Regarding the cell phone, the use as a services technician
is part of the trade. When a customer is frustrated or in panic the only
thing their concerned about is getting you to fix the problem. Cell
phones are not of their concern.
I was in the same scenario you describe. Since my company has grown (in customers) it was time to move away from the cell only situation. Initially I was with one provider and had the new business number and toll-free number from them. I soon discovered the one provider approach is disastrous should the entire service have problems.
My broadband VoIP provider fulfills the local business number and has the features of other suggested sites this thread has discussed. My second approach is with another provider for the toll-free number that ties to the company number. I look at it like diversification and not placing all the phones in one basket.
The feature that works for my one person company is follow-me. A call comes in to the only number my customers know. It then forwards after three rings to my cell. This way the customer needs not know the different numbers.
Answering the phone live in a service based business is much appreciated by my customers. Follow-me provides the immediacy customers need when calling in panic mode.
The music on hold stuff and push this that and the other is impersonal. I cannot remember the last time I called a company with the robot systems and enjoying Rush or Nirvana while on hold.
I use an online service called RingCentral (www.ringcentral.com). People call into my 800 number and are forwarded to my cell phone (as well as other numbers I can specify). If I can`t answer, the caller will be put into my voicemail on RingCentral which I can retrieve their message from my phone or online.
An added bonus is since it`s a toll-free number, even blocked numbers show up on caller ID.
It works for me really well.
Second of all, I`m looking for great Virtual Phone System for my company. I`m the only person in my company.
My company provides IT, network and computer services throughout the St. Louis region.
You are on the right track and completely understand what you are saying. Imagine you are the plumber with the head down the toilet, on your back, one leg in the toolbox, and the other up a pipe and your cell rings. Er, don't think so.
Gotvmail looks very attractive and may be the solution starting off. However, watch the $$$ charges as you add features. Don't let the national presence be a priority as it's difficult for you to work in Washington if you live in Florida. :-)
I use Broadvoice.com and prefer the instate calling and use my own SIP phone. They call the program BYOP. For $17.95 you have in-state calling from your end, all incoming calls are free, the perks of Vonage are there, and they do offer the 800 number. The $17.95 also includes the surcharges and an extra local number I have for another county.
It is nice to have an office phone when not on the road.
I use a combination of both a virtual phone system and then integrate it into GoogleVoice. It works wonderfully. Although I do get line quality issues from time-to-time while using it via the computer and/or Droid. As the Google product continues to mature they should repair that problem.
I'm not pushing any virtual voice services, so hopefully my response is a bit objective for you.
Regarding looking "big," I've learned as a service provider the 800 and looking too corporate is a major disadvantage. When a potential customer is trying to get in touch the last thing they want is a voice robot with elevator music. They want the system to have a human on the other end. It is personable and in my opinion will earn you more points with winning a sale.
Customers coming to you are already qualified sales. Now you just need to get them over the sale. They don't need an obstacle tooting music and a robot bragging with an ego trip.