Whether you’re a small business owner who’s just starting their journey or you’ve been around for a while now, giving your personal credentials to prospects makes you look less professional. That’s why you need to have a business phone number.
Here are some of its benefits:
- It keeps your personal phone number private.
- Clients will have more confidence in you.
- It helps separate your business and personal life.
In this article, we’re going to explore the six steps in getting your first business phone number. Keep reading.
Step 1: Choose Your Business Phone Number
There are many options for you to get a business phone number. As an entrepreneur, you have to select the best one for your business that meets your specific needs.
For example, your company might require a call forwarding feature. Or you may also prefer one business phone number with extensions. Don’t just randomly select any service provider without identifying the best features that suit your business.
Budget plays an important role too. If you spend too much on your phone number, you may not have sufficient funds for other priorities in your business. Likewise, if you spend too little, the business phone number provider may not provide you with the needed services.
There are many kinds of business phone numbers available. You may know some of them already. These numbers are mainly categorized based on the services and structure of the number that provided. The cost also varies.
Local Phone Numbers
You can easily register yourself for a local phone number. It comes with area code. If you want your clients or customers to know the location of your business, you can hand them your local business number.
But this type of number is not desirable for those who have several branch offices, and do not like anybody to know from which office they are calling from. The number will look similar to your home landline number. You can get it up and running in just one day. You have to reach out to your local telephone authorities to get one. This setup will typically cost you from $0 – $10 per month.
Toll-free numbers are those that do not charge the callers to contact you. They usually begin with 1800. A toll-free number gives a professional touch to your company. You have to contact your phone provider to get this type of number. The setup of the number is really easy and fast. Your phone provider may charge you approximately $10 per month for this service.
Vanity Phone Numbers
A vanity phone number can enhance your toll-free number experience. It attaches strings or series of numbers after 1-800. This makes it much easier to remember for the clients or the customers.
Chances are, you might have already come across this type of number. Examples of vanity phone numbers are 1-800-222-2222 or it can even be 1-800-HELP-USA or anything similar to this.
But there’s a major catch here. Since they’re presentable and likeable, many companies rush to get one. Also due to their high demand, they tend to cost more. Service providers may charge somewhere between $10 to $50 per month.
Virtual Phone Numbers
Last on the category of business phone numbers list is virtual phone numbers. While they’re not as common, some companies use them quite often. The reason they’re so rare is because of their only capability of call forwarding and voicemail service. Now the natural question to ask is, why do companies use a single category just to receive a call?
Sometimes they want a single incoming number that’s easy to remember by customers.
To understand the scenario, let’s assume a company has three different branch offices spread across a company. Naturally, the three offices will have three different numbers.
Now, if a customer wants to contact them, they have to choose from the three numbers available. But if a company applies for a virtual phone number, the customer will have to call only one number and the number will forward the call to any of the branch locations as per customers IVR selection (if they choose any).
This service might typically cost you from $0 to $10 per month.
Since having a conventional telephone line typically costs you more, you may also benefit from a Voice over Internet Protocol (or VoIP) number. VoIP service providers can provide the traditional phone experience for a much lower cost.
You won’t need any extra landlines or desk phones to set up. You can also make and receive calls from your personal phone handsets without sharing your personal contact number. You can easily communicate via your desktop or laptop.
The most important thing to remember while using a VoIP service is that it requires a decent internet connection. If you have one already installed, you are good to go.
Step 2: Reserve Your Business Phone Number
It’s possible that you already have a business phone number. In such a case, you do not have to give up your existing number to get a new one.
You can easily port your existing contact number to a different service provider of your choice. Porting will help retain your current number. It just changes the service provider.
FCC has already granted permission so that if someone wants to switch carriers, they can easily do that. They also suggest that if you have an outstanding balance with your previous service provider, your service provider cannot refuse your application for porting. You can read the official FCC guidelines here.
Step 3: Select Phones for Your Business Phone System
The next step requires you to select the best compatible phone for your business requirement.
Since you have a VoIP number, you must obtain a VoIP desk phone or softphone only to place or receive a call. These IP-based phones connect you to the internet and allow you to interact with people regardless of their location.
There’s a huge possibility that your service provider may also offer you an app. You can just download, install, and configure your app on your smartphone, tablet, computer, or laptop and you can easily place your phone call from them as well.
While choosing an IP phone, you must always go for a reliable and trustworthy brand. So that if you face any problem in the future, you can reach out to the customer representatives of the brand easily and get it fixed.
Step 4: Add Extensions for Your Employees
After getting your work phone numbers and setting up your office with IP based phones, you’re now ready to receive calls. But what if someone calls your office and wants to talk to a particular person or a specific department? What you can do in such types of situations?
The answer is fairly simple. You need an extension within your company phone number. Let’s see how that can resolve the problem.
A customer reaches your operator’s desk. Then they wish to talk to a specific person. The operator will then forward the call via an extension to that person. It can also be done via the IVR service, where the customer has to dial the extension number of the desired person.
Companies usually opt for having extensions rather than applying for multiple phone numbers. This saves time, effort, and money.
Having an extension will also make your company look bigger, even if you have a small team. This is especially beneficial for virtual offices.
Step 5: Optimize your Greeting Message
Imagine someone calling and you pick up the call after 15 seconds. Some customers don’t have the patience to wait.
Therefore, it’s a good practice to set-up a message to greet the caller. So that whenever they call, they don’t have to go through the excruciating pain of listening to boring music.
You can also have an auto-attendant feature on your phone. If you have this feature enabled, the customers who are calling you will hear a pre-recorded message. You can also have the auto attendant ask the customer which department they want to contact so that the call will be automatically diverted to the concerned department.
An example of a pre-recorded message is,
“Thank you for calling XYZ company. We are connecting you to the operator. Please be online.”
Similarly, if you are not available to answer the phone, you can program your phone to say,
“Thank you for calling XYZ company. The person you are trying to contact is not available at this moment. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please leave a message and we will contact you shortly.”
Tweak the above examples as per your requirement, and provide a great customer experience!
Step 6: Start Receiving Calls
Now that you have a business phone number, phone on your desk, added extensions for your other employees, and a greeting message, the last thing that you need to do is answer that call! You’re all set.
Prospects are more likely to trust companies that appear professional, no matter their size. If you want to be a step ahead of others you must think and act better than them. Make them feel that you are working in a corporate setup. Who knows, maybe your lead can turn into a long term client. It starts with having a business phone number.