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Complete Guide to VoIP Number Porting

Tired of dropped calls and bad call quality? Need to get out of a long-term phone service contract? Want to add more call management features to your phone system? One way to upgrade your business phone system is to port your number to a VoIP service provider.

In short, VoIP number porting is the process of switching phone service providers while keeping the same number. No more worrying about updating everyone with your new phone number or staying stuck in contracts with low-quality service.

Here’s an in-depth guide to VoIP number porting with a focus on the process, requirements, and benefits of porting your number to a new phone service provider.

Porting Your Number In & Out of a VoIP System

Porting your number to a new VoIP phone service is a simple and quick process. Whether you need a new service for business or personal use, number porting can help you switch to a new provider and improve your phone service’s reliability and efficiency. In this VoIP number porting guide, we will go over:

What is VoIP Number Porting?

VoIP number porting is a telephony solution that lets users or owners of a number move or port their number from an old service to a new service. This means that you can switch phone service providers while still keeping your phone number intact.

How Does Number Porting Work with VoIP Numbers?

To port your phone number from one service to another, you first need to reach out to your new VoIP service provider. Most VoIP providers offer VoIP number porting and will ask you to fill in a porting request. Then, your new and old providers work together to ensure porting without any service interruptions.

It is important to wait for a successful transition to your new service provider before canceling your old service (ending your existing contract).

Benefits of Porting Your Number to VoIP

For many customers, VoIP number porting allows them to get out of long-term contracts and find better phone service providers. Here’s an opportunity to improve your business phone system, add call management features, and make your phone system more efficient and reliable.

So, why and when should you port your number to VoIP?

Here are some benefits of number porting and situations where you may need to switch to a new service provider:

  • Moving or relocating to a new city or region
  • Low voice and audio quality
  • High monthly bills
  • Network connectivity issues leading to a high number of dropped calls
  • Transition to cloud communication and VoIP for a reliable, flexible, and scalable phone solution
  • Lack of reliable and responsive customer and technical support
  • Need for advanced VoIP forwarding features to support growing business communication needs
  • Stuck in long-term commitments with low value
  • Consolidation of services to centralize business communication.

8 reasons to port your VoIP number

Stuck in any of these situations? Your business phone system needs to function well and reliably so that your teams can offer uninterrupted service and support to your customers. It may be time to walk away from a service that costs a lot but does very little.

Related: Business VoIP Service: Choose the Right Provider

How Long Does it Take to Port a Number?

VoIP number porting is a simple process that takes about 2–4 weeks to complete. Your new VoIP phone provider will keep you posted on the next steps and give you a timeline.

While your number is being ported, you will still maintain access to your phones and phone service. This means inbound and outbound calls won’t be interrupted.

Note that porting international VoIP numbers may take slightly longer but still should not interrupt your service.

VoIP Number Porting Requirements

There is a bit of a process involved with number porting to ensure everything works effectively. When submitting your porting request, you will also need to provide the following information to your new VoIP phone service provider:

  • A list of all your phone numbers – Includes all phone numbers and extensions in use and that you would like to port over.
  • Letter of Authorization (LOA) – Gives your new VoIP provider permission to act on your behalf when communicating with your old provider. A LOA usually contains crucial information about who can make decisions about your number(s) listed above.
  • Old service provider and account number – To let the two providers communicate and work together to complete the process.
  • Copy of current phone bill – Includes necessary information (name and address registered with the current provider) about your existing phone plan and offers the new provider additional proof of number ownership.

Here’s a number porting checklist offered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help you further understand and prepare for the process.

VoIP Number Porting Rules

Before you begin the porting process, it is good to familiarize yourself with porting rules followed by most VoIP providers. According to the FCC rules, carriers and providers:

  • Must port a number upon receiving a valid request.
  • May not refuse to port a number.
  • Can charge for porting services.
  • Can charge an early termination fee, especially for long-term customers.
  • May refuse to port if the customer has not paid for porting.

How to Port Your Number to VoIP?

Once you have identified your provider and are ready to port your number to VoIP, you and your new provider can begin porting the number to your new service.

Here’s a brief overview of the number porting process:

  1. You submit a porting request to your new VoIP service provider with the requirements and documentation.
  2. The new provider reaches out to the old service provider.
  3. The old service provider confirms the user’s identity and notifies the new provider.
  4. The new provider notifies the Number Portability Administration Center (NPAC).
  5. NPAC creates a pending port and notifies the old provider to concur.
  6. The new provider asks NPAC to activate the port.
  7. Upon activation, the port is broadcasted to the telecom industry network.
  8. Your new service will be activated.

Potential Issues with Number Porting

Here are some instances where number porting may be declined or may take longer to complete.

1. Number isn’t portable

Even though the FCC requires that numbers be portable, there are a few issues that may interrupt the process:

  • The number is no longer in service — If your phone number isn’t in service or the service was terminated, the new provider cannot port it.
  • Incomplete rate center / no coverage — Your new VoIP provider doesn’t have coverage in your area; therefore, they cannot port numbers there now.
  • No interconnect agreement — Your new VoIP provider must have an agreement with the old carrier that holds the phone number.

These issues are hard to resolve and usually mean that you need to find an alternative to porting. Speak with your VoIP provider to find a solution that fits your needs.

2. Other issues and errors

These issues are fixable but may delay the porting process:

  • Incorrect name and address — Contact information provided is incorrect, making it harder to prove ownership of the number.
  • Phone number was not found — Might occur due to user error when inputting the phone number (i.e., phone number entered incorrectly).
  • Porting a toll-free number — Toll-free numbers take a longer time to port.
  • Limited porting options — Porting numbers is easier in some countries over others. Check geographical limitations with your local provider before porting.

