On the surface, there's not a huge difference between the phone numbers associated with traditional on-premise phone systems and VoIP systems. It may not even seem that useful to make the distinction, but the way that VoIP numbers work is actually the foundation for some of the key benefits that the technology offers.
Between improved reliability, flexibility, and cost-control, cloud phone systems help businesses in a number of ways beyond just providing the ability to make and receive phone calls.
For that reason, this post essentially breaks down into two pieces:
- What is a VoIP number?
- What are its' benefits?
Let's start by identifying the difference.
So what is a VoIP number?
The biggest difference between a traditional phone number and a VoIP number is that VoIP numbers aren't assigned to a specific location. If you're still paying a service provider for regular phone numbers, they're traveling through copper lines to specific phones. That means that unless you're physically near that phone, you won't be able to make or answer any calls from the number assigned to it.
VoIP numbers (or "virtual" numbers) work differently. Cloud providers assign phone numbers to specific users, and deliver service through the internet. So while a user is still assigned a unique extension, that extension isn't tied to a specific device.
That offers VoIP users a few different business advantages.
Access on multiple devices
Some people still rely heavily on their desk phone, and others probably wonder why it's even there in the first place. No matter which of those groups you fall into, you still need a reliable way to communicate with coworkers and people that you do business with.
The nice thing about VoIP is that users can "log in" to their extensions using different devices. This is helpful for something as simple as moving desks - if someone relies on the phone, they can easily log into a new one at their new workstation.
People who want a VoIP number without the corresponding desk phone can just ask their provider for a "softphone client" (most of us offer one 😉), which is just an app that allows users to make calls from their cell phone or computer.
The ability to use your work number on multiple devices also makes you more flexible. Most knowledge workers spend at least some time away from their desks, whether they're at offsite meetings, attending a conference, or just grabbing an afternoon coffee. It's important to keep lines of communication open during those instances, because you never know who might be trying to reach you - especially if you're in a customer-facing role like Sales or Support.
When you're logged into your VoIP number on your cell phone, you have a fully-functioning desk phone in your pocket. If you receive a call at work, it automatically rings into your mobile app, and the person calling you won't know the difference. The same goes for making a call - the person on the receiving end will see your work number as opposed to your personal cell phone.
Better cost control
Traditional phone service can get expensive. If you're still using an on-premise phone system, there's a good chance you've had run-ins with sky-high usage fees and long distance charges. These charges don't just get pricey - they can make it difficult to budget effectively. If you don't have a strong sense of what your phone bill will look like each month, switching to VoIP can help.
VoIP service is billed on a per-user basis, which means that each number has a fixed cost associated with it. If you hire a new employee, you simply contact your provider and order another user, which makes it way easier to grow or make staffing changes based on seasonality.
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