Using Virtual International Numbers to Promote Your Business Abroad
Often you’ll be working with a partner or opening an office in every country you export to, but sometimes this is just not practical or desirable. Setting up of virtual phone number in each country you are targeting is a great way to establish a presence without actually being there.
A virtual phone number is the same as a regular phone number, except it’s not tied to a specific line or physical location. Instead, it is hosted in the cloud, which gives you great flexibility in how you handle calls.
There are generally four types of virtual international number available, although not all are available in every country. Here’s a quick description of each, along with an equivalent UK number for comparison:
- Toll-free or freephone number (0800 number in the UK). You can use a recognised toll-free number in the country of your choice to encourage your prospects and customers to get in touch.
- Regional number (01 or 02 number). In each country there are usually a number of local area codes you can select from. This gives you the chance to look just like a regular, local business.
- National number (03 number or 0870 number). A locally recognisable, non-geographic number in the country of your choice. Call rates may vary depending on the range chosen.
- Universal International Freephone Number (UIFN). This is not available in all countries, but where it is it allows you to use the same freephone number across multiple countries. The code at the start of the number may vary from country to country but the main number itself is the same across all territories.
Once you have set up your virtual international number, you have great flexibility in how you manage incoming calls. In general, it’s also easy to change the settings should you ever need to.
The simplest way to handle the call is just to divert all calls onto another number. Calls can be diverted to a landline or mobile number either in the same country or anywhere in the world. For example, you may wish to divert all calls received in a particular country to your local representative there. Alternatively, you may wish to divert all calls back to a specialist language team in your UK head office.
Taking things further you could set up a “Follow-the-Sun” service to divert calls to a different location, depending upon the time of day it’s received. This is perfect for large corporations that offer 24-hour support lines with calls answered in multiple call centres around the globe. Smaller businesses may choose to answer calls live during the day, then have all calls diverted direct to a dedicated voicemail service when the business is closed.
Article by Matthew Guise of Callagenix Ltd.