These issues are relatively minor and can be resolved; porting is not impossible here but might take a little longer.

Related: 5 Phone Number Porting Myths Debunked

VoIP Number Porting with Global Call Forwarding

To port your number to Global Call Forwarding, simply fill and submit this porting request form. Our representatives will get in touch with you to start the process as soon as possible. To learn more, speak with our representatives today. Call us at +1 (561) 908-6171 or chat with us online!

What Is a National Number & How Does It Work?

When choosing a business phone number for your company, you will come across a few different phone number options — local, toll-free, mobile, and national number. Picking the right type of phone number determines how easy it will be for local and global customers to connect and interact with your business.

Here we will discuss what national numbers are, how they work, and their benefits.

Understanding National Phone Numbers

National phone numbers are a type of international virtual phone number that lets businesses connect with people in different countries. You can get a national number for a target country and allow locals to communicate with you at low and reasonable rates, instead of high long-distance charges.

Other names for national numbers: non-geographic numbers or shared cost numbers.

What is a National Number?

A national phone number is a premium international phone number from specific countries around the world. These numbers are assigned to the country as a whole instead of specific local cities or states. Because of this, a country’s national number is associated with the country and reachable from any part of the world.

How Do National Numbers Work?

National numbers are called shared cost numbers because the cost of a call is shared between the caller (customer) and the receiver (business). This means that customers within the target country can call your company for low local calling rates, even if your business is outside the country.

While the cost of these numbers is higher than regular numbers, the overcall call rates are lower since the costs are shared.

Additionally, your business or teams do not have to be present in the country to use its national number. You can forward incoming calls to your main office or satellite offices located elsewhere.

Who Uses National Numbers?

Any business preparing to expand to new countries or regions can use a national number to make it easy to communicate with customers. But how? Customers in that country recognize the number as a local number and know that the cost to call is low. This encourages them to reach out to your business for sales or support reasons.

You can display your national number as the local caller ID when making calls to customers in the country. Since they recognize the number as a local one, they are more likely to answer your call.

And so, if you have customers and interested prospects in a neighboring country, then you will find national numbers useful.

Learn about national phone numbers.
Source: DepositPhotos.com – Lic#8662399 ID#27446420

National Phone Number Format

Different countries have different formats for their national numbers. However, generally, the national number format includes the country code, trunk prefix (0 – if applicable), city or state area code, and the subscriber number:
(+ country code) + (0) + (national code) + SN.

*Note: Not all formats require a trunk prefix. To learn more, check out our list of international call prefixes.

Here’s an example of UK national numbers:

  • United Kingdom country code: +44
  • Trunk prefix: 0
  • National code: 843
  • Subscriber number: 7 digits

So, a UK national number format would be (+44) (0843) xxx-xxxx.

Benefits of Using National Numbers

There are many benefits to using national phone numbers to communicate with local customers and vendors. Here are some reasons to buy these numbers:

  • Opportunity to expand to new countries and diversify your customer base
  • Reliable in-country coverage from most networks
  • National and local presence
  • Easier documentation required to acquire the numbers
  • Easy for global customers to contact your company
  • Wide variety of call management features.

How to Buy National Phone Numbers

Global Call Forwarding offers national numbers from a wide range of countries. You can browse through our inventory on our Pricing page and buy national numbers as needed.

You can also buy national numbers in bulk for multiple target countries. Start by purchasing the first number and setting up your account. Once you are connected with a dedicated account manager, you can let them know about your additional needs, and they’ll get you set up!

Buy National Numbers

Ready to buy new numbers today or want to simply learn more? Chat with experts online or call us at +1 (561) 908-6171 to get custom voice solutions for your business.

The Death of the Office Desk Phone

Between video calls, live chat, and automated customer service solutions, the office desk phone seems less of a requirement within your office setup. This begs the question: Can we do without the desk phone? The short answer: yes, if you want to.

Are Office Desk Phones Still a Thing?

It was commonplace to see an office desk phone on every employee’s desk. After all, that was the primary form of communication for the longest time — whether for internal communication or sales or customer support.

But slowly, we’ve found new solutions to replace traditional office phones—internal chat, email, live chat and customer chat solutions.

This has given way to many businesses dropping the office desk phone and updating their legacy phone system.

So, what is leading to the death of the office desk phone?

1. The Rise of Cloud Communication

The main reason desk phones are becoming obsolete is the growing popularity of cloud computing and cloud telephony. With these solutions, users can use the internet to connect with teammates and customers; this generally includes email, chat, and video conferencing.

One of the main reasons to transition to cloud communication is the ability to communicate from any location and device. And as remote working and telecommuting become the norm, cloud communications make it possible for teams to stay connected no matter where they are located. In other words, they do not need to be attached to an office desk phone.

2. Diverse Communication Options

Communication technology has come a long way since its advent. We now have several advanced and diverse ways of communicating with people near and far—chat, messengers, voice calls, video calls, conferencing, and email.

With these options, your business can open up new channels of contact with customers and business partners spread across the globe. Voice, text, and video communication over the internet has increased drastically with the introduction of apps like Google Chat and Meet, Video Conferencing, and more. We are no longer limited to one geographic location or device.

