Anyone running a small business and wants the flexibility to have business calls come to a varying specified number and then be able to schedule when these calls are accepted (ie. office hours only) needs a Virtual Switchboard! Also, if you happen to work with others but are not necessarily in the same location all of the time, again, a virtual switchboard could be your solution.
What is a Virtual Switchboard?
We know what a switchboard is right? Can accept calls, offer options (press 1 for this, press 2 for that etc). A virtual switchboard is simply software that does the same job, but you can control it online or via a telephone. You get a telephone number of people to call and then you can set up your options, upload your own voice files to read out the options, and set which number each option should call, or even set an option to just read out a message or accept a voicemail. If a call isn't answered, the user can leave a voicemail and this is then emailed through to you.
The benefits of a virtual switchboard is that you can:
- Set up a number of options, each option can go to a different number around the world, to both landlines and mobiles.
- If you're already on a call or don't want to accept the call, the user can leave a voicemail message that's emailed to you.
- Set up options to just play a recorded message.
- Set up options to just play a recorded message and then accept a voicemail.
- You can usually get a local number eg. 020, 0151, 0161, either for free or for an additional cost.
- You can schedule when your switchboard directs calls ie. your office hours, and it can just go straight to voicemail at all other times.
- You get a call log of who's phoned you plus their number if it's not withheld.
- It can all be maintained via website or telephone menu.
I've been using DM Club Switchboard for the last year and a bit, however it's not been without problems, so much so most of my clients have gone back to just using my mobile which defeats the object of having a switchboard! Plus they have a habit of phoning in the evening and/or weekends!
I recently signed up to Press 1 and I have to say that I'm already far more happy than I was with DM Club. First off, the web site works which always helps. The admin is pretty simple to set up too. The main points that I would recommend Press 1 for are:
- When you're on the phone to another call the second caller gets a busy message instead of just going straight to voicemail, so that they're aware that you're already busy.
- They don't charge for directing calls to landlines, so unless you need to go out and you change your redirect to your mobile, you won't pay call charges on top of the switchboard charge.
- They offer a switchboard on 0844, 0845 and 0870 numbers, but you can also pay for a local number to have redirected to your switchboard too, which means I can get an 0151 number and give people a better idea of where I'm located.
- You can set it so that you get an email whenever someone calls your number, even if you don't speak to them.
- They just charge you at the end of the month for your switchboard and any call charges accumulated.
Press 1 offer a 1 week free trial so if you're thinking of trying a switchboard out, give them a go and see what you think. After using a switchboard for almost 18 months I can definitely recommend that it's worth the (minor) cost and Press 1 have certainly impressed me so far. The costs for Press 1 vary depending on which number type you select however at the very cheapest, you can pay just £4.99 a month for an 0844 switchboard. Also, for a limited time (at a guess) if you use the promo code 'buynow' you can currently get your setup fee at half price.