What Is Call Masking & Its Benefits for Small Businesses?
This article is part of a larger series on VoIP.
Call masking, or number masking, refers to the voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) feature that hides phone numbers to protect the call participants’ contact information. Aside from promoting privacy, this tool lets companies establish a local presence, as it displays a local caller ID, making call recipients more responsive. Different organizations use number masking in everyday communications, including transportation and healthcare industries.
How Call Masking Works
Temporary or proxy phone numbers are the main elements in call masking, meaning the actual phone number gets concealed when connecting the call. The customer may see your company number as XXX-XXXX, but behind the scenes, XXX-XXXX is diverted to the company’s real phone number YYY-YYYY. In the same way, your business sees AAA-AAAA as the customer’s number, but the actual number is BBB-BBBB.
Masking phone numbers when calling may involve a local, toll-free, or international number blocking out the original phone number. Here’s how masking works:
- An agent places a call via the business phone system.
- The call goes to a cloud-based application programming interface (API) proxy server, automatically generating a temporary number.
- From the API-based platform, the call tries to connect to the intended recipient.
- The customer gets a call from a masked phone number and picks it up.
- The agent communicates with the customer while important contact information is concealed from both parties.
- After the call ends, the temporary number goes back to the pool and gets reassigned to other team members using the masking calls service.
Benefits of Call Masking
Based on the call masking meaning, the primary benefit of this VoIP feature is safeguarding the privacy of contact information. Team members who use their personal devices for business communications can benefit from this because it keeps business calls separate from their mobile numbers.
At the same time, the customers feel at ease, knowing that the phone numbers are kept anonymous. They have peace of mind that company representatives won’t contact them outside of business purposes.
Aside from maintaining privacy, these are the benefits of phone number masking:
Makes Call Recipients More Responsive
Most customers hesitate to pick up calls when they see an unfamiliar number on their caller ID, e.g., an international number. Using a call masking app, you take advantage of a local phone number customers are more familiar with.
A team member based in the United States calling a customer in Mexico can override the caller ID and display a local Mexico phone number instead of their personal U.S. number. Customers are more likely to pick up the call and give your company the opportunity to talk business.
Business phone system Dialpad features an easy-to-use call masking tool. When you go to the phone system’s keypad, you’ll see the option to change the caller ID at the top portion of the interface. Choose among the given numbers in the drop-down menu. Learn more about this VoIP platform by checking out our comprehensive Dialpad review.
Reduces Communication Costs
A masked caller ID is the cheapest way to meet your growing customer communications demands while maintaining data privacy. When scaling operations in a local market, most businesses buy additional phone numbers, which is far costlier than using number masking.
The virtual phone system Grasshopper charges $10 monthly for each additional number on top of the monthly subscription plan. Setting up contact centers in various locations to establish a local presence is even more expensive. With call masking, you do away with these costs.
Enables Easy Monitoring of Customer Interactions
Number masking provides real-time insights into call center activities, allowing you to evaluate agent performance and look at customer insights. Given all these data, you’ll be more strategic in crafting employee training programs and adjusting customer communication strategies and call handling rules.
Streamlines Overall Business Communications
Remote teams trying to connect to a globally scattered audience benefit from number masking, as it helps establish uniformity given the maintenance of a common business number. This makes your brand more consistent in the eyes of the customers, increasing trust and loyalty. Customers are more likely to engage in repeat purchases.
For businesses that want more control over how call masking works, 8×8’s CPAAS platform is a great tool for building voice APIs. Users need to configure three webhooks to create a call masking flow: call handle, call status, and session status. If you’re interested in the provider’s VoIP solution, check out our 8×8 review.
Who Uses Call Masking?
Different businesses benefit from number masking, from solopreneurs wanting to keep their business phone numbers separate from their personal ones to companies engaging with an international market. Beyond these, there are specific industries that mask numbers when calling customers as part of their data security protocols and in compliance with industry standards.
