Call forwarding is a voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) business phone feature organizations use to direct calls to predefined lines or extensions, or use to reroute business calls to voicemail or mobile phones. It’s a valuable tool that lets calls follow you wherever you go and improves the customer experience by ensuring calls don’t go unanswered.
VoIP business phone service providers like RingCentral offer advanced call forwarding features that can ring phones simultaneously or sequentially. Users can specify the number of times the phone should ring before forwarding and create rules for forwarding based on caller ID, date, and more. Visit RingCentral for details and to sign up for a free trial.
How Call Forwarding Works
Call forwarding works by routing incoming calls to a phone number, extension, department, or voicemail system within a company. It can also be used by people to send business calls to a cell phone or voicemail. The lines or extensions where calls are to be routed are predefined by the user instead of the caller. Call forwarding to phone numbers or different extensions is typically undetectable to the caller.
Call forwarding settings are typically accessed through the VoIP phone system’s user dashboard and, in some cases, its mobile apps. Common configuration settings for routing calls include specifying what phone number or numbers to forward calls to and when and where to forward calls during business hours and after hours.
Many VoIP providers offering call forwarding also allow you to elect to use either a simultaneous or sequential ring on forward, specify when to forward after a predetermined number of rings or seconds, or where to forward calls when the user phone is unreachable. Rules for forwarding calls can also be based on, for example, caller ID, date range, weekly schedule, and time of day.
Who Call Forwarding Is Right For
Call forwarding is a valuable VoIP phone feature that’s right for nearly every business setting. It solidifies the customer relationship by ensuring their calls are always answered, and also gives business owners and staff peace of mind that important calls won’t slip through the cracks.
Call forwarding benefits include:
- Call routing for message taking: Business owners and solopreneurs can use call forwarding to send calls to voicemail or an answering service when they can’t personally answer the phone.
- Superior customer service to callers: Call forwarding ensures customer calls are handled quickly and efficiently.
- Mobility: People who travel for work or work remotely use call forwarding to make sure their calls follow them wherever they are and on whatever landline or mobile phone they choose.
- Emergency access: Some healthcare and legal workers must be available by phone outside of regular business hours to handle emergencies. Call forwarding allows callers to reach someone wherever they are by dialing a single number.
- Competitive advantage: Call forwarding helps small and medium-sized businesses stay competitive and appear larger than they are when someone is always available to answer a call instead of being routed to voicemail.
- High-volume call management: Bigger organizations use call forwarding to help effortlessly distribute a large volume of calls.
There are few businesses today that don’t benefit from call forwarding. Companies can use it to easily route calls to a secondary number or set up a complex system of rules to handle specific types of incoming calls differently.
Call Forwarding Costs
As call forwarding is a phone service feature, its cost depends on the plan selected. Mobile and landline service plans with forwarding typically start at $17 and $87, respectively, versus VoIP phone plans that start at $12.99, offering additional options like call recording and virtual faxing. However some plans can cost hundreds per month.
- Landline phone: Most landline phone systems include call forwarding with their featured service plans. Business landline phone plans can run as high as $435 for five phone lines.
- VoIP business phone service: Service plans for VoIP business phone service and call forwarding cost $12.99 to $55 per user, per month. A VoIP business phone plan for five users can run between $64.95 and $275. VoIP phone service is big cost savings over landline phones and some mobile phone plans, and offers far more features than either option.
- Mobile phone: Most mobile phone plans also include call forwarding as a standard feature at no cost. Business cell phone plans range from $17 to $120 per month, which translates to $85 to $625 for a mobile plan with five users.
- Virtual phone number: Business owners and solopreneurs who use a virtual phone number provider to add a business number to their existing personal landline or mobile phone can find service plans that range from free to $89 per month, with call forwarding as a standard feature.
Call forwarding is a common feature of every type of business phone service. Whether landlines, VoIP service, mobile phones, or a virtual phone number provider is best for your company depends on your business needs and budget. Dollar-for-dollar, VoIP is often the best value for the money and offers a wide range of features other types of phone service can’t, such as an automated attendant and video conferencing.
