What is a Virtual Phone System?

Learn what a virtual phone system can do for your business

Cloud-Based_Phone_System_1200x628.jpg

What is a Virtual Phone System?

Learn what a virtual phone system can do for your business

Cloud-Based_Phone_System_1200x628.jpg

What is a Virtual Phone System?

Learn what a virtual phone system can do for your business

Cloud-Based_Phone_System_1200x628.jpg

What is a Virtual Phone System?

Learn what a virtual phone system can do for your business

Cloud-Based_Phone_System_1200x628.jpg

Analog phone systems still have their uses these days, but they’re becoming obsolete for most businesses. Cell phones and smart devices have truly revolutionized the way we communicate and work together.

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about virtual phone systems and why you should be using them for your business.

What is a virtual phone system?

What is a virtual phone system?

What is a virtual phone system?

What is a virtual phone system?

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A virtual phone system allows individuals and organizations to communicate over an internet connection. It lets users handle incoming and outgoing calls from any device that can connect online such as laptops, IP phones, and mobile phones. Only an internet connection is required for full call functionality.

How does a virtual phone system work?

How does a virtual phone system work?

How does a virtual phone system work?

How does a virtual phone system work?

A virtual phone system is a platform that connects calls to your business numbers via the internet. It accomplishes this using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. This means that caller voice data is converted into digital packets, sent over the internet, and converted back to voice on the receiver end.

The connection actually takes place in the cloud. Providers will have many data centers to facilitate calls ,ensuring that service will not be disrupted by incidents like natural disasters, security breaches, or maintenance. Not to mention you don’t need to buy and store clunky hardware.

Virtual phone solutions use desktop and mobile apps as primary interfaces with which to create “softphones”. This affords users flexibility with how they handle inbound and outbound calls.

What are the benefits of virtual phone systems?

What are the benefits of virtual phone systems?

What are the benefits of virtual phone systems?

What are the benefits of virtual phone systems?

Traditional phone systems have their uses for certain business settings. But in most cases, large or small businesses will benefit greatly by switching to a virtual business phone system.

Mobility

With virtual phones, callers can make and receive calls as long as they are connected to the internet. This allows your team members to stay connected even when they are working remotely.

Flexibility

Who doesn’t value flexibility these days? Users can connect the platform to any business or personal device of their choice. Additionally, your platform can be customized with features like call screening and call routing, allowing you to adjust your communications solution to your business needs.

You also have the ability to add virtual phone lines as well as connect landline, toll-free, and other business phone numbers. You can easily expand and upgrade your services to encompass contact center solutions when the need arises.

Increased collaboration

Virtual phone platforms make it easier for team members to stay connected. Features like team messaging work for less formal communication as it’s quicker and more efficient than email. Solutions like 8x8 make communication and collaboration easy through chat, video conferencing, and voice calls. It also comes with additional features like screen sharing, video recording, and document sharing.

Painless setup

Traditional business phones require the installation of hardware and equipment, not to mention the need to install hard-wired phone lines. This can cost time and money. With a virtual phone system, users can download and install a platform in minutes, making for an easy setup. And barring a few configurations, your team can start making calls right away.

Scalability and automatic upgrades

With a traditional business phone system that uses a private branch exchange (PBX) platform, additional phone lines and equipment must be installed every time the business modifies or expands its infrastructure. For startups, this type of delay can cost valuable business opportunities and slow momentum.

Cloud phone systems that provide virtual phone services enable businesses to add users or upgrade capabilities instantly to meet their needs. Features like user privacy and call security should be regularly updated by providers.

Saves money

A virtual phone system can lower costs and increase ROI in many ways:

  1. Less equipment and hardware required. Mobile apps can allow for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies and employees can handle calls from desktop apps on their work computer, reducing the amount of hardware businesses need to procure.
  2. Lower overhead and operating costs. As everything is in the cloud, you won’t need to rely on clunky hardware or enlist specific IT staff for installation and maintenance.
  3. Increased productivity. Team members can stay connected and collaborate more efficiently even when working remotely.
  4. Pay for what you need. Only pay for features and services that you need and remove any that are not used by your business.
  5. Lower customer service overhead costs. Auto-attendants and call routing features mean your agents can handle higher call volumes. Also, you won’t have to hire employees to handle calls 24/7.

Virtual vs. traditional business phone systems

Virtual vs. traditional business phone systems

Virtual vs. traditional business phone systems

Virtual vs. traditional business phone systems

There are many benefits for any business switching from traditional landlines to VoIP phones. But landline phones have certain advantages, too. Here is a brief comparison overview between a private branch exchange and a virtual phone system.

There are many benefits for any business switching from traditional landlines to VoIP phones. But landline phones have certain advantages, too. Here is a brief comparison overview between a private branch exchange and a virtual phone system.

