You’ve probably encountered the term “toll free” at some point in time, whether on a radio ad or infomercial. Toll free numbers are a way for businesses to provide an easy contact option for their customers, while at the same time saying “thank you for your business” by covering the cost of the call itself. What’s the difference between toll and toll free? How do you choose the right option for your business? Keep reading as we break down toll vs. toll free numbers.
A toll number is a regular phone number that will incur a charge for placing the call. Anytime you make a phone call to a regular phone number, you’re charged based on your phone plan’s included services. If you’re dialing long distance and you don’t have a long distance plan, you could be charged by the minute.
Toll numbers are the standard for small businesses, and usually are a landline with only one or two open lines at a time. Once your business starts experiencing high call volumes, however, you may want to consider upgrading to a toll free service and staffing call center associates to answer the higher demand.
Toll Free Numbers
What does toll free mean? Exactly what it sounds like: no cost. Or, at least not to the caller. The business providing the toll free number still has to cover the cost of the phone call. Toll free numbers generally start with 800, 888, 877, 855, or 866 prefixes. You’ve probably heard an ad in which a toll free number was mentioned. “Call 1-800….for more information.” Sound familiar?
Having a toll free number for either conference calls or regular customer inquiries ensures that your long distance callers won’t have to cover the long-distance charges often required by phone companies.
If your budget allows for it, a toll free number might be better for your business, especially if you’re experiencing high call volumes or are hosting a conference call with long-distance participants. Your customers will appreciate not having to worry themselves with long-distance charges.
How Do I Get a Toll Free Number?
To get a toll free number, you’ll need to purchase one from one of the various sites that offer them for sale. Sites like CallHippo, Grasshopper, and VastConference offer toll free numbers for both conference calls and customer support lines. (VastConference is strictly conference call lines)
Getting a toll free number is as easy as making a purchase and getting your number activated. You’ll need to purchase some equipment if you don’t have it already, however, so you might find that the startup cost of the toll free number can add up quickly. However, once you have it, you can keep it even if you switch phone providers.
Why Toll Free?
Toll free numbers have some pretty unique advantages over their counterparts. For one, they give your business a sense of legitimacy in the customer’s eyes. When you have a toll free number, it usually means that you care about how your customers get ahold of you.
You can also make your toll free number a vanity number, which is essentially a phone number that spells out an easy-to-remember word or phrase. For instance, if you’re a legal firm with a vanity number, you might choose something like “1800-HELP-NOW” or some other combination.
A vanity number is a great way to help customers remember your contact info. If you want to get really creative, you can even have a jingle for your vanity number. It’s actually easier to remember something when it’s presented in song form!
Customers tend to be more satisfied with toll free numbers. Not only are they not spending any money on the call, but they can also be sure that there will be someone on the other end of the line when they call. Often, a business land line will ring and ring if the store is busy before someone picks up the phone. This can cause frustration among customers attempting to gather information or answers to a question.
Many toll free services allow you to forward toll free calls to your own personal cellphone or landline, so even if you don’t have the resources to staff a call center, you can always be on top of customer concerns. Just be sure to have your phone hours posted somewhere so customers know you’re not available at three in the morning!
A toll free number is the best way to let your customers know you value their business and their concerns. Paying for the call is a way of giving back to the people who support your business, and providing a dedicated call staff will ensure that every customer is addressed in a fair time scale.
What Does it Cost?
Depending on the provider, your toll free number’s cost will vary. Grasshopper.com has plans starting at only $24/month for one number, with plans reaching up to $80 per month with five numbers. For conference calls, try VastConference. The toll free conference calling plans start at around $11.99 per month and go up to $31.99 per month for the professional package.
Toll free numbers can be an incredible asset to your business, further legitimizing your name and helping customers reach you quickly and easily. If you’re looking to get serious about solidifying your business’s legitimacy, nothing does it better than a toll free number!