As a business owner, installing an automated phone system is a great way to streamline your customer service and communication process.
The larger your company grows and the more departments and employees you add, the more you will need an integrated communication network, with connection nodes linking to and fro.
An automated phone system can effectively take care of your communiqué needs, with well-designed features to simplify internal and external communications.
One of these features is phone extension numbers. They can help connect every part of your company – be it an individual employee or a department – in an efficient manner.
Customers and employees can connect to different nodes in your organization without the need to reroute through a chain of employees.
If you have experience calling a customer service hotline, you would be familiar with being asked to dial specific numbers to connect to particular departments. This is just one of the everyday examples where phone extensions come into play.
Generally, extensions can be made up of different digits – usually four digits – so you can expect to find extension numbers as 2 or 15 or 843. These short internal numbers are added to the main number.
Extension numbers can be assigned to employees, a project team, or a department as a suffix to the organization’s number.
They are called extensions because they extend the main business line and apply to as many sub-divisions and individuals as possible within that network.
Suppose an external caller wishes to connect to a specific person in the company. In that case, they can dial the main business line and ask the operator to dial the extension for that particular employee.
The extension will directly route them to the intended person!
Thanks to phone extensions, companies can easily route callers to different departments and employees, helping both the caller and the employee save time.
There are many routes and shortcuts designed explicitly for extensions to reroute calls and make for easier communication.
Table of Contents
- How Do Extensions Work?
- Adding Extensions In Android
- How to Dial an Extension on iPhone
- Is A Virtual Phone Number And An Extension The Same?
- What Are The Benefits Of Having Extensions?
- The Future Of Business Telecommunications
How Do Extensions Work?
It’s quite simple. Imagine two employees within a company, named Max and Berta, who are assigned extension numbers 231 and 251.
When Max needs to call Berta, he will have to dial 251, and the call will connect to Berta’s phone.
If Max happens to be from a different department to Berta, and each department has been allotted a separate extension, the extension numbers of these departments will be considered.
Therefore, if Max is from the Marketing department with an extension of 14, while Berta is from the Sales department with an extension of 18, he will have to dial 18-251 to connect to her.
In essence, extension numbers are used when connecting calls within the organization and for external calls.
Employees within the organization can use extension numbers to speak to each other without dialing the full business number.
However, for someone calling from outside the company, they will have to dial the main business number followed by the extension digits.
For a hypothetical business number of 556345, a customer who wants to connect to the Sales department will have to dial the business number and then add the extension number (18) for Sales.
Also, if the customer wants to connect to a particular employee (Berta) in the Sales department, they will dial the business number 556345, followed by 18, followed by Berta’s extension (251).
Extension numbers and virtual phone systems are not restricted by geographical locations, making it possible for different branches located in various areas to call other employees within the company without adding another physical extension.
Companies that operate from a single phone system only need to dial the other employees’ extension number to connect directly. This means, when calling Berta, Max will only need to dial her extension number 18.
It’s also possible to have several phone numbers connected to a single phone system. So, what happens if you don’t know the extension number of the intended department or employee?
Here’s where the auto-attendant or receptionist comes into play. They are responsible for handling and rerouting calls to the desired destination within the organization.
If callers know their extension number, they can skip the auto attendant and go directly to their desired destination.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to have specific extensions for individual departments to avoid unnecessary red-tape and logistical pile-ups.
Furthermore, extensions can make marketing campaigns more effective and make the call flow more digestible.
If you try to call up a specific department in a large organization, having to wade through a sequence of automated voice menus can be very frustrating.
Organizations rely on these automated menus to guide calls to the appropriate individual or department, but it can be an unnecessary waste of time for the caller.
In essence, these voice menus are nothing more than a way to connect callers to the right extension.
You’re probably wondering how convenient it would be if callers could directly connect to the extension without needing to pass through the extended automated menus.
You can make a direct call to an extension number and save yourself much-needed time when you are already aware of your intended department’s extension number.
Many phone systems allow you to dial the extension number you need before launching their automated voice menus. This is a straightforward approach to save time for both the caller and the organization.
What if we told you that there is a way for you to automatically dial your desired extension numbers without memorizing the digits or waiting for the automated voice message to end?
Modern smartphones – including Android and iPhone – allow for automated dialing of extension numbers so that users don’t have to dial the same extension number each time they make a call.