There are many benefits for any business switching from traditional landlines to VoIP phones. But landline phones have certain advantages, too. Here is a brief comparison overview between a private branch exchange and a virtual phone system.

There are many benefits for any business switching from traditional landlines to VoIP phones. But landline phones have certain advantages, too. Here is a brief comparison overview between a private branch exchange and a virtual phone system.

Traditional PBXVirtual phone system
Device typeOffice phones and desk phonesAny device that can connect to the internet—including mobile devices
PricingHigher cost of implementation because you must lease or purchase hardware and maintain it regularlyLow-cost implementation, easy to set services for business needs, and great value for money considering the amount of features
UseableAnywhere with an analog phone lineAnywhere with internet coverage
InstallationLengthy—may take weeks before it’s functionalTypically takes minutes to hours on any device
UpgradingCan take days or weeksInstantaneous with the click of a few buttons
Call qualityExtremely reliableDepends on internet connections. Can have some disruptions.
DowntimeOnly in the rare event of hardware failure or a line is physically cutWith robust data centers, networks like 8x8 offer an SLA 99.999% uptime guarantee
SecurityInternal lines are fully secure and privateEnd-to-end encryption but potentially exposed to malware

What are the features of a virtual phone system?

What are the features of a virtual phone system?

What are the features of a virtual phone system?

What are the features of a virtual phone system?

Virtual business phones can handle business calls but also perform many more functions. Here are some of the top features.

VoIP calling

Voice over Internet Protocol means your team can stay connected better than what traditional phones would allow. This lets businesses of any size explore more flexible business models that can cater better to their needs. In today's competitive markets, flexibility makes your business more adaptable to disruption and uncertainty.

Unlimited calling

Platforms like 8x8 allow unlimited free calls from within 48 countries. Different services will have international calling rates for numbers outside of the US and Canada, but this can also be rectified by purchasing a toll-free or international number.

Call routing

An auto-attendant is the first line of defense when handling a vast number of incoming calls. This helps guide callers to the right department or individual to address their query. The call routing pattern is pre-configured and can be adjusted to fit business needs.

Automatic Call Distribution

ACD is a telephony solution for automatically routing calls. An ACD programmed with skills-based routing can combine agent performance analytics with caller needs to route calls to the best agents, improving overall first contact resolution rates.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

Many virtual phone platforms have a higher tier of call handling that involves interactive voice response. Like the auto-attendant, pre-recorded prompts are used to assist customers before they are routed to a live agent. Some IVRs even use technology like natural language processing (NLP) to give the caller a more natural interactive experience as they are guided through the process.

For simple customer issues, the IVR can solve the problem itself without requiring the attention of any agent or rep. An example of this would be placing a call to an electric company to pay a monthly bill. The IVR can be programmed to guide the caller through the entire process up to and including the transaction over the phone.

More call routing features

With 8x8, you get many advanced features including:

  • Custom greetings and menu
  • Caller ID
  • Call blocking
  • Do not disturb
  • Call hold
  • Custom hold music
  • Call transfer
  • Call flipping
  • Call monitoring
  • Call forwarding

With virtual phones, call forwarding is highly customizable, and it is a breeze to set up. This can be configured by an admin or by each individual user. Calls can be set to forward to any device of choice or directly to voicemail. And these settings can be adjusted for normal business hours.

For example, a user can have incoming calls after business hours forwarded to their mobile phone, home landline, or even voicemail. Or in another case, a user can have all calls forwarded to their desktop phone during office hours.

Voicemail

We’re all familiar with voicemail but with a virtual phone app, you get so much more. You can customize settings for forwarding calls to specific mailboxes. But even better, you can have a voicemail transcription sent to you in the form of an email or text message. This helps your team keep track of voicemail messages, return important calls, and resolve pressing issues.

Call queuing and callbacks

For business contact centers, call queuing ensures lower call waiting times and an improved customer experience. A call queue can be set to a first-in-line basis or based on the importance and complexity of a call. An IVR can help decide where callers fall into a queue and even handle simple calls. This will shorten average handling time (AHT) significantly.

You can also improve your customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores by offering a callback option. This allows callers to avoid long waits and go about their day instead of being tied to the phone.

Call recording

Some virtual phone solutions will offer automatic call transcription and recording. Call recording can help team leaders with training and employee review sessions by recording customer-employee interactions. This makes it easy for managers to review call history, identify frequent customer issues, and respond to these before further problems arise.

Team messaging

Sometimes, there is a better way to communicate than a phone call. Some examples might be when a matter is not immediately pressing, a coworker may be in a noisy environment, or someone only needs specific information like an email address or phone number. And, of course, companies today often have team members in multiple time zones, making it difficult to arrange scheduled calls.

