Runner Up Essays
Name: Conor Comfort
University / School: St. Petersburg College
Essay Topics: What role can a virtual phone number play in helping a business expand to an international location?
A growing number of businesses are choosing to expand to international markets to advance their growth and profits. The prospect of entering a foreign market can be overwhelming, but a successful expansion can translate into big profits and exciting overall growth for a business. A virtual phone number can prove to be an extremely important tool and play an instrumental role in helping a business expand to an international location.
A virtual phone number is a phone number that allows for calls to be made with the use of the Internet instead of a traditional phone line. Virtual phone numbers look just like a traditional phone number and can have either a local area code or they can be toll free. Calls made to virtual phone numbers can be forwarded to almost any number in the world, including mobile or landline phone numbers. With this convenience, many businesses are looking at virtual numbers as a great tool to maximize profits.
Two main benefits of virtual phone numbers are that they offer flexibility and cost savings that cannot be matched by the use of traditional phone numbers and calling plans. Virtual phone numbers allow for businesses to have a presence in any market they choose, which makes them especially useful when expanding internationally. Virtual phone numbers decrease spending by eliminating the need for companies to purchase extra hardware and they also help business executives and other staff members of a company to be reachable at any location, which prevents any possible loss of business related to missing important calls when someone is out of the office. This allows for customer service and convenience to be easier then ever.
Virtual phone numbers allow for a company to use a local area code or a toll free option. A virtual phone number with a local area code gives the impression of a smaller business, which is attractive for those with a business model geared toward a mom-and-pop mindset. For larger corporations, the option to use a toll free prefix is preferred in order to give the company more solid credibility as a larger, more established brand. Both local and toll free virtual phone numbers give those in the business’ market a way to reach the company without having to pay for the call. That alone is a universal tool for customers in any industry.
Expanding to an international location can be an intimidating process for a business. There are many factors, involving both recourses and economics, which contribute to a successful expansion. By using a virtual phone number, a business owner will have one less thing to worry about. Instead of having to invest in and set up multiple traditional landlines and mobile lines for the staff, a virtual phone number allows for a company to have a presence in an international market without actually being there. It also allows for the company to stay in close communication with those in the international market with a streamlined and easy to use communication system.
Virtual phone numbers offer significant cost savings compared to a traditional phone system by allowing for companies to test a location without having to actually set up an office in the new location. For example, a business based in Alabama, United States could purchase a phone number in Germany to connect with potential customers in that market without having to open a branch in Germany. With online business being more prevalent then ever, many companies are looking towards a future that focuses mainly on online sales. Virtual phone numbers gives these types of businesses the option of operating by just using their virtual phone number and a website without actually ever setting up a physical location in all of the markets they wish to sell to. Thus giving online businesses more resources. This saves on huge location setup expenses and time spent deciding on physical factors. The option to test an international market before investing in opening a physical location in that market also cuts down on the financial risks involved in testing products or services in a completely foreign market. If the market does not turn out to be a good fit for a company’s products or services, the loss is minimal in comparison. The difference in loss could allow for a company to test secondary markets if the original fails.
Virtual phone numbers are typically offered with many features as well. The main feature being the call forwarding feature, where calls made to a number can be forwarded to practically any landline or mobile line throughout the world. Other important features such as custom voicemail greetings, different ring options, and other features can be added to make the use of virtual phone numbers even more favorable and effective. These custom features allow for a more professional and appealing customer experience. For anyone that is looking to expand a business to an international location, setting up the communications aspect of the business with the use of a virtual phone number is clearly the best choice.
Learn more about the International Business Communications Scholarship