Adding Extensions In Android
There are two ways that you can add extension numbers to your Android phone. This depends on Whether you want to enter the extension:
- As soon as the call is answered
- After the automated message ends
We will refer to the following two methods as the ‘Pause’ and the ‘Wait’ method for clarity.
If you’re familiar with your contact’s business phone system, you’ll know when to add in the extension number.
Using The Pause Method
The Pause method requires adding the extension number to a contact’s phone number right after the call has been answered.
This is how you can add an extension number to your contact’s phone number using the Pause method on your Android phone:
- Open the Contacts app on your phone
- Go to the contact number to which you’d like to add the extension number (You can open the contacts list from the phone dialer)
- Tap on the contact’s name, and their information will slide into view (On the app, their contact information page will be displayed)
- Once the information page opens up, tap on the pencil icon and scroll to the phone number field
- Scroll to the end of the phone number and tap on the area for the on-screen keyboard to appear. Insert a single comma at the end of the phone number
- After inserting the comma, type in the extension number without leaving a space
- After you’ve typed in the extension number, save the contact information
- The next time you call this contact, your Android phone will automatically dial the extension when the call is answered
Therefore, if the phone number is 5423444565 and the extension number is 332, the full number should look like this: 542344565,332.
However, keep in mind that some Android devices may replace the comma with a pause button, while other devices might have both options.
For some contact numbers, you may find that the extension dials before the automated phone system can detect any entry.
Most automated phone systems tend to respond immediately to extension entries, but for some systems, the phone may ring a few times before the automated system picks up.
In that case, add another comma between the phone number and extension number. Each comma adds a two-second pause before your phone dials the extension number.
Using the Wait Method
The Wait method is to be used when the extension number cannot be added until the automated message finishes.
To do this:
- Open the Contacts app on your Android phone
- Tap the contact to whose number you want to add an extension
- Tap on the Pencil icon
- Scroll to the end of the phone number field
- Tap on the screen, which will open up the on-screen keyboard
- Add a single semicolon to the end of the phone number
- Type the extension number without adding in any space
Taking the phone number from the previous example, your extension and phone number should look like 5423444565;332. Once the number appears on your screen as above, save it.
However, remember that some Android phones feature a wait button in place of a semicolon, while some feature both options.
When you use this method, a notice will appear on your screen after the automated message ends, prompting you to dial the extension number or end the call.
Many retail companies have automated phone systems that answer receiving calls. It can become quite tedious to wait for the automated message to end before dialing the extension number each time to reach your desired department.
This method makes the job much easier for you, especially if you have trouble remembering your desired extension and have to check the contact information every time you need to make a call.
Android users have the luxury of using both these methods of dialing extensions. They can also program the numbers into the contact information.
The method you choose depends on the type of automated phone system you’re dealing with.
Programming extension numbers in your phone can help you save time and effort, especially if you routinely make calls to places that require you to dial an extension number, like customer care or friends and family.
If it’s a one-time affair, it’s easy to manage. But if it’s an everyday occurrence, it becomes tedious to type in the extension each time. Better to have the Phone app do it for you!
How to Dial an Extension on iPhone
To dial an extension on the iPhone, follow these steps:
- Open the Phone app on your iPhone.
- Press the phone number that you want to dial on the Keypad
- Long-press on the asterisk key until a comma appears next to the number
- Once the comma is inserted, enter the extension number
If you want the pause to be longer than 2 seconds, repeat this step and add multiple commas. Each comma represents a 2-second delay.
Furthermore, if you want to add a waiting option for dialing the extension number after the automated message ends:
- long-press the pound sign until a semicolon appears
- After the semicolon, add in the extension number
- Once you’ve added the extension number along with the semicolon or comma to the phone number, you can save it in your iPhone contacts book by tapping on the Done button.
Suppose you want to edit an existing contact, tap on the name and edit from the top right. And if you wish to add in a new phone number – with the extension – tap on the plus button on the top right.
In case you are unsure how long you must pause, call the phone number you wish to dial and check how many seconds the automatic recording lasts before it asks you to enter the extension.
Divide the total seconds by two, and you’ve got the number of commas you must add!
It’s a good idea to save extension numbers in your iPhone Contacts if you make regular calls to that number.
This ensures that the next time you make a call on the number, your iPhone will automatically dial the extension for you.
Is A Virtual Phone Number And An Extension The Same?
Essentially, a virtual phone number and an extension are the same, but the difference lies in the context in which they are used.
One thing to note is that both a virtual phone number and an extension are numbers, and being part of a virtual phone system, they are both technically virtual.