3. Softphones Over SIP and VoIP

A softphone (or web phone) is a software-based communication app that lets users make and receive calls over the internet and from any device. In other words, you can make business calls from your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. This means that you do not need an additional office desk phone to make business calls. Simply download the softphone on any device and use it along with your VoIP phone service.

Related: Softphone vs. Desk Phone: 6 Reasons to Use a Softphone

4. PSTN Replacement

PSTN replacement services allow you to replace your public switched telephone network (PSTN) with alternative IP-based solutions instead. Companies may choose to do this for a variety of reasons:

  • Upgrade office phone system to a more reliable one
  • Add global voice coverage through a stable and global network
  • Increasing scalability and flexibility

A PSTN replacement brings cloud calling to your business phone system without needing a total makeover or purchase of additional equipment. Want to learn more? Check out our PSTN replacement guide.

A New Era for Office Communications

You don’t have to give up your office desk phone if you don’t want to. But when updating your phone system, you might find it more convenient to have all communication-related services within one device. And a cloud phone system lets you do just that.

Want to learn more about upgrading legacy systems and bringing cloud communications to your office phone system? Speak with our telecom experts. We’re here to help you find the right tools and features to communicate effectively with teammates and customers, no matter where everyone is located. Chat with us online or call us at 1-888-908-6171 today!

6 Call Flow Templates for Efficient Business Communication

Well-designed and efficient calls flows can help your business offer uninterrupted and reliable service when your customers need it the most. We’ve put together 6 call flow templates and examples to help you understand the different ways your business can manage incoming calls.

Creating the Right Call Flows for Your Business

In order to create efficient call flows within your business phone system, you first need to understand how a call flow works.

A call flow is a map of what happens to a customer call made to your business phone system. In other words, when a customer calls your business, how does the call move within the system? You want calls to move in an efficient way that helps the customer. This means fewer interruptions, less wait times, and accurate routing.

The purpose of call flows: to help the customers resolve their questions or queries quickly and in the easiest way possible.

It is important to pay attention to how calls flow within your business so that you can improve caller experience and provide better customer service to your customers.

What to Keep in Mind When Creating Custom Call Flows

How you set up your call flows depends on why people call your business. So, before you get started, you need to first identify what callers need from your business and how you intend to offer that.

Most call flows are simple and follow a standard structure. For example, if you have customers calling only for customer support, then your call flow is simple:

Simple call flow example

But if you have people calling for different reasons, you might need to create an IVR menu with options and a flow for each option:

Call flow example with voice menu

A call coming into your business can move down different routes based on what your caller needs and what your business wants to provide over the phone. Here is an example of some call flow options available:

1. The caller dials the number
2. Caller hears a welcome greeting. ▾ Caller immediately connects with a person (receptionist). ▾ All lines are busy ▾
3. The IVR menu offers options for caller input Caller connects with the receptionist or available agent. Caller needs to be transferred to the right person or department Callers questions are answered Caller is routed to voicemail
4. Caller chooses an option and the call is routed to the desired department or agent. Callers questions are answered Callers questions are answered End of call
5. Callers questions are answered End of call End of call
6. End of call

But this structure may be limiting for companies with more complicated communication systems, such as international companies and businesses with remote, distributed teams.

However, advanced cloud telephony tools and call routing techniques give businesses more options and flexibility to improve caller experience. These features let you add different call flow and routing rules to a business phone line so you can help callers reach the right department sooner.

You can use a call flow builder to control better how calls flow within your system.

6 Call Flow Templates to Help You Set Up Your Business Communication System

As we mentioned earlier, how you set up your call flows determines how customers interact with your business, which in turn improves customer satisfaction rates.

Let’s look at 6 call flow templates that can help with efficient call management:

  1. Standard call flows
  2. IVR user menu
  3. Time-based routing
  4. Geographic call routing
  5. Holiday call routing
  6. Advanced routing systems

1. Standard Call Flows

A standard call flow is a basic, simple, and straightforward flow structure. Here, your business may only have one business phone number and want to use phone support for customer service and sales.

You can set up the call flow to send the caller to either your main office or customer support center, where they interact with an agent. You may also only need someone to transfer the caller to the right department within the company. And if your teams are busy, you can set a backup that sends the caller to your voicemail box.

Use cases: Companies with small in-house and in-office teams (solopreneurs, start-ups) or small-to-medium-sized businesses.

Example #2 - Standard call flows

2. IVR / Voice Menu

If you have to route calls to 2 or more departments and across locations, then you will need a more complex call flow with an IVR menu. An IVR system is an automated interactive voice response system that answers the call, welcomes the callers, determines the purpose of the call, and transfers them to the appropriate department or person.

You can set up the call flow to start with the IVR greeting, followed by menu options such as press 1 for sales, press 2 for customer support, and so on. Then, based on the caller’s input (the number they press), they will branch out into the next part of the call flow.

In the below example, the IVR call flow is set up as:

  • To make appointments, press 1 > send call to the main office > if call fails to connect (line is busy), send calls to remote office as per time of day (TOD) routing rules
  • For customer service, press 2 > send call to offshore call center
  • For company hours and location information, press 3 > play pre-recorded message (announcement) with updated hours and location
  • To leave a voicemail, press 4 > play pre-recorded voicemail message (after-hours message) and send voicemail to designated email.

This way, callers can choose the help they need, and be transferred to the right person or message.

Use cases: Companies with global customers or local and remote teams spread across different locations.

call flow example #2 - IVR voice menu

3. Time-Based Routing

Businesses that have customers and teams spread across different locations and time zones will need to route calls from one location to the other effectively. These businesses might have different phone numbers for the countries or regions where they offer services and support. And you do not want your customers calling the wrong number or calling during off-hours and not getting support.

