What is a Virtual Phone System?

A virtual telephone system is a relatively new technology based on the Internet and Cloud based computing. With the vast improvements in Internet service over the last decade, home users and small businesses have been able to benefit from cloud-hosted services. Service providers now are able to host systems in the Internet and provide remote services with confidence due to the rapid growth in available bandwidth to the end consumer. One of the opportunities that arose through cloud computing was virtual telephone systems.

How Virtual Telephone Systems work is very simple, in so much as the service provider supplies a business telephone number – toll free, local or they can port an existing number – and then their internet service answers incoming calls to that number. The benefit is that the service provider can then configure auto-attendants or auto-receptionists to provide a custom greeting and offer a menu of options to the caller. These options will be extension numbers that the service provider can forward the call. This means that calls can be configured to be forwarded to any phone, for example a mobile, a home landline or a desk-phone or all three, either simultaneously or in sequence. All of this is done transparently to the caller, who is simply placed on hold as their call is forwarded.

The advantages for small businesses are that customers can call one central business number, and the service provider will provide a professional answering service whilst directing calls to employee’s mobiles or home numbers. This means that even small businesses can offer customers a professional call answering service normally only available to large companies. It also means that employees can work of any device so long as it can receive calls forwarded from the provider.

Virtual telephone systems tend to only handle incoming calls, so there are some disadvantages in so much as outbound calls will need to be made using the real phones number as a the caller ID. However, there are mobile apps that the service provider supplies that can work around this and outbound calls to customers can then use the business number as the source caller ID.

Alasdair Gilchrist

Alasdair is a technical writer with interest in business practice, operational strategy, start up philosophy and affordable technology. He lives in Nonthaburi, Thailand with his wife and daughter, and writes terrible novels as a hobby.

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