Here are some of the industries that use number masking:
When delivering goods, drivers often need to call the customer to give them updates about the transaction, for example, if there will be a delay or when they’re already near the drop-off location. Through number masking, the drivers and customers won’t know each other’s personal contact information, as they use the VoIP platform for voice calls.
Transportation & Ride-sharing Services
Drivers and passengers closely coordinate with each other about pick-up location and arrival time. Both parties want to protect their contact information and keep communications within business transactions. By masking phone numbers when calling drivers and passengers, individuals get the peace of mind that their personal information is safe when they book trips.
Some doctors and patients are uncomfortable with the idea of sharing personal numbers. This is why it makes sense for healthcare organizations to adopt a phone system that enables masking cell phone numbers. To take data privacy and security one step further, choose a communications solution that abides by Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) standards, like 8×8’s CPaaS platform.
If your debt collection team uses the same phone number, there’s a good chance that your clients have already blocked them, making it difficult for your employees to connect. In contrast, a masked phone number conceals your contact information, increasing the likelihood of the call being picked up.
With number masking, buyers and sellers can discuss products, pricing, delivery, and other updates over the phone without sharing personal contact information. The temporary phone number is active for the entire duration of the transaction.
Top Providers With Call Masking Features
While there are plenty of VoIP platform options in the market, some don’t have call masking features. If you want phone numbers to be kept confidential in your business communications, make sure that your phone system choice comes with masking capabilities. Here are some VoIP providers worth considering:
Nextiva, a business phone system equipped with robust VoIP features, allows users to set number masking on an individual user and location-wide level. The individual user setting enables users to change the primary phone number of a user to any number assigned to their location. Meanwhile, the location-wide number masking lets you adjust the location outgoing number and location caller ID fields.
Nextiva’s monthly subscription package starts at $30.95 per user for one to four users. The free trial lasts seven days. Learn more about this VoIP provider’s pricing and features in our Nextiva review.
On Dialpad’s keypad, you’ll find an option to set your own caller ID. A drop-down menu appears when you click the input field, offering different number options registered to your account. The business phone system has a 100% uptime guarantee, making it a highly reliable business phone solution. Its monthly subscription plan starts at $23 per user, per month, and the free trial lasts 14 days. Our Dialpad review will help you decide if it’s the right solution for your business.
Freshdesk offers an alternate number when making or receiving calls, concealing your company’s contact information. Aside from this, the platform offers different kinds of business phone numbers: local phone numbers across 50-plus countries, toll-free, and vanity.
If you plan to keep your existing numbers, the VoIP service provider has number porting solutions. The contact center has a free version, and the free trial lasts 21 days. Its paid plan starts at $18 per agent, per month. Learn the pros and cons of using this VoIP platform in our Freshdesk review.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is number masking legal?
Yes, masking is legal if not done out of deception or malice. The Truth in Caller ID Act prohibits transmitting inaccurate or misleading caller identification information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value. When you sign up for a VoIP service, providers verify contact information by asking you to present proof of ownership of the desired outgoing number and number displayed in the caller ID.
Is there a free call masking tool?
No, call masking is a feature in VoIP platforms that businesses use for a subscription cost. Although Freshdesk Contact Center has a free version, you must subscribe to its entry-level plan to unlock the number masking tool. The monthly subscription package costs $18 per agent. However, you may take advantage of its 21-day free trial, which offers access to this feature. Nextiva and Dialpad also have free trials.
Can customers call a masked number back?
More often than not, customers can’t call back a masked number. After a food delivery or a ride-sharing trip is completed, the proxy number goes back to the pool for reassignment to other riders or sellers. Provide alternative communication channels—for example, in-app chat—for customers concerned about the products or services delivered.
Call masking is an essential VoIP feature for teams wanting to protect the anonymity of employees and customers and improve overall business communications. Various industries benefit from masking phone numbers, from delivery services and healthcare providers to ecommerce and financial services companies. Explore different business phone systems to unlock the advantages of masking calls.