I have a lot of projects/businesses I’m working AND I am committed to having freedom AND personal life. One of the ways I keep things in balance is to limit my business communication to my office hours. The thing is my “office’ is wherever I am. I keep it mobile. I often share that I am not cheap, but I am frugal. I didn’t want to pay and\ arm and a leg for multiple phones and/or phone lines so I started researching solutions.
The first service I tried was internet phone service by Packet 8 (now 8×8)
. This was pre-SMART phone when I would be tethered to a desk, had business partners, AND when I had a brick and mortar business. It was great I had phone service and didn’t have to pay the superhigh business rates that traditional phone companies charged. What I liked about it was the awesome desk phone and that I could have extensions so that each of my partners could have an extension even though we were not in the same physical space.
Eventually what I needed and what they offered at the time no longer worked, so I moved on! I was going mobile and needed my business calls to travel with me, so I looked for a “Virtual Office” service. I ended up with My 1 Voice (now evoice
). This was great too! It allowed me to receive and make phone calls from my business number via my phone. I had a toll-free AND local number. This service was great until I needed something else!
I wanted a hybrid. I like having a physical phone at my desk to answer AND when I’m on the go I want to be able to make and receive calls from my “business number.” Luckily there are now SEVERAL options to choose from and ONE of them is FREE!!!
So I current am using two different “Cloud Based” Phone services.
I use Ring Central for my Diva Dance
& related projects. Ring Central is awesome, it is not the only player in the market, it is just the one I happen to use! Here’s what I like about it.
- Desk phone: I have physical phone at my desk that rings and allows me to answer it. It is VOIP (internet phone)
- Soft Phone: There is a computer based interface which allows me to make and/or receive calls using my computer and a headset. This perfect if I’m on the go and have wi-fi but no Mobile/Cell phone service
- SMARTPhone App: Yes, back to the lovely SMARTPhone. Ring Central allows me to make and receive calls and check voicemail through my phone EASILY (no dialing in and remembering a bunch of access codes). I “protect” my personal phone number AND look EXTRA professional b/c the number my customers see when I call them back is the number on my business cards! In addition it allow me to be LIBERATED from the office AND ACCESSIBLE to my customers!
- Business Hours: What I really love is that I can set business hours for when I want to receive calls OR NOT! So I don’t have to worry about
- CALLER ID/SCREENING: The service allows me to determine what number I see when I get a business call so I always know “how” to answer. I set mine to show my company number and assign a “special” ringtone, so I know whether its business or pleasure and answer accordingly (what’s more unprofessional than answering a business call with a “What’s up!?)
- Auto Attendants, Company Directory, VoiceMail & Extensions: I have my phone system organized by departments AND I assign individual extensions to other members of Team Fabulous so each Diva has her own voicemail box and their customers can reach them directly by dialing their extension OR using the Dial By Name Directory.
I could go on, but You get the gist right? There is a monthly fee, AND compared to paying for a traditional PBX system this is pennies!
Now you may not need all those bells and whistles. If you’re a solo operator Ring Central has all sorts of plans, but you also may be able to avoid paying ANYTHING if you go with Google Voice
! Now here is the thing, we don’t know how long Google is going to offer all these goodies at low to no-cost, but why not take advantage of it while it lasts?
I use Google Voice for TechnoDiva Training & Consulting AND my SMART Sista projects. It has many of the same benefits of Ring Central and other Virtual PBX systems and a few “extras”
- Caller ID/SCREENING
- Business Hours
- SMARTPhone App
However the Extra’s are pretty impressive
- TEXTing! Yep you can use your Google Voice number to send and receive text messages. I love being able to shoot a quick message to one of my clients
- Voicemail Transcription: This service is hit or miss, but its cool to be able to read a message
Long story short, I am loving my virtual phone number experience. It keeps me free and looking professional. While I shared about the services providers I have used, there are MANY other players in the market place. Feel free to search and compare all you like, but don’t waste too much time. I selected my companies because not only are they reasonably well-prices, they’re established too!