The easiest way to understand a virtual phone system is to think of it as a traditional office phone system, with all the features, but without all the equipment. Virtual phone systems have been around for a while now, but many people still have some trepidation about them because they don’t really understand what it is. To clear this up, what follows are a variety of features you find with any professional phone system and how they are handled in traditional vs. virtual systems.
Multiple Live Call Management
A local PBX system is required to facilitate multiple lines, or otherwise a phone for each line. These are connected by hard lines and linked together within an on-site network, normally installed and maintained by an outside contractor.
Talkroute provides a unique “call stacking” feature not available with most virtual phone service providers. This allows multiple live calls to be stacked on hold until users are able to answer them, which is made possible by a cloud-hosted PBX that gives your business multiple lines without the use of any hardware.
PBX (Private Branch Exchange)—A private network of phone lines localized to a business or specific location. This creates multiple lines for the users at a location or business, which are branched off from one or more main lines from the phone company.
Live Call Transfer
Live calls are transferred to other extensions using the transfer function of the user’s desk phone or other hardware.
Live calls are transferred in much the same way as a regular office system, except the transfer is executed using a specific code that may be entered on any of your phones—landline, cell phone, etc. An attended or blind transfer may be used when sending a call to another extension.
Create extensions for each user at a business by assigning to them one of the local PBX lines. Most extensions are associated with a 3 or 4-digit number that is used to route calls to a specific person.
Extensions may be added and assigned to individuals or departments in the same way as in a traditional system. Unlike a traditional system, however, Talkroute allows you to add an unlimited number of 3 or 4-digit extensions to your account because it is not restricted by a finite number of lines within the PBX.
Auto Attendant (Call Menu)
An auto attendant, a.k.a., “phone tree”, can be added to a phone system for an office, usually upon request from the service provider. This automated feature allows callers to choose from a list of options and press the number of their desired extension or department to be connected.
An auto attendant is not always available with a virtual system; however, one may be easily be added to a Talkroute phone system, providing you with 10 menu options on your Call Menu (auto-attendant). The user can set up the Call Menu in a short time to make your business sound more professional, or it can be disabled to forward calls directly to your phones.
Setup of a traditional phone system has always been somewhat of an obstacle for businesses, which is why the contractor who installs it usually needs to handle setup for the business. There is a great deal of wiring and hardware which can be expensive and time-consuming.
A virtual phone system can typically be set up in under an hour for most setups, and sometimes in minutes, depending on the needs of the business. Using an online dashboard, all settings for the system can be adjusted by the user, and for Talkroute users, a representative is always available to assist with setup.
A business voice messaging system is usually standard for regular office phone systems, providing separate mailboxes for each individual’s or department’s extension.
Depending on what service you use, most virtual phone service providers offer some kind of voicemail system included with your account. A Talkroute system includes professional-grade voicemail for users, and unlimited voice mailboxes may be added at any time.
There are many advantages to utilizing a virtual phone system, but some businesses find that they still prefer a conventional on-site network with physical hardware that has been the norm for decades. Your small business may understandably decide to go with what is familiar; however, using a virtual system can greatly streamline and simplify how you manage calls. It can’t hurt to take the virtual option for a test drive and see if it works for you.
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.