Virtual phone number: a trending asset for entrepreneurs
It’s a fast-moving world of great opportunities. Technological progress combined with better education encourages more and more people to launch a business of their own. Thus, conducting your business directly from home seems an alluring option in terms of costs and comfort. Now let us throw some light on why you need a home office and what to keep in mind while deploying it.
In this article, we cover:
- Conducting business from home ― feasibility and pitfalls;
- Why do entrepreneurs need virtual phone numbers;
- How to choose a virtual office provider;
- MightyCall’s options for a virtual office.
When cost-cutting becomes too expensive
A common mistake with aspiring entrepreneurs is that they cannot always distinguish between indispensables and nonessentials. While cutting costs is a reasonable way to increase profits, you cannot dispose of certain things altogether without affecting your business in a long term.
Some 30 years ago, to establish a business you had to to rent an office with basic equipment and a telephone line. Establishing a larger company required a PBX station with additional expenditures on installation and maintenance. Worse than that, you couldn’t manage without a full-time receptionist to handle this buzzing contraption of a phone, greet your clients and make coffee. Advances of communication technology made it possible for a one-man-company to discard a hired cubicle and most of the equipment. According to Forbes, 52% of small businesses in the US are home-based. To become one of them, you basically need a computer, some sort of a cunning plan, a stable internet connection and, well, coffee. But can you remove the concept of an office altogether? And who will manage your calls?
Why bother having a virtual office
Now imagine your potential client. She expects you to be a professional-looking person sitting at a desk and poring over business graphs. She calls you via your business number and overhears shrill cries of seagulls mingled with muffled party music. Of course, you can work from anywhere on the planet as long as your internet is up. Or you can stay at home for most of the time, but then your clients might hear your children yelling at each other, or your neighbor drilling a hole in the next-door apartment, or it’s your dog who’s eager to play. Some private things can be quite embarrassing, but you wouldn’t want to miss a call from your potential customer.
In contrast to the latter situation, imagine that you have a virtual receptionist installed on your virtual phone number. A pleasant voice will greet a client, and ― depending on time and your configuration ― offer a voice menu to forward a call, request for a call-back, leave a message, provide essential information and so on. It allows you not to lose a prospect if circumstances bar you from answering immediately. In general, it will make your enterprise seem professional and a client won’t feel neglected. Besides, while being in a different time zone than your customers, you don’t want to be forced to wake up to a phone call in the middle of the night, do you?
Some small business owners consider a dedicated business number to be an unnecessary expense. Instead, they rely on a personal mobile or landline phone for this matter. Actually, that’s not a good idea.
- It’s unsafe. Revealing your personal contacts for all to see in promotional materials can compromise your privacy making your number an easy target for spam, pranks, scams etc. This is equally true for your email address.
- It’s inconvenient. Keeping your business affairs apart from private life is highly desirable. Someone (children, in particular) can grab your phone and dial one of your big business partners. What is more, in case you are forced to change your private number, all the previously issued promotional materials will become obsolete. And if your clients are in a different time zone, do you want to wake up to a phone call in the middle of the night?
- It’s unprofessional. You can’t get a free-toll number, a vanity number and other features capable of improving your company’s business image: phonewords increase advertisement response rates by 30-60%. A vanity number implies that you care about your clients (they can memorize them better) and have a budget large enough to support such “bells and whistles”. And a substantial budget means that your services are in demand and, therefore, reliable.
While installing an additional landline or buying the second mobile device may indeed be costly, consider getting a virtual business number. It is not just cheaper, it is a much more versatile and scalable solution. Getting started is pretty easy: find a service provider which offers feature packages to your liking and budget. Be sure to choose a reliable provider with adequate client support service.
How to choose a provider
Deciding on a particular virtual phone system provider is a responsible decision. It determines the future stability of communication ― not a thing to compromise on. Seamless functioning and excellent accessibility improves your company’s image in the eyes of potential customers while the slightest malfunctions affect your reputation severely. Make sure your decision is well-grounded: search the net for independent testimonials from other small business owners (ideally, with the business similar to yours), do some research and make a list of service providers and prices.