This is where time-based routing (also known as time of day routing) comes into play. You can use time-based routing to route calls to different locations and numbers based on the time the call comes in. Let’s work this through an example:

Your company’s main customer service is located in the US in the Eastern Standard Time EST (GMT-4). But you have customers in other US time zones such as Central Standard Time CST (GMT-5), Mountain Standard Time MST (GMT-7), and Pacific Standard Time PST (GMT-7).

If customers from these time zones call during their business hours, your customer service team might receive calls outside of their working hours. What happens to these calls? You have a couple of options. You can hire remote agents who handle calls made during off-hours. You can then forward incoming calls during those times to your remote agent list. Or, you can send those calls straight to voicemail with a message “Sorry, we’re closed for today but please leave a voicemail and we will get back to you soon.”

This way, customers calling at any time can still get some form of support.

You can use this type of routing to adopt a follow the sun support model and offer 24/7 uninterrupted service.

Use cases: Companies with global customers or local and remote teams spread across different locations.

Call flow example - time based routing

4. Caller ID Routing / Geographic Call Routing

Caller ID routing (also known as geographic call routing, location-based routing, and geo-routing) routes calls based on the caller’s location and caller ID. Businesses with global coverage will find this feature and call flow template helpful in organizing their calls effectively.

With caller ID routing, you can decide what happens to customers calling from specific countries, cities, or regions. In the below example, we demonstrate what happens to calls coming in from different countries:

  • Calls with an Indian caller ID (dialing code +91) > send the calls to the APAC office
  • Calls with an Australian caller ID (dialing code +61) > send the calls to the Australian office
  • Calls with an UK caller ID (dialing code +44) > send the calls to the UK office
  • Calls with an US caller ID (dialing code +1) > send the calls to the US office

And for all calls, if the call fails to connect (i.e. lines or agents are busy), we play a pre-recorded voicemail message (after-hours / busy message) and send voicemail to the team’s email.

This way, callers get support in a time zone and even language they prefer.

Use cases: Companies with global customers or local and remote teams spread across different locations.

call flow example - caller ID based flow

5. Holiday Schedules and Routing

Holiday call routing lets your business create holiday schedules and call flows. In other words, you decide what happens to your calls when your teams are on holiday. This can be national holidays observed by countries or a particular employee’s vacation.

Each provider has this set up differently. With Global Call Forwarding, you start by creating holiday lists and schedules where you want specific call routing rules to apply. Then, you use our time of day routing feature, to decide what happens to calls within that particular holiday list.

In the below example, we create two holiday lists:
Summer hours (specific hours during specific time of the year)
National holidays (US-based national holidays).

Then, we decide what happens to the calls that come during the summer hours or national holidays. We can either route calls to:

  • Remote offices open during the summer hours
  • Agents in other countries who do not observe national holidays
  • Pre-recorded voice message informing them about the online knowledge base or support center
  • Voicemail

With this call flow, customers who need help even during a holiday can quickly get the support they need.

Use cases: Companies with global customers or local and remote teams spread across different locations.

Call flow template for holidays

6. Advanced Routing Systems

You can add advanced routing features to any of the above call flows. These features work alongside hunt groups or call groups. In other words, you can decide what happens once a call connects to a particular department or group.

You start with creating a group or list for each team or department — separate groups for each department or remote teams. Each group will have a series of numbers or phone lines, both in-house and remote. And then, you set call forwarding rules for that team.

Here are the top advanced call routing solutions:

  • Sequential call flows — Incoming calls move down a predetermined list of available agents or employees. Every new call starts from the top of the line.
  • Round robin — Incoming calls also move down a predetermined list but every new call goes to the next person in line.
  • Simultaneous ring — Incoming calls ring on multiple phones and lines, which is everyone within a hunt group.

Adding these routing rules will help your teams manage incoming calls effectively and provide support quickly and accurately.

Improve Call Management with Call Flows

Ready to think about your business’ call flows and where you can improve call management? Start here! Global Call Forwarding has a call flow builder tool that can help you visualize and design realistic call flows (simple or complicated) to support your virtual phone system. Speak with our representatives or chat with them online to learn more!

Geographic Versus Non-Geographic Numbers

The type of business phone number(s) your business uses determines how easy it is for customers to connect and interact with your sales and customer service teams. And there is a wide variety of phone number types to choose from.

Here we compare geographic versus non-geographic numbers, so you have a better idea of what type of number(s) your business needs.

Understanding the Difference Between Geographic and Non-Geographic Numbers

Both geographic and non-geographic numbers are associated with the country they are assigned to. Each country has a variety of geographic and non-geographic phone numbers within its numbering system. These numbers start with specific codes, followed by the subscriber number.

Your business can use these numbers to connect with local customers and vendors within a country, even if your headquarters and teams are located outside the country. A cloud phone service provider like Global Call Forwarding offers cloud-based phone numbers to help companies connect with customers in different countries. And, you can route incoming calls from these numbers to your main office or satellite offices located anywhere globally.

So the question is: Geographic versus non-geographic, which is right for your business?

What are Geographic Numbers?

Geographic phone numbers are local numbers with designated local area codes. These numbers are part of a country’s internal numbering system and are recognizable by locals.

Costs: Calls to these numbers are charged local calling rates. Cost depends on where the call is made from/to.

Coverage: Geographic numbers can receive calls from within and outside the country, making them a suitable regional contact number (i.e., customers in neighboring countries can call these numbers)

Distinction: Geographic phone numbers have specific local area codes for each city or state.

