As the the VoIP industry expands, so do the choices customers are faced with. In the abstract, most Voice over IP and Virtual PBX companies offer similar services - call forwarding, vanity numbers, fax to email...But look a little closer and the vast differences between providers becomes wider and wider.
One of the most over-looked aspects of choosing the right VOIP or Virtual PBX provider lies in their DID (or “Direct Inward Dialing”) numbers. The reason for this oversight is simple: Few really know what these numbers are, and how they help businesses grow.
What are DIDs?
These numbers got their start in the early 1960’s in conventional telephony, as phone numbers linked to individual extensions over a PBX (or “Private Branch Exchange”) system. With Direct Inward Dialing numbers, customers can access individual employees or departments directly. Direct Inward Dialing lets multiple phone lines be connected to a PBX system without the need for physical phone lines into the system.
Since the emergence of Voice over IP, these numbers have taken on a slightly more elaborated role. With it, the numbers perform the crucial role of transitioning calls from PSTN to Voice over IP or PBX in a process called call origination.
When a new number is added to your service package, it is simply sent to your SIP address, and activated.
Let’s look at a basic example of how these numbers save time and money at the office:
Real life example: Imagine an office with 20 employees, and 3 departments, as well as a front-desk receptionist. A PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) call comes in asking to speak the head of sales, and the receptionist directs the call to Ms. A. In this case, one of these numbers is used, but if the caller already had Ms. A’s direct inward dialing telephone number, he would have been able to bypass an extra step in calling.
Where are the DID numbers in my VoIP Package?
These numbers are rarely called as such by providers, simply because the term is a blanket description for any number that connects a caller to a Voice over IP service user. In this way, these numbers usually take the form of International numbers, vanity numbers and toll-free numbers, but can also take the form of employee or department-specific numbers.
Does My Business Need a Vanity Number or a Toll-Free Number?
The short answer is yes! As offline services transition to digital services, the relationship between a customer and a provider becomes more and more opaque; customers can simply begin to feel as if they are no longer dealing with real people - or real value. Toll-free and vanity numbers provide a familiar way out of common customer concerns, adding a human face to even the most impalpable of business models.
Toll-Free and Local numbers become especially helpful for businesses expanding into new markets. Numbers can be purchased for just about any country in the world, providing your business with a crucial lifeline to even the most remote locations.
What to Look For in a DID Provider
Good vanity and toll-free numbers are like .com real estate, becoming a rarity these days, and Voice over IP providers have become increasingly competitive when it comes to offering “true-800” and vanity numbers. This scarcity is precisely why it’s important to work with a seller who has good partnerships with providers, and is able to offer both variety and competitive pricing.
When comparing Voice over IP and Virtual PBX providers, it’s also important to take a good, close look at the system, its support structure, and particularly its hidden costs. Finer details are easily lost in over-simplification, which is used to speed up the selling process.
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Today’s Guest Post was contributed by Erez Zundy. If you’re interested in contributing a Guest Post to the VoIP Innovations Blog, please send an inquiry email to Natalie DeCario at email@example.com
Do you use Direct Inward Dialing numbers in your business? How have they helped your business grow? Let us know in the comments section below!