The best Virtual landlines in 2021: a guide for small businesses

What are virtual landlines, why should you get one, and which are the best UK providers? Find out how to set your business up with a virtual phone number perfect for your requirements.

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The best virtual landline for small businesses is, without a doubt, 8×8. An established, reputable player in the telephone systems game, 8×8 has designed a sophisticated, easy-to-use softphone app with a host of useful call features including auto-attendant and HD voice calling.

But the important question is, regardless of 8×8’s accolade as our best virtual landline provider, is it the right choice for your business?

The last thing you want is to waste time, and money, setting up a virtual landline system that won’t fit the needs of your business. Especially after the difficulties small businesses have faced during the pandemic.

So instead of spending hours deliberating system features and comparing provider costs, why not let us do the hard work for you? Our comparison tool, created by our telephone system experts, will provide you with personalised pricing quotes from the best virtual landlines providers in the UK. It takes just minutes and the best part is, there are zero obligations on your part.

Or, if you’re wanting to carry out further research, read on for our review of the best virtual landline providers, an explanation of how virtual landlines work, and the benefits of a virtual landline system for small businesses.

Take two minutes to find the best cloud-based phone system Have you had a virtual landline number before?

Top virtual phone service providers UK 2021: an overview

There are many competitors offering great virtual landline systems to small businesses. It’s hard to separate the cream from the crop which is why, using our phone systems expertise, we’ve selected four of the best providers available in the UK to help you make an informed decision moving forward.

The four providers are 8×8, Number People, Virtual Landlines, and LogMeIn. Below is a general overview of each of them:

 Top benefitCheapest packageBest for
8x8Sophisticated softphone app£8 user/month SMEs that would benefit from contact centre integration as the business grows
Number PeopleLow cost £1 user/monthSmall remote working businesses and entrepreneurs who want a cheap, affordable service whilst working from home
Virtual LandlineNo fixed contract£5.95 user/monthSmall businesses needing a simple, flexible service that doesn't tie them down via a contract
LogMeIn (GoToConnect)24/7 support£8.95 user/monthSmall businesses requiring access to round the clock support, that want to frequently collaborate via video conferencing

Pricing is correct as of 20th August 2021  

The best virtual landline providers UK 2021: a deep dive

 

Top three features:

✔ Auto-attendant

✔ HD voice calling

✔ Mobile and desktop app

As mentioned earlier, 8×8 is the best virtual landline provider on this list. The small business VoIP provider offers incredibly sophisticated phone system packages for the price it costs. These packages include a virtual phone number, unlimited domestic calling, and branded video conferencing. Plus the option to include phone system features, such as visual voicemail and personalised greetings. Businesses that opt for pricier packages could even benefit from contact centre integration which is great for small customer-centric businesses with the potential to scale.

Pros
  • Advanced call management allows you to set business rules for routing of calls to the right resource during business hours. Or to alternate resources or voicemail for out of business hours
  • Branded Video Conferencing lets you project a professional image to your customers with full branded video conferencing. Customize the entire experience with your background of choice, your logo and a vanity URL for your meetings
  • Free trial for the first month so you can decide if it is the right service for your business
Cons
  • The 8x8 express package is limiting for small businesses looking to operate internationally, as only the X2 and X4 plans offer unlimited voice calling to countries outside the UK and both plans are quite expensive compared to the express plan
  • According to customer reviews on G2 and Trustpilot, technical support can at times be slow so don’t expect rapid same-day response times

virtual_landlines

Top three features:

✔ 24/7 support

✔ GoToConnect app

✔ Dial plan editor

GoToConnect by LogMeIn is a feature-filled virtual landline service, great for small businesses requiring round-the-clock, 24/7 support. It boasts an abundance of useful features for small businesses to utilise, including HD video conferencing included as standard with every plan. The GoToConnect app allows you to seamlessly switch between your desk phone, mobile, and desktop app to take calls. Whilst the nifty dial plan visual editor is great for quickly and easily, configuring call routing. GoToConnect also includes a simplified contact centre workflow for larger businesses – to help employees manage workload and increase customer satisfaction.

