Call Forwarding Service 101 – All You Need to Know to Choose the Best Provider

Call Forwarding Service

What is Call Forwarding?

There are several similar terms used in telecommunications to describe the diversion of an incoming call to another destination. There are for example Call Transfer, Call Divert and Call Forwarding. What makes call forwarding different from the other two methods is that it is typically automated in order to allow all incoming calls to a specific number be forwarded to another preconfigured number or even another voice mailbox. Call Divert is very similar but is typically performed on the device – a telephone or mobile phone – itself and generally only for short periods. Call Transfer on the other hand is typically a manual operation performed after a call has already been answered and it typically applied on a call by call basis.

All three functions have their uses depending on what you want but generally Call Transfer and Call Forwarding make up the backbone of an inbound call forwarding service for small businesses. The reason for this is that both are very desirable features in their own way, Similarly, both call forwarding and call transfer can be automated and used together to construct complex and intelligent hierarchies of rules that can then be served from the cloud using VoIP.

How Call Forwarding works?

call forwarding service

The best way to visualize how a call forwarding service and call divert works is to consider the following video, which shows how call forwarding and call transfer can combine to create complex rules such as find-me/follow-me and follow the sun type intelligent call routing.

In another basic example, we can consider that the incoming call is intercepted at the device hosting the true destination number such as a home landline, which will then be diverted automatically to an alternative number residing in this case on a SIM card in a mobile phone. The way it would work would be that the owner of the landline phone perhaps wished to go out so they have configured their home phone to redirect all incoming calls to that number to be diverted or forwarded to the alternative preset number of their mobile phone. In this scenario all incoming calls would be rerouted automatically and seamlessly without the caller even noticing.

The crucial difference between Call Forwarding and Call Divert is that the former method to forward phone calls is typically on a semi-permanent basis on a call routing device such as private telephone exchange (PBX). Whereas Call divert is performed on the mobile phone itself usually through short codes and only on a needs basis.

Call Transfer on the other hand is another critical component of any call forwarding service that provides the scalability that phone forwarding services require. This is because as Call Transfer actively answers the initial inbound call it can just like a human operator provide a method for the rerouting of an inbound call to many potential destinations or extensions. Indeed this is how the tradition receptionist managed inbound calls to the business. They would answer calls coming into the business number then transfer the call to the specific required extension. Call Transfer is vital to phone forwarding service providers as it gives them a way to expand their product to support many more external phones and extensions.

Why You Want to use Call Forwarding if You Are an SMB

In the last section we saw how to forward phone calls on a consumer phone or to perform business call forwarding at a larger scale. There is not actually a lot of difference it is just that when you use call divert on your own phone it is self-managed and small in scale. However, if you look at phone forwarding services you are going to be outsourcing the tasks and this enables scale and growth. For example, a call forwarding service for small business will be required to provide all the hardware and software required for remote call forwarding. 

What this means is that the phone forwarding service will need to provide you with a virtual business number that they will host on your behalf typically in the cloud (Internet) but with direct PSTN connects. The call forwarding service provider will then receive all calls to that number 24/7 – the call will never go unattended – and either automatically and seamlessly forward phone calls (Call Forwarding) to a preset destination number or answer the call and present the caller with a custom menu of options (Call Transfer) before delivering the call to the desired destination.

Virtual phone number forwarding is typically used for business call forwarding as it is provided as a managed service. Many virtual telephone service providers offer managed inbound call management systems as a cloud based service. Most of these started out as simply virtual auto-receptionists that could transfer or forward calls inbound to a virtual business number to employees’ mobile phones. Nowadays however the options for call forwarding service for small business is vast and many offer an array of VoIP features such as Find-Me/Follow-Me as well as desktop and mobile apps to provide even greater mobility.

Indeed it is that mobility that makes business call forwarding so attractive to small business. Employees are no longer tied to their desks as they can now operate using their mobile phones assured in the knowledge that they will never miss an important call. However, it is not just local call forwarding as you can typically select virtual business numbers for anywhere you wish to have a virtual presence. Therefore you can have local remote call forwarding for any state or region and even international call forwarding under many service provider price plans.

Some Call Forwarding Options

Call forwarding on mobile phones is now quite advanced so there are other options available for small business that do not require a virtual phone forwarding service just yet. For example on Android phones there are typically options for call forwarding such as setting different criteria for forwarding a call. These are very handy features for tuning your own call forwarding service for example there are the abilities to forward calls on certain events only, such as;

  • Call forward unconditional
  • Call forwarding on busy
  • Call forwarding on no answer
  • Call forwarding offline
  • Call forwarding conditional

The last feature Call Forwarding Conditional allows you to set up call forwarding rules that apply only to certain incoming calling numbers, or the time of day or other preset conditions. These options allow you to construct forwarding rules to make your own multi-tier incoming call management service. You can see from the following video how to do conditional call forwarding on an iPhone:

Call Forwarding Service Providers

For small business it is essential that time is efficiently spent on core business functions and managing a virtual telephone system is rarely on of them. Therefore it can be a wise decision to look to outsourcing to a third party phone forwarding service provider. There are many around so the competition ensures they are priced reasonably. The things to look for are whether they provide a service in your region or country and if they have the range of features that you require for business call forwarding.

Some notable call forwarding service providers are:

1. eReceptionist

The eReceptionist service is available in Europe as a business call forwarding service. As the name suggests eReceptionist is an automated call answering and forwarding service. They are also available in the US as eVoice, which is a virtual telephone service popular with small businesses.

eReceptionist Pricing

The eReceptionist service offers 3 basic packages; 1) Startup package; 2) Startup+ package and; 3) their Scaleup package. All these service plans have a 30 day free trial.

