If the past few years haven’t convinced your company to invest in a virtual phone system, this article will. Bring your business into the 21st century with a cloud phone system and leave outdated landlines in the past.
With teams spread across the globe, “the office” doesn’t hold the same appeal. For employers, this shift presents opportunities to scale efficiencies and save costs at the same time.
The changing work landscape makes virtual phone systems the best solution for businesses reliant on sales agents, customer service agents, call centers, and more.
Read our comprehensive guide to discover what a virtual phone system is, how it works, business benefits, and more.
Table of Contents
What is a virtual phone system?
A virtual phone system (Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP), is a system that transmits your voice and other data over the internet. This system is also referred to as a cloud-based phone system because the data you send is stored in a cloud.
Unlike old-fashioned phone systems that require bulky hardware and licensing, accessing information via virtual phone systems is simple. All a user needs is a device with a good internet connection. These devices include smartphones, computers, tablets, and even traditional office landlines.
Because virtual phone systems are delivered over the internet, they can be managed offsite. This eliminates the need for a centralized, physical office as well as a full-time IT team—a benefit for many growing businesses.
Virtual phone systems are a savvy choice for companies looking to increase efficiency and reduce costs. They’re easily scalable and adaptable and allow for countless integrations.
How does a virtual phone system work?
Virtual phone systems convert analog phone calls into digital signals. It then translates those digital signals into internet protocol (IP) packets. These IP packets are then converted back into phone signals when the person you’re calling receives them.
The call is routed via a cloud-based or virtual PBX or a traditional phone with a VoIP adapter. If you’re using a traditional phone, the adapter can be plugged into a phone outlet or your router.
Unlike traditional phone systems that only work from one location, virtual phone systems work anywhere there’s an internet connection. Virtual phone systems connect calls between toll-free and local numbers and users—all without your company having to worry about physical hardware or getting support from the telephone companies that maintain landlines.
What are the differences between VoIP and PBX?
There are several differences between VoIP and PBX. Before we get into those, here are two quick definitions of each.
- VoIP, or voice over internet protocol, channels calls through the internet. They send digital signals over the internet and transform them back into audio.
- PBX, or private branch exchange, is a traditional phone system that uses analog signals instead of digital ones.
If you’ve ever called a company and been told to press a number for a menu option or dialed an extension to reach someone, you’ve used a PBX phone system. Legacy PBX systems used switchboards to work. These days, most PBX systems use internet protocols (IP) for internal calls.
Now that you’re familiar with the types of phone systems, you understand that both systems provide phone functionality. The key differences lie in how the calls are handled and how they connect to the Public-Switched Telephone Network or PSTN.
Let’s break down some differences:
|Virtual phone system (VoIP)
|Traditional phone system (PBX)
|Internet (100kbps per line)
|Analog, ISDN, or PRI
|Ease of setup
|Easy. Requires app installation.
|Difficult. Requires hardware, IT support and licensing.
|Easy. Requires an updated subscription.
|Difficult. Requires hardware and licensing.
|Cost per user
|Lower cost per user
|Higher cost per user
For an in-depth look at which phone system is right for your business, plus what factors to keep in mind when choosing between VoIP and PBX, check out our comprehensive guide.
6 advantages of using a virtual phone system
VoIP is the most advanced way to improve internal and external business communications. Using a virtual phone system has lots of advantages.
Here are six ways upgrading to VoIP will benefit your business.
1. Lower call rates & more savings
Using a virtual system is less expensive than using a PBX phone system. Most VoIP service providers bundle unlimited local calls and heavily discount international minutes in subscriptions.
VoIP system installation and maintenance costs much less than wired alternatives. Business VoIP providers usually sell or recommend VoIP-enabled headsets at a discounted price. They also take care of the phone’s technical backend.
Additionally, VoIP streamlines your entire communications infrastructure and allows for a good bit of savings around renting physical office space, additional hardware, travel costs, and more.
2. Remote-work friendly
VoIP technology allows you to make and receive calls from multiple devices. Through softphone apps, your smartphone, laptop, or tablet can easily place and answer VoIP calls. Virtual phone systems work from any part of the world, as long as there’s a stable internet connection.
3. Better scalability & flexibility
VoIP solutions offer easy scaling options, allowing you to increase or decrease
the number of users and phone features at any time.
Scaling a landline phone system requires physically laying more copper wiring. Doing all this can be expensive, tedious, and time-consuming.
4. More call features
Virtual phone systems allow users to multitask using various communication tools. Users can return calls while reviewing a transcribed voicemail, forwarding messages to colleagues or reviewing messages in your integrated CRM tool.
5. Superior voice quality
Connection speed and reception quality are better with VoIP systems because virtual phones compress sound and video using lossless algorithms that preserve quality. Most landline systems purposely clip voice waveforms to minimize transmission data load. This often results in muffled voices and distorted dial tones.
6. CRM integrations
CRM integrations are a major advantage of using a virtual phone system. The best VoIP systems integrate top CRM tools into their software. Aircall connects to more than 100 business tools, including CRM integrations with Salesforce, HubSpot, Zendesk Sell, and more.
CRM integrations are an advantage unique to virtual phone systems because they provide businesses with better communication internally and with customers. This leads to increased sales, better customer satisfaction and retention rates, and an overall more positive impression of your business.
Companies that use traditional PBX systems have to use additional software and tools to bridge the gap between their CRM and their phone system. It’s neither time-efficient nor beneficial in the long term.
