Beyond the Cell or Landline

A designated cell or landline can be pricey. I’ll let you into a little secret that has served me very well over the years. VOIP and internet-based phone numbers aren’t just cheaper, they often give you more features and flexibility than a landline ever could.

My business number is actually a telephone number I have through Skype. It only costs me a single yearly fee that is less than a single month of a normal phone line. When a client calls that number, they are actually calling the Skype software on my computer. If I’m working, I answer the call through my computer headset as if it were a normal phone call. If I’m not at my computer, it goes to the voicemail that comes with the number.

Skype is only one of many similar options out there. Google Voice is another and, at present, they offer both incoming and outgoing calls for free. AOL will also give you a phone number for free, though you can lose it if you forget to log in on a certain timetable, which can be a real pain if you’ve already started using it on official forms. If you decide to go this route, look for a service that’s reliable and lets you pick your own phone number. Some even let you choose individual digit combinations if you want to create a memorable number. When you’re running a local business like a SA service, having a phone number with a local area code is very important even if that number is a virtual one and not really in the area. Clients will never know they’re not calling a local number and still pay local rates as if they were. It also makes your business seem closer to them, and that gives them a better perception of you right from the start.

Clients often call at all hours of the day or night because they think you’re working out of an office and don’t realize it’s actually your home. Some clients can also be annoying, calling all the time. Because my phone is through software on my PC, the phone doesn’t ring and disturb anyone in my house if I’m not available to answer. This allows me to run an international business and never worry about getting woken or disturbed by unwanted calls. Your number will also work on most smartphones and every computer or tablet, meaning I always have my business phone with me, so it’s as good as a designated business cell phone but uses whatever you’re already carrying. It can also do text messaging, video chat, instant messaging and caller ID if you need those features. Most also have the option to forward calls to the normal phone of my choice whenever needed. All this for much, much less than a cell or landline.

From the perspective of your customers, an internet-based phone number works exactly the same as a normal phone line, but from your end, it gives you more flexibility and substantial savings over a designated land or cell line. That said, none of the services listed above are a perfect option. You’ll want to do your own research to find what best fits your needs and look into phone line options both traditional and non.

Photo by Claira Ross