A toll free number is one that can be dialed without the person making the call being charged. In the United States, all toll free numbers have a distinctive three-digit code. These are 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, and 844. One of the most popular uses for toll free numbers is customer service calls. Toll free numbers allow your clients to call your company without having to pay local or long-distance charges. If your toll free number is also text enabled, you will be able to respond to your customers with text messages.
How Toll Free Numbers Are Assigned
You can obtain toll free numbers from a number of companies, such as Global Call Forwarding. As well as providing a toll free service, many of these companies will also offer other features such as call recording, blacklisting and whitelisting, voicemail to email, SMS forwarding, and failover forwarding.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) oversees the official regulating of toll free numbers. The organization sets mandates for how toll free numbers may be obtained and used. One of the requirements is that all toll free numbers must be portable, which means you can take your number with you when you’re switching service providers.
Benefits of Toll Free Numbers
Using toll free numbers for your business has several benefits including:
- Saving your customers money: they will be more inclined to make the call if they don’t have to pay for it.
- Boosting your brand: it enables you to build your brand effectively across different media.
- Making your company contact information easier to remember: it will stick in your customers’ minds every time they see or hear it.
- Giving your company a more professional appearance: your company will look bigger even if you’re operating from a home office.
Is an 877 Number Toll Free?
Not all toll free numbers are equal. Dialing a different prefix will route your call to a different recipient. For example, dialing 1-800-767-0987, will not connect you to the same recipient as dialing 1-888-767-0987. The first toll free number available was an 800 number, which has been around for about 50 years. As these numbers became saturated, other toll free numbers had to be created to meet the demand. One explanation of how the numbers differ is by comparing them to web domains:
- Having an 800 number would be similar to having a .com domain
- Having an 888 number would be similar to having a .net domain
- Having an 887 number would be similar to having a .info domain
- Having an 866 number would be similar to having a .biz domain
Why are Toll Free Numbers Important Marketing Tools?
Toll free numbers, when used correctly, can provide a valuable marketing tool for your company, particularly if you want to boost your brand. Although the numbers are toll free for your customers, your business will pay for incoming and outgoing calls. You can use toll free numbers to help with generating leads. Customers who call your toll free numbers have usually already used your services or bought your products at least once. They may also wish to place an order, or they may have some questions about your products or services. Toll free numbers offer a great way to track your leads to the source and see if your marketing strategies are working effectively.
Making the Most of a Toll Free Number
To make the most of a toll free number it’s important to choose one that is easy to remember so that it will reinforce your brand. There are two types of toll free numbers; these are known as vanity numbers and prime numbers. A vanity number is one which spells out the name of your company or something related to it. For example, if you are a wedding photographer, you may choose the vanity number 877-WED-PHOTO. A prime toll free number is one that is easy to remember because of the combination of digits. For example, 877-777-8787.
If you are looking for a vanity number, many more are still available with the newer prefixes. But bear in mind that some mobile devices don’t have alphanumeric keypads, so customers who are calling from their cell phone may have an easier time remembering a prime number. If you do wish to go ahead with a vanity number, always include the numeric equivalent alongside it in all of your advertising campaigns.
Which Toll Free Prefix Should I Choose?
Although many companies have been using 800 numbers for decades, the other toll free prefixes are becoming just as popular. However, which one you choose may have some impact on your return on investment.
For example, if you are advertising your business on television or radio, you may prefer to use 800 or 888 numbers simply because they are easier for your prospective customers to remember. Nevertheless, whichever prefix you use, a toll free number is always a good option.
If you do decide to use an 877 number, be sure to make it clear to your customers that this is a toll free number, as some of them may not be aware of this. One of the problems that business strategists often point out with using one of the less familiar toll free prefixes is that clients may misremember your number and replace the 877 prefix with 800, which will obviously lead them to a different company, perhaps even one of your competitors. But, an advantage of using an 877 toll free number is that because they are not yet as popular as 800 numbers, more of them will be available. It pays to check the 800 version of your vanity number to make sure that it is not in use by one of your competitors.
Using toll free numbers are beneficial for your business because they encourage people to call you and they help you trace your marketing campaigns back to the lead. If you use an 877 prefix, it would be wise to remember to make absolutely clear that it is a toll free number for customers who may not be aware of this. Don’t forget; you can use toll free numbers for your U.S. and international customer base.