Other names: Local phone numbers

Benefits of geographic numbers:

  • Recognizable local area codes
  • Local presence
  • Regular local calling rates
  • Accessible from anywhere within the country and neighboring countries.

What are Non-Geographic Numbers?

Non-geographic phone numbers are tied to the country as a whole instead of specific cities or states. In other words, you can use this one number to answer calls from anywhere in the country. These virtual numbers are also reachable from anywhere in the world.

Costs: Costs shared between the caller and the number subscriber

Coverage: Non-geographic numbers are generally accessible country-wide and reachable from mobile phones and payphones anywhere in the world. These numbers can be dialed from other countries.

Distinction: Non-geographic phone numbers have specific national codes assigned to the country.

Other names: National numbers, shared cost numbers

Benefits of non-geographic numbers:

  • Easier documentation requirements
  • Excellent in-country coverage from most networks and mobile phones
  • National presence
  • Shared costs
  • Accessible from within and outside the country.
Comparison of geographic versus non geographic numbers.
Source: DepositPhotos.com – Lic#83908156 ID#27446420

Geographic versus Non-Geographic Numbers

So, what type of business phone number is right for your business?

Both geographic and non-geographic numbers benefit businesses that want a better communication channel with their customers in different parts of the world. You can purchase local or national numbers in bulk and use them for multiple target countries. But what number you need depends on what your business does, who your target audience is, and your international expansion strategies.

1. Comfort of local numbers

Many companies prefer the comfort and convenience of local geographic numbers because they make your business appear as a local one. Customers might think your business is located within the same or neighboring city/state and can offer quick support.

Plus, local numbers cost regular local rates, which are often low. In fact, in some countries, local calls might even be free to call from landlines and mobiles since they count as inclusive minutes in a phone plan.

2. Limitations of a local prefix

One main limitation of a geographic number is that customers may mistake your business for operating only in one area; that is, the area of your area code. Depending on the distance, this may deter some customers from interacting with your business.

3. National presence of national numbers

National prefixes are also recognizable as a local number, establishing a national presence for your business. Customers are less likely to ignore a number they recognize than a prefix they don’t. A non-geographic number works as a central national phone number that does not need to be changed if your business relocates.

4. Easy-to-work-with documentation for non-geographic numbers

One of the main reasons some companies prefer non-geographic numbers over geographic ones is that they cannot provide the required local documentation to activate their number. For every number you purchase, you will need to provide documentation (personal or governmental ID, proof of business address, etc.). Depending on how your business is set up, you may or may not fulfill all the requirements. But national numbers have relatively easier documentation requirements that work better for most companies.

5. Using both number types

One possible solution is to have both geographic and non-geographic numbers and forward all incoming calls to your main office (or wherever you need them). This way, you can have that national presence and make customers in specific regions feel more comfortable using a local number to call your business.

Choosing the Right Type of Business Phone Numbers

To choose the right phone number for your business, you need to first identify your needs. What do you want to achieve with these numbers? What kind of coverage would your particular business benefit from? Our experts at Global Call Forwarding can help you determine the best cloud telephony solutions for your communications needs. Chat with us online or call us at +1 (561) 908-6171!

What Is a Call Flow & How Is It Used?

As a business, one of your primary goals is to make people comfortable with your products and services, staff, and company. And part of creating that environment of comfort and reliability is making it easy for them to connect with you.

This is why it is crucial to effectively manage incoming calls. A caller waiting in line for an hour or lost within an automated menu will lead to a disgruntled and unsatisfied customer. And your business cannot afford that.

You can avoid this by preparing for it. How? Create custom and efficient call flows to help callers move down the call flow process and arrive at the right destination.

Understanding Your Business’ Call Flow

Taking time to understand your business’ call flow can help you manage incoming calls more smoothly and improve caller experience. But how?

First, let’s start with: What is a call flow?

A call flow is a map or diagram of how incoming calls will be managed once they enter your business phone system. In other words, a call flow details what happens when a customer or prospect calls your business and how they move down the call process to the right person for assistance.

This process or flow varies based on what options a business wants to offer its callers. For example, are people calling only for customer support, or are they looking for more departments? Do you have multiple offices to route calls to? Do you need to route phone calls based on the caller’s location?

A call flow can help you map out the most effective way calls should move within the system so that your callers have the best experience.

What is the Purpose of a Call Flow?

The main purpose of a call flow is to manage incoming calls effectively by helping callers reach the right individual or department and get assistance quickly.

Customers calling a business do not want to be waiting in a call queue for a long time, and they definitely do not want to be bounced around from one department to another to resolve an issue. They want quick service with accurate information. It is your responsibility, as a business, to have the right tools in place to give them this uninterrupted and reliable service.

Mapping out your call flows will help you create an efficient call management system that works for both your business and your customers.

What Does a Call Flow Contain?

A call flow contains a variety of actions and interactions that decide how a call is handled. A call flow builder (cloud telephony feature) will let you control these actions and triggers so that you can create custom call flows for different business numbers and lines. Most call flows contain the following actions and interactions:

  • Announcements
  • Automated and attended call transfers
  • IVR menus
  • Advanced routing features
  • Send calls to voicemail
  • Send faxes to emails, etc.

You can use these different call flow features and triggers to design call flows that let your business offer reliable customer service, no matter where your teams or customers are located.

Related: 9 Benefits of Advanced Call Routing

What Steps are Included in a Call Flow?

