Setting-up a business phone number is important to keep your business and personal life separate, as well as, to keep your personal information private. A business phone will also make your business look and sound more professional.
Types of Numbers
Local Number: A local number is a great option if you want to show your customers that you are a local company. Many customers prefer working with companies within their community. A toll-free number can sometimes make a business feel too large or impersonal.
Toll-free number: Toll-free number used to be great because it demonstrated that a company was focused on great customer service by providing a free number to call. However, now that most cell and phone plans cover long distance calling, this is not as relevant. A toll-free number does, however, create a professional image and adds credibility to your business.
Vanity number: A vanity number is a number that has a sequence of numbers or letters that make your number more memorable. An example of a vanity number would be 1-800-UPNORTH. Because they are easy to remember, vanity number are great for marketing purposes.
Types of Phone Systems Available
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) Providers: VoIP is a software that allows users to make calls over the internet which is gaining more popularity with businesses of all sizes due to mobility and cost-effectiveness. The next section lists some of the popular VoIP providers.
Local Landline Providers: Landline phones are generally more expensive for setup and ongoing service than VoIP providers but benefits are that they are reliable and will still work if you have a power-outage. For emergencies, landlines are also better. VoIP providers may not allow 911 calls or trace your call. In addition, if you are using a service such as Comcast, they may be able to bundle your business phone with your internet service or other services.
Some of the common landline providers are Comcast, AT&T, CenturyLink, and Verizon (most of them offer VoIP services as well).
Recommended VoIP Phone Providers
1. Google Voice - Free Option
Google Voice offers free local numbers. However, they do not have phone numbers for every area code. If a number is not available for your location, you can still select a phone number that is available in another area.
No monthly free
Quick and easy setup
Unlimited calls and text with in the US
International calls for an additional rate
Make calls from your desktop or mobile device
Forward calls and texts to another phone number such as your existing home or cell phone
$20.00 to port an existing number – only cell numbers can be ported
Google Voice Setup: To set up Google Voice, you will need a Google account. You can use an existing account or set-up a new one. Once signed into your Google account, you can then either click Google Voice under the apps section or go to www.google.com/voice to choose a number and complete the set up.
Making and Receiving calls with Google Voice: You can use your desktop or mobile device that is connected to the internet to make and receive calls (you must be signed in to make or receive calls). Alternatively, you can choose to have your calls forwarded to an existing number such as your home phone or cell phone. You do not need to internet connection to receive forwarded calls. However, you will still need internet connection to make calls form your cell phone. When calls are forwarded, your personal number will not be shared with your caller. Google Voice also gives you the option to set what times calls are forwarded which gives more privacy. Calls outside of the times will go straight to voicemail.
Summary: Overall, Google voice is a really good free solution for a single user that does not need any additional services beside calling and text. The disadvantages of Google Voice is that they don't offer advance features that other providers provide and their customer service is limited. Their help desk consist of an online knowledge base and online forums.
Grasshopper is another VoIP provider that is geared toward helping small business grow and look professional.
Quick and easy setup
Set up a local number, toll free number, vanity number, or use an existing number
No additional equipment to purchase (some VoIP providers require an adapter for your existing phone or VoIP phone that connects your phone to the internet. Grasshopper forwards calls to an existing number. Outbound call must be made from the phone app)
Voicemails and faxes delivered via email
Auto Receptionist (phone tree)
For more information on setting up and using Grasshopper, please click here to visit their website.
3. Other VoIP Providers