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Guide to Inbound Phone Numbers

A comprehensive guide to inbound phone numbers.

Inbound phone numbers are versatile business tools. They can help with everything from establishing a local presence in a foreign country to modernizing your current phone system.

But, what exactly are they? And how do they work? We’ll answer these questions and more in this article. So, let’s jump right in.

What are Inbound Phone Numbers?

An inbound phone number is a cloud-based number that allows you to receive inbound calls and forward them to any device or location.

These numbers go by many names including:

So, what’s the difference between regular phone numbers and cloud-based ones? The answer lies mainly in the way they transmit calls.

Regular phone numbers rely on traditional telecom networks and physical connections to deliver calls. And they are assigned to a fixed device or phone line, meaning they are typically tied to one location.

On the other hand, virtual inbound phone numbers use VoIP technology and the internet to connect calls worldwide. And instead of being assigned to one device or line, they are linked to a user’s account. This means they are not confined to one specific geographical location or device. So, you can handle calls from anywhere.

How Do These Numbers Work?

In addition to using VoIP technology and an IP network, inbound phone numbers also rely on call forwarding capabilities to transmit voice calls globally. With this capability, incoming calls are automatically rerouted to one or multiple destinations.

This can include:

  • Alternate phone numbers
  • Phone extensions
  • SIP addresses
  • PBX systems
  • Specific devices (deskphones, mobile phones, etc.)
  • Remote teams
  • Voicemails and so on.

And you can set up advanced rules to forward calls based on the time of day, the day of the week, caller ID, and more.

Here’s a quick glimpse into how routing calls can improve operational efficiency:

Now, let’s review how the international forwarding process works.

When someone dials your inbound phone number, the call first connects to your provider’s network. Once your number is identified, the provider automatically routes the call according to your configured forwarding rules and settings.

What is an inbound phone number?

This allows you to receive incoming calls from customers all around the world – including places where you’re not physically present.

Here’s an example of international call forwarding:

Let’s say your business is located in the US, but you have a growing customer base in APAC. You could get an inbound phone number from Japan and forward all incoming calls to this number to your US headquarters. So when your local customers in Japan call your Japan inbound number, the call will automatically reroute to your US branch.

This not only allows your business to easily establish a local presence in foreign countries, but also boosts your accessibility and availability to international customers.

Types of Inbound Phone Numbers

When looking for a cloud-based number, it’s important to note that there are different types of inbound phone numbers available on the market. And this is because each type of number serves a specific purpose.

To ensure you choose the right inbound number type for your communication needs, let’s break down each one.

Local / geographic numbers

  • Assigned to specific cities and geographical locations in a country
  • Includes the region’s local area code
  • Can be reached from outside the country
  • Charged at local calling rates
  • More recognizable among locals

Good for – Establishing a local presence in another country or city, increasing connection and response rates, and localization marketing strategies.

International toll-free numbers

  • Reachable from within a specific country
  • Free for callers to dial from within the origin country
  • Recipient (your business) pays for calls
  • Includes regional toll-free prefixes

Good for – Sales and support teams, help desk hotlines, boosting your accessibility, encouraging consumers to contact you, and adding credibility to your business.

National / non-geographic numbers

  • Tied to a specific country or nation instead of a specific city
  • Reachable worldwide
  • Charged the same as local numbers (local calling rates)

Good for – Developing a nationwide presence instead of a citywide one and avoiding strict documentation associated with local numbers.

Mobile numbers

  • Known as cell phone numbers
  • Reachable from anywhere in the world
  • May come with incoming SMS capabilities

Good for – Employee’s direct phone numbers and including in outreach materials to encourage customers to contact you.

Why Get Inbound Phone Numbers for Your Business? [12 Benefits]

VoIP technology and hosted phone numbers have revolutionized the way businesses communicate with their customers and prospects. And this is because cloud communication solutions, like inbound numbers, offer a wide range of benefits to users. So, let’s take a look at the top 12 benefits of investing in inbound phone numbers.

  1. Save big on international and long-distance calling fees
  2. Experience higher-quality voice calls
  3. Effectively handle inbound calls with access to call management features
  4. Receive calls at any location and on any device
  5. Maintain business continuity with improved reliability and redundancy
  6. Expand to new target markets cost-effectively and with minimal risk
  7. Easily scale your cloud phone service to reflect business needs
  8. Increase functionality and modernize existing systems, including legacy and on-premise
  9. Connect international, remote, and distributed teams
  10. Forward calls anywhere in the world
  11. Increase connection rates and inbound sales
  12. Simple setup with no additional hardware required

Advanced Business Calling Features

Most VoIP providers, like Global Call Forwarding, offer add-on services and advanced features with their communication solutions. These additional cloud tools work to maximize the functionality of your inbound phone numbers and help businesses better manage their calls.

Here are some key features to look for when browsing cloud number plans:

  • Advanced IVR – automatically handle and route incoming calls using prompts and rules
  • Outbound Callingplace outbound calls using your inbound line
  • Softphones / Web Phones – make and receive calls from any location or device
  • Caller ID Management – customize your outbound caller ID by hiding or masking it
  • Call Routing – route calls based on time of day, caller ID, number dialed, holidays, etc.
  • Call Recording – record all calls and easily play back recordings
  • Failover Forwarding – forward calls to backup destinations if first location is unavailable
  • Greetings & Voicemails – personalize your phone system to fit your brand identity
  • VoIP Integrations – connect your PBX or CRM to your inbound phone numbers.

How to Buy Inbound Phone Numbers?

By now, you’re probably wondering how to buy inbound phone numbers for your business. The great news is that the solution is intuitive, making it easy to get started.

Let’s break it down into 4 simple steps.

Step 1: Identify target countries

Consider what countries, regions, or markets you need and want phone numbers for.

Step 2: Select a phone number type

Review types of inbound phone numbers available and their differences (listed above). Then, compare those options to your business communication needs and goals.

Step 3: Find a reliable provider

This is the most important step when purchasing inbound phone numbers, as not all cloud services are created equal. The provider you choose will directly affect the quality and reliability of your global inbound phone service. And since there are many options available on the market, this step requires in-depth research to ensure you select the best solution for your needs.

So, look at each provider’s offerings carefully. Specifically, consider:

    • Pricing plans
    • Setup charges and hidden fees
    • Available services, features, and add-ons
    • Country coverage
    • Network reliability, failover strategies, and uptime guarantee
    • Activation times
    • Documentation and setup requirements
    • Long-term commitments or contracts
    • Compatibility with existing equipment and third-party applications
    • Customer and technical support services
    • Years of telecom experience and so on.

Then, select the provider that can support your communication goals and criteria.

Step 4: Sign up for your inbound phone numbers

Typically, you can sign up for hosted numbers online through your provider’s website. Simply select your desired countries, number types, and prefixes. Then, sign up for your inbound numbers and wait for your service to be activated.

Get Inbound Phone Numbers with Global Call Forwarding

Global Call Forwarding provides local, international toll-free, national, and mobile inbound phone numbers from over 160+ countries worldwide. And with over 5 pricing plans to choose from, businesses of all sizes and industries can select the one that works best for them.

With our inbound phone service, we offer all users:

  • Access to 20+ advanced cloud communication features
  • Dedicated account managers and 24/7 support options
  • A 99.999% uptime guarantee and a highly redundant network
  • Fast activation times, provisioning, and setup
  • Over 25 years of telecom experience and more!

Get started today by signing up online. Or learn more about inbound phone numbers by either speaking with our team of experts at (561) 908-6171 or chatting with us online!

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