Getting a phone number for your small business sounds like a relatively simple process until you’re actually doing it.
Choosing a business phone provider involves more considerations than most people realize, and switching between providers comes with a whole other set of complications.
Save the headaches and keep reading this guide, backed by over a decade’s experience in small business management and growth.
Whether you’re starting a small business for the first time or looking to upgrade your current business phone plan, this guide contains all the essential details you need to get a business phone number.
Without further ado, let’s get into it!
What Is a Business Phone Number?
A business phone number is a line of communication dedicated exclusively to your company. Having a phone number specifically for your business allows you to keep your personal life separate and your business organized.
A business phone number will allow you to receive and make calls from customers, partners, investors, and other contacts, all with an added level of professionalism. It suggests that your business is here to stay.
Furthermore, a business number can help you to improve customer service and track the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns by keeping all company-related interactions in one place. Essentially, it’s a tool for connecting with your audience more effectively.
Types of Business Phone Numbers
There are multiple types of business numbers, and they’re not particularly interchangeable. Before you acquire your own business number, make sure you know which would best serve your purposes.
Typically, businesses that want to serve a local or regional community opt for local numbers. These numbers usually come with a 10-digit dialing code, and the area code (or “prefix”) matches the region of the business.
They’re also only able to make calls to the local area. As such, local business owners can avoid expensive calling fees and often take advantage of affordable local rates.
Local phone numbers are most beneficial for small business owners looking to maintain local visibility, as customers will be able to recognize the area code associated with your business.
Toll-free numbers are the most popular business phone number option for larger businesses, as anyone nationwide can contact them without added calling fees. They come with a 10-digit dialing code but no area code.
These numbers tend to have a more professional feel than local numbers and often suggest a large company size. However, since many toll-free numbers are shared among different companies, it can be challenging to stand out from the crowd.
If you want to make a good impression on potential customers or partners, opt for an exclusive toll-free number rather than a shared one.
Vanity numbers are a fun spin on traditional business numbers. They’re custom phone numbers that spell out a company name, business slogan, or other phrase. They come with both a 10-digit dialing code and an area code.
These numbers can be extremely catchy and help potential customers remember your brand quickly and easily. Not to mention, they look great on printed advertising and make your business look more professional and established.
Vanity numbers are a great way to stand out from the competition and make your small business appear larger than it is. But, because of the extra cost associated with them, they’re not necessarily suitable for all businesses.
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) numbers are virtual phone lines that use high-speed internet networks to make and receive calls. They come with a 10-digit dialing code but no area code.
These numbers are perfect for businesses that don’t want to be tied down by a physical location, as they can easily be transferred from one place to another at any time. VoIP numbers also tend to be more affordable than other business number options and offer many helpful features, such as call routing and voicemail management.
VoIP numbers are definitely my recommendation for startups or small businesses looking for cost-effective communication solutions.
What is the Best Number to Use For Your Business?
The best number to use for your business ultimately depends on the nature of your company, your branding, and your budget. Choosing the right kind can be an overwhelming task.
Luckily, many resources are dedicated to helping you find the right business phone number for you.
Why Does Your Business Need a Phone Number?
Due to the complications of a business phone, you may be wondering how necessary they actually are. Business phone numbers have many benefits, but the following three customer-support-related reasons should be enough to convince you.
A business phone number lets you access your line from multiple devices, including landlines, mobile phones, and computers. This means that you can easily answer calls from customers and potential leads no matter where you are.
More importantly, though, your line can maintain multiple phone calls simultaneously. This is an excellent feature for customer support, as your clients won’t have to wait as long to be helped.
When a customer is already in line with an operator of your multi-line device and another caller attempts to reach you, they can be transferred to another agent instead of receiving a busy signal. This has the potential to seriously improve your company’s reputation. By offering efficient customer support, you tell your customers you care about their time.
Additional Communication Channels
A business phone number also adds extra communication channels to your customer service arsenal.
The option of text messages or emails allows your customers to contact you in more convenient and efficient ways than traditional phone calls. Allowing multiple communication channels can save you both much time.
Modern businesses need to provide multiple methods of communication so that their customers can reach out in whatever way they are most comfortable with.
Advanced Features For Better Call Management
Finally, a business phone number can give you access to advanced features that enable efficient call management.
These tools are handy for small businesses with limited staff, as they can help you better manage your customer service and make sure that calls are being answered in a timely manner.
