Using Virtual Numbers Effectively For Your Business in India

In today’s fast paced, internet savvy world, businesses are quick to move online. From Ecommerce to SaaS to even healthcare companies have been able to monetize their business model using the World Wide Web.

With uberisation of businesses, communication between clients and companies is becoming imperative. According to Marchex , by 2019  there will be 166 billion calls made to B2B and B2C companies. Therefore, having a business phone number is not just mandatory as per law but also crucial for the smooth functioning of a business. But what number should one get? Is getting a physical phone number the best way to do it? And what’s all this humdrum about a virtual number? To get into the intricacies of this, we must first understand what a virtual number truly is.

Virtual number - The crux of it

A virtual number is a phone number that does not have a direct phone line associated with it. Using a virtual number, you can route calls to one or many physical phone numbers (landline or mobile numbers).

To put it simply, a virtual number is a number on the cloud that requires no equipment to get started. At Exotel, we call our virtual numbers Exophones.

Why do businesses use a virtual phone number?

Earlier, companies would either use mobile phones or an EPABX system for their business phone needs. Now, virtual numbers are increasingly being used by business for various reasons. In fact, it is one of the best ways to handle calls. Here’s why:

Personalised customer experience:

Using virtual numbers makes it easy for you to define the path your customers take when they call your business. For instance, if someone calls for the first time, you can play a greeting that is different from when a person is calling the second or third time.

You can treat your priority customers differently as compared to incoming inquiries.

You can also easily set up an IVR flow (press 1 for support, press 2 for sales) or simply have an IVR greeting that will enhance your customer experience.

Handling multiple calls at once:

A virtual phone number allows your team to have multiple concurrent conversations. Now, every time your customer calls the same sales/support number, they won’t have to wait for a long before they reach your agents at the other end. If one of your agents is busy, the call will automatically go to the next agent in the team. Exotel’s unlimited channels aid these concurrent calls. What this means is you can technically receive unlimited parallel calls as long as you have agents to handle them. This makes scaling very simple as your business grows.

More reliable, less call drops:

Using virtual numbers is more reliable than using an EPABX system or even a simple mobile phone. If one server is down, calls will automatically be routed via another city/server, ensuring that the effect on clients is almost negligible.

At Exotel, we take our uptimes very seriously and have the best in business uptime of 99.94%.

Brings in efficiency:

While using mobile phones may work initially, when the volumes increase, it leads to a lot of confusion. Missing calls, confusion over conversations, etc. will become the norm. Using a virtual phone system with a virtual phone number brings in efficiency. When you miss a call or have a conversation that requires a follow-up, your phone system will be able to send you reminders and notifications on the unfinished tasks. You will also be able to create automated call campaigns, SMS blasts and integrate phone calls with your CRM, Helpdesk and other software you may be using to help you work better.

You will also receive daily reports with details about the number of calls made, received, missed and information about agent productivity and call information.

Cost effective:

When companies expand, they eventually shift to getting physical PRI lines, which requires a significant amount of infrastructure which in turn leads to increased costs. But what does a company with limited resources do? Getting a virtual number is the solution. Virtual numbers and number systems require no physical setup, no infrastructure and help avoid maintenance costs.

With a company like Exotel where you pay as you go, you are in control of your costs.

Enables remote working:

The idea of using a virtual number for your business is to allow the business to happen from anywhere that is internet enabled. Now, employees can work from anywhere in the country that has internet connectivity without adversely impacting the business operations.

Professional image:

When companies use virtual numbers that enable the usage of IVRs, customers tend to think of the business as a more professional one. Intelligent routing helps customers get connected to the right people, wastes no time of the customer and thereby helps to create an aura of professionalism in the process.

Availability after business hours:

With virtual number systems, you can now set up an IVR system even after office hours. So in case of customers call, your IVR system can let them know what your working hours are and when they can call you back. In addition to this, their calls will be logged on to your system so you can call them back the next day.

How does a virtual phone number work?

With Exotel, virtual phone numbers or exophones can work in two ways:

Get a virtual number and use the system:

In this case, the customer signs up for an Exotel account, provisions a virtual number , and publishes this on his website. The user can use this number to create an IVR flow and begin his call operations.


Signup for an Exotel Account -> Log into the system -> Provision a virtual number -> Create an IVR flow -> Publish the number on the website

Use your existing number & forward calls to the virtual number:

Clients such a Neat Meats have adopted this method.

Quite often, customers want to keep their personal numbers as the customer facing number. In such cases, provision an Exophone (virtual number) and then use their own phones to forward all calls to the virtual number.

Signup for an Exotel Account -> Log into the system -> Provision a virtual number -> Forward all calls from customer facing number to virtual number -> Create an IVR flow -> Publish the number on the website

Some ideas on how to use virtual numbers:

Virtual numbers can be utilised for many unique purposes, some of which are listed below:

Tracking marketing ROI:

Tracking marketing ROI is difficult, especially in the case of print and online advertisements. Companies are now increasingly using virtual numbers to track the ROI on their marketing activities.

For each ad that a company puts out, a different virtual number is put up as a call to action. Once the client calls that particular number, the company will know which ad it is from. The maximum number of calls to one number will determine which ad did the best and the least will determine which ad needs to be reconsidered. Companies like Bawa Group of Hotels and Jagriti Yatra have tested this method and have found it useful. In fact, Bawa Group saw an 80% Return on Investment (ROI).

Safeguarding customer privacy:

Virtual numbers help in protecting the privacy of customers. Through the use of virtual numbers, companies such as Ola and Uber are now able to prevent the drivers from seeing the customer’s number and vice versa. Click here to see how Ola does it using Exotel’s virtual phone system.

Disseminating information:

Virtual numbers backed by IVRs are an excellent way to disseminate information. Companies and NGOs alike can use them to give out information to relevant stakeholders. For instance, Ola uses the power of virtual numbers to train drivers and receive their feedback. Similarly, NGOs like Indus Action use them to educate parents about the RTE Act. Click here to read more about how Ola does this and here to read more about how Indus Action does this .