Do you want to take your phone communications to the next level to reach more customers and meet their growing demands? If you do, consider upgrading your current phone line to virtual phone systems.
Virtual phone systems run on the cloud, enabling users to process calls anywhere using their smartphone, laptop, or tablet. They’re more affordable compared to installing multiple phone lines wired and cabled at a physical location. Moreover, numerous service providers offer virtual phone systems with impressive plans and features such as an Auto Dialer, allowing you to autodial contacts, streamlining the process.
If you’re interested in virtual phone systems, you’re in the right place. This post discusses how to install one for your business. The best part is it all takes a reliable internet connection to complete the installation. Keep reading!
Table of Contents
- How Much Do Virtual Phone Systems Cost?
- How To Set Up A Virtual Phone System For Your Business?
- Final Words
How Much Do Virtual Phone Systems Cost?
Setting up a virtual phone system brings plenty of opportunities to improve engagement with customers and prospects. The costs of virtual phone systems may depend on various factors.
The most significant chunk of the cost is the initial investment. Prices may vary depending on the plan you choose. For example, an entry-level plan with basic features may cost USD$20 per user with a maximum of 20 users.
Furthermore, you might need to consider purchasing new hardware. Your agents may need better equipment or an additional allowance for a reliable internet connection and peripherals, such as headsets.
If you already have an ultra-fast internet connection, powerful hardware, and accessories in place, upfront costs will be minimal. All you need to pay for is the services. This makes virtual phone systems more affordable than traditional phone lines.
How To Set Up A Virtual Phone System For Your Business?
The era of waiting for phone companies to set up your phone communication system is long gone. In a matter of minutes, you’ll be able to set up your system, and all you need is a device and a stable internet connection.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to setting up a virtual phone system for your enterprise:
1. Choose A Virtual Phone Plan
Virtual phone plans may vary depending on the features they offer. The more features a specific plan has, the more expensive it is. Also, some plans may require additional service charges for every feature you add to your basic plan.
When choosing a plan, make sure to consider the following features:
- Ringless Voicemail: A ringless voicemail drop is a pre-recorded audio message you can leave in case the other end of the line is busy or unattended. This allows customers to listen to your message anytime possible.
- Toll-Free Flat Rate: Toll-free numbers allow customers from every state to contact you without additional charges. This is essential for enterprises with a wide reach, offering services nationwide.
- Virtual Assistant (VA): VA is an artificial intelligence (AI) feature that interacts with callers and creates a positive, long-lasting first impression. Keep its menu simple to help customers reach the right person.
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR): IVR is designed to improve call routing processes and provide a higher level of customer service, keeping agents available for more complex problems.
- Call Queueing: This feature lets virtual phone users place inbound calls in a waiting line. Callers will be put on hold until an agent is available to talk to them and answer their queries.
- Integrations: A virtual phone system should allow you to integrate third-party solutions, such as customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, automated dialers, etc.
Other features worth considering when choosing a virtual phone plan include video conference calling, automatic callbacks, SMS messaging, call recording, and phone analytics.
2. Establish A High-Speed Internet Connection
A high-speed internet connection is crucial to virtual phone systems. This helps your agents maintain the quality of your inbound and outbound calls.
Start running a speed test online to find out how your current network can affect the quality of your calls. If it’s not up to the task, call your provider and upgrade your internet plan. You can also consider finding a new one that offers a fast-speed network at a more reasonable price.
For audio-based calls, minimal bandwidth will suffice—100 kbps is enough to make a single call. So, if your team makes 30 calls simultaneously, you’ll need 3 Mbps or more to maintain high-quality calls. However, note that bandwidth isn’t the only factor affecting call quality. Check which applications are running because they might consume the bandwidth for making calls.
To ensure calls get consistent bandwidth, go to settings and turn on your router’s quality of service function. Without this, you might not have enough bandwidth to process your calls smoothly due to latency, jitters, and call drops.
3. Create An Account
Once you find the right plan for your business, it’s time to create an account with your chosen provider and set up your login credentials. You’ll need these to manage the settings of your virtual phone system.
4. Set Up Your Business Number
Once you’ve created an account, determine the kind of business phone number you need. You may choose local, international, toll-free, vanity, and direct-inward-dialing (DID). So, what makes one different from the other?
- Local Phone Numbers: These numbers are ideal for small enterprises and startups. They tend to be more credible and trustworthy in search engines and local directories, allowing them to receive higher call volume and answer rates.
- International Phone Numbers: If you’re trying to expand your business overseas, you’ll need to set up international phone numbers. These numbers will allow customers from other countries to contact you.
- Toll-Free Numbers: Do you have customers in other parts of the country? If you do, consider setting up a toll-free number so that non-locals can call you without incurring additional charges. Also, it adds a sense of prestige and professionalism to your business.
