In the past, toll-free numbers were associated with fortune 500 companies, but over the last few decades, SMBs and smaller organizations began to enjoy the rewards of toll-free numbers. Now, with the real-time technology of Hosted VoIP, toll-free numbers are even more affordable and easy to use.
This article provides a buyer’s guide for toll-free numbers by discussing: how 1-800 numbers work, the benefits of toll-free numbers, the benefits of pairing Hosted VoIP with toll-free numbers, and how to purchase a toll-free number.
Toll-Free Number: A phone number your customers can use to call your business without racking up any charges. Any minutes or service costs are paid by you. Instead of an area code, toll-free numbers typically begin with one of these three-digit codes: 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, or 800.
It sounds like a fiscally unsound communication plan, but there many advantages with using toll-free numbers.
Before we list the advantages of toll-free numbers, let’s acknowledge that the original primary appeal of 1-800 numbers is no longer compelling. Decades ago, the “free” element of the call was the hype; however, with today’s commonplace “unlimited” phone plans, we no longer worry about how much our individual calls costs. (Data . . . that’s today’s worry).
Despite the original benefit of toll-free numbers becoming obsolete, 1-800 hundred numbers are integral parts of American businesses. According to a CSF White Paper, there are 43 million toll-free numbers in use and the FCC recently issued an order for more area codes to meet current demands.
Why? Well here are the benefits that make toll-free numbers a business staple for businesses across the United States.
Americans dialing a 1-800 number associate it with large, successful national and international corporations. So by having a toll-free number, your company builds credibility. While credibility is important, it’s perhaps not enough to justify buying toll-free numbers for your business.
What really makes toll-free numbers relevant and worthwhile today is pairing it with other technologies and features. Like sophisticated analytics and business phone features.
Free numbers can help your business acquire marketing research. It’s easy to add extensions to toll-free number, and by designating specific extension for a Facebook ad, a print ad, etc., companies can assess the profitability and performance of specific marketing strategies, mediums, or campaigns.
“The growing field of data analytics has also found an important application by using toll free numbers to help businesses better measure and focus their marketing programs. Today, toll-free numbers support complex advertising and campaign tracking, and are used as a communication vehicle to seamlessly support the customer journey.”
In order to be relevant and competitive, toll-free number providers usually include a host of features that can raise the bar in customer relations: auto-attendant, call analytics, call queues, custom greetings, custom hold music, etc. If you’ve called 1-800 numbers within the past six months, you’ll realize how customized hold music and greetings, sophisticated call queues, etc. made your customer experience better.
Add affordable pricing to credibility, analytics, and features, toll-free numbers become a worthwhile investment.
And now, toll-free numbers are at a price that SMBs can afford. Illustrating the “History of Toll-Free Numbers,” Johnson Hur explains that “prices for toll-free service are at near-historic lows . . . A small-to medium sized business can expect to pay a flat rate of 10-15 per month plus anywhere from 6 to 30 cents per phone call.”
The advantages of toll-free numbers only increase with new Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). In fact, if you google “get a toll-free number,” the majority of your results will be Hosted VoIP providers. If you’ve never heard of VoIP, it’s a phone service hosted through the internet instead of a traditional landline.
Hosted VoIP holds a secure corner on the market because it exceeds all other types of business phone providers with their analytics, features, price, and ease of use.
As Hosted VoIP puts everything in the cloud and is available in real time, call analytics are more accessible and useful. For this same reason, there are incredible business phone features with Hosted VoIP that will only increase the returns for using a toll-free numbers. In addition to the traditional features of auto-attendant, custom greetings, etc., look for customer service features like barge, custom hold music, whisper, etc.
Hosted VoIP providers often provide the cheapest solutions for toll-free numbers. Compare prices. To help you have a baseline for your comparison, Jive charges toll-free numbers is 1.9 cents per minute for incoming calls. Remember how Johnson Hur said that “a small-to medium sized business can expect to pay a flat rate of 10-15 per month plus anywhere from 6 to 30 cents per phone call”? Well that’s quite a bit cheaper.
Not only is it cheaper, but again the real time and personalized capabilities of Hosted VoIP make toll-free numbers easy and quick to use and personalize. For example, with Jive, an account holder simply goes online and with a few clicks of the button and a small fee, you will get a toll-free number.
VoIP is significantly cheaper than landline systems and often includes features that outshine traditional landline systems, voicemail to email, etc. Not to mention easy, real time scalability for your ever changing company. So we highly recommend combining Hosted VoIP technology with toll-free numbers to reap the most benefits for your business.
You can get a toll-free number through a certified Responsible Organizations (i.e. “RespOrgs”) or through a third party provider. RespOrgs are certified by a non-governmental, third-party organization called Somos, Inc., and you can peruse the list of all the certified toll-free number providers on their website. Warning, the list is overwhelmingly long.
***If you are a nerd and want to know more about how this all works . . . one of the most accredited and technical resource on toll-free numbers for the United States is the Federal Communication Commission. For more nitty-gritty details on the process of acquiring toll-free numbers, visit the Federal Communication Commission (F.C.C.).***
If you turn to the traditional method of research today (i.e. google) you will also find a long list of options of certified and third party providers. Whether you work your way through the long Somos Inc. list or google results, you will have a lot of options.
So let’s help you sift through these options to find the best toll-free provider for your small to -medium business.
How do you select a quality toll-free provider?
Toll-free numbers are an excellent resource, and now it’s easier and cheaper than ever for SMBs to get in on the action. If you’re going ahead with a toll-free number, be sure to check out Jive.