Do you Need VoIP Extensions for your Business?Posted on: 2018-07-24 | Categories: VoIP Services
Virtual numbers or extensions are a unique but often overlooked feature of VoIP phone systems. Businesses can implement virtual extensions in a surprising number of ways and they’re especially useful if you have a mobile workforce. A company can use virtual numbers to give the impression of a larger or more unified organization, allow employees to use personal devices for business calls, and even test advertising campaigns in different markets.
What Is a Virtual Number?
A VoIP extension is a phone number that is not tied to any particular person, desk or even device. It is a number that forwards incoming calls to another number. This second number can be anything from a cell phone to a virtual mailbox for after-hours customer support. Virtual numbers follow the same calling rules as regular VoIP numbers. Users or administrators (depending on how the system is set up) can direct calls to specific destinations depending on the time of day or other factors.
Benefits of Using Virtual Extensions
One of the most common uses for VoIP extensions is to enter new markets. If you’re expanding to a new city, state or even country, it can be beneficial to have a number with the local area code. It helps a business maintain a local presence without having to physically be present in the same area. Customers are more likely to trust calls coming from a number within their own area code than from an unrecognized one. Businesses also use virtual extensions provide toll-free calling in international markets and reduce costs for their customers.
Virtual extensions are practically indispensable if you have a mobile workforce. Some of your employees may work from home while others telecommute from client sites. If you have a BYOD policy, that means employees using their own Android/iOS devices for work calls. Virtual extensions can serve as a boundary between the employee’s personal phone number and the business number. It ensures that personal calls don’t show up in your business account and vice versa.
It is becoming incredibly common for organizations to offer phone support in multiple languages. You can use virtual numbers in these situations as well. Instead of asking the customer to select a language after calling tech support, you can offer separate virtual numbers for each language. Behind the scenes, all these virtual numbers forward to the same contact center or support department. But it makes things easier for users and allows you to track support calls efficiently.
And Even More Uses!
Another use for virtual numbers is to test different advertising campaigns. Suppose you are launching a new product with television ads and you have a choice between two commercials. You can assign different virtual numbers for each ad and track incoming calls accordingly. The marketing department can get live feedback about which ad is more effective before running it across all markets. Virtual extensions are also helpful if you are running multiple micro projects that you don’t necessarily want to be attached to your main brand. Companies are finding many creative uses for virtual extensions in marketing, research, and advertising.
You can use a virtual extension that does not connect to any person or desk at all. The virtual numbers can act as after-hours customer support in a variety of ways. For instance, customers calling during holidays can listen to a recording of business hours, upcoming sales or any other information you would like them to have. Some companies even use virtual extensions as a sort of ACD queue for tech support agents. Calls coming in get directed to the next available agent through email or text. You don’t need any sophisticated contact center software to replicate specific features, especially if you run a small business with only a handful of workers.
Do You Need Virtual Extensions?
It’s easy to set up virtual numbers in a VoIP system. Some providers charge the same price for an actual number and virtual numbers while others have differential rates. It all depends on the features you’re looking for and the plans provided by the vendor. If you’re lucky, your plan may even include a few virtual numbers for free.
You can add virtual numbers anytime you want, as the need arises. You don’t have to commit to a specific set of numbers for a month or year etc. You can also remove the numbers from the system when you no longer need them. If you have a significant portion of seasonal employees, virtual extensions might be a better alternative to buying new numbers each season. Virtual numbers have the additional advantage that they can follow the same scheme as all your other business numbers and not seem out of place.
Rather than worrying about whether you need virtual extensions or not, try them out when a situation calls for them. You might well be surprised to discover more uses for them than you ever imagined!