Direct Inward Dialing (DID) is a way to reach a specific team member or department in an organization by dialing them directly, rather than going through a main phone menu or operator.
It’s a feature commonly used within Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems, and many Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers support DID functionality in their solutions.
With DID, callers enjoy a more personalized, streamlined experience, and companies can support a more efficient, effective workforce.
Why Direct Inward Dialing is So Useful
DID numbers first emerged as a means of helping companies make the most of their PBX systems. While a business may only engage a handful of physical phone lines with their service—called “trunk lines”—they can rent several DID numbers associated with each line. These incorporate a specific individual or departmental phone extension into the last few digits of a main office number.
By utilizing their phone lines more efficiently, companies can use DID numbers to:
- Improve customer service, quickly connecting callers with their intended contact and limiting missed calls
- Establish a professional presence in their local market
- Save time and money associated with staffing a full-time phone operator
- Support a more personalized call experience, without the hassle of wading through lengthy phone menus
- Maintain employee privacy, as calls can be forwarded to a personal cell phone when out of the office or working remotely
VoIP Services Make Direct Inward Dialing Easy to Configure
Today’s best Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers enable phone calls using the internet rather than the existing landline or cell network infrastructure. This is hugely helpful when a cell signal or direct landline connection is limited or unavailable, and it also enables businesses to access the many benefits of cloud-based technology.
Using the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) approach, organizations subscribe to a localized PBX system outfitted with a set number of trunk lines. Then, they rent a block of DID numbers associated with each line to enable direct communication with individual team members or departments.
While this traditional landline method provides a similar call quality to modern VoIP technology, businesses are tasked with contacting their phone provider to make any updates or additions to their system, sometimes waiting days for implementation. As a result, companies are severely limited by their trunk line availability—if all lines are in use, the next caller will have to wait or call back.
With a VoIP solution, trunk line changes and DID number updates can be configured in real time through the provider platform.
How Direct Inward Dialing Works
When a caller enters a DID number on the traditional PSTN, the call routes through an organization’s main phone provider to the dedicated PBX system trunk line associated with that DID.
If the line is available, the call then routes directly to the recipient.
Otherwise, depending on the phone system configuration, the caller might experience a busy signal or be routed to another destination, such as a holding queue or voice mailbox.
VoIP providers manage the same direct routing much more efficiently through a process called Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) Trunking.
Rather than renting a set number of trunk lines, which can then be updated only by the phone company, a VoIP provider can save businesses a great deal of time and money by establishing trunk lines as needed.
Organizations can configure their system however they wish and reconfigure it at any time through their VoIP software interface. This is a huge benefit over traditional PSTN systems.
Can You Fax With a DID Number?
Yes—the process works in the same way as a traditional fax line.
A DID number can be connected directly to a fax machine or to a fax server that runs to several machines. This way, each team member may be assigned their own DID phone number and separate DID fax number, which connects to a dedicated machine near their workspace.
With the rise of remote work, modern businesses often connect a DID number to a fax server capable of converting documents into a JPG, PDF, or similar file that can be routed to an employee’s laptop or cell phone.
DID Numbers vs DOD Numbers
Somewhat related to Direct Inward Dialing, Direct Outward Dialing (DOD) enables team members to call anyone outside of their PBX system directly using the standard phone number format without having to go through an operator or switchboard.
For convenience, a system can even be configured to dial outside numbers in a localized area without needing to use the area code.
Anytime an employee calls an outside party from a DOD number, that specific individual or departmental extension will display on the recipient’s caller ID rather than a generalized main company phone number.
This is simply one more way that companies can strengthen their brand by providing a more personalized, streamlined experience for customers, vendors, and other associates.