When you start to design a call flow, you need to consider the following steps to determine how calls will move within your phone system:

  1. Different phone numbers and lines involved
  2. What happens when the line connects? Will callers hear an announcement or welcome message or an IVR menu with input options for different departments and scenarios?
  3. What will the caller be required to do after the welcome message or IVR message?
  4. Which options will be made available to the caller? Examples: speak with an employee, verify identity, activate/renew a service, leave a voicemail, etc.
  5. Do you need any advanced routing systems in place? Geo-routing, time-based routing, round robin call routing, etc.
  6. What departments will be included in the call flow? And what happens if the caller needs a department not listed or if they enter the wrong number?
  7. What should happen if one of the options or triggers fails? Example: What if the desired team is busy and no one answers the phone for 5 minutes?

Here’s an example of steps included in a call flow:

Call flow diagram.

Not sure where to start? Check out these call flow templates before you start mapping your own call flows.

Building Call Flows to enhance Caller Experience

Use the Global Call Forwarding call flow builder and IVR manager to create custom call flows for your virtual phone system. We provide this feature for free with our cloud phone number plans. Browse through our features or speak with our experts to learn more! Call us at +1 (561) 908-6171 or chat with us online.

How to Use Number Masking: Examples and Use Cases

Phone number masking is a popular cloud communication feature being used by companies around the world for various reasons. In this post, we will go through different examples of number masking in use. In other words, how are companies using this service, and how do they benefit from it?

But first, we need to understand what number masking is and how it works.

Let’s dive in.

What is Number Masking?

Number masking, also known as call masking, is a cloud telephony feature that allows you to hide or “mask” your phone number. You can choose to completely hide the number from displaying on caller IDs or replace it with a different number, which is called caller ID override.

How Does a Number Masking Solution Work?

Once subscribed to a cloud phone service provider, you can set up number masking within their features. This will let you hide or display another phone number in place of your original or personal number. Then, when you call someone, they will see your masked number and won’t be privy to the actual number.

You can set up phone number masking in a few ways:

  • Setting up your new phone number through your existing PBX system
  • Changing the caller ID through the control panel or account dashboard
  • Choosing the caller ID through the softphone app

You can get a call masking service from a cloud phone number provider like Global Call Forwarding that has the capability to hide or display specific phone numbers.

If you have a phone number plan with Global Call Forwarding, you can update your caller ID and use call masking in all three ways mentioned above.

Ways to use number masking.

Who Uses Masked Numbers? Use Cases

Why use a masked number? From individuals to businesses, many different users would want to mask their number and avoid displaying their original phone number. Here are some use cases of number masking:

1. Remote Teams

Number masking comes in handy when your employees work remotely and need to make customer calls from their own phones. By masking their phone number, they can protect their personal information and make calls from the business number instead. This way, they appear professional and maintain credibility when calling customers.

2. Global Reach

Like with remote teams, global teams can use call masking when placing calls to customers in different regions and countries. Here, instead of hiding the number, they can display a local number your business owns for a particular region or country. For example, an employee in the US calling a customer in Mexico can override the caller ID to display a local Mexico phone number instead of their personal US number. Customers are more likely to answer when they see calls coming from a local caller ID.

3. Vendor-Buyer Interactions

When managing vendor and buyer interactions — such as with a delivery service or online marketplace — it is essential to track leads and maintain excellent customer service. And part of this is facilitating vendor-buyer relationships in a comfortable and secure manner.

Masking the phone numbers of your vendors and customers ensures their privacy and protection. They can contact each other during the time of the order and not outside of that. This makes sure no one is bothered on their personal line outside of the business interaction.

You can use number masking to manage vendor-buyer interactions and driver-customer communication. Some common examples for where number masking proves helpful:

  • Ride sharing apps like Uber, Lyft
  • Delivery services like Doordash, Uber Eats, FedEX
  • Online marketplaces like Etsy, Amazon
  • Pet sitting like Rover, Spruce
  • Other services like TaskRabbit, ChoreRelief

Number Masking Solution from Global Call Forwarding

You can get phone number masking with our Outbound Calling solution. Simply add this service to your existing phone plan or purchase a phone plan with us.

Check our pricing page for more details, or talk to an expert today!

What is Inside Sales and How is it Changing in 2022?

Inside sales have become the most popular sales model for B2B SaaS and many other high-ticket industries. But what are inside sales, how do they compare to outside sales, and what will the role look like in 2022?

A global health crisis forced millions of people to work from home, and many sales organizations still operate remotely. During this time, new technology also changed inside sales forever.

So, what is inside sales exactly and how is it evolving?

The Meaning of Inside Sales

Inside sales are the exchange of products and services online. It is also known as “virtual sales,” “digital selling,” and “remote sales.” Inside salespeople build sales pipelines through digital channels instead of outside channels.

These are the most 5 common examples of virtual sales channels in 2021:

  • Email
  • Video
  • Chat
  • Phone
  • Social media

The Difference Between Inside and Outside Sales

The main differences between inside and outside sales are travel and the workplace. Unlike outside sales, inside salespeople do not travel to visit clients off-site.

Inside sales are done in an office or remotely, on the computer, and over the phone. On the other hand, outside salespeople meet clients at off-site premises and industry events, usually for entertainment and training purposes.

Inside and outside sales can be combined for greater effectiveness. An example of this is a company that leverages remote sales for leads and account management with an outside sales team that closes bigger deals and conducts in-person training. Also, the two are often paired to upsell and cross-sell solutions.