‘Virtual,’ in terms of VoIP, suggests that calls are forwarded to another device connected to your business phone number, so you won’t have to carry around multiple phones all the time.
This phone number connects to the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the connected device, whether a phone, tablet, or computer. The phone number is dedicated to this device.
When you dial a number from VoIP, the connection is carried over the internet to locate the device’s IP address linked to the number.
Meanwhile, your VoIP provider charges you according to your subscribed package. Your virtual phone number is the number you choose to be shown to those you call from the system. Remember, this won’t be your mobile phone number.
The same also goes for extensions. Phone extensions, like virtual phone numbers, also forward to another device, their voicemail box, or just to their number.
However, extensions are not dedicated to one device but rather the virtual phone system itself.
When people call a virtual phone number, it can only be forwarded to the device you associate with this virtual phone number in the system. Still, when a caller dials your company phone number and uses any of your company’s extensions, the call can be forwarded from the office to your phone or any other device.
So extensions and virtual numbers do the same thing, that is, forward calls.
In business, extensions can forward anywhere, including different devices at call centers or even ‘dead-end’ extensions, like voicemail boxes and messages, since those are not dedicated to one device.
In non-business settings, virtual phone numbers can save friends and family members money by having them only pay local charges to reach phones far away.
What Are The Benefits Of Having Extensions?
Extensions are essential for businesses that employ a large workforce and feature various departments with complicated sub-divisions. They are also vital for companies looking to expand.
Extensions can help manage many connection nodes and multiple users within the organization’s phone system.
Some of the benefits of incorporating extension numbers within your business phone system include:
- Improved customer experience and customer service: Your customers gain the ability to call a particular employee or group directly by dialing the extension
- Better internal communications between team members: You can call or transfer a call to a co-worker by tapping a short internal number. Teams need to collaborate, especially with remote and mobile teammates, and this makes it possible!
- More convenient and cheaper communications with remote offices: You can create remote sales, service, or engineer teams with common extensions for better customer service
- Extensions help improve business productivity: Using an extension can help save a considerably large amount of time during transactions since customers can contact a specific department within the company directly. Also, your employees save a considerable amount of time by not routing calls themselves. This, in turn, leads to better efficiency and increased productivity.
Finally, extensions help you manage calls in a more comfortable, more convenient, and error-free way.
The Future Of Business Telecommunications
Land-based phone lines are almost obsolete, and many businesses are making the switch from traditional phone services to VoIP services.
What’s so great about VoIP, you ask? It offers greater cost-effectiveness and efficient communication with a high-quality connection and no restrictions on where the business operates.
In short, companies prefer VoIP due to the high productivity levels they offer.
Businesses that go with electronic phone systems like VoIP find their telecommunication costs reduced compared to those that insist on multiple single-line phones.
Also, VoIP users find a drastic improvement in the communication process, with fewer disruptions and lags.
However, most individuals and even businesses are not familiar with internet-based communication systems.
This unfamiliarity is because the equipment and technology used for these services are quite different from conventional phone systems.
Moreover, businesses choose multiple phone or extension numbers because they may want to separate different departments into various communication streams and make it easier for employees, customers, and outsiders to communicate separately.
Rather than having a single phone number blowing up with phone calls, the organization should have separate phone extensions for shipping, customer service, sales, etc.
Phone extensions make it easier to connect to a specific department or person in a business rather than looping through the whole circuit.
Also, many businesses prefer their sales team to have separate lines for better communication with clients.
Additionally, Geo-targeting may be another reason why companies choose to have more than one phone number.
VoIP-based phone services can allow routing calls through different numbers, depending on the caller’s location.
Meanwhile, multiple phone numbers in different area codes allow the sales team to appear as if they call from a local number.
Overall, businesses must understand phone technology and the new technology related to it to stay on top of their game.
Knowing all this can help them make better decisions regarding their communication and improve productivity in the office.
Can You Have More Than One Cell Phone With The Same Number?
The simple answer for that would be no. Cellphone carriers do not activate the same number on different devices for security and privacy reasons.
How Do I Dial An Extension With Google Voice?
Answer the call on your cellphone or open Google Talk Client to complete the call connection. Then, dial the extension number after the automated recording prompts you to do so.
How Do I Dial An Extension On My Desk Phone?
First, dial the main telephone number you wish to call. After entering the number, hold the asterisk key until the comma appears, and then dial the extension number you want to reach.