What is a VoIP Phone Extension and How does it Work?

As your company grows, you’ll start to employ more people. Usually, that’s a great thing. But when you start having communication issues due to not having an efficient way of contacting someone, it quickly becomes an issue.

Effective communication is even more troublesome nowadays when it’s highly likely that at least some of your employees work remotely. And considering that 84% of remote workers say they prefer working from home, finding a way to keep the communication smooth no matter the distance is a priority. 

Thankfully there’s a handy feature that can help you connect all your workers no matter where they are – phone extensions. To find out how they work and how you can use them to streamline your business, keep on reading.

What is a VoIP Phone Extension?

If you’ve experience running or working in an office, you may already be familiar with the concept of a phone extension. It’s a short, usually four-digit number that you can assign to an individual employee, room, or department. Meaning, anyone dialing this number can contact the exact person they want.

Phone extensions work just like regular phone lines, as they are linked to your standard business numbers. But their main advantage is that an extension can cover as many departments or people as necessary without having to add any extra lines. Plus, they’re simply convenient.

If a team member wants to contact someone in particular, they just need to dial a short number in order to be immediately connected to the right person. The same goes for people outside of your company calling any of your employees.

In this way, your team members can transfer calls to their coworkers simply by tapping a short internal number rather than dialing all of the digits. This means less time spent calling colleagues, fewer mistakes made, and much smoother internal communication.

The differences between a phone number, line, and an extension

You’re probably familiar with what a phone number is – a sequence of digits through which you can contact a person or business. However, a phone number cannot work without a phone line.

In the traditional sense, “phone line” refers to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) wires we can see on the streets. When you dial a number, your call travels as electric impulses through the wires to the recipient. Typically, one phone number is associated with a single phone line.

But while the single-line system works pretty well for individual users, it used to be a major problem for businesses. Each employee needed a separate line connected to their desk phone to make and receive calls, which was both complicated and costly.

Call extensions coming from a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) set could save companies plenty of time and frustration. Instead of having to set up multiple phone lines, they could just use one phone line with different extensions. However, historically these only worked in the central office where they were still connected to the main phone line. So the moment an employee was away from their desk, reaching out to them became tricky.

However, VoIP solves this problem. Instead of having extensions only work in your main office, you can set them up to function in several places regardless of physical location. No matter how many offices you have or where they are, your staff can still reach any user by dialing the appropriate extension.

This makes them an ideal solution not only for communication in the office, but also remotely. As long as the user has a stable Internet connection to make and receive calls, the call extensions will behave as intended.

How Do Phone Extensions Work?

Generally, VoIP extensions are four-digit numbers, but many providers also support shorter ones.

Thanks to VoIP extensions, it doesn’t matter where the employees are – in the office, at home, or out and about. As long as they have a stable internet connection on their device, they can make and receive calls normally. What’s more, even if the person they’re contacting is abroad, they’ll pay no extra – VoIP calls cost the same locally and globally. 

What Are the Benefits of Having Extensions?

If you don’t have many people working in your company yet, then having a single phone line without any extensions might be sufficient. However, if the number of staff in your company keeps growing, or you need a way to reach out to remote employees, then call extensions will have many benefits for you:

It saves time

Saving a few seconds at a time while dialing a number may not seem like much at first glance. But when you add up all the time saved by your entire workforce, the difference quickly becomes significant.

It creates a better customer experience

When a customer calls you, they’re typically looking for a quick resolution to whatever problem they’re facing. So, if you’re able to route them to someone that can help them as fast as possible, they’ll be all the more thankful for it. 

It makes your agents’ work easier

Cloud calling can improve your employees’ working lives, as they can connect multiple devices to the same line thanks to unlimited extensions. For example, if an agent uses a business mobile, a personal device, a desk phone in the office, and a softphone app on their laptop, they can link all of those devices to one phone line and be reachable whenever they are.

Plus, with VoIP extensions, employees no longer have to worry about managing different area codes when calling each other. Instead, all it takes is dialing a four-digit extension to reach a colleague, no matter whether they are in another department or working at a branch office in another country.

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