In past years, inside sales have been considered a backup to outside sales. However, changes in B2B buying preferences have increased the importance of virtual sales in B2B SaaS.

what is inside sales
Source: DepositPhotos.com – Lic#204682470 ID#27446420

7 Advantages of Inside Sales

The inside sales model has many advantages versus outside sales or telemarketing:

1. Scalability

Remote sales teams can quickly scale and deploy new agents in the cloud. For most businesses, their stack of sales tools is cloud-based and does not require extensive implementation.

2. Cost-effectiveness

These days, sales tech is relatively inexpensive. You can equip reps with a full stack of tools for about $200 per rep monthly.

Also, there are no relocation costs for inside sales, as you can hire talent globally to work from home. Outside sales reps carry much higher operating expenses and must travel frequently.

The salary for remote sales reps is also affordable for most companies with positive cash flow.

3. Coaching

Digital sales tools have made it easier to coach inside sales reps.

Certain talk tracks and sales methods tend to win out. As an inside sales manager, you should be fully aware of your team’s playbook and monitor how the team interacts with potential customers. This is not easily achievable when managing a field salesforce.

Conveniently, inside sales are mostly done digitally. Managers in 2021 have more tools and coaching opportunities. This is a result of better collaboration tools, cloud-based CRM, conversation intelligence, recordings, chat transcripts, and virtual writing assistants.

4. Predictable revenue

Companies can predictably forecast and measure the ROI of an inside salesperson.

This is because inside sales reps should have targeted amounts of work to achieve each week. This can include the number of chats and calls answered, outbound dials, sent emails, meetings booked, sales demos, deals won, etc. The work is closely tied to lead generation and in turn, a predictable pipeline, of which the value can be calculated.

5. Global expansion

Whether you want to expand your business to new markets or tap into a diverse talent pool, remote sales offer great potential for global expansion. It can be done virtually from anywhere in the world. 

Because inside sales can be done remotely, companies can easily onboard new reps from other countries. Hiring companies only need to ensure that reps have the right equipment and credentials to use the necessary tools. A global marketplace for hiring can give your business access to better talent at competitive rates.

Inside sales also offer an opportunity to sell your products and services to customers in other countries. The work does not need to be done on-site, which enables inside sales reps to sell to customers anywhere in the world. Companies can even take advantage of international virtual numbers to simulate a local calling presence in the country of their choosing.

6. Fordism

Sales processes can be broken down and assigned to specialized roles. A traditional inside sales process might involve the following:

  1.   Identify target companies that fit your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) or new clients that fit expansion criteria.
  2.   Identify decision-makers at those target companies. Research potential pain points and service use cases.
  3.   Reach out to decision-makers to understand their pain points. Try to spark an interest in your company and how your solutions could be beneficial.
  4.   Demo the effectiveness of your products and services. Work to close the sale.
  5.   Ensure successful onboarding of new customers. Pursue expansion opportunities.

This type of sales method is kind of like an assembly line. An inside sales manager could assign agents or reps to specialize in each task. The inside sales reps become more effective by devoting their full attention to perfecting and performing a single task. 

7. Comfort

The buyer’s journey in B2B is rapidly changing. Modern buyers prefer live screen-shares and phone calls to in-person demonstrations and face-to-face meetings.

Corporate travel in 2020 also became a lot harder. Starting in 2022, requests for health documents and travel quarantines could become more common. This makes it more difficult for outside sales reps to visit clients on-site, especially in other countries. In addition, many companies are still working from home.

Interested prospects prefer to buy and sell mostly online, and savvy buyers will do more individual research before making a decision. As a result, sales organizations must remain flexible and meet buyers in their preferred mediums.

You can run inside sales from anywhere, which will make it the preferred sales model in 2022.

What Does Inside Sales Look Like in 2021?

Business changed dramatically during 2020. The whole world was quarantined for many months. This forced all executives to do more business online and over the phone, permanently changing how business is done around the world.

Keys to Running a Smooth IS Organization

There are several components that are required to run a successful inside sales organization:

  • Software

Equip managers with the right tools: CRM, call recordings, conversation intelligence, etc. Similarly, inside sales agents should have the right tools; high-speed data, sales automation tools, calling service with web dialer, writing assistants, etc.

  • Specialization with well-defined roles

Inside sales reps are more effective when assigned to specialized roles. For example, your team should have specialized reps who identify target companies and decision-makers, other reps who reach out to those decision-makers to spark an interest, and closers who can properly communicate the value of your services and win deals.

  • Sales & marketing alignment

Marketing and inside sales should be in close contact. It is the job of marketing to create brand awareness and interest and also to supply inside sales reps with the proper enablement resources to do their jobs effectively. Ideally, prospects should know about your business before salespeople reach out.

  • Sales process

The process is key for an digital selling organization looking to scale. Ideally, managers should implement repeatable processes and properly educate their inside sales reps. This makes it easier to expand the team and in turn, grow revenue.

  • Morale & a good product

In order for salespeople to do a good job, they must believe in what they’re selling and understand its value. No righteous salesperson wants to deceive buyers and sell crappy products. They should be confident in the services that they’re selling.

Day in the Life: Inside Selling Techniques

A typical day in the life of an inside salesperson involves various tasks and responsibilities, with most days spent fielding inquiries, following up with leads or clients, prospecting online, and doing admin work. Depending on the company, the job of an inside salesperson might carry over after-hours. Results come from the work that salespeople put in.