Features such as call forwarding and automated voicemail greetings can greatly improve the customer experience. Plus, having the ability to track caller history and gain insight into incoming and outgoing calls gives you valuable information about where your customers are coming from and how best to serve them.
Features to Look for in a Business Phone Provider
As you search for the perfect business phone provider, here are some amazing features that should be on your must-have list.
A mobile app is an excellent source of convenience for businesses that need to manage their lines on the go. It should let you easily access your business account, check voicemails and missed calls, and forward messages.
Look out for a mobile app that allows you to easily transfer calls between devices so customers don’t have to wait too long for an answer. A good mobile app can really take the hassle out of managing customer service from your phone or tablet! It’ll also save you the trouble of letting missed calls and inquiries stack up.
For convenience and efficiency, look for a business phone provider offering call forwarding. This feature lets you transfer calls between landlines and mobile devices, ensuring your customers can always reach the right person or department quickly. That way, if you’re on the go, you can quickly reroute the call to the proper department.
Some providers also offer advanced options such as voicemail-to-text conversion and automated message responses. These features can save time and ensure every customer gets the attention they deserve, with little inconvenience to you.
One of the most important features to look for in a business phone provider is voicemail transcription. This nifty tool automatically turns voice messages into text, so you can read and respond even if you can’t answer the phone.
It’s an excellent time-saver and helps ensure that no inquiry slips through the cracks. Plus, it gives customers a better response experience since they won’t have to wait too long for a reply.
A call recording feature will record all incoming and outgoing calls. Having records of your business interactions is great for insurance and keeping track of easily-forgettable details. With a call recording feature, you’ll always have evidence of business-related calls.
It’s an important tool that can help protect your business from liability issues. It also offers valuable insights into customer conversations so you can continue improving the service experience.
Call parking is a feature that makes transferring calls between multiple users easier. It’s a great way to manage incoming customer calls when you have limited staff or don’t always know who should handle them.
By assigning a “parked” call to another user, you can keep the customer and team member happy with quick, efficient assistance — regardless of who answers the line first. With this valuable tool in your arsenal, no more missed calls.
Analytics is the last feature to look out for in a business phone provider. We’ve discussed customer service plenty, but analytics can help you with the marketing aspect of running a business.
Analytics features can provide valuable insight into customer behavior, giving you the data needed to make informed decisions about better serving your customers.
Some of this information includes incoming and outgoing calls, call duration, caller location, popular times of day for calls, and more. With the help of analytics, you can find areas where you need improvement and take all the necessary steps to ensure customer satisfaction.
How Do You Setup a New Business Phone Number?
Now that you know what to look for in a business phone provider, here’s how to begin actually getting an account set up with one.
Step 1: Sign Up for a Business Phone Service
Obviously, the first step in setting up a new business phone number is finding a provider. Look for one that offers all the features you need, such as voicemail transcription, call forwarding, and call recording.
Once you’ve found your provider, you can sign up for their services. The sign-up will usually be accessible via their website.
Step 2: Choose a Business Phone Number
Next up is purchasing your actual business phone number. Most providers have an extensive selection of area codes and toll-free numbers available, so you can find one that fits your needs perfectly.
Keep in mind all of the different types of business phone numbers available. Not all providers offer each type, so look for a provider with the phone line you desire for your business.
Step 3: Setup Phone Extensions
Once you’ve purchased a number, it’s time to start setting up your phone extensions. This is important for creating an organized system of routing calls and will ensure that each customer inquiry gets the attention they deserve at minimal inconvenience to you.
Your business phone provider will likely have an easy-to-use tool for managing these extensions. In this tool, you can add as many lines as necessary and divide them into departments or team members so customers can quickly connect with the right person.
You should be ready to start directing calls to your business phone line from there! Once you have your line up and running, you’ll probably need to rewire how your business is presented on Google search results and maps. Local SEO is a great way to go about this hefty process — check out our guide to local SEO for more details.
Best Business Phone Services
Here are some of my favorite and most-trusted business phone services to use as a provider.
What It Is
Phone.com is a popular small-business solution that allows you to connect your business line to any of your devices. This connectivity makes for total convenience and ease of use once your line is set up.
Why We Picked It
- 24/7 customer support
- Small-business oriented
- Serves a wide variety of industries
- Offers local and vanity toll-free numbers
Phone.com offers affordable pricing, starting at $11.99/mo for a phone line with an app, multiple standard voice features, 500 pooled minutes, and 1,000 text segments.
You’ll gain access to unlimited minutes and texts for only $6/mo more at $15.99/mo.