Startup

  • $13.04 per month
  • 350 minutes per month
  • 2 extensions

Startup+

  • $22.93 per month
  • 750 minutes per month
  • 4 extensions

Scaleup

  • $32.69 per month
  • 1600 minutes per month
  • 6 extensions
  • Call analytics included

eReceptionist Standard Features:

The eReceptionist service offers several standard features typically available in an incoming call management service. There are all the basic features that you need for your businesses call forwarding requirements. Some of their standard features include:

  • Virtual Receptionists
  • Call Forwarding
  • Call Scheduler
  • Outbound Calling app
  • Virtual Office
  • Studio Recording Greeting
  • Telephone Direct
  • Voicemail Transcription
  • Call Conferencing
  • Multiple Extension

2. Phone.com

Phone.com is a cloud based virtual telephone service that is feature rich and can scale to handle virtual PBX not just incoming call forwarding. Nonetheless, Phone.com is a great international call forwarding service as it offers both pay per minute plans as well as unlimited minute plans. The basic service plans that are available are; 1) the Base Plan; 2) the Plus Plan; and 3) the Pro Plan.

Phone.com Pricing

Pay-Per-Minute Plans:

  • Base: $12.99/month with 300 minutes, 5,000 SMS messages
  • Plus: $19.99/month with 500 minutes, 10,000 SMS messages
  • Pro: $39.99/month with 1,000 minutes, 20,000 SMS messages

Unlimited Plans:

  • Base: $29.99/month with 300 bonus minutes for extensions, 5,000 SMS messages
  • Plus: $37.99/month with 500 bonus minutes for extensions, 10,000 SMS messages
  • Pro: $59.99/month with 1,000 bonus minutes for extensions, 20,000 SMS messages

Phone.com Features

Phone.com offers many standard features in all of their packages, including:

  • Call Forwarding
  • Call Blocking
  • Call Transfer
  • Call Waiting
  • SMS Text Messaging
  • Call Queuing

3. CallHippo

CallHippo is best suited to entrepreneurs and small startups that need to have business calls forwarded to mobile phones. It is a very competent call forwarding service that can handle even international call forwarding in 50+ countries. They even have a basic features “free” plan, which is a nice option for those that want to try before they buy.

CallHippo Pricing

USA 800 Numbers

  • Number Subscription: $7 per month
  • Number + Service Subscription: $7 – $47 per month
  • Per-Minute Rate (forwarded to US number): $0.033 per minute

USA Local Number

  • Number Subscription: $6/month
  • Number + Service Subscription: $6 – $46 per month

CallHippo Features

  • Smart Call Forwarding
  • Call Recording
  • Voicemail
  • On Hold Music
  • Call Transfer
  • Call Conferencing

4. Kall8

Kall8 is a virtual phone forwarding service provider that provides local call forwarding to small businesses and solo entrepreneurs in the United States and Canada. Kall8’s applies a two tier system where basic features come as standard but advanced features can be bought later. Prices vary based on the type of phone number but there is a pay-as-you-go service plan based on the actual incoming minutes utilized per month.

Kall 8 Pricing

True 800 Numbers

  • Set-up fees: $25
  • Subscription: $25/month
  • Per-Minute Rate: $0.069/minute

Standard 1800 Number

  • Set-up fees: $2-5/month
  • Subscription: $5/month
  • Per-Minute Rate: $0.069/minute

Local Number

  • Set-up fees: $5
  • Subscription: $5/month
  • Per-Minute Rate: $0.059/minute

Kall 8 Standard Features:

  • Voicemail and Fax
  • Virtual Calling Card
  • Conferencing – up to 25 participants
  • Call Blocking
  • Call Notification Emails
  • Custom Call Forwarding
  • Time and Day routing
  • Area code routing
  • State routing

5. AVOXI

AVOXI offers virtual phone forwarding service that is globally available and suitable for SMB. The virtual business phone numbers allow for local and remote call forwarding, business call forwarding and international call forwarding in over 160 countries. It is a feature rich service that applies a custom service where you can pick and mix many of the functions you need from a list of over 20 VoIP features.

AVOXI Pricing

AVOXI offers pay as you go plans and bundled minute packages for 1800, true 800 and local numbers.

United States True 800 Toll Free Numbers plans range from:

  • $7.99-$70.99 per month
  • 0 – 4212 minutes per month
  • Additional minutes: $0.025-$0.052 (for pay as you go)

United States Toll Free Numbers range from:

  • $4.49 – $70.99 per month
  • 0 – 4212 minutes per month
  • Additional minutes: $0.025-$0.052 (for pay as you go)

United States Local Numbers range from:

  • $4.49-$70.99 per month
  • 0 – 4862 minutes per month
  • Additional minutes: $0.024-$0.051 (for pay as you go)

AVOXI Features

AVOXI offers many standard features, such as:

  • Call Forwarding
  • Time of Day Routing
  • Call Conferencing
  • Voicemail to Email
  • Call Transfer
  • Call Waiting

What are Some Slternatives to Call Forwarding?

A call forwarding service is a great starting point for small businesses when entering the virtual telephone market. Nonetheless it might not be for everyone so you should consider if an upgrade path is available to a fully functional cloud based virtual PBX in the future.

Many virtual phone forwarding services also support cloud-based virtual PBX so seamless upgrading when your business grows will not be an issue. However it is best to makes sure that there is an available roadmap for upgrading.

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