Call Forwarding Features
Call forwarding does more than merely redirect calls to a single phone number or voicemail. Some business phone systems also allow users to set predetermined hours when call forwarding will be turned on and off, route calls to multiple phone numbers simultaneously for speedy answering, and use caller ID data to route specific calls to a different location.
Common call forwarding features include:
Sequential & Simultaneous Ring
This feature allows users to choose how calls will be forwarded to multiple numbers. A business owner may choose sequential calling that rings one phone at a time until someone answers. In this scenario, the call might first go to her business partner, then her assistant, and finally to an answering service if no one answers. With simultaneous ring, all three phone numbers ring at the same time so whoever is immediately available can answer.
Business & Non-business Call Forwarding Schedules
Call forwarding systems can be set up to manage and direct calls in different ways depending on whether the business is open or closed when an inbound call is received. For example, incoming calls might be forwarded to a specific department during business hours and an answering service during non-business hours.
Holiday Call Forwarding Schedules
Similarly, holiday call forwarding schedules can route calls in a way that makes the most sense for businesses closed for several consecutive days or during periods of reduced staffing. For instance, calls could be scheduled to forward to different phone numbers on different days so no one employee is responsible for answering all forwarded calls during holidays.
Selective Call Forwarding
This feature allows admins to define the criteria by which a call is forwarded. Some businesses may want all calls originating from a particular caller ID-identified region to redirect to a local manager. Other companies may set up rules to forward incoming calls from specific phone numbers or when certain prompts are requested by callers responding to questions in a phone tree.
Conditional Call Forwarding
Conditional call forwarding is an option that triggers call forwarding for select phones or the entire network only under certain conditions. This feature is typically used to manage calls when a phone is unreachable, such as when a phone line is malfunctioning or has been disconnected.
Additional Call Forwarding Options
Some call forwarding systems come with additional options for even more granular call control, like call block or offering verbal information to callers. Additional call forwarding options include restricting calls from private or unidentified caller, or sending calls to a recorded message that can contain anything from business hours to a sales pitch.
Call Forwarding Providers
Call forwarding is a standard feature of most VoIP business phone services at no additional cost, but not necessarily included with traditional landline phone systems. Service plans include features like unlimited domestic calling, an auto-attendant, voicemail, and conference calling.
These VoIP business phone systems include call forwarding with all service plans:
RingCentral is a VoIP business phone service provider that offers unlimited calling, a multilevel auto-attendant, and robust voicemail and conferencing. Users can forward calls to up to 10 phone numbers within or outside the network and set them to ring simultaneously or in a specific order. RingCentral’s prices for up to 10 users range from $29.99 to $39.99 per month. Unlimited user plans range from $34.99 to $44.99 per month.
RingCentral is right for businesses that want a VoIP phone system with call forwarding that’s easy to set up and use, and is backed by reliable customer service. The company offers a free trial of its product and 30-day money back guarantee when you purchase an account. Check out RingCentral’s website for details.
Grasshopper is a VoIP phone service and virtual business phone number that gives users a business phone number on their mobile or personal phones. It features business texting, voicemail transcription, and faxing. Users can forward to a single phone number or multiple numbers, or redirect calls to listen to a recorded greeting. Grasshopper pricing ranges from $29 for one number and three extensions to $89 for five numbers and unlimited extensions.
Grasshopper is best for solopreneurs, freelancers, and consultants who want a virtual business phone number on their landline or mobile phone. Call the sales team or visit the company website for more information or to try Grasshopper with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Freshcaller is a VoIP business phone system with built-in call center tools like call recording and advanced call queues. Call forwarding features include business, non-business, and holiday call routing. The company offers a free plan for unlimited users and paid plans for $19 and $40 per user, per month, with additional features like conference calling and advanced metrics.
Freshcaller is a match for sales and support teams wanting a VoIP system that features call waiting and a set of call center tools to manage customer calls efficiently. The company offers a 14-day free trial that includes the features of all its service tiers. Visit Freshcaller to learn more.
