Toll-free numbers have been in existence since January 1966. Several decades later, many businesses are still using toll-free 800 numbers as the primary phone line and support line since they add convenience to communicating with customers. Due to growing demand, more toll-free numbers have been added, so besides the 800 numbers for your business, you can now use 833, 844, 855, 866, 877 and 888 numbers for your toll-free line
In this guide, we’ll break down the benefits of a toll-free number as well as some ways to get one for yourself.
What Is a Toll-Free 800 Number?
A toll-free number is a telephone number that the customer can call without incurring any additional charge on their end. Any applicable fees for long-distance will be charged toward the owner of the number. Toll-free numbers can be adopted through many different channels, from optional add-ons within popular phone services to standalone platforms like 800.com.
The cost of a toll-free number will depend entirely on the type of service you go with. For most voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) platforms, you can expect to pay roughly $10 to $15 a month for a toll-free number. While this is a significant price increase over a free local number, the cost might be worth it when you consider the overall benefits of an 800 prefix.
Why a Toll-Free Number?
A toll-free 800 number is ideal for businesses that serve customers outside of their local area.
While many phone plans in 2021 offer unlimited calling within the United States, there was a time where calls outside of one local area carried hefty long-distance charges for the caller. In the middle of the 20th century, toll-free numbers were created to reverse the billing; instead of the caller being responsible for the cost of the long-distance connection, the callee would cover the cost of each call. This became very popular with large nationwide companies, customer support teams, and other environments where it was important to make communication convenient for the masses.
These days, toll-free numbers are still used for their original purpose to accommodate those on limited phone plans. They are also popular with companies that want to look like a large, important company because the general public associates them with the large corporations that first started using them.
Get Your Own Toll-Free Number
Getting a toll-free number could make a lot of difference to a business. It will allow you to engage more with customers and establish credibility with your audience. Here’s how to get a toll-free number.
Find a Service Provider
Once you decide your business needs a toll-free number, contact your current service provider. You might be able to get a good rate on a number directly from them. If not, you can always look at other business phone systems and examine their rates.
Each service provider will have different rates and packages. Some require a minimum monthly payment and have a specific number of minutes while many others need no monthly payment but charge per minute. Every service provider will also offer a specific number of extensions in addition to other features.
Incoming calls from different areas cost different amounts. When a customer from Europe calls a business in the United States, it will cost more than having a customer calling from within the United States. Compare the rates and plans before you commit to one.
Check Other Features
Virtually every service provider will offer basic telephony features like caller ID, voice mail, voice-to-email, call forwarding, custom service, auto-attendant service and more. Check out all the features and find one that best suits the business’s budget and needs. Dig deeper and ask questions like:
- Can I use this for inbound and outbound easily?
- How many local numbers do I get with the service?
- Are the features worth the price tag?
- Does it support video conferencing?
Choose Your Prefix
Once you’ve chosen a provider, you’ll want to choose the prefix for your number. Although 800 might seem highly reliable, there are many others you can choose from, such as 800, 833, 844, 855, 866, 877, or 888. It is also worth noting that numbers come on a first-come, first-serve basis. You may have to search for a few different numbers before finding one that you like.
Set Up the Account and Assign the Number
After you have picked the service, simply set up the account and choose the package that best serves the business needs. Most service providers allow you to choose your number if it is available. You can also personalize it. Next, assign the number to the existing phone line. You can also route to an existing landline.
Does Every Business Need a Toll-Free Number?
Toll-free numbers are ideal for companies that serve across the nation and have a dedicated phone line for support, sales, etc. It’s also good for call centers, sales teams, and other environments where you want your team to be easy to call.
However, there are cases where a toll-free number isn’t ideal. If you do the majority of your operations within one region, it might not be necessary to accommodate callers all over the country. Additionally, a local number can also communicate to your audience that you are part of their community and might foster grassroots support for your business.