For a small business, virtual PBX services are a godsend. They provide a small business with all of the bells and whistles of a robust, business-class phone system for as low as $10/ month.They work with your existing phone lines; they have cool apps that make them easy to manage; they make it possible for your whole team to be contacted through one number; and they are easy to scale. There is one catch that you should be aware of: the number you are assigned through a virtual PBX service may not be “portable.”
What does it mean for a number to not be portable? It means that you can’t take the number with you if you decide to change services. Unlike cell phone services, residential and business VoIP phone services, and traditional landline companies, virtual PBX services are not required by the FTC to let you take your number with you (unless it’s an 800 number) to another service.
Whether you are a marketing professional, blogger, writer or consultant, your home business needs a phone system that gives you a level of professionalism – and also, security. Handing out your personal cellphone number to random clients you meet, vendors you chat with, or potential business partners means you are giving out your personal contact information to potential strangers – and no one should have to sacrifice security for business communications.A virtual phone system lets you separate your personal and professional calls, but still gives you the flexibility and cost savings of operating your home business using your cell phone if you want. While there are plenty of virtual phone systems out there advertising themselves as the ideal partnership for home-based businesses, there are five key features that will help you identify companies worth your hard-earned dollars.
1. Truly Mobile Ready
With a truly mobile ready app, you will be able to use a tablet or smartphone to access business contacts, make calls, send business texts, receive faxes, join conference calls, share files, check voicemail and in some cases start video meetings. Basically everything you need to conduct business regardless of where you are or where you are going – giving you the power to operate without being tied to a desk.
2. No Contracts
What business owner wants their hands tied? You have enough binding contracts in your business, you don’t need a phone service that is going to tell you how long you have to use them, and when you can leave if you aren’t happy with their service. There are plenty of services out there, like RingCentral and Grasshopper, that don’t constrict their customers with long term contracts or harsh early termination fees.By not having contracts, you can pick and choose the virtual phone system you need, or up and move to another service provider without facing harsh penalties. A good virtual phone system will also allow you to “port-out” your number to another company. This means you can keep your established business phone number if you decide a particular service is not right for you.
3. Call Forwarding
Young Woman working from home Instead of giving out your personal cellphone to conduct business – and give people the opportunity to contact you whenever they want privately – look for a business phone service that offers call forwarding. Call forwarding will transfer your calls from your home office to your mobile phone, but never let customers or vendors know the number they are being transferred to – or even the fact that they were transferred to another number.You can further use features like find-me/follow me in conjunction with Call Forwarding to route calls. “Find me” forwards calls either in sequence or at the same time to a list of numbers that you designate. “Follow me” forwards calls to numbers based on a time schedule – so you can adjust where calls go based on your day-to-day activities.This allows you to conduct business everywhere you go – even if you are at your son’s soccer game or showing your next property. Most importantly, you can filter your calls from personal and professional – so you know just who you are answering to at any particular time.
4. Enhanced Collaboration
With built-in conference calling it is effortless for you and your team members to join conference calls and collaborate with your clients at a moment’s notice. In some cases like RingCentral, you have the ability to connect face-to-face online for real-time file sharing and collaboration even when it’s not practical to meet face-to-face in person.
5. Additional Free Expanded Features
From faxing to call waiting to auto attendant, if you are going to pay for a phone service, shouldn’t you get certain features for free? Believe it or not, there are plenty of phone services out there that don’t offer you any features for free. If you are going to pay for a professional service, do not settle for subpar features. Instead, look for a company that offers you things like:
Call management tools – including call hold, return, forwarding, waiting, three-way calling, etc.
Extensions – including virtual extensions
Voicemail to email
Inbound and outbound faxing