Communication is a vital factor for your business. You rely on efficient communication to link your business with your customers, your suppliers, and also internally with other teams and colleagues. However, as your company grows, it can get confusing for you – and for your customers – to have so many numbers associated with your phone line.
The simple solution is to assign a phone extension number to each phone number you have. But just what is a telephone extension? What are the technical requirements and what are the benefits of adopting an extension number? Let’s take a look.
What Is a Phone Extension?
Put simply, a phone extension is a shorter telephone number that you can assign either to an individual, to a team, or to a department. For example, you may assign #001 to your sales and marketing team or #002 to the accounts department.
It can be used as both an internal shortcode that enables your staff to contact a colleague easily, or it can be added to an existing phone number so that a customer (or supplier) can reach a person directly without using your auto-attendant on an incoming call. So for example, a customer may call your general number then, once connected, can add #001 to get straight to your sales and marketing team.
Virtual Phone vs. Extension
The major similarity between these two types of phone number is that they both assist in forwarding a call to an endpoint. They’re also, of course, both made up of numbers, though an extension number tends to be shorter than a virtual number. An extension number can exist both for landline and broadband solutions.
The major difference is that a virtual phone number is most often directly associated with the IP address of a particular device (desktop, desk phone, or mobile device). If a customer calls that virtual number, then the call is forwarded to that device. When you use VoIP to call, it means that staff can use the same number but switch between devices.
An extension number is not directly associated with a particular device or the IP address it uses. It can, however, be part of your overall VoIP system. Another difference is that virtual numbers will often cost you to create whereas an extension is usually free. That said, your service provider may set a limit on how many free extensions you can have.
How Does a Phone Extension Work
Phone extensions are relatively simple. You can assign numbers to both staff and departments. So, for example, you assign Linda in sales the number #123, while Bob in shipping has the number #135. If you have only assigned individual numbers, then Bob just needs to dial #123 in order to talk to Linda.
If you have also assigned extension numbers to departments, then an extra number needs to be added. If the sales department has the extension #10, then Bob would dial #10-123 to get connected to Linda.
If a customer is trying to call Linda, then they would call your main business number and add the appropriate extension number. So, say your business number is 0141 999 999, then that caller would dial that first and then #10-123 once connected.
Extension numbers will also work even if you have staff in different geographical locations. If Bob was in a different location to Linda, he could still contact her using only the extension number if your business is using a unified communications system.
Extension numbers mean that any caller can bypass your virtual receptionist/auto attendant and connect directly with the person they want to speak to. Assigning specific extension numbers to different teams or departments makes a lot of sense, not only in terms of call flows but also as they can help with any marketing campaigns you have running.
Top 4 Telephone Extension Cables
1. moeverEx White RJ11 Plug Telephone Extension Cord, 25-Foot: a great choice of phone extension cable with copper insides for a better connection.
2. True Decor Black RJ11 Plug Telephone Extension Cord, 25-Foot: high Quality telephone extension kit that allows for placement of your phone up to 25 ft. from the jack.
3. iMBAPrice Telephone Extension Cord, 50-FT: great value extension with adaptor that allows you to connect phones in different rooms.
4. Uvital Telephone Landline Cable Cord, 33-FT: medium-length telephone cable with multiple connectors that works with telephones, fax machines, modems, and answering machines.
How to Set up a Business Phone System
1. Choose Business Phone Plan: your first step is to choose from the providers that suit and the plan that best suits your business. RingCentral offers a variety of plans that start at ₤7.99 per user per month.
2. Assign Phone Extensions: look at what extensions you need and assign them. This could be individual extensions, teams and departments, or a combination of both.
3. Phone Greetings: customise any greetings you will use, including individual voicemail as well as greetings for auto attendants or virtual receptionist services.
4. Begin Answering Calls: once you’re set up, you are ready to begin taking calls. It’s worth highlighting that you can port your existing numbers with RingCentral.
How to Set up Phone Extensions With RingCentral
- Get Business Phone Number: once you have signed up with RingCentral, you can claim your new business number or you may choose to port over your existing number for the convenience of existing customers and business partners.
- Set up Multiple Extensions: once set up, you can sign in as admin and go to the admin portal. Once there, you can add users with extensions (up to 25 at a time) and then assign numbers and, if applicable, specific desk phones. You can then send invites by email to each user with an activation link.
- Configure Call Menus: when your system is fully set up, you can then move to configuring your call menus. This will usually include setting any auto-receptionist to multi-level IVR.
- Set up Flow System: decide and set what happens with calls both during business hours and out of them. This can include customising greetings, and choosing what rules call forwarding will follow.
Benefits of a Phone Extension
Extensions can be crucial for many businesses, both those that already have a substantial number of employees (or several different departments or teams) and those who plan to scale significantly in the near future. It makes managing your phone system easier, but it can also make the customer experience a lot better. Major benefits include:
- Better customer experience and service: by being able to contact the person they need to speak to, you enhance a customer’s experience while providing better customer service.
- Better internal communications: extensions make it easier for employees to communicate with each other or to transfer a call when needed. It can improve efficiency and collaboration and can be of particular benefit when you have staff working remotely or on the road.
- Cost-effective and convenient: extensions can be an economical way of connecting remote teams or other branches and can help you create teams using common extensions.
- Improved productivity: with better connections, you bring your employees closer to each other and to your customer base. Both customers and staff can save a significant amount of time by being able to dial the person they want to speak to and efficient routing enables this without dealing with switchboards or receptionists.
- Better call management: with extensions, you can manage internal and incoming calls more conveniently and more efficiently. There is also likely to be fewer errors made as numbers are short and simple.
Frequently Asked Question on Phone Extension
1. What is the difference between a limited extension and a user extension?
– A limited extension only has limited features and is not tied to one specific user.
2. Can I assign a regular user’s Unlimited DigitalLine to a Limited Extension?
– It’s not possible for you to assign a regular user’s Unlimited DigitalLine to a limited extension.
The reverse is also true and you cannot assign a limited extension DigitalLine to a regular user.
3. Can you put other Virtual numbers on a Limited Extension?
– Yes, you can assign other virtual numbers on limited extensions.
4. How are the incoming calls to a Limited Extension handled?
– Any incoming call will ring for 20 seconds (as a pre-defined duration) on the device you have assigned to the limited extension number. If unanswered, the caller will then hear an announcement (which you can customise) before being disconnected.
Phone extensions offer your business many benefits as well as helping to improve your customer service. With RingCentral MVP as your core system, extensions allow you not only to enhance productivity but make your entire communications system more efficient. They allow your staff to collaborate with each other easier and make it simpler for customers to speak to the people they need to talk to.
Choosing to move to a system of extensions, for individuals, teams, or both means that you, and your customers, save time and money. Workflows become more streamlined and you can see an overall improvement in your business performance. The first step to this improvement is to choose RingCentral as your unified communications provider.