With virtual phones, your hands aren’t tied to one communication channel. You can get messaging options for company-wide communications, and you can set up private group chats for smaller teams as well. This will make it easier for everyone to stay on track, keep up to date on projects, and stay aligned on company goals.

Video conferencing

Today’s workforce is out and about, and needs flexibility. Many organizations are hiring the best candidates regardless of geographic location. Daily communication through email, SMS, and group chats is great as a primary contact.

However, with more flexible and remote working, it can be harder for every member to connect and feel part of the team. HD video and audio conferencing add the human touch of making eye contact with your team members and leadership. This applies both to one-on-one video chats and all-hands-on-deck type video meetings.

Virtual phone solutions like 8x8 offer a plethora of video conferencing features:

  • HD quality video and audio
  • Customizable and branded virtual backgrounds with vanity URLs
  • Screen sharing from any device
  • Mobile browser support
  • Moderation controls—host delegation, meeting lock, participant permissions, and more
  • End-to-encryption
  • Conference dial-in with toll-free numbers
  • Meeting recording stored on the cloud
  • Automatic calendar updates for scheduling and notifications
  • Live YouTube streaming

Porting and business phone numbers

Number porting is the process that allows you to add any phone number to your business phone system. This can be done with almost any virtual PBX or cloud contact center platform.

Landlines and local numbers

Any existing landline or business phone number can be added to the virtual phone network of your choice. This is done through local number porting and is a great way of retaining your brand equity. Porting lets your customers continue to call your business number from local area codes like before.

How long it will take depends on many factors. Get in touch with the provider or use a number porting tool to find out what’s possible with your service.

Virtual phone number

You can also purchase and add international virtual phone numbers to your VoIP service. This can be used by individual team members or the business as a whole. These numbers only exist in the cloud but can be dialed into like any other phone number.

Integrations

The best virtual phone solutions include a wide variety of native integrations for cross-platform functionality. This adds business communications to your existing solutions like third-party CRM and workforce management software.

Several benefits of 8x8’s integrations include:

  • Better customer experiences thanks to management software such as Salesforce, Bullhorn, or 1CRM.
  • Quicker issue resolution as well as improved first call resolution rates. This is because agents can pull up customer info automatically from the dashboard.
  • Ability to call team members via 8x8 on other platforms like Zoho and Google Workspace
  • Automatic schedule updates across all calendars with services such as Office 365.
  • More flexible communication with team members adding voice calls to team messaging apps

Analytics and AI

Virtual business phone services give you the ability to monitor and collect all kinds of data through analytics. With automatic and customizable real-time reporting, you and your team can gain valuable insights about your business performance. Cloud phone analytics data can help you track call length, call quality, first call resolution rates, and other valuable customer support metrics.

Many virtual phone system providers have speech analytics that record patterns in customer behavior and provide sentiment analysis.These insights can help guide agents in real-time for quicker call resolution in your contact centers. If a call is quickly going south, this tool can alert a team leader or manager to take over and fix the issue promptly.

Who is a virtual phone system designed for?

Virtual phone service providers offer many different pricing options and packages to suit any business. But here are several use cases for switching to a cloud-based phone system:

  • Startups
  • Individuals and small businesses
  • Business owners who want to enable BYOD policies
  • Businesses already using communication apps
  • Organizations that need a virtual receptionist
  • Implementing a cloud contact center with your business
  • Hybrid, remote, and flexible workers

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Go virtual today

Go virtual today

Go virtual today

Go virtual today

Virtual phones give your business the flexibility that future-proofs you against the unknown. Using a virtual phone system levels up your business in countless ways. It increases productivity and improves customer experience. Go virtual today with a free one-month trial from 8x8.

Virtual phone system FAQs

How does a virtual call work with VoIP?

With VoIP, users can make outgoing calls from the smart device of their choice over the internet. They just open up the app and dial as usual. Users can also handle an inbound call to business lines from the same device.

How does a virtual phone differ from a landline?

Virtual phones can be any internet-connected device, such as IP phones, laptops, iPhones or iOS and Android tablets. A VoIP provider has mobile and desktop apps that must be downloaded and installed on each device that gives you access to basic phone features like dialing numbers, voicemail, etc.

Landline phones are connected to the PSTN using copper wires. They use the standard phone hardware. And due to their reliance on physical wires, they are commonly stationary.

How does a virtual phone call work?

A caller dials your local area or toll-free business number. This number connects them to the cloud service provider where it is routed to your virtual phone number.

For contact center numbers, the inbound caller can be answered by an agent or greeted by an auto-attendant or virtual receptionist who directs them to the right department. The caller is then either placed in the relevant queue or forwarded to the appropriate device. The team members then answer the call on their softphone.

Are virtual phone systems good for small businesses?

