Getting a secondary phone line for business use can be as easy as downloading an app and laying down a few dollars per month. One such app is BusinessCall, which you can try out as a free download for iOS and Android mobile devices. It’s a cheaper and significantly more practical option to adding another line with your mobile carrier or installing a second landline. And the best part is, you don’t have to sign any service contracts or pay through the nose to terminate. We tried out BusinessCall to determine how it works, what it offers, and if it’s sufficient for business use. Here’s what we found.
If you’re gun shy about paying before trying, rest assured. BusinessCall offers you the opportunity to test drive the service before you buy by giving you 100 minutes and unlimited texts for the first seven days of use. It works as a “shared minutes program” which means that all minutes used – including those first 100 minutes – will come off of your existing mobile plan. BusinessCall doesn’t function unless you have an operational cellular plan, and can’t be used as a standalone mobile service.
Pick a Number
When you download the app, you’re prompted to choose a phone number by scrolling through a list of available area codes in various states. Even though all 50 states and numerous metropolitan areas are represented, we found that not all area codes are available. For example, our attempt at getting assigned a number in the 801 area code for Northern Utah yielded no available phone numbers in the region. Instead, the app offered up area codes in Las Vegas, which isn’t exactly next door. This could present a problem if your customer base is local.
Once you’ve chosen your desired phone number, BusinessCall next walks you through the process of setting up your contacts by importing names from your smartphone address book. Importing contacts is easy, but each name has to be individually selected and there is no option to “select all.” When you add contacts, you can choose to send individuals a text message informing them of your new business number.
Every time you launch the app, you arrive at a recent activity tab where you can review instant messages received, return calls with one click, and take notes. The notes function allows you to type in call-specific information that will display to you the next time you communicate with that individual.
Tons of Texts
BusinessCall supports making and receiving phone calls, in addition to text messages. As we noted before, all call activity counts against your existing plan limits. Texts are handled different – since they’re delivered through the BusinessCall proprietary database, they don’t count against any limit on your mobile plan. Availability of use is immediate, and there’s no requirement to provide credit card information during the trial period (bonus!).
When you make a phone call through the app, your call recipients will see your BusinessCall phone number on their caller ID. If you prefer to use an existing phone number, as you might do if you just want to take advantage of BusinessCall’s voicemail and routing system, you also have the option of doing that during setup by porting an existing mobile phone number. Take note, this option is only available for mobile numbers and won’t work with landlines.
Incoming calls will display through the app so you know which number your caller is dialing, and a caller ID notification will appear on your smartphone screen. A unique ringtone can also be chosen to better notify you of business calls versus personal calls you may get on the same handset during business hours.
For Sales, Press 1
The app supports personalized welcome message of up to three minutes in length that plays to callers when they ring you up. This is followed by an automated “choices” menu that lets you program up to nine options for callers to dial. Anything you key into the options menu will be repeated by the auto attendant voice (example: “For sales, press 1” or “For tickle feathers, press 2”).
You can direct these numerical choices to perform one of four options: forward the call to your mobile, play a recorded message, take a message, or forward the call to a different number. This latter option is good for forwarding calls to employees or business partners. You can choose to receive email notifications of voicemails to any email address,
Settings are diverse and you have plenty of options to personalize the menu to your needs. Diving into the Business Settings menu, you’ll find that you can perform a number of neat tricks straight from your handset, like setting business hours for each day of the week. This determines during what hours calls to your BusinessCall phone number will ring through to your phone or go directly to voicemail. You can also set up after hours call handling to allow calls to ring through your mobile and to a secondary phone, like your home landline.
The cost to use BusinessCall is $5.99 a month for a maximum of 100 minutes and 200 texts. If that’s not enough to cover your phone usage (and it probably won’t be, if you plan on using it as your primary business number), you can upgrade to unlimited minutes and texts for $12.99 a month. There are no contracts to sign and there are no such thing as early termination fees. Just don’t expect to have your monthly fee pro-rated if you decide to quit mid-month and you won’t encounter any nasty surprises.
Overall, BusinessCall is a diverse app that comes at an affordable cost and is capable of performing well as a functional front-end phone service. The app UI is uncluttered and intuitive, if not a bit slow when making major changes like re-recording outgoing voicemail messages or rearranging your auto attendant menu commands. In testing, we experienced a few hang-ups that caused the app to clock for an uncomfortable length of time, leading to the conclusion that stability over time may be an issue. Recording quality for outgoing voicemail messages was also poor, but functional.
At a base cost of $5.99 for 100 minutes or $12.99 for unlimited, you could do a lot worse. We strongly suggest testing the service out ahead of paying outright or changing your business cards to reflect your new number.
Before singing on with BusinessCall, perhaps you should check out Grasshopper. Read our full Grasshopper review for more information.