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Getting a business phone number is an achievement and a step in the right direction for any small business owner or entrepreneur. It shows professionalism, builds better brand awareness, and reinforces buying confidence for potential customers.
Imagine using an impressive vanity number like 1-800-CUPCAKE for your bakery business instead of your personal cell phone number. That would be awesome, wouldn’t it?
And wouldn’t it be even more awesome if you could use that vanity number on your existing cell phone with no need to purchase any additional desk phone, equipment, or wiring? That would be really awesome!
Fortunately, you can easily accomplish this with a virtual phone system. A business phone system, like Grasshopper, allows you to use your existing cellphone, download a mobile app, and use it to send/receive phone calls via a business phone number of your choice. You can even send text messages via that number as well and setup extensions (1 for sales; 2 for support, etc). Furthermore, you can still use your existing personal number on your cellphone just like you’ve always been using. There are even a couple of services that let you set up a free business phone number (e.g. Google Voice).
A virtual phone system is a great solution that allows you to set up a business phone line on your own without spending hundreds of dollars for professional installation services or purchasing a second phone.
DID YOU KNOW? A virtual phone system is the perfect solution for small businesses and entrepreneurs who want a reliable, affordable, and simple way to get business phone numbers.
Setting up your business phone number is very straightforward and requires very little technical know-how. It typically takes about 30 minutes to get everything setup. All you need is your mobile phone! Here’s what to do:
Step 1: Choosing Your Business Phone Number
The first step is to choose your business phone number. This is going to require some thought as you’ll want to choose a good one. You’ll need to decide between a vanity toll free number or a local one.
The toll-free option is great for branding and makes it easy for customers to remember. Again, think of my previous example with 1-800-CUPCAKE. This would be a very fun and impressive number for a bakery business!
A local phone number won’t have this, but it will use your local area code and many customers in a small town might prefer to purchase from a local business number. You’ll need to determine which one is best for you.
Check your Desired Number for Availability!
You’ll need to see which vanity numbers are available, as many are unfortunately already taken. You can search here for available vanity numbers.
Once you find the right number, you’ll need to sign up for an account and follow the onscreen steps to reserve it.
How Much Does a Business Phone Number Cost?
Grasshopper offers three pricing tiers:
Solo ($28/mo): 1 number, 3 extensions
Partner ($46/mo): 3 numbers, 6 extensions
Small Business ($80/mo): 5 numbers, unlimited extensions
These prices are billed annually. Monthly plans are available too and are approx. 10% more expensive.
All plans include:
- Custom greetings
- Call forwarding
- Unlimited minutes
- Inbound fax
- 7-day free trial
Please note: Grasshopper only works in the US and Canada. If you are based elsewhere, you should consider the CallHippo phone service, which is available in most countries around the world. It also offers call recording, which Grasshopper doesn’t.
Step 2: Create a Custom Greeting for Your New Number
After you’ve reserved your number and created an account with Grasshopper, the next step is to record a custom greeting. This is the main message your callers will hear when they dial your new number.
The default message Grasshopper uses is:
“Thank you for calling. To speak to representative, please press 0.”
Most likely, you’re going to want to change this and customize the greeting for your specific business. There’s a few options for doing this:
I would recommend recording your own message as a .mp3 sound file on your computer and then upload it to Grasshopper. It’s free and you can edit/create one exactly how you want it to sound. Just don’t let it sound “phony”!
If you don’t want to record your own voice, you can use their professional voice studio feature (which may cost extra depending upon your chosen plan) to have your greeting professionally narrated. You may also want to consider text-to-speech software, although artificial voice messages may not match the style of your particular business.
Step 3: Add Extensions for Your Employees
This is a really handy feature and Grasshopper gives you an unlimited number of extensions. You can use these extensions to forward your caller to the right person or department in your business. For example, you can tell the caller “For sales, press 1. For support, press 2.” Furthermore, you can redirect both of these departments to yourself if you’re the only one in charge within your business. You can also use extensions to redirect your callers to other specific persons within your business.
QUICK TIP: If you have no need for a main greeting or numerous extensions, you can disable this altogether and have the caller directly forwarded to you. This is sometimes a better option for smaller businesses that just need simple functionality.
Step 4: Change Your Default Voicemail Message
Similar to changing your main greeting, you’ll also want to customize your away greeting (essentially your voicemail message), which can be found under each extension. This is the message your callers will hear in case you miss their call and they are asked to leave a voicemail.
By default, Grasshopper uses:
“Thank you for calling. Please leave a message and your call will be returned as soon as possible.”
I think this is an okay message, but you probably would want to customize it further to match the style of your own business. If you have numerous extensions, remember to modify each one’s voicemail greeting. Furthermore, you may also want to change your Call Forwarding greeting and Recorded Extension name.
Step 5: Change Your “On Hold” Music
You can also change your default “On Hold” music as well. This is what callers will hear when they are placed on hold.
As with other greetings, I recommend recording your own “On Hold” music. This also doesn’t necessarily have to be music. You can let your callers know about current promotions or new features/services your business is offering. Your “On Hold” music can be a great chance to advertise to callers about things they may not know.
A recent AT&T study reports that more than 70% of business calls are placed on hold for an average of 45 seconds each.
Remember that your “On Hold” music should help warp the time perception and manage any frustration or anxiety for your caller, while also building a brand identity and possibly advertise new products or features about your business.
Test Your New Number!
Congratulations! You now have your new business number setup and are ready to start sending/receiving calls. I told you it was easy! However, before you excitingly start handing out your new business phone number to customers, it’s a good idea to test it first.
You’ll want to pay close attention to the user experience of the caller. Although you can use your own cell phone to call your new number and test it yourself (yes, you can call yourself), I’d recommend asking a friend to assist you with this. Have your friend pretend to be a customer calling your business and have him or her listen to your custom greeting and extensions. Ask your friend for input. Did the main menu greeting sound professional? Were the extensions direct and easy to understand?
You’ll also need to confidently know how to answer incoming calls and use the Grasshopper app on your phone. Although it’s really simple, it’s still a good idea to at least try it several times and test it out so you know exactly how it works.
QUICK TIP: Ensure that your new number is properly set up and thoroughly test it before using! Refine your main message and extensions for better user experience, if necessary. Test your number with a friend and see what he or she thinks.
You now know how to get a business phone number that works on your existing cell phone! Using a virtual phone system, like Grasshopper, makes it fast, easy, and affordable. Spend time determining whether you need a vanity toll-free number or a local number and customize your account to match your business style and branding. After thoroughly testing your new number, you’re ready to start talking!
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11 Jan 2023 - Price increase for Grasshopper
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