Monday, March 14, 2016

Virtual Number and Number Masking models

Number masking has become popular now a days because of its adoption by the new startups like Uber, Ola and others.

Though its been talked about now, its not new. In fact when we launched KooKoo in 2010, this was one of the first application of the cloud telephony platform along with missed call applications. And a lot of startups including Zomato used KooKoo to build their own virtual number solutions.

Since it has become popular now, a lot of customers are asking for this. And since number masking can be achieved in many ways, I thought I will do a blog post on the different models and their pros and cons.
Photo Credit:Flickr
Multiple models of number masking
1. DID:
This is the most popular model. Just take landline numbers and map them to your customer numbers.
Advantage: Its simple to implement and works well.
Disadvantage: Its harder to get local numbers in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities as a lot of cloud telephony players dont have presence there. Though we have the best coverage among all players, even we can give local numbers in only 20 cities in India. Cost may also be a factor.
2. Mobile numbers:
This is similar to the DID model. Only difference is that instead of landline number, you get a mobile number.
Advantage: There is a perception that mobile number pick rates are better than landlines.
Disadvantage: Its a little harder to implement and quality is not as good as landline.
3. Extensions:
Another model which can be tried is to assign extensions to the customer numbers instead of full phone numbers.
Advantage: You dont need to buy phone numbers and it is a huge cost saving if you need a lot of virtual numbers. Your customers also get used to a single phone number and that becomes your identity.
Disadvantage: The user experience is not as smooth as a direct phone number. The caller has to first dial a phone number and then dial an extension.

4. Click to call:
This is also an innovative way in which you can hide the phone number of the user. The user just clicks a button and he will receive a call. Once he picks up, the system dials the other end of the call and connects them both.
Advantage: This is an accepted user interface.
Disadvantage: You will need to bear the call cost on both sides.

For each of these models, I will discuss the best practices in the next blog post. meanwhile, if you want to get started, please sign up.