Businesses are no longer tied to a specific telephone area code because of their physical location. The advent of internet telephony makes it possible to pick up calls anywhere in the world as though you were actually located in the area denoted by your telephone number.
VoIP services channel calls over the internet at little to no cost, so businesses can give the impression of a high-value location through their telephone number while operating out of offices in a much cheaper area.
The reallocation of call destinations opens up a wonderful array of opportunities. These are made possible by DID numbers.
What Is a DID Number?
DID stands for direct inward dialing. In some areas of the world, the system is known as direct dial-in (DDI). The term refers to the idea that numbers are not tied to a geographic location. Instead, service providers route calls through a private branch exchange (PBX) to the true location of the number’s owner.
The PBX explains how the DID system got its name. Historically, a business would have one telephone number for each office. The office would have a switchboard that received all incoming calls, and the caller would ask the switchboard operator to be put through to a specific person or department in the company. The operator would then look up the extension number of that person and transfer the call.
When PBXs replaced switchboards, it became possible to automate the call transfer process. The caller would wait for a message and then enter the extension number to get through to the right person.
The fact that telephone directories didn’t publish the list of extensions in each building was an issue with this system since anyone making a general inquiry wouldn’t know the right telephone extension number. In these cases, people still had to call into the reception desk in order to ask to be put through to the right person.
When DID numbers were introduced, companies purchased blocks of sequential telephone numbers. The last four numbers would then provide the extension number for internal calls. However, external callers would be able to dial in directly to the right extension simply by calling the published number for that specialist or department.
In this new PBX-driven scenario, the telephone company would direct all calls to any number within that block to the PBX, which sat on the main number for the office. The PBX would then detect the last four digits dialed and switch the call through to the relevant extension.
Therefore, callers from outside the building would get direct access, bypassing a switchboard or receptionist. Hence, “direct inward dialing.”
Expansion of the DID System
The area code on a telephone number directs calls to a specific location—either a city or an area. Once the call has been successfully connected through to the PBX for the dialed number, the telephone company’s responsibility ends. What happens to that call after it reaches the PBX is a private matter.
When it became possible to set up the PBX so that calls to a specified number got forwarded out of the building—either to a home-based worker’s telephone or to another office building— businesses used leased lines to channel private calls to other buildings.
However, leased lines are expensive to run. Business services entrepreneurs came up with a way to create virtual private networks over public lines. This provided the privacy of a private network while only requiring per-call charges rather than the hefty fees of a private cable.
This expansion of private networks beyond office walls was only made possible when office telephone systems switched over from analog to digital technology. Voice data was digitized and run over the data network, then tagged so that it could be identified as a separate channel, even though it traveled along the same wire as data.
That data packet tagging is exactly how the internet works. Companies were then able to make one of the lines managed by the PBX lead to the internet, so a particular extension number could easily be assigned to one of the telephones in the building or to another line outside of the building.
What Is a DID Number Used For?
Thanks to VoIP technology, telephone calls arriving at a PBX can be routed through to home-based workers. They can even be directed through CRM software, improving customer tracking and quality of service.
DID numbers, in partnership with digital PBXs, expand the possibilities of telecommunications. PBXs can create group calls and ringing groups. Digitized telephone systems can carry video just as easily as they can transmit voice calls, and they can even integrate calls into collaboration and social media platforms.
DID numbers transform companies by presenting a unified image to the world while enabling a very flexible work strategy behind the scenes. Calls can be put through to cell phones and the allocation of numbers can be altered in a minute. DID numbers can also help integrate remote telecommuters into the company structure and bind together several business locations into one office presence.
DID numbers enable businesses to relocate without losing a prestigious telephone area code and can even allow businesses to do away with offices altogether.
Cloud-Based Telephony Services
The cloud concept enables IT services companies to provide both hardware and software. Using cloud services removes the need for businesses to hire IT staff because they no longer need to maintain their own software or run their own servers.
Internet telephony providers have not overlooked the potential of the Cloud—online PBX services now proliferate. The ability to buy a DID number, attract calls to a specific location, and allocate that number to any device anywhere in the world truly liberates businesses.
Is This Just Call Forwarding?
