What is a virtual phone service?
Virtual phone service definition
A virtual phone service or virtual phone system refers to the modern business communications solution that combines the best features of enterprise-level phone systems and the flexibility and mobility of web-based tools.
By leveraging the cloud, virtual phone service providers are able to deliver a means of communication that can be accessed from anywhere as long as users have an internet connection. This means businesses and their workforce can stay connected under one system even if they are not in the same location.
How does a virtual phone service work?
A virtual phone service works by combining different communications tools into one solution, which leverages the cloud. This makes it accessible from anywhere around the world.
To understand how a virtual phone service works, you have to understand each of its basic components
Virtual phone numbers that build presence for your business
Unlike regular phone numbers that are tethered to single landlines, virtual phone services feature phone numbers that can be accessed from anywhere as long as there is an internet connection.
How does a virtual phone number work?
Through a cell phone, laptop, or other web-connected device, your virtual phone number works by leveraging VoIP technology (more on that later) so users can make or receive calls using their business phone numbers instead of their personal numbers. This adds an air of professionalism as the calls are made from an official business number.
In addition, users can also distinguish calls coming to their personal cell phone number versus calls coming into their virtual business phone numbers. This way, they can ignore unknown calls going to their personal number but still be able to pick up calls from unknown phone numbers to their business phone number, which could be potential customers.
Similar to regular telecoms, your business also has different options for telephone numbers based on your needs, including:
- Toll-free numbers
If you are looking to create a national presence, then a toll-free number, especially an 800 number, is right up your alley. This allows your business to be more accessible to people around the US (and not just one city or state).
- Local phone numbers
If you are looking to establish a presence in a specific community, then getting a local phone number that features its area code is a better option. The difference between a regular local number and a virtual local number, however, is that you do not need an actual physical presence in the community to get a local number when you take the virtual option. With this phone number, you can create a virtual local presence in the community.
- International phone numbers
If the plan is to establish your presence in another country, then most modern virtual phone service providers also provide local numbers for countries outside the US. Like US local numbers, you can also establish a virtual presence in that country through a local international number without setting up an office there.
- Vanity phone numbers
If you plan to use your business phone number as part of your branding, you can also ask your provider about vanity phone numbers. These are customized phone numbers that are easy to remember and can help you market your organization.
VoIP as a replacement for traditional business phone service
The problem with traditional phone services is that they are usually tied to one telephone. If someone wants to work outside the premises of the office or needs to do some field work, they would have to use their own cellular minutes and personal phone numbers.
What is a virtual landline?
With a virtual phone service, that’s no longer a problem. Due to VoIP serving as its telephony component, it can act as a virtual landline that allows users to make and receive calls using their virtual phone number from anywhere.
VoIP is designed to transmit multimedia content, like voice calls, over IP networks, in real-time. It replicates the functionality of a regular telephone service but incorporates the flexibility of online services.
There used to be criticism that VoIP call quality is inferior from regular phone calls. That is now just a myth. It might have been true at one point, especially in the early years of VoIP, but the technology has come a long way from what it has been a decade ago.
In fact, a lot of the top VoIP providers, like RingCentral, offer HD VoIP, which provides HD quality voice calls (even on desktop computers and cell phones).
Flexibility, mobility, and HD quality voice calls—VoIP has really established itself as the best telephony option, especially for businesses.
Cloud PBX handles the virtual phone service call routing and management capabilities
Getting a virtual phone number and VoIP to make and receive calls does not give you a complete virtual phone service. It just takes care of the telephony component of the whole communications solution. There is still the call routing and call management part of the system. After all, what is the use of virtual phone numbers and VoIP for a business if it can only take one call at a time?
This is where cloud PBX comes in. Through a group of servers hosted in their data centers, virtual phone service providers are able to provide call routing capabilities, auto attendant capabilities, virtual extensions for departments or users, and other call management features to businesses.
This allows businesses to automatically answer all incoming calls and route each call to the right department or individual within the company.
And, like VoIP and virtual phone numbers, the service can also be accessed from anywhere there is an internet connection.
More business communication tools in one virtual phone system
While the main components of a virtual phone service are virtual phone numbers, VoIP, and cloud PBX, there is no reason to limit your business to just those three virtual communication tools.
What is the best virtual phone service?
Each business has different business communications needs so the best virtual phone service for each one can also be different.
RingCentral, however, is highly rated by small businesses, as well as enterprises, because they take virtual phone service to another level with their industry-leading unified communications solution. Aside from getting the above main communication components, RingCentral provides businesses with other communication tools—including an advanced online meetings solution with screen sharing as well as team collaboration and messaging feature.
The best part is that all these features are unified and can be accessed through a single platform.
Can you see the pattern? Each component of a virtual phone service is accessible from anywhere, as long as the user is connected to the internet. It has leveraged the World Wide Web to deliver a flexible and mobile communications solution to businesses of all sizes. It is no wonder that organizations are going virtual with their telephone service while on-premise systems are going the obsolete route.
So… are you ready to get a virtual phone service for your company?