Virtual Extension is a feature that is unique to business VoIP solutions. A virtual extension, also called a virtual number, is a phone number that forwards to another phone number. The virtual number is not associated with any specific desk, and most often forwards to a cell phone. If the person who is being called at the virtual extension cannot be reached, the virtual extension has its own voice mail, which is separate from the user’s home/cell voice mail. In effect, the virtual extension is like the “find me/follow me” feature, only it is set to go to the second number first. Virtual extensions allow all the employees to be part of the same phone system, even as they use their own phones to receive important work calls. The virtual extension is a powerful tool for small businesses.
Virtual extensions create the appearance of a larger and/or unified organization. One of the biggest problems nascent businesses face is how to best communicate. It’s easy to think that, with calling plans that offer unlimited minutes, relying on cell phones exclusively is the answer. But, having the phones and enough minutes is only one aspect of business calling. Today, there are many reasons to work from home or to be in the field. But, there are potential drawbacks. The most obvious is the lack of separation between your home and personal life. It isn’t that difficult, for example, to have a neutral outgoing voicemail that’s appropriate for friends and clients alike, but what about the voice mail box itself? Your voice mail and your address book can get cluttered with both names. All calls routed through the voice mail also get recorded in the phone logs, rather than your personal phone calls. All the calls, and the voicemails, are accessible via unified voice mail. Virtual rules also follow the same calling rules as any other extension, so you can set rules based on the caller and the time of day to let calls go through or to go directly to voice mail.
Customers can reach the right department (especially if that department is one person) by interacting with the auto attendant, which then forwards the call. A virtual extension can be, and often is, a seven digit number. But, that number is your office’s number, not the employee’s personal number. It can also be in sequence with the other numbers of that business, which is good optics. Virtual extensions are also a great way for users within one business to call each other by using their virtual extensions. One feature of having a virtual PBX is that you can transfer a call from one extension to another, rather than have to give your customer another phone number to call.
A virtual extension can also be used for numbers that aren’t associated with people at all. A virtual mailbox with just an outgoing message can relay hours and driving directions, give promotional offers and coupon codes. A virtual mailbox can also be used as an after-hours technical support mailbox. Some businesses provider after hours emergency support; a text or email alert goes out to all the technicians on call, and whomever can give the best technical support at that time will get in touch with the customer as soon as possible.
Finally, a virtual number can also be used as a local number, which then forwards directly to the main number. Regardless of where the actual office is, a virtual number creates a local presence anywhere in the world. With VoIP, every call is a local call.