacker to try and break into your phone systems and pose as you to customers. Similar to updating your OS, strong passwords should be a part of your wider tech habits and, if you want to be extra secure, you could even look to change your password once a month. While changing it is optional, it does have the potential to give you that extra peace of mind and leave you 100% sure that you’re secure.
Finally, another good habit to get into is that when you’re using public wifi to make or receive calls from a virtual landline, be sure to use a professional VPN (Virtual Private Network) to ensure your details aren’t being viewed by someone who has hacked the network. Public wifi networks can be accessed by everyone, hence why they’re public, which does leave you open to potential phishing scams.
Features And Options Included In Your Plans
Very often, virtual landlines come with a bunch of amazing features as standard. At Prestige Telecom, our plans include a host of incredible benefits and features that appeal to customers who would have once thought them too expensive. We’re passionate about providing packages that include these features from the start, not as pricey optional extras. We’ve broken down some of the most notable features of virtual landlines so that, when you get in touch with our amazing sales team, you’ll have an idea about the exciting benefits you can expect to enjoy from day one.
- Call Recording – Great for future training sessions or to showcase examples of exemplary customer service, call recording allows you to record any interaction with potential, or existing, clients. Call recording allows businesses to teach employees about how to deal with angry, or rude, customers with real-world examples.
- Whisper Messages – A whisper message is a brief introductory sentence that lets you, the person receiving the call, know that this is a business call. This initial message can switch your focus to ‘business mode’ (very handy if you have already left the office) and allow you to answer the call in the most professional manner possible and not be caught out giving an inappropriate greeting.
- Auto Responder – To save time, an auto-responder can be put in place that allows you to give the person calling an option to press a button for a specific department. This feature also helps if they have a specific issue because the auto-responder function can ensure they eventually speak to the right person the first time around.
- Out-of-hours Call Management – Let the customer know if you’re closed or open with this kind of call management. Enjoy your weekends, and well-earned holidays, knowing that an appropriate message to callers is in place to let them know of relevant business hours.
- Divert To Different Numbers – If the person who usually receives the call on your business’s virtual landline is off on annual leave, the designated mobile phone can be redirected to someone who is available, ensuring there will always be someone ready to answer the phone on behalf of your business.
- Blacklist Unwanted Numbers – In a business work environment, every minute counts. Therefore, you can’t afford to waste a second answering calls from companies, call centres, or automated bots that you have no interest in listening to. Virtual landlines can undergo anonymous call rejection, and blacklist certain numbers all together if they become a nuisance.
- Juggle Multiple Calls Easily – Seamlessly divert multiple calls to different individuals in a business. A business communication solution such as this means you’ll never have to wait to ring someone back while you’re on the phone to someone else. This, again, gives the impression you’re a larger company than you maybe are and one that can always answer the phone.