Don’t make the mistake of placing the cheapest offers above all the others ― cutting overheads is good, but paying a tad more for a more reliable service with better infrastructure is well worthwhile. Another extreme is placing your bet on an internet giant. Of course, they do have more assets and highly-developed infrastructure, but it comes at an expense of depersonalized attitude. They are unlikely to consider your small business with less than 500 employees a valuable partner, and therefore your requests for technical support will hardly get top priority. What’s more, the sheer size of such companies combined with hundreds of thousands of clients slows their reaction to your request (initial installation or package update).
Another important advantage is free trial. Some companies offer trial periods long enough to assess the quality of service and available features. Always check sound quality, forwarding and overall operational smoothness. Payment options like month/6-months/1-year subscription make a difference when you are drafting a budget. Shorter periods are more preferable for small business owners unfamiliar with virtual office systems ― it’s easier to make amendments when you are not committed to a long-term agreement. Furthermore, keep your development plans in mind. When your company grows, more features will be required and if a provider has them in stock ― it’s definitely a plus.
MightyCall’s virtual office at a glance
Once you’ve preliminarily decided on a company, you can start planning your virtual office, e.g. the features to install. For instance, MightyCall’s virtual phone system offers a number of services indispensable for an efficient virtual office. First and foremost is a virtual phone number supporting outbound calls. It is your door to the world of numerous enhancements designed to improve customer interaction, performance and availability. Note that you can port your existing number to MightyCall — the transition is free and the number remains active during the transition process. To improve promotional efficiency and customer support, you can easily get toll-free or vanity numbers. Other popular options are:
- Call forwarding. MightyCall lets you to redirect the incoming calls to any device according to user-specified rules. It means that you can still be reachable while on the move ― if desired, your personal mobile phone will receive all the calls coming to your business number. If you work as a part of the team, you can establish a voice menu and let the caller decide with whom he wants to speak (e.g. tech support or sales department). It’s also possible to use scheduled forwarding (e.g. receive calls to your office phone during business hours and to your personal phone in the evening).
- Virtual receptionist. A professionally-recorded greeting makes your company look trustworthy. You can also utilize custom greetings for different callers at will. Voice menu serves as a handy tool for adequate forwarding and providing basic information; needless to say, voicemail and transcripts can be sent to your email.
- Web-based services. MightyCall supports a plethora of web tools like Click-to-Call widgets, social media integration, callback requests ― all directly available at your portable device via the MightyCall Mobile application. It will aggregate all the messages received through multiple communication channels and arrange them in order of urgency (feature known as Activity Queue). If you work in a team, use Activity Queue to assign tasks to your employees and place to-dos.
- Dashboard aka Reports. In case your company houses a customer support department with multiple operators, you’ll need explicit statistical data for analysis. MightyCall’s Dashboard allows to compare missed vs. unaccepted calls, calculates average answer and talk time. The volume tab shows the number of inbound/outbound calls, internal calls and voicemails. You can apply various filters to your reports and export them into .xlsx format for future analysis. This instrument is an efficient means to optimize your customer service department.
The abovementioned points are just a fraction of what MightyCall has to offer. It is really able to cater every thinkable virtual office need in easy-to-use manner. You can activate and deactivate features at your discretion ― no need to pay for things you don’t use. What’s more, a wide use of the VoIP protocol means lower communication overheads and improved interaction between devices. Ability to operate on all popular platforms, a wide array of advanced web tools and customizable environment makes MightyCall a very flexible solution.
Take your time and opt for the best
Since virtual office requires no hardware and works with either existing equipment or softphones, deployment doesn’t take much time. Getting started is fast and easy making virtual office a valuable technological asset to almost any small business. Virtual systems are a trending solution for office management, so the internet is filled with various offers coming from companies big and small. Take your time to browse, read reviews, compare prices and features, get a free trial. Thousands of companies worldwide benefit from virtual phone numbers ― cutting overheads, keeping in touch and improving profits ― and there’s nothing to stop you from becoming one of them.