Man with headphone calling with virtual phone number

    What Is A Virtual Phone Number And How To Get One?

    AircallLast updated on January 2, 2024
    11 min

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    Growing businesses that serve global audiences don’t necessarily need to have offices in every country. They do however need to be reachable, and you can’t expect customers to call an international number every time they have a question. A virtual phone number is the perfect solution. These numbers aren’t tied to physical phone lines or a specific cell phone which means you can get a phone number with a local area code in any location and any device.

    A virtual phone number is suitable for businesses of all sizes across industries. Read on to find out all you need to know about these numbers, the benefits of using them, and how to get one. 

    What is a virtual phone number?

    A virtual phone number is a phone number linked to an online account with a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). It isn’t tied to a particular device or physical location. Calls can be made and received using this number from any device that has a working internet connection. 

    The call quality is comparable to the quality of a regular phone call and the person at the other end of the call has no way of knowing where you are speaking from. Thus, the answer to what is a virtual phone number is quite similar to a softphone.

    VoIP phone numbers can be categorized as:

    • Local phone number: This is a virtual phone number with an area code tied to geographic locations. For example, +44 20 1234 5678 could be a local virtual phone number in the UK.

    • Toll-free phone number: Toll-free phone numbers are special numbers where call charges are billed not to the caller but to the company that owns the number being called. For example, 800 1234 5678 or 888 1234 5678.

    • Vanity phone number: Vanity phone numbers are toll-free numbers structured to be memorable by spelling out a phrase or a word.

    Difference between a virtual phone number and a standard number

    While a call through a virtual phone system and a standard phone system sounds the same, there are differences between the two systems. 

    Account connections: A virtual phone number is connected to an online account while a standard phone number is linked to a phone in a particular location. Hence, while standard phone numbers can be used to make and receive calls only through the phone they are linked to, virtual phone numbers can be used to handle calls through any devices such as VoIP phone, smartphone, laptop or tablet with a high-speed internet connection.

    Technology in use: Calls made over a standard phone line are connected by transmitting signals over phone cables. On the other hand, virtual phone numbers leverage the internet to connect calls. When you speak, your voice is digitized into multiple data packets that are transmitted to the other end. Here, they are converted back to analog form for the other person to hear.  

    Setup and installation: Once a standard phone number is assigned to you, you will need to have a technician come in to set cables in place and make the number operational. You will need to invest in a new phone for every number you own. 

    On the other hand, virtual phone numbers are quick and easy to set up. You can do this on your own without calling for a technician. As soon as a number is assigned, you can log into your account and start making calls. 

    Scalability: Virtual phone numbers are much easier to scale up or down as compared to standard phone numbers. With a standard phone number, you would need to apply for a new number and invest in a new phone for every new employee/team. With virtual phone numbers, you do not need any additional hardware and can simply add a new phone number to your existing account. It takes minutes. 

    Flexibility: Standard phone numbers are linked to a device, and hence, you must be at your desk or have a certain device to make and receive calls. However, virtual phone numbers are not device-specific. They can be used to handle business communication on the go, and thus are ideal for remote and hybrid teams. 

    Costs: On the whole, standard phone numbers work out to be much more expensive as compared to virtual phone numbers. Switching to VoIP connections can help businesses save up to 75% of communication costs. 

    Firstly, virtual phone numbers do not require any special hardware. 

    Secondly, the call rates linked to virtual phone numbers are much lower than the rates at which standard phone calls are billed. Depending on where your customers are, you can choose subscription plans that are inclusive of free calls to certain locations. This brings down your monthly expenses. 

    Thirdly, virtual phone number subscriptions are inclusive of many add-on features that would be billed additionally if used with a standard phone number. 

    Add-on services: A standard phone number only gives you the ability to make and receive calls. If you want access to other features such as call forwarding, call recording, etc. you will have to pay extra for them. The add-on services available through these service providers may be limited and you may have to link your account with third-party vendors.

    Unlike this, a virtual phone number subscription is inclusive of many productivity features and access to insightful analytics. The range of features included varies from one service provider to another and also by monthly subscription packages. 

    How do I get a virtual number?

    Getting a virtual phone number is easy. You can set up your account with Aircall in minutes from anywhere. Here’s what you need to do:

    Create an account

    You can sign up with Aircall and create an account using your professional email address. This gives you access to a 7-day free trial. 

    Pick the local area code for the phone number you want

    Choose an area code for your virtual phone number. With Aircall you can get a virtual phone number in 100+ countries. The documentation required to comply with local regulations may vary. For example, there is no supporting documentation required to get a virtual phone number with a Croatian area code but to get a number with an Australian area code, you would need to provide proof of identity and address. 

    Some of the many popular area codes for VoIP numbers offered by Aircall are:

    • USA: 213, 281, 480

    • Canada: 416, 506, 782

    • UK: 20, 1228, 1785

    • Germany: 205, 223, 258

    • Belgium: 2, 57, 84

    Choose a plan

    Choose between the Essential and Professional plans based on your budget, team size and feature requirements. Alternatively, you can customize a plan for your team. 

    Purchase a virtual phone number

    Pay the subscription fee to complete the process. 

    You can now log in to your account to configure phone numbers, user roles, call flow and more. 

    5 benefits of a virtual phone number

    There are many benefits to upgrading from a standard telephone number to a virtual phone number. The ones that matter the most among them are: 

    1. Stay connected on the go

    Unlike a standard phone number, virtual numbers are not linked to a device. Thus, having a virtual phone number frees you from any single device and lets you handle calls wherever you may be. This ensures your clients and customers can always reach your team without having to ask them to use their personal phone connections. 