Want to learn more? Check out our guide on the 10 benefits of using VoIP integrations.
5 key elements of a virtual phone system
There are a few things to look for before you decide which virtual phone system provider is right for your business. Here are five things to keep in mind:
1. Trial periods & free demos
Companies that don’t offer free trial periods or free demos should make you think twice. You should always be able to learn more about a product before committing to a purchase. Aircall offers a seven-day free trial as well as free demos.
2. Pricing transparency & flexible subscriptions
The virtual phone system provider you choose should be open about service costs and clearly list the benefits of using their service.
Information like the cost per user per month, how often you’ll be billed, and the minimum number of users should be included.
You should also be able to customize a package according to your business needs. Aircall’s pricing is completely transparent and customizable.
3. Business-relevant integrations
Make sure the virtual phone system provider you’re looking into has the right integrations for your business. Check their software integrations are the same as the customer service, sales, or CRM software your team currently uses or would like to use in the future.
Aircall has over 100 business integrations ranging from CRM to help desk platforms to AI-powered transcription and customer satisfaction tools. All these allow teams to connect voice to the tools they rely on day in and day out.
4. 5-star support
Check to make sure the support offered by the virtual phone system provider is easy to find.
Whether you need tech, sales, or general support, It shouldn’t take more than a few clicks to locate a knowledge base with resources and troubleshooting help. The best providers will have a way for users to send tickets right away, like Aircall’s built-in Jira ticketing platform for tech issues.
5. Third-party reviews
Customer reviews on third-party sites are a great way to learn more about service providers. While most businesses are happy to
spotlight satisfied customers on their sites, third-party sites like G2 give
readers unbiased business software and services reviews.
For more information on how to choose a virtual phone system, take a look at these five steps to follow when choosing a VoIP provider.
Top features of a virtual phone system
Virtual phone systems aren’t created equally. Before you decide which system to purchase for your business, ensure that the following features are a part of the software.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems are designed to quickly classify callers according to their needs and automatically route them to the right resource at your company. Learn more about Aircall’s IVR.
Analytics dashboards help businesses get a detailed outlook on how their team is performing and how they can improve their service.
Being able to make international calls with ease is important—especially for a global business. With Aircall, you can access international numbers from 100 countries.
Map out the most effective route to satisfying conversations with call routing software functionality. Aircall’s call routing comes stocked with advanced features designed to help your business succeed.
It might seem obvious, but it’s important to be able to set business hours. Update your availability to reflect seasonal changes, local customs, or individual preferences. Define the opening hours for each of your phone numbers sot your team only receives calls when you’re able to respond.
Avoid accidentally turning an ongoing conversation into a cold call. During a warm transfer, an agent can brief the next team member before forwarding the call. With the second agent fully looped in, customers and prospects experience a smooth transition.
Give your team access to call recordings so they can understand the full picture behind customer needs and their call performance.
iOS and Android apps
Business phone apps bring the familiar user experience of your system’s desktop application to life on iPhone and Android screens so you don’t sacrifice efficiency when you’re on the go.
Live call monitoring
Call monitoring allows you to view any call your employees are on, listen in, and even offer advice to your agents without disrupting the flow of the conversation.
Ever listen to a call recording and wish you had been there to offer advice at the moment? Call whispering helps your teams do exactly that. This feature lets more senior team members collaborate on high-priority calls to find practical solutions for stressful scenarios.
Common questions about virtual phone systems
We’ve rounded up the most common virtual phone system questions businesses want answers to so you can make an informed decision for your business.
How much does a virtual phone system cost?
Pricing for virtual phone systems can vary. Most service providers will give a quote for several different packages based on the number of users you’ll have and the types of features you’d like. The best service providers will be transparent about their costs. Aircall does just that, and even offers potential customers personalized quotes based on your business-specific needs.
How can I create virtual phone numbers?
Aircall’s VoIP phone system makes it easy to create toll-free 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, and 833 numbers for your business in just a few steps.
Which type of businesses can benefit from virtual phone systems?
Any type of business—from small businesses to enterprise businesses—can benefit from virtual phone systems. There are lots of benefits to using a VoIP provider for your business.
Virtual phone services help organizations integrate existing digital resources such as CRM, cloud, help desk, call center, and e-commerce platforms with VoIP services. VoIP solutions are also a crucial part of the digital transformation businesses of all sizes are making to improve the customer experience.
Are virtual phone systems suitable for hybrid work environments?
Virtual phone systems are the perfect solution for hybrid work environments.
Aircall understands the challenges of collaborating and aligning teams with various work settings, which is why we don’t provide just any calling tool.
Learn how to lead a hybrid team and the benefits of using Aircall in our Hybrid Working series.
What is the best virtual phone system for my business?
Choosing the best virtual system for your business can be tough.
It’s important that the phone system you choose answers your business’ specific needs and can adapt to the tools your team uses and the environment they thrive in.
Aircall’s 100-plus integrations, stellar customer support, and helpful knowledge base help businesses confidently improve their customer experience.
Aircall’s over 13 thousand global customers consistently mention ease of use, analytics and integrations capacity, ease of admin, and international customer support as the top benefits of making the switch. Want to learn more? Check out our guide on how to choose the best VoIP provider for your business.
Aircall is a smart, secure, cloud-based VoIP solution trusted by professionals and their teams around the world. Try it for free today!