Setting up an international phone number is a great way to establish a presence in your target market without actually opening an office there.
In most cases, just because you aren’t physically based overseas, it doesn’t mean you can’t get a phone number in another country. It’s actually quite simple to set up a number and then divert calls to anywhere else in the world (Google do it, for example).
How does it work?
Using cloud hosted telephony, you can set up your overseas numbers and then divert all calls to any other number you like. You could divert calls to your local office or sales rep, a specialist language team at your head offices in the UK, or to a recorded message or voicemail service.
The range of numbers available and the time it takes to set them up can vary from country to country, but generally speaking you can be up and running within a few days.
A selection of regional numbers is normally available (the equivalent to say, 020 London or 0121 Birmingham numbers in the UK) in each country, as well as non-geographic numbers, such as freephone (toll-free) numbers. This means you can set up a number that people in your target country recognise and are comfortable calling. You’d be surprised how many people are put off by the potential cost of phoning an overseas number.
How do I handle the time difference?
Using a cloud hosted virtual switchboard along with a time-of-day service, you could automatically handle calls differently at different times of the day – such as switching from answering live to voicemail as your office closes.
If you have multiple offices around the world, you can even have a ‘follow the sun’ system in place, where the caller can dial a number local to them 24 hours a day and be put through to somebody who can help them. This is great if you wish to offer round the clock customer support.
You can make your call handling system as simple or as sophisticated as you like. It’s also possible to have multiple international numbers spread across multiple countries, all diverting back to your head office or regional offices.
What are the costs involved?
The costs of setting up and running international numbers will vary depending on the number type selected, the country or countries involved and how you want to handle the call. Generally there is a one-off set up fee, charges for each call received and possibly a small monthly service charge if you are using any of the advanced hosted services.
If you expect you’ll be making more international calls it may also be worth you considering a business grade VoIP system to route your calls over the internet, as this could save you money on call costs.
About the author
Matthew Guise is a marketing expert for Callagenix, UK-based specialists in business grade hosted phone services.