Virtual phone systems are an excellent choice for small businesses. They help save money and control overhead spending on staff, equipment, and hardware. Auto-attendants and IVR can also act as virtual receptionists to screen and direct calls. A virtual business phone system also features benefits such as video meetings, collaboration tools, business SMS, and more, to help with running your business.

Most features can be automated, which saves valuable time. There are many options available today, so small businesses need to research plans and pricing to find the best option for their needs.

How does a virtual call work with VoIP?

With VoIP, users can make outgoing calls from the smart device of their choice over the internet. They just open up the app and dial as usual. Users can also handle an inbound call to business lines from the same device.

How does a virtual phone differ from a landline?

Virtual phones can be any internet-connected device, such as IP phones, laptops, iPhones or iOS and Android tablets. A VoIP provider has mobile and desktop apps that must be downloaded and installed on each device that gives you access to basic phone features like dialing numbers, voicemail, etc.

Landline phones are connected to the PSTN using copper wires. They use the standard phone hardware. And due to their reliance on physical wires, they are commonly stationary.

How does a virtual phone call work?

A caller dials your local area or toll-free business number. This number connects them to the cloud service provider where it is routed to your virtual phone number.

For contact center numbers, the inbound caller can be answered by an agent or greeted by an auto-attendant or virtual receptionist who directs them to the right department. The caller is then either placed in the relevant queue or forwarded to the appropriate device. The team members then answer the call on their softphone.

Are virtual phone systems good for small businesses?

Virtual phone systems are an excellent choice for small businesses. They help save money and control overhead spending on staff, equipment, and hardware. Auto-attendants and IVR can also act as virtual receptionists to screen and direct calls. A virtual business phone system also features benefits such as video meetings, collaboration tools, business SMS, and more, to help with running your business.

Most features can be automated, which saves valuable time. There are many options available today, so small businesses need to research plans and pricing to find the best option for their needs.

How does a virtual call work with VoIP?

With VoIP, users can make outgoing calls from the smart device of their choice over the internet. They just open up the app and dial as usual. Users can also handle an inbound call to business lines from the same device.

How does a virtual phone differ from a landline?

Virtual phones can be any internet-connected device, such as IP phones, laptops, iPhones or iOS and Android tablets. A VoIP provider has mobile and desktop apps that must be downloaded and installed on each device that gives you access to basic phone features like dialing numbers, voicemail, etc.

Landline phones are connected to the PSTN using copper wires. They use the standard phone hardware. And due to their reliance on physical wires, they are commonly stationary.

How does a virtual phone call work?

A caller dials your local area or toll-free business number. This number connects them to the cloud service provider where it is routed to your virtual phone number.

For contact center numbers, the inbound caller can be answered by an agent or greeted by an auto-attendant or virtual receptionist who directs them to the right department. The caller is then either placed in the relevant queue or forwarded to the appropriate device. The team members then answer the call on their softphone.

Are virtual phone systems good for small businesses?

Virtual phone systems are an excellent choice for small businesses. They help save money and control overhead spending on staff, equipment, and hardware. Auto-attendants and IVR can also act as virtual receptionists to screen and direct calls. A virtual business phone system also features benefits such as video meetings, collaboration tools, business SMS, and more, to help with running your business.

Most features can be automated, which saves valuable time. There are many options available today, so small businesses need to research plans and pricing to find the best option for their needs.

How does a virtual call work with VoIP?

With VoIP, users can make outgoing calls from the smart device of their choice over the internet. They just open up the app and dial as usual. Users can also handle an inbound call to business lines from the same device.

How does a virtual phone differ from a landline?

Virtual phones can be any internet-connected device, such as IP phones, laptops, iPhones or iOS and Android tablets. A VoIP provider has mobile and desktop apps that must be downloaded and installed on each device that gives you access to basic phone features like dialing numbers, voicemail, etc.

Landline phones are connected to the PSTN using copper wires. They use the standard phone hardware. And due to their reliance on physical wires, they are commonly stationary.

How does a virtual phone call work?

A caller dials your local area or toll-free business number. This number connects them to the cloud service provider where it is routed to your virtual phone number.

For contact center numbers, the inbound caller can be answered by an agent or greeted by an auto-attendant or virtual receptionist who directs them to the right department. The caller is then either placed in the relevant queue or forwarded to the appropriate device. The team members then answer the call on their softphone.

Are virtual phone systems good for small businesses?

Virtual phone systems are an excellent choice for small businesses. They help save money and control overhead spending on staff, equipment, and hardware. Auto-attendants and IVR can also act as virtual receptionists to screen and direct calls. A virtual business phone system also features benefits such as video meetings, collaboration tools, business SMS, and more, to help with running your business.

Most features can be automated, which saves valuable time. There are many options available today, so small businesses need to research plans and pricing to find the best option for their needs.