Pros
  • Create your own custom call routing and dial plans with a drag-and-drop Dial Plan Editor
  • Can join meetings from anywhere with the GoToConnect app, using your mobile, laptop or desk phone
  • HD video conferencing is included with every licence – great for remote working businesses who frequently need to collaborate
Cons
  • Although a lot more features, many of them are only available on the GoToConnect standard or premium plans, which are more expensive than similar plans offered by other competitors

 

virtual_landlines

Top three features:

✔ As little as £1 per month 

✔ No contract 

✔ Music on hold 

Number People offer an incredibly cheap service compared to other competitors. There are options to add additional features to make your business more professional, including hold music for customers, auto-attendant menu, and call recording.  You can also set up using any type of number and can even keep your existing number. Customer service and support are rated very highly on Trustpilot. You can either pay a low cost to forward calls to your destination number (from 1.5p per minute) or use the mobile app to receive unlimited calls free for a fixed rate of £1 per month.

Pros
  • No contract ties, commitments or initial payment required
  • Make instant changes, view balance, top up and add more numbers via their mobile portal
  • Pay a low cost to forward calls to your destination number, from 1.5p per minute, or use the app to receive unlimited calls free for a fixed rate of £1 per month
  • Can send voicemails to email
Cons
  • You need to keep topping up your credit balance in order to make outbound calls, unless you are on an unlimited outbound call plan which costs £10 per month. Not the best option for small businesses needing to make outbound calls

virtual landline

Top three features:

✔ Contract free

✔ Auto-attendant

✔ Time of day routing

Virtual Landline is a great option if you’re looking for a simple virtual landline service. You sign a rolling monthly contract, download the softphone app, and start using your mobile phone or tablet as a landline – easy! That being said, it doesn’t offer as many features as 8×8 virtual landline products and isn’t the most suitable provider for scaling up your business. 

Pros
  • Monthly rolling contract means you have the flexibility to cancel at any time
  • £5 welcome call credit on all plans
  • Global standard plan comes with 400 inclusive minutes to any combination of UK & World destinations
  • Time of day routing allows you to specify the time or day when incoming calls should be routed to specific numbers or devices
Cons
  • Cannot make any outbound calls with the basic plan, which isn’t great for businesses needing to contact clients, customers and colleagues by phone

The features you want from a virtual landline service

Regardless of which provider you choose, you want to ensure the service you set up for your business includes these important features:

Call management – Set up your virtual landline so it tells you when someone is calling from your virtual landline number. You can then choose to reject or take that call

Call forwarding – You can choose to divert the incoming call to several numbers at the same time, meaning the call will be answered by the first person to pick up

Auto attendant – Set up limited auto-attendant functionality with a virtual landline. Give your provider up to three separate numbers, and they can set up an auto-attendant that’ll give your callers three options when they phone up

Set time of day calls – Turn your virtual landline on and off at set times. That way, you only receive certain calls when you want them

Top Tip!

When it comes to choosing your virtual phone service provider, you should consider what features you need and whether the provider offers them as part of its service.

It’s always best to conduct thorough background research on your chosen provider. Look up its TrustPilot and/or Which? ratings, and read reviews to see what it does and doesn’t do well.

However, if you want to save time researching, our custom-built comparison tool can help pair you with the right service provider for your business needs. It only takes a few minutes to receive bespoke personalised quotes and further information, and the best thing is that there's zero obligation on your part.

So, what exactly is a virtual landline?

A virtual landline is a cloud-based telephony service that isn’t restricted by physical infrastructure. As long as your device has an internet connection, people can reach you via the same number whether you’re at the office, at home, or even abroad. In a nutshell, it’s a virtual bridge between your caller and your real number.