- Vanity Numbers: Vanity numbers leave a great first impression on people because of how creative and memorable they are. That’s why they’re so popular among businesses these days. Examples of vanity numbers are 1-800-DELIVER, 1-888-PLUMBER, etc.
- Direct-Inward-Dialing (DID) Numbers: These numbers allow incoming calls to be routed directly to a specific department. In other words, DID numbers eliminate the middleman that routes incoming calls to the right person, helping businesses save and operate efficiently?
For startups and small businesses, focus on setting up local and vanity numbers first. When your business grows, establish your own toll-free and international numbers as it expands overseas.
5. Port Your Existing Business Phone Numbers
If you already have a business phone number, you don’t need to create a new one. Instead, add it to your virtual phone system as your official number. This process is called porting.
Most providers allow porting so that customers won’t have a hard time learning a new one, preventing confusion. In this way, you’ll be able to reduce the likelihood of customers not being able to reach you.
Follow these simple steps for a hassle-free porting process:
- Check If Your Number Is Portable: First, check if your current business phone number is portable—eligible for porting. Ask your provider if they have a tool that can determine the portability of your number.
Moreover, ensure you’re not obliged to stay for a specific period. In this way, you’ll be able to avoid penalties during early contract termination.
- Keep Your Existing Number Active: If your current number is portable, don’t cut down your ties with your existing provider yet. Wait until the porting process has been requested, which means another service has begun. This ensures you won’t lose your phone number before switching providers.
- Secure A Copy Of Your Recent Bill: Phone bills contain information necessary to process your request to port your existing business phone number. These include main account details, phone numbers linked to the account, business address, and billing telephone number. Therefore, keep your recent bill until you’ve requested to port your current business number.
- Call The New Provider: Once you have a copy of your recent bill, call the new provider and request your current phone number to be ported to them. Then, you’ll need to fill up the number transfer form, which will be used to request your number from your previous service provider.
- Write An Authorization Letter: The porting process will only begin once you send an authorization letter to your new provider. This letter contains essential information, including the business address, billing telephone number, and other relevant details.
Once your new provider receives your letter, the porting process will commence, and they’ll ensure its completion. Depending on your carrier, porting may take a few hours or months.
- Test The Ported Number: Once the porting process has been completed, test the number by performing a few calls, both inbound and outbound. This is to determine call quality and connectivity if there are any issues.
Different providers may have different rules when porting an existing business phone number. The steps above may help you quickly transfer your current number from your previous carrier to the new one.
6. Set Up Extensions
Now that you have a business phone number, it’s time to add users. Go to your phone system’s settings and click the ‘Add a User’ setting. Then, provide an extension number for every user, allowing them to receive inbound calls and contact each other.
You can also use phone extensions to route calls to your agents. Note that these numbers are intended for internal use only, and keep them as simple as possible so they’re easier to remember.
You might not want other employees to have DID numbers. However, it’s best to include them in your system so they can make and receive calls.
7. Set Up Your Line
Setting up your phone lines should be quick and easy because your provider will guide you through the process. However, this depends on the devices you use. For example, hardwired phones that require Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) adapters, a technology that allows you to make voice calls using the internet instead of a phone line, require different setups than headsets connected to computers. This process may take some time, but it’s still faster than setting up traditional phone lines, which could take a few days.
8. Record Voicemail Greetings
Voicemail greetings are used when agents aren’t available to answer incoming calls at the moment. But what makes an effective voicemail greeting?
An effective voicemail greeting is concise yet substantial. It should contain all the information your customers would want to know, such as the following:
- Your greeting
- Your name
- The name of your company
- Reason for missing a caller’s call
- A specific timeframe when the caller can expect a call from you
- A person they can reach if you’re unavailable
- Another way to contact you
- A clear call to action
Here’s an example of a voicemail greeting: ‘Good day! Thanks for calling ABC Company. Please leave a short message, and we’ll call you back as soon as possible. Enjoy the rest of the day!’
9. Train Your Staff
Virtual phone systems offer plenty of features to use. So, ensure your employees learn and understand how your business phone system and its features work and how to use them.
You may conduct a seminar that discusses every feature you want them to master. You can also run a survey asking who might be familiar with virtual phone systems to find out who can guide their co-workers throughout the process.
At this point, you have to be thorough. You want your employees to be as comfortable with all the essential features as possible. Also, make sure to ask for their feedback because some of them might be too intimidated to speak up just because they don’t understand a thing.
Congratulations! You now know how to install a virtual phone system. If you’re done choosing a service provider and training your employees, running your new system will not be much of a task. However, always keep your eyes open for potential issues around your system and see how the new phone system will function in the long run