A toll-free number is a great asset to businesses with customer bases spread across a country. It allows callers to reach the company without paying long-distance fees. Instead, the business covers all inbound charges – an act of professionalism and gratitude. The per-minute fee is quite low, especially over VoIP, making it a small cost compared to the value gained.
Traditionally, people associate toll-free numbers with businesses involved in customer service and telemarketing. Nowadays, any business with a website needs one. The online world has given all businesses a chance to target new markets outside of their immediate communities.
Toll-free numbers invite more customer calls. People are eager to get in touch when it doesn’t cost them money. Not to mention, local numbers create barriers for those who live far away. It makes them question your business’ reachability and support for non-local markets.
Your business likely plasters its phone number in many places: the website, cards, brochures, directories and more. In effect, it becomes a vital part of your brand identity. Thus, you should procure a number that lends professionalism and credibility to the brand. Toll-free numbers do this well, as they construct grander corporate images.
Toll-free numbers resonate with consumers more so than local ones, especially when used together. For example, a Canadian 1-800 plus a 1-613 and 1-416 creates the illusion that you're rooted in Toronto and Ottawa but operate nationwide. The benefit of combining numbers is that you appeal to the local market without alienating those outside of it.
Indirectly, toll-free numbers garner trust. This is less true now than in the past when consumers assumed toll-free numbers were hard to obtain. Nevertheless, some of the authority remains.
As an aside, you may choose to solidify your brand with a vanity number. Vanity numbers are easy to remember and recognize because the digits correspond with a phrase. For example, 1-800-Example translates into 1-800-392-6753. Vanity numbers are not necessary to attain the aforementioned benefits.
Commonly, businesses employ toll-free numbers in their marketing schemes. Doing so makes it easier to track leads per campaign. Afterwards, the business forwards the number to some other destination for general purposes (or they get rid of it altogether).
Call forwarding is a useful aspect of toll-free. You do not need special phones or phone systems to place and receive calls. In fact, you can send calls to a regular mobile phone or landline.
Toll-free numbers help businesses future-proof their brands, too. A business with a 1-416 that relocates to the 1-613 area code must now adjust its market position. With a 1-800 number, neither moving nor travelling is a concern. It’s super easy to direct call flows when paired with an online phone system.
Where to Get Toll-Free Numbers and How Much Do They Cost?
A simple Google search can yield dozens of places to buy toll-free numbers. Which of these providers deserves your business depends on a few factors.
- Selection – Which prefixes does the provider offer (i.e. 1-800, 1-855 and 1-844)?
- Cost – How much a month does the number cost? What are the per-minute fees for inbound and outbound calls?
- Amenities – What else does the provider offer with the toll-free number: e.g., a hosted PBX solution? Where can you forward the number?
- Reliability – Does the provider guarantee uptime? Where are the servers located? Does the number come with a support contract?
A typical toll-free number (not a vanity) runs between $2 and $50 per month. Different countries vary in cost, just as some premium prefixes are more expensive. Depending on the service provider and location, inbound minutes will stretch from $0.03/minute to $0.50/minute.