They have become increasingly popular in recent years, due largely to the fact the COVID pandemic has shifted the way we work.

A recent report by Statista revealed the number of remote workers in the UK reached 5.6 million in 2020, and this figure is expected to rise throughout 2021.

With remote work increasing, the need for setting up a virtual landline has risen, especially for those running their business from home.

By using a virtual landline, your customers and clients have the perception you’re working from a flashy, professional office in London, when in reality you could be sat at home in your back garden, dipping your feet in your paddling pool. How handy!

Summary of how a virtual landline works:

  • A virtual number is hosted on the internet
  • People can call that number for the same price, wherever you are in the world
  • A customer keys in your virtual number, then the call diverts to your chosen number (mobile number, office phone)
  • You can also make outbound calls using your virtual number through an app (supplied by your provider)

Check out our virtual landline FAQs section below for more clarification on virtual landlines.

Types of virtual number

A virtual landline number can be anything you want it to be. Types include:

  • Toll-free numbers – UK 0800 and 0808 numbers are business phone numbers that are free for customers to call. Your business is charged for calls made to these numbers, not the caller themselves
  • Geographical numbers – A number that contains a specific area code for each UK city, for example, the area code for Leeds is 0113, whilst for Coventry, it is 024 
  • National UK numbers these numbers are not divided geographically, and are charged at normal local calling rates
  • Mobile numbers – telephone numbers that are capable of receiving instant text messages (SMS)

Bear in mind that the number you choose could influence whether your customers get in touch with you or not. For example, you may receive more phone calls from your target area if the phone number you choose features that particular area’s area code. 

Conversely, people may be less inclined to call you if they are charged. So choosing a toll-free number could work in your favour.

How do I get a virtual landline number?

Follow these three steps to get your virtual landline number.

Virtual landline pricesContracts vary in price and length, so make sure you compare providers to get the best deal.
Mobile virtual landlineChoose the type of number you need. If you’re looking at investing in a virtual phone system, decide on the features that would be useful for your business.
Get virtual landlinesYour provider will set up the divert to your mobile phone, tablet, landline, or fixed VoIP number.

Setting up your business? Learn more about business telephone system costs.

The benefits of virtual landlines for small businesses

Here are the top five reasons why you should invest in a virtual landline for your small business:

  • Choose your number – Virtual landlines give you the freedom to choose your own number. For example, you can opt for a London number even if your business is actually based elsewhere in the UK
  • Use your landline number on the move – Use your cloud-based number wherever you have an internet connection, even if you’re on holiday on the other side of the world
  • Save money on line rental – Because your phone number is cloud-hosted, you don’t need to think about line rental. Your number uses your office or phone internet connection, which you already pay for
  • Make your company appear bigger than it actually is – Even if your business is a one-man-band, having a landline, rather than a mobile number, will bolster your professional image
  • Set up call diverts to your mobile number or landline – Ensure your customers can always reach you (as long as your receiving device has a signal or internet connection)
  • Send voicemails to your email inbox – If you miss a call, you can have voicemails sent straight to your emails, so you can listen to them as and when you have time
Who could benefit from a virtual landline/number?

  • SMEs and sole-traders looking for a website phone number 
  • Those wanting to set up localised advertising on Google and other search engines
  • Those looking to cut the costs of a fixed BT landline 
  • Those looking for a UK landline number that doesn’t require a fixed address

Getting a toll-free (0800 or 0808) number with a virtual landline

If you have a 0800 or 0808 number, people know that they can get in touch with your business for free (which is why they are defined as toll-free numbers). Businesses that have previously invested in a toll-free number have reported:

  • An increased number of leads for potential sales
  • Increased interaction time with customers, especially in terms of customer support

Virtual landline suppliers charge different rates depending on the number of inclusive inbound minutes you require, and the number of outbound minutes you require. Always shop around before you commit to a contract, so you know you’re getting the best deal.

