virtual phoneIf the image of rapid, inbound business-related phone calls to your personal phone number hits close to home, a virtual phone could be the solution you’ve been looking for. That’s because these services allow you to significantly reduce phone stress while boosting your business’ credibility. Although the term “virtual phone” might not be a familiar one to you, if you’ve called a small business before, there’s a chance you’ve encountered a virtual phone system. Read on to learn what it is, what it can do for you and how it can help you organize calls.

What is a virtual phone?

When you receive a virtual phone number, you’re given a number that will automatically route your calls to either the virtual phone app or another phone number, such as your cell phone. This means that if someone calls your virtual phone number, you can pick up this call through your mobile or home telephone — you just have to preset what number your calls will be forwarded to. For example, someone can call your business number, and you’ll receive the call on your cell phone. Virtual phones are useful for a variety of reasons, particularly those relating to business, which brings us to our next point.

Why should you consider getting a virtual phone?

If you’re running a fledgling startup or a small enterprise, you know the advantages of making sure your business appears credible. A virtual phone can enhance your company’s image in that way, as it allows you to give your smaller company the appearance of a larger enterprise. For example, let’s say a new customer calls your business to inquire about your top-selling product. If they call your personal cell phone, a lose-lose situation is created. That’s because not only may the customer be jarred by your punny, too-casual voicemail greeting, but it also will be challenging for you to organize or separate your business from your personal voicemails. If you were to answer the phone, you wouldn’t know if you should adopt your professional tone or friendly neighbor voice, as it could be a customer or someone you’re more familiar with.

A virtual phone can help you avoid this situation altogether by distinguishing business calls from personal calls. When a customer rings up the virtual phone associated with your company, the number will appear on whatever device you’ve decided to forward the call to, giving you a heads-up about the nature of the call. On top of that, a virtual phone service can set you up with business menu options and a professional voicemail greeting, so customers can be assured of your company’s legitimacy from the call’s beginning to its end.

Small business owners who want flexibility will also be pleased with a virtual phone service. That’s because owners can set their business hours, meaning any calls made outside of those times will automatically go to voicemail, and it can route their calls to any phone device, so you can work anywhere and sound professional at all times. A virtual phone plan can also sometimes be cheaper than a traditional landline or cell phone plan, depending on what plan and service provider you’re looking at. Phone.com’s cheapest plan, for example, costs $9.99/month with an annual prepay. The plan includes 300 minutes/month, unlimited users, one toll-free number, an auto-attendant and a handful of add-ons.

What other features does a virtual phone system provide?

In addition to call forwarding services, many virtual phones also provide add-ons. For example, Grasshopper features a free virtual fax service that converts any fax you receive into PDF files and emails them to you, and Phone.com allows you to hold a conference for up to 500 participants. Virtual phone service add-ons can range from text messaging features to custom hold music and more.

Running a business isn’t easy, but managing your phone calls doesn’t have to be a challenge with a virtual phone service. Read our reviews of different virtual phone services to find the right one for you and your business.