Affordable Virtual Switchboard in the UK

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!

Press1 Switchboard

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.

Visit Press 1

7 Responses

  1. Jay Roshwood says:

    Hi, intersting comments, I’ve been using a virtual switchboard for about a year, I also have an accomodation address too.
    I’ve decided to drop the switchboard as the amount of calls I get is so low. Customers tend to communicate with me via email, or occasionally by snail mail to the accomodation address.
    When I was running a property company I found the virtual switchboard great the only thing was that when they patched a call through it would show up as number withheld and so most times it went through to my voice mail. We had to change it so they sent a text instead.

  2. Sarah says:

    Hi Jay, my switchboard sends the number through and as we have caller line ID we can see who’s calling (unless they withhold the number of course). I wish most of my clients just relied on email but unfortunately quite a few prefer to call, and at least with the switchboard they can have a business number that I can put straight to voicemail when I want to ie. out of hours!

  3. Kevin B. Ahern says:

    I came across your article when I was setting up my business in Nov. I had tried a couple of virtual switchboard before but thought I would give press1 a go after reading your article. Most of the websites I looked at before were SO confusing with millions of services and it was totally unclear what they offered. I was so happy when I tried your press1 suggestion, it’s a clean website, it’s so easy to use and best of all it’s very reasonable..thank you so much for the review.

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Kevin, thanks for your comment and you’re welcome for the review. I agree, Press 1 is so simple to use and set up, it couldn’t get any easier! Plus I’ve had no downtime with them at all unlike my previous switchboard. I really can’t complain 🙂

  4. Claire says:

    Sarah – thank you for this. I realise the post is quite old now, but the fact you say dmClub is unreliable is enough for me to reconsider spending £100 on a number with them! Now looking at Press 1, thank you.

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Claire, yes the post is old so I can’t comment on whether dmClub has improved, however we still use Press 1 and I would recommend them without a problem 🙂

  5. Brian Clegg says:

    Hi Sarah,
    The creators of Press1 have a new website called lazyPBX.com. Press1 still suits many micro businesses but someone looking for a ‘virtual switchboard’ with total flexibility might prefer a solution like lazyPBX which lets you build your switchboard by snapping the functions you require together in any order you want. For example if you want to build tiered phone menu’s it can’t be done with press1 (single level only) but can with be done lazyPBX..

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