5 Skills of a High-Performing Inside Salesperson

There’s a misconception that salespeople need to be smooth talkers in order to succeed. While being articulate in conversation helps, there are more elements of a successful salesperson.

In fact, many sales leaders believe that active listening is the number one digital selling skill. These are other valuable skills:

  1. Active listening
  2. Genuine curiosity
  3. Consultative approach
  4. Rapport building
  5. Strong network

What Business Is Most Likely to Benefit from Inside Sales?

Does your business need remote sales? Well, it depends on where your company is in its lifecycle. It also depends on the sales cycle complexity and contract values.

Scaleups, startups, and SaaS companies are most likely to benefit from having an inside sales team. Many startups have used inside sales to hustle their way to $10 million or more ARR. Many companies will also invest in a digital selling team during their growth stages.

Future of Inside Sales: Will it Be Different in 2022?

We saw how work shifted from in-office and in-person to fully remote during the pandemic. Video conferencing exploded. Demos and screen sharing also took off. The digital funnel and virtual selling pretty much replaced in-person lunches and dinners. We don’t see many more changes occurring in the near future.

 The Bottom Line: Compared to this year, inside sales processes in 2022 will not be much different. Most changes to remote sales already happened in 2020 and are here to stay.

A Comprehensive Guide to PSTN Replacement

Many network infrastructure professionals wonder if the PSTN is still relevant in 2021.

Some modern organizations have already replaced the PSTN altogether with alternative IP-based solutions. This is known as a PSTN replacement. The service has major benefits, including:

But what exactly is the PSTN and how can replacing it help your business?

What Is the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network)?

Before diving into PSTN replacement services and how these solutions work, it’s important to understand what the PSTN is and its purpose past 2021.

PSTN stands for ‘Public Switched Telephone Network.’ It is essentially an aggregate of the world’s circuit-switched telephone networks. The PSTN is based on outdated infrastructure that is mostly being replaced globally.

These copper-based networks around the world are operated by national, regional, and local carriers.

Phasing out the PSTN by 2025

Analysts believe that Europe will have completely replaced the PSTN by 2025. As cloud communications solutions become more cost-effective, reliable, and scalable, the rest of the world is soon to follow suit and replace the PSTN.

To prepare for when public telecom networks become obsolete, modern telecom companies have started helping businesses migrate their voice communications to the cloud.

What Is a PSTN Replacement Service?

A PSTN replacement essentially provides reliable cloud calling for a specific country or region.

A full PSTN replacement service should include the following:

  • Inbound and outbound calling.
  • Local, mobile, toll-free, and national number availability.
  • Localized caller ID and number masking for outbound calls.
  • Access to emergency services such as 911.
  • Access to in-country toll-free numbers.
  • Number portability.
  • DTMF signaling

Global businesses may use a PSTN replacement service or global telephony provider to consolidate their international phone numbers and voice infrastructure into one easy-to-manage portal. This allows them to buy local phone numbers in multiple countries without having to manage contracts with more than one local operator.

Not all features like E911 and DTF are available through most providers.

PSTN replacement
Source: DepositPhotos.com – Lic#303397050 ID#27446420

Benefits

The PSTN is already being phased out. There is a pressing need for companies to transform their telecom infrastructure and upgrade legacy phone systems.

Meanwhile, cloud telephony through VoIP and SIP has proven benefits compared to the traditional PSTN.

  1. Eliminates the need to set up and manage agreements with local operators.
  2. Saves time spent dealing with legal and contractual agreements.
  3. Unlimited scale; no need for additional technical infrastructure and all its associated costs.

By using a PSTN replacement, companies benefit from a tried and tested global infrastructure with layers of redundancy. Other benefits include network security and uptime.

What Goes into Replacing the PSTN?

Replacing the PSTN might seem like a complex process, but the process is in fact rather simple. You can accomplish the transition in just a few steps.

  1. Choose a reliable provider.
  2. Audit your existing equipment.
  3. Consider the feasibility of a switch.

Once you complete these steps, your business can start implementing the necessary changes.

Two Things to Consider When Choosing a PSTN Alternative

The main two things to consider when choosing an alternative to PSTN are carrier compliance and whether they impose contracts. In general, you should stay away from non-compliant carriers that impose long-term contracts. You want the PSTN replacement service to speak for itself. Having options to switch at any time will put the onus on your carrier to continue offering excellent service.

What’s the Difference Between PSTN and SIP?

PSTN uses copper-based circuit switching networks to deliver calls. On the other hand, SIP (session initiation protocol) uses IP-based protocols to terminate calls. That is the main difference between the two.

Is VoIP/SIP Better than PSTN?

Each service has benefits and drawbacks. In general, modern companies are opting for VoIP/SIP instead of PSTN.

The reasons for doing so are as follows:

  • SIP is more reliable. It is possible to implement failover options.
  • Generally, lower costs compared to PSTN.
  • Greater potential for global expansion and scalability.
  • Better business intelligence through call analytics.

Our Global Voice Platform as an Alternative to PSTN

Our global voice network is one of the best options for replacing the PSTN.

We boast a global infrastructure with multiple layers of carrier redundancy. In addition, we have long-lasting partnerships with local and regional operators. These partnerships enable us to offer competitive rates, compliant service, and unmatched flexibility.

Finally, we have been in business for more than 25 years. During this time, we have accumulated extensive experience with VoIP/SIP, PSTN, and other types of business communications. Our solution does not guarantee access to E911 and domestic toll free numbers. In addition, it is not offered as a full service for certain countries around the world.

Talk to one of our experts today and learn more about alternatives to PSTN.