How does a virtual phone service work?
A brief history of phone service for businesses
For the longest time, on-premise systems ruled the business communications industry. And because of the large capital investment needed to have it installed and set up, they are only accessible to large enterprises. As a result, advanced call routing and call management features became out of reach for smaller organizations.
And it’s not only that. As the name implies, these systems can only be used within the premises of the company’s office. Once the user ventures out of their workplace, they are disconnected from the system, and they have to use their own cellular minutes to communicate.
Of course, advancements in cloud technology have changed all that. This gave birth to virtual business phone service which not only made advanced business communications solutions more accessible to small and medium-sized businesses but also resolved the limitations of on-premise systems.
What is a virtual phone service?
What a virtual phone service is, really, is a combination of different technologies like VoIP for telephony, cloud PBX for call routing and management, and other more virtual communication tools to create a phone system designed to provide an enterprise-level communications solution that is also accessible anywhere via the internet.
This provides virtual phone services or systems a distinct advantage over on-premise systems: mobility.
This mobility provides businesses who use the system a certain level of flexibility in many aspects of their operations. It allows companies to explore opportunities that were previously unavailable to them back when the best options were on-premise PBX for big businesses or single multi-line telephones for the smaller ones.
Here are a few examples of these new opportunities:
- Ability to work from anywhere
With a virtual phone system, you and your employees are able to explore business opportunities outside the premises of your office. You and your employees are able to make and receive calls and texts using your business phone number from anywhere. Moreover, clients and partners are still able to communicate with you and your employees seamlessly as if you are still in your office because you are always connected to your phone system.
- Fewer travel expenses
Instead of traveling to another location to meet with an important person or persons based outside your state, you can simply place a call. Most virtual phone services treat long-distance calls like they are local calls so it will not be very expensive. If they operate from outside of the country, most providers also offer lower international rates compared to traditional telecoms. In addition, if you need to have a face-to-face meeting, a lot of virtual phone systems also include an audio and video conferencing feature.
- Flexible remote work options
In being accessible from anywhere on any web-connected device, it removes the need for a lot of employees to be always at the office. The business can now offer full or partial remote work options that can benefit both the organization and its employees.
- Reduced utility expenses
Employees being given remote work options leads to another benefit—which is utility savings. With fewer people at the office, there are also fewer people using water, electricity, and even internet bandwidth. This should lead to more savings for the company.
- Expanded talent search
Another effect of having remote work options is that it allows your business to expand its talent search beyond the city it is located in. Since employees can work from anywhere and are not required to come to the office every single day, you can now hire people that are outside your state or even out of your country. This gives your business access to the best talent worldwide.
These are just some of its advantages and shows why a lot of businesses opt for a virtual phone service.
So, how does a virtual phone service work?
To understand how a virtual phone service works, you have to learn a few things first:
While each virtual phone service may have some additional virtual communication components like team messaging and video conferencing, the basic components are usually a virtual phone number, VoIP, and cloud PBX.
What is VoIP?
This is the telephony part of the virtual phone service. It works by transmitting voice data over the internet. This makes it more mobile compared to conventional landlines. It can be used from any web-connected device.
How VoIP works
What happens during a basic VoIP transmission? When a call is made, it creates a connection from the caller to the other endpoint, which is also known as the call’s receiver. Voice data is then broken down into smaller packets so that it can travel through an IP transmission. When the voice data reaches the receiver, it then gets reverted to voice data. This goes back and forth in real time to perform telephony functions.
What are virtual phone numbers?
Virtual phone numbers refer to phone numbers that are not connected to a single phone line. By using an actual phone number with VoIP, the technology can now be used to call other phones—both analog and virtual. That is what virtual phone numbers do.
This is what separates regular VoIP apps from business VoIP: Regular VoIP apps let you call VoIP to VoIP but cannot communicate with people who do not use the app. With a virtual number, you can talk to anyone outside of your VoIP app.
How does a virtual phone number work?
When you assign a virtual phone number to a user, that user can make VoIP calls using that VoIP phone number from any device through the internet. This is unlike regular business phone numbers that are tethered to a specific phone line, which in turn reduces its flexibility because it can only be used from a particular telephone or device.
What is cloud PBX?
Cloud PBX rounds out the basic components of a virtual phone system. This part is responsible for routing and managing calls coming in through the main business phone numbers.
How does cloud PBX work?
Virtual phone service providers actually have a group of servers that perform PBX functions like auto attendant, call routing, and other call management features. These servers are hosted remotely on the provider’s cloud data center. Like VoIP, the service can also be accessed over the internet.
These three components work together to provide businesses with a phone system that allows users to make calls from anywhere using official business phone numbers and properly routes all incoming calls to the right department or individual, wherever they are.
What is the best virtual phone service?
For the best virtual phone service, look for providers that go beyond these basic features. RingCentral offers an industry-leading unified communications solution designed to solve most, if not all, business communications needs. Aside from telephony and PBX capabilities, it features advanced virtual communications and collaboration tools like video conferencing with screen sharing and team messaging with file sharing and task management. The best part is that all of these powerful tools can be accessed from a single platform, which removes the need to shift from one app to another.
So if you are looking for the best, check out RingCentral to see if it fits your business needs.