With call forwarding, a call arrives at one phone and then gets transferred onto another phone. On the surface, it seems that call forwarding is what PBXs do. However, there is a fundamental difference between the allocation of DID numbers and call forwarding. The PBX is an exchange and not an endpoint; it doesn’t receive calls, it routes them. It is a private addition to the public telephone network’s mechanical call routing system.
The crucial advantage of DID number allocation over call forwarding lies in caller IDs. Although it’s great to be able to forward calls to cell phones and remote offices, customers will see the unexpected number when anyone on those devices calls them back.
On the other hand, once a DID number is allocated to a device, that number identifies all calls made from it.
The Benefit for Customers
With the opportunities presented by DID numbers in mind, a marketing strategy can help you present these benefits to your existing and future customers.
DID numbers offer benefits across the board, which will be useful to the marketing manager, operations manager, the HR manager, and the accounting department. This is because DID numbers enable:
- Improved corporate image
- Flexible working practices
- Global and distributed hiring policies
- Cost savings on office space
The adoption of a DID number strategy can transform a business. The only limit on its potential benefits lies in the willingness or reluctance of companies to leave behind traditional business structures.
Many businesses use the letters on a telephone keypad as a marketing tool. Getting a number that spells out a word to explain or exalt the purpose of the enterprise can be a very effective communication strategy. However, it is very difficult to get a vanity number from your regular telephone provider. When a business requests a new number, the operator will simply offer the next available sequential number.
It’s possible to request a specific number, but quite often, those jazzy meaningful numbers are already taken. Number selection is a phase of a business’s marketing effort that telephony service providers can capitalize on. If you’re able to organize your number allocation system so that it enables inquirers to browse available numbers, you stand a better chance of winning new customers.
Customers who aim for a national market won’t be too worried about the area codes that you offer. Those who are looking for a meaningful word interpretation of a number might be more willing to consider numbers in any area code. As DID numbers can be used to channel calls anywhere, regardless of location, this service could be a great marketing tool for you while you support the marketing dreams of potential customers.
Traditional telephone companies had been offering spellable freephone numbers for decades before the industry was liberalized and other companies were allowed to offer telephone numbers. The attachment of a freephone number to a physical number regardless of area code was a forerunner of the DID system that emerged later. The internet revolution and the breaking of AT&T’s hold on the telecommunications industry allowed contender businesses to arise and offer more competitive prices for free number customers.
Freephone DID numbers allow your customers to receive calls from all over the US and channel them through to a sales office, which could easily be located offshore. It’s even possible to outsource customer service departments so your customers don’t need to employ their own operators.
Keep Your Customers Happy
Those outsourced service providers also offer VoIP call transfers and DID numbers as a package.
If you are a VoIP telephony service and don’t offer the sale of DID numbers, your customers may go elsewhere for their numbers and eventually replace your services with their new partner.
Neglecting to supply your customers with all of the telephony-related accessories that they need opens the door to your customers shopping around. DID numbers offer great benefits to you, not just your customers. Being able to offer a full telephony package including DID numbers keeps your customers close.
DID Number Advantages
DID numbers are the key to offering your customers a new way to do business. They’ll benefit from the many opportunities afforded by DID numbers, including the ability to slimline their businesses without compromising on quality. In fact, it will enable them to improve service quality.
A global office tied together with a DID number can deploy individual home-based technicians at strategic locations around the globe. This strategy will allow your customers to offer 24-hour support to their own clients without demanding that operators work through the night. A DID number user can shift the allocation of that number to different devices at will and can also schedule this allocation depending on the time of day. This enables support calls to be directed to different parts of the world at different times based on staff availability.
Marketing professionals will immediately recognize the advantages that DID numbers offer. Many local numbers can be directed towards one central sales office and it’s much easier to open an office to promote sales in a new country if the business doesn’t actually need to have property or employ people in that location. That new overseas office is just another DID number that directs calls back to the company’s existing premises and experienced staff.
DID numbers augment marketing strategies, slimline operations, simplify recruiting, and cut costs. If you are not currently offering DID numbers to your customers, be aware that your competitors will.
If you are interested in purchasing US & Global DIDs for your enterprise, business, or residential users, please reach out to the voice experts at IDT Express for more details.