    If an agent is unavailable to take calls, calls to his/her number can be forwarded to someone else. Thus, though voicemail is available, the need to rely on it is minimized. 

     2. Optimize costs

    Most virtual phone number subscriptions are inclusive of unlimited free calls to certain locations. Calls to locations excluded from the plan are billed at location-specific per-minute rates like standard phone calls. However, the billing rates are much lower than the rates charged by traditional phone service providers. Also, virtual number subscriptions are inclusive of many business phone systems features that would be billed additionally when linked to regular phone numbers. 

    3. Keep your business and personal calls separate

    A virtual number can be used not only to receive calls when you are out of the office but also to make calls. This makes it ideal for remote employees, field workers and people who travel often. Users can log into their accounts from their existing devices and handle calls without disclosing their personal phone numbers. You can also block virtual phone numbers to keep your phone lines open for important conversations.

    4. Project a strong brand image

    Some of the typical features included with a virtual phone number subscription include a customized greeting, call routing, etc. Incoming calls are greeted with a professional message and can then be routed to the correct agent/department and get their question resolved quickly. As a result, the customer has a better experience and forms a good impression of the brand. 

    5. Better quality assessment and training

    Having a virtual phone number also helps businesses evaluate agent conversations and influences training modules. With features such as call recording, call monitoring and voicemail transcription included in the subscription, supervisors can assess the quality of service provided and identify opportunities for improvement as well as high performers without the company having to invest in any other product. These recordings can also aid in training workshops. 

    The Aircall ecosystem for more benefits with a virtual phone number

    To maximize the benefits experienced with a virtual phone number, you need to choose the best voip phone system As one of the top VoIP service providers, subscribing to an Aircall plan for customer service phones gives you many unique benefits including:

    Claim international phone numbers

    Aircall lets businesses claim toll-free numbers or numbers with local area codes in 100+ international locations. This strengthens an international brand presence and increases the chances of connecting with customers. A survey found that people are twice as likely to answer calls from an unknown number with a local area code as compared to international numbers. 

    Quick call routing

    Aircall subscribers can set up multiple IVRs based on business hours, call timings, etc. When anyone calls an Aircall number, they are greeted with a customized message and an IVR menu to route their calls to the right team. When forwarded to a team, the average wait time can be reduced by setting up ring groups with customized ring rules. This enhances the customer experience and makes your agents more productive since they receive relevant calls. 

    Facilitated team collaboration

    With an eye on easing collaboration, all Aircall users in a team can share contacts. This simplifies introductions and helps agents personalize follow-up conversations. Agents can also put the caller on hold and confer amongst themselves if required to get a better resolution or update the other person on the caller’s requirements before transferring a live call. 

    Unlimited concurrent call handling

    An Aircall number can be accessed by multiple users. This allows businesses to handle multiple calls through the same number simultaneously. Not only does this make the brand more accessible to callers, but it also makes the communication system easier to scale. 

    Easy CRM integration

    Instead of working in isolation, the Aircall app can be easily integrated with your existing CRM system. Incoming and outgoing calls are automatically logged, as are comments, tags and recordings. The CRM phone integration helps improve productivity and minimizes the need for redundant manual tasks.

    Visibility into call metrics

    Aircall makes it easy for businesses to monitor agent and team performance by providing easy access to call analytics with graphic visualization. This allows you to keep an eye on metrics such as missed call rate, average call duration, etc. and make data-driven decisions towards improving efficiency.  

    Controllable call recording

    Aircall makes it easy for businesses to balance privacy regulatory compliance and call recording. This feature is available for all incoming and outcoming calls. Company representatives on-call can manually pause and resume call recording to ensure that sensitive information stays secure. 

    Central platform for voice and text communication

    In addition to handling calls, an Aircall virtual phone number can also be used for business text messaging to send reminders, schedule meetings, provide support, etc. Having a common portal makes it easier to manage these multiple modes of communication and improves responsiveness. 

    Call transcription for better follow-up

    Aircall leverages AI technology to automatically transcribe calls and voicemails. These transcribed messages can act as important references for follow-up calls. 

    Customizable alerts to reduce the risk of missed calls

    To reduce the risk of accidentally missing calls, Aircall allows you to set desktop notifications for incoming calls, push notifications even when the Aircall app isn’t open and play customized ringtones on your computer and headset.


    How should I choose a virtual phone number provider?

    When comparing virtual phone number service providers, focus more on the features included in the plan, ease of scaling, and quality of service offered rather than price points. A cheap plan can quickly become an expensive choice if you do not read the fine print.

    Are virtual phone numbers secure?

    Virtual phone numbers are considered safer than conventional phone numbers. Calls made through virtual phone numbers can be protected by layers of encryption, firewalls and other security measures. 

    Can I port my existing number?

    Yes, you can port your existing number to a virtual phone service. While some service providers charge a porting fee, Aircall offers free number porting.

    What devices can be used with a virtual phone number?

    A virtual phone number can be used through a smartphone, laptop, tablet or desktop with a working internet connection. 

    Can you get a virtual phone number with an area code other than your own?

    Yes, you can get a virtual phone number with an area code in any location covered by the service provider.

    Let’s get started

    There’s no doubt that virtual phone numbers have many advantages over traditional landline and cell phone numbers. Aircall lets you get a virtual phone number in 100+ international locations with a range of productivity features included in the subscription. No matter your industry and the size of your business, there’s an Aircall offer that’s just right for you. 

    Start your 7-day free trial today

    Published on August 11, 2023.

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