Finally, opt for their Pro plan at $23.99/mo for tools like voicemail transcription and analytics.
What It Is
Ring Central is a cross-industry cloud phone solution that works within a single app. It’s straightforward to use and convenient to have all of your business conversations, from clients to partners, in one single location. Ring Central is known for advanced analytics tools and stellar uptime.
This is an excellent option for small businesses with many communication channels, as it will help you stay organized and professional.
Why We Picked It
- 99.99% uptime
- Tons of integrations
- Flexible pricing
- Small-business oriented solutions
Ring Central’s price plans start at $19.99/mo with capabilities for up to 20 users, unlimited calls within Canada and the US, document sharing, voice-to-text, and enhanced business SMS.
For unlimited users, numbers in 100+ countries, 100+ people video conferencing, service reports, and office suite integrations, opt for their Standard plan at $27.99/mo.
Ring Central offers two more plans, Premium and Ultimate, for $34.99 and $49.99/mo, respectively. These plans provide advanced features that best serve medium-to-enterprise-sized companies rather than small businesses.
What It Is
Grasshopper offers business phone numbers without the additional costs of different devices, allowing you to keep your personal and business lines completely separate. They also enable professional-driven features like custom greetings. Their mobile and desktop apps also make it easy to answer calls from anywhere.
Why We Picked It
- Professional features
- Set automated greetings
- Selection between toll-free numbers, vanity numbers, and local numbers
- Mobile and desktop apps
Opt for Grasshopper’s solo plan at $28/mo for one phone number with three extensions and unlimited users. This plan should cover almost everything a small business should need, but for multiple phone numbers, you can upgrade to the Partner plan at $46/mo.
What It Is
8×8 is a phone service provider that also offers self-service capabilities via AI. They leverage cloud PBX to make your business phone more effective and efficient for you, your customers, and your employees. They also offer integrations with Microsoft Teams and most CRMs, making it easy to keep your business details in one place.
Why We Picked It
- Powerful analytics
- Advanced technological solutions
- Extra-secure data centers
- Mobile and desktop app
- AI attendant
- Amazing value
8×8 offers two price plans: X2 for $24/mo and X4 for $44/mo. The first plan comes with unlimited users, unlimited calls to 14 countries, 500-participant video/audio conferences, SMS team chat, Microsoft integration, host desking, voicemail transcription, and much more. This plan offers everything a small business could need.
What It Is
Nextiva is an all-in-one solution for managing customer conversations and interactions. This VoIP service is entirely cloud-based, with 99.99% uptime and 24/7 customer support. It also offers video and chat functionality.
Why We Picked It
- Great uptime and customer support
- Unlimited calls, faxes, and texts
- Virtual voicemail and auto attendant
- Local and toll-free options
- Easy team collaboration
Nextiva’s pricing solutions are hard to beat. For only $20.96/mo, you’ll get unlimited calling within the US and Canada, a free local and toll-free number, access to their mobile app, video meeting capability, and team collaboration tools.
The company also offers an Enterprise plan for $28.46/mo with call recording, voice analytics, and a CRM.
What It Is
Vonage offers all sorts of business connection channels to help you streamline your communications. Their phone solutions are spectacular, with instant virtual number provisioning and a comprehensive number selection. This is an excellent option if you need to add a phone number to your applications.
Why We Picked It
- App connectivity
- Support in 85 countries
- Quarantined numbers to remove the risk of cross-talk
- A2P messaging
Vonage’s pricing system requires you to pay for only what you use. Their rates are different for virtual and toll-free numbers and depend on the phone service carrier. Calls start at $0.0138/minute.
Best Free Business Phone Services
If you’re not looking to spend money on a phone service provider, here’s an additional free service.
Google Voice has a business option that fits companies of any size. This organizational tool allows you to consolidate business communications in the Google Workspace Admin console. You’ll also gain access to handy tools like Google AI, which blocks spam calls and transcribes voicemails — for free.
A good business phone number is essential for any organization that takes customer service seriously. Furthermore, business phone services can help you consolidate business connections and maintain a more organized workflow.
With the right provider and features, you can create a great experience for your customers while keeping control over costs and making sure your team remains contactable at all times. Don’t let yourself be caught out with a subpar phone service — make sure you check out all the features available before making your decision.
Kudos to you for doing your research. I hope this article gave you a solid idea of your next step as you try to streamline your business communications.
Happy hunting! If you have any comments or inquiries, please leave us a comment.