Why not shop around through Startups.co.uk? We’ve partnered with hundreds of cloud-based telephone system suppliers to provide you with the best virtual landline prices. Just provide us with a few basic details about your business, and we’ll match you with the best suppliers for your needs. 

Next steps: Comparing the best virtual landline providers

At this stage, you’ve learned more about the different providers available when choosing virtual landline services in the UK for your small business.

We’ve covered some of the best virtual landline providers in the UK, as well as highlighting what to consider when making the decision and the benefits of opting for a virtual landline system.

As we mentioned earlier, our best virtual landline provider for small businesses is ultimately 8×8, with its advanced call management, branded video conferencing, easy-to-use app, and reasonable pricing which includes a free month’s trial.

Although the other providers offer great benefits, including LogMeIn’s GoToConnect service, with its brilliantly innovative and time-saving Dial Plan visual Editor and HD video conferencing included with every licence – making it runner up after 8×8 in the best virtual landline provider race.

Regardless of our opinion, you should always compare virtual landline providers before signing on the dotted line. The last thing you want is to be stuck in a contract with a service that doesn’t fulfil the needs of your business, even if it is generally speaking, a great product.

Which is where our custom-built comparison tool comes in. We've partnered with some of the best virtual landline system suppliers to help you get the best service for your business. Simply provide us with a few basic details, and providers will be in touch with bespoke personalised quotes for you to compare, along with further details about why the service they offer would best suit the needs of your business.


Virtual landlines FAQs

Why should I use a virtual number?

Using a virtual landline number has a whole host of benefits. These include:

  • Use the same number on any device, wherever you are in the world
  • Improve your business’ professional image
  • Avoid the monthly costs of a traditional landline
  • Appeal to customers in a target location (using a local virtual landline number)
  • Benefit from VoIP features, including an auto-attendant, and call forwarding
  • Send voicemails to your email inbox

How do I set up a virtual landline voicemail?

You’ll need to do this through your provider. It’s relatively simple, and should include accessing your voicemail, entering your account details, and creating a voicemail password. 

Once this is done, your voicemail will be linked to the account you have with your virtual landline provider. You’ll then receive voicemails to your email address via this account. 

What is a VoIP phone system?

A VoIP phone system uses the internet to make and receive calls, rather than the traditional landline. Because it’s a digital phone system, it also offers lots of smart call management features that allow companies to create sophisticated communication systems. 

What is the difference between VoIP and virtual landline systems?

The two are very much interlinked. This is because both services use a virtual number. But what are the differences?

A VoIP phone system is far more sophisticated. While it does use a virtual number, this number is fixed, and linked to software that offers businesses things like an auto-attendant and call management. Essentially, customers use the same number throughout the entire call journey. 

A virtual landline number is a call forwarding number. It is linked to your mobile, or your current office number, and automatically forwards calls to your mobile or office phone system for a small charge. This means customers start the journey on your virtual number, and end it on your fixed number. 

To learn more about VoIP, take a look at our in-depth review of the best VoIP providers in the UK.

Can I get a London number for my business when I sign up for a virtual number?

Yes, you can. In fact, you can get a number for any location within the UK, or even anywhere in the world. 

How much is a landline?

The cost of a business landline depends on the type of phone system you require. There are four options:

A traditional landline phone systemBT business packages vary depending on the size of your business.
A mobile phone with a virtual landline number attached to it Your mobile phone contract, plus the cost of a virtual landline (from £5.95/month)
A traditional landline with virtual landline number attached to itYour landline package, plus your virtual landline costs – i.e £10 + £5.95 = £15.95
A VoIP phone systemPricing starts at just £9 user/month

Pricing is correct as of 20th August 2021  

Ross has been writing for Startups since May 2021, specialising in sustainable business and telephone systems. He also runs the successful entrepreneur's section of the website.

He's previously written for Conde Nast Traveller and the NME and is passionate about music, sustainability, and travelling. Follow him on his Twitter - @startupsross for helpful business tips.

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