A Guide On Toll-Free Numbers – How Does A Toll Free Number Work?

As a general rule, when you make a phone call, you (the caller) are charged. You can reverse the charges if you want, but this doesn’t happen automatically. The cost of calling can put your customers off contacting you, especially if they fear getting stuck on hold for ages while the cost racks up and up.

If your customers don’t want to contact you, that’s very bad for business. Sure, complaints may not be fun to listen to – but if your customers never tell you what you’re doing wrong, you’ll never be able to improve, and your business will never scale.

It’s vital that your customers have a quick, simple, and efficient way to contact you. And, in this age of communications, there’s really no excuse not to do everything in your power to open up channels for your customer.

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Messenger, email, chatbots, and more are all great ways to keep in touch with your customer – but for getting things sorted in a swift and streamlined way, you just can’t beat a good old-fashioned phone call.

Plenty of customers prefer to “talk to a human” than to send an email or type into a chatbot window. But what about the cost of those calls for the customer?

That’s where toll-free numbers come in.

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Toll-free numbers are charged to the call’s receiver rather than its initiator. So, if your business gets a toll-free number, your business would be charged for calls your customers make to you. Sure, it’s an extra cost. But it’s honestly worth taking on that extra cost for the benefits of better customer communication.

Not convinced? Let us explain a bit more about toll-free numbers and why you should get one:

What Is A Toll-Free Number?

A toll-free number is a phone number that charges the receiver of a call rather than the person doing the dialing. Toll-free numbers tend to start with one of the 8-codes: 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, or 833.

Generally, a toll-free number will be assigned to you by your provider, but you can request a “vanity number” if you want.

A “vanity number” is a number that is catchy, easy to remember, or has special significance. They’re often a good idea for businesses as they can be incorporated into jingles and the like. The more ear-wormy your number, the easier it will be for your customer to remember, and the more likely they are to get in touch.

A lot of the most memorable numbers (for example, ones that rhyme or involve a lot of repeated numbers) will already be taken – but you might be lucky! Play around with your digits, and see if you can come up with something fun.

Why Should You Get A Toll-Free Number?

There are loads of reasons to get a toll-free number. The most obvious is that it’s a lot easier for customers to contact you when they don’t have to pay to call – and customer engagement is very important. But that’s far from the only benefit. Here are a few more:

A Toll-Free Number Gives Your Business Legitimacy

A toll-free number looks professional. It says that you’re serious about your business, that you care about your customers, and that you’re prepared to go the extra mile. It’s a good look.

Toll-Free Numbers Bring In More Customers

Toll-free numbers are a very efficient way to get in touch with a business. Potential customers wanting to know more will readily call a toll free number.

For example, if a product recommendation engine shows your product to a potential customer, your ability to answer their questions quickly and efficiently could be the difference between them buying your product or your competitor’s.

On a similar note, existing customers are a lot easier to retain if your customer service is top-notch. Getting in touch easily is a big part of great customer service.

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Customers Expect Toll-Free Numbers

Toll-free numbers have been around for a long time. So long, in fact, that people kind of expect them from businesses by this point. If you’re a tiny, home-based operation, you might get away with not having a toll-free number. But if you’re any bigger than that, your customers will expect to be able to contact you free of charge.

Toll-Free Numbers Are Versatile

Toll-free systems tend to have more business-specific applications than traditional numbers. For example, you can easily forward a call from an IP or a cloud hosted PBX to a toll free number.

What’s more, it’s easy to move a toll-free number with you if you switch premises. You can even move across the world and bring your number with you!

How Can You Get A Toll-Free Phone Number?

It’s incredibly easy to get a toll-free phone number. Many business landline packages will even offer them as standard.

If you want to switch from your traditional number to a toll-free version, simply give your provider a ring and ask. They’ll be able to help you in a matter of minutes.

How Much Will A Toll-free Number Cost My Business?

Ah, the numbers. It always comes down to the numbers eventually! How much a toll-free number will cost depends a lot on several factors, including:

  • Where your customers are calling from
  • How much time your average call takes
  • Your phone provider
  • How and where you forward calls. For example, if your internal comms system is slow and inefficient, your overall call time will be longer and the call cost higher.

Of these, the location factor probably plays the biggest role. Toll-free calls coming from within a few miles aren’t likely to make much of a dent in your budget. If you’re regularly fielding calls from China, however, it will be a different story.

However, don’t think that “international” always equals “expensive.” The cost of calls varies country-by-country, and “more expensive” doesn’t always correspond to “further away.” For example, it’s often cheaper for Australian businesses to receive a toll-free call from the USA or Canada than from the Philippines, despite the Philippines being closer.

So, look into your customer base, their location, the average duration of their calls, and so on before working out your toll-free call budget.

How To Save Money On Your Toll-Free Phone Number

If you’re considering a toll-free phone number but are hesitant about the cost – don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to keep your costs down. Here are some ideas:

  • Don’t keep customers on hold. Not only do they hate being on hold, but every second that hold music is playing also costs you money! Try and deal with customer queries as quickly and efficiently as you can. Don’t rush your customers – but also don’t prolong their time on the phone with things like repeat questions or long periods on hold.
  • Pick the right provider. A good toll-free phone provider will not only offer you a great deal, but they will also help you to keep costs as low as possible.
  • Consult the experts. Communications consultancies help businesses get the best out of their comms. If you’re worried about the cost of a toll-free number, a communications consultancy could help you out.
  • Consider VoIP and other tech. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It’s basically a protocol that enables making phone calls through the internet. If you’re expecting a lot of international calls, hooking your toll-free number into VoIP could save you money in the long run.
  • Remember the benefits. This one isn’t so much about saving you money – but it might help you to see the bigger budgetary picture. The bottom line is that a toll-free number will boost your profits by making your customers happy, improving your brand image, making your customer services more efficient, and so on. You can afford to put some of that extra money back into your comms.

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Give Your Customers What They Want With A Toll-Free Phone Number

As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to provide a service for your customer. If your customer finds it hard to contact you, that service immediately loses value.

When customers can get in touch easily, both they and you benefit. You will gain a greater understanding of your customers, what they like, what they dislike, and how they experience your brand. This, in turn, will help you to make your product, services, and marketing more effective for your customers.

Good customer communications will also improve your brand image. It will leave your customers with a positive impression of you and your team. Customers who receive great service are customers that will return – and bring their friends!

Give your customers what they want, and take on a toll-free phone number. Trust us – your bank will thank you.

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