Virtual numbers come with many perks for small businesses, ranging from professional features to the convenience of on-the-go communications and cost savings. But what if you're a solo entrepreneur -- any reason to use virtual numbers for a business of one? Yes. Virtual numbers can offer a slew of ways to overcome logistical and financial obstacles, which were once impossible and impractical for solo business owners to tackle. Want a “VIP” line or a department directory? You can easily do it all yourself by employing a virtual number strategy. Here are six handy ways to use virtual numbers to enhance your business communications:
- Product-Specific Phone Numbers
Assigning a different phone number to each of your products or services gives you the opportunity to customize voicemail for those callers, thereby creating a resource that provides clear and concise messages that are relevant to your customers. Say you run a few Etsy shops – one sells necklaces, one homemade keepsake boxes, and the other painted flower pots. While you could put the same phone number as a contact on all three shop pages, providing a different number for each will allow you to set up separate voicemails with the shop names and relevant information about your various products. Customers who call will get a better customer experience than if you were to lump all the info into a single voicemail message. Plus not having to pick up the phone to answer general questions saves you and your callers time, while also providing the sense of a bigger company (more on this below!).
- "Departments" for Your Solo Business
For some businesses it makes a lot of sense to create a call directory for "departments" even if all calls go directly to you. For example, imagine you've just learned from a survey that the top reasons customers call your antique shop is to inquire about sales opportunities, online orders, billing, and shipping. To help get them the answers they need you’ve decided to set up a calling directory, allowing the caller to dial a one digit extension for each area of expertise, all of which ring to your cell – and they’re never the wiser! Having different departments presents the professional appearance of a larger company while also indicating to you why someone is calling. Your callers will appreciate the direct service and you’ll love the big business feel – without the clunky corporate phone system.
- Emergency and/or VIP Access
Creating an emergency and/or VIP line is an easy way to provide clients with a direct number reserved for urgent matters. Since you can link as many virtual phone numbers to one phone as you like, this is a great way to use them. Perhaps you're a social media specialist who works out of your home office managing social pages for a few local high-end merchants, sometimes your attention is needed at a moment’s notice. While you’re not always on your email or checking Facebook notifications, your phone is always in your pocket. Perhaps your client calls to tell you that an offer has to be taken down ASAP due to merchandise not longer being available – allowing you to answer that VIP phone call at any time and save the day for your client goes a long way. You'll know this is a “must answer” call and will show your clients you take their business seriously. Plus, your VIP clients will get that top of the line feel, even if they never use it.
- Conference Calls
If you have clients in multiple locations and need to chat, or want to collaborate on a project with people across the globe, you'll need to get them all on the line at once. Picture an online store for organic coffee beans and high-end coffee accessories. The owner wants a good friend with international trade expertise to be on a call with a potential coffee bean supplier. Thanks to the virtual nature of cloud technology and the ability to conference call from a cell with just a tap of a button, the location of the business owner in New Hampshire, the colleague in California, and the supplier in Mexico is not a problem at all. Getting all the info in one call without having to consult and call back allows everyone to make a decision together and move on to the next project. They don't have to know you're working from home in your workout gear, but they’ll be impressed by your professional communication method.
You're wrapping up a new business contract, and while most of your clients welcome email, one of your clients wants to send you a copy of the signed contract via fax – and they want to start pronto. If you have a fax-enabled virtual number for your business, this scenario becomes effortless as the new client can simply send the fax to your business number and you will receive the document via email. The client will be happy and faxing to your virtual number won’t cost you any extra time or money.
Faxing might seem outdated, but when you need to send a fax, going out to track down a fax machine is just too time-consuming and inconvenient.
- Built-in Notes via Voicemail Transcription
You’re in the cab on the way to the airport for a mini vacation and don’t have a pen or paper – but you just had the best idea on how to share your new ebook. You don’t want to forget so you grab the phone, call your business number and leave a voicemail with a detailed description of your plan. A few days later when you’re back to work in your home office, you read the email transcription and are reminded of your idea, allowing you to execute quickly, without having to rehash the details.
If your virtual number service has professional-quality voicemail transcription enabled then your important voicemails can instantly turn into detailed notes with phone numbers, to-dos, etc. And what’s most convenient is that all these voice notes will be translated to an email and sent to you to keep on file. Much better than the scattered, scribbled on or lost papers, you can save your important transcribed messages in your email until you choose to delete them.
Virtual numbers are more than just for phone calls. They can help solo-preneurs get creative and help their businesses thrive, providing professional features and convenience, all at a practical price. Do you use your virtual number in a unique way? We’d love to hear about it. Share your ideas with us in the comments below or on social media –Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.