Pros & Cons of Call Forwarding
Call forwarding is a beneficial phone service feature, but it’s not without its drawbacks. There are a few things to keep in mind when deciding if call forwarding is right for your business.
Pros of Call Forwarding
- Fewer missed calls: Call forwarding makes sure there’s always someone available to answer a customer or client’s call, provide service, or take a message.
- It provides personalized service: By forwarding calls to other departments or extensions, companies can maintain a level of personalized, human service that a voicemail box can’t.
- Business owners and workers aren’t tied to their desks: People can forward calls to personal cell phones, allowing them the freedom to move about the office or leave the building without missing important calls.
- It creates the illusion of a larger company: Solopreneurs and startups can create call forwarding rules that limit the number of calls that are routed to voicemail or left to ring unanswered. That encourages workers to answer calls and creates the appearance of a larger, more fully staffed business.
Cons of Call Forwarding
- Forwarding rules can be entered into the system incorrectly: A rushed admin may accidentally set up call forwarding rules in a way that results in missed or lost calls.
- Call forwarding systems may glitch: Even if call forwarding rules are set up correctly, the phone system may glitch and calls will be misrouted or not forwarded at all.
- Call forwarding can decrease worker productivity: Answering a flurry of forwarded calls can cut into a worker’s productivity, and constant interruptions may reduce concentration and efficiency.
- Customers may become frustrated: Some customers may be unhappy if their call is answered by someone other than the person they’re trying to reach.
Alternatives to Call Forwarding
If you weighed the advantages and disadvantages of call forwarding, you may have decided it isn’t right for you. If not, there are a few call forwarding alternatives worth considering.
Alternatives to call forwarding include:
Businesses that don’t want to use call forwarding can hire a receptionist to answer incoming calls and route them to the correct extension or staff member. Though the personal touch certainly improves the customer experience, this option is significantly more expensive than a VoIP phone system that includes call forwarding.
Professional answering services provide live or virtual receptionist phone service to businesses. Though this technically still requires call forwarding to the answering service company, this is a good choice for organizations that want a more affordable live receptionist solution.
An automated attendant is a feature offered by the top VoIP business phone systems. It answers calls with a prerecorded greeting and routes them to the right extension or department based on the caller’s voice or keypad responses to the greeting. This call forwarding alternative allows callers to self-assist, but could be a drawback for callers who are unsure of which routing choice best suits their needs.
Companies can elect to have calls routed directly to a voicemail box instead of forwarded to a different number. Most business phone systems can accommodate direct-to-voicemail settings based on schedules or on rules such as sending calls to voicemail only if the line is busy or if a call is not answered.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does call forwarding work with international numbers?
Yes. Inbound calls from international numbers are routed the same as domestic calls unless an admin sets up a system rule specifying otherwise. Whether incoming calls can be routed to an international number is up to the phone service provider. Keep in mind that if your provider allows this type of call forwarding, international calling rates will most likely apply.
Does call forwarding require special hardware?
No. Call forwarding technology is built into the phone system itself and doesn’t require any additional phone hardware or equipment to use. However, you will need access to an internet-connected computer or mobile device to adjust permissions and settings.
Is call forwarding easy to set up & use?
Call forwarding is extremely easy to set up and use. The user interface for setting rules and permissions is accessed through a browser connected to the internet or via the phone provider’s mobile app. Once call forwarding is set up to your satisfaction, it doesn’t require ongoing maintenance, so you won’t need to revisit the settings unless you want to make a change.
Bottom Line – What Is Call Forwarding?
Call forwarding ensures you never miss a call if you are on another line or otherwise unable to answer the phone. Calls can be forwarded to another phone, extension, or department according to a range of rules, such as by day of the week, after business hours, or only when the line is busy.
Companies wanting a full-featured set of call forwarding tools built into a VoIP business phone system should consider RingCentral. It also includes unlimited domestic calling, voicemail, and conference calling at an affordable price. Visit RingCentral today for a 15-day free trial.