Toll free business numbers can help bring more customers and clients to your company by providing them an easy and free way to connect. A toll free number helps you reach a wider audience, both locally and internationally. Here is a comprehensive guide to toll free numbers and their benefits for businesses.
How Does a Toll Free Number Work?
A toll free number is a business telephone number that customers can call for free. These numbers have a distinct code as their prefix to distinguish them from other number types. For example, the US has, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, 833, 822, and 800 toll free numbers while the UK has 0808 and 0800 freephone numbers. Other countries use different toll free number prefixes. However, an 800 toll free number is the most common prefix used across the globe.
To use such a number, businesses subscribe to a toll free call forwarding service that can forward incoming calls from anywhere to any device or location. This way, businesses bear inexpensive calling costs while giving customers a free calling option.
Virtual toll free numbers use international call forwarding to route calls. Through this process, businesses are able to connect with international clientele through international toll free numbers (ITFN) without paying expensive international calling rates.
The following steps outline the process for connecting virtual toll free calls.
- The caller makes the call by dialing the number.
- The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) or call forwarding service receives the call.
- This call is then routed to a different line or number based on predetermined rules set by you or the account manager.
- Finally, the call reaches the designated destination.
History of Toll Free Numbers
AT&T introduced automated toll free 800 services in 1966 for intrastate calls and in 1967 for interstate calls through a system called Inward Wide Area Telephone Service (InWATS). The issuance of US Patent 4191860A on March 4, 1980, to Roy P Weber of Bell Telephone Laboratories allowed AT&T to replace the InWATS system. The FCC is responsible for regulating the use of such free calling numbers.
At the time, long-distance calls were expensive. However, this new processing method reduced costs significantly. Further, it allowed small businesses to subscribe to the 800 service. As advancements in telecommunications continued, toll free international calls using international call forwarding became available to businesses of all types. Global Call Forwarding offers an international toll free service (ITFS) and international toll free numbers for more than 160 countries across the globe.
What are the Benefits of Toll Free Numbers?
Communication and marketing studies have consistently shown that toll free and ITFS numbers are beneficial to businesses by enabling them to maintain connections with customers from across the world. A toll free number gives a business the opportunity to create a virtual or local presence in various cities, states, and countries.
Customers have one easy-to-dial and free number to call and the calls reach the appropriate destinations quickly via call forwarding. This encourages interested prospects and long-term customers to maintain contact with a business. Such communication is necessary for continued sales growth.
Additionally, virtual toll free numbers come packed with useful communication tools such as:
- Call forwarding options like simultaneous or sequential ringing, select country forwarding, time-based forwarding, etc.
- Inbound and outbound call recording
- IVR systems and extensions
- Outbound calling with a dynamic caller ID
- SMS enabled number services, and so on
What are the Different Types of Toll Free Numbers?
There are a few different types of toll free numbers. All of these numbers do the same thing: they encourage customers to call for free. However, there are a few differences in terms of how they reach customers:
1. Vanity 800 Toll Free Numbers
A vanity toll free number uses patterns or letters to create a memorable and easy-to-recognize phone number. Popular examples are 800-GOT-JUNK, 1-800-T-MOBILE, or 1-800-WALGREENS. Vanity numbers with patterns would look like this: 800-222-2223 or 888-465-4655. The point is to use a business number creatively to make a strong impression on viewers.
2. International Toll Free Numbers
International toll free numbers or ITFN or ITFS numbers are toll free numbers for different countries. You can get an international number for almost any country or market you want to expand operations to. Incoming calls to these numbers can be forwarded to any device or location of your choice through international call forwarding. This is a helpful option for companies with a wide international reach or those that want to take their business global.
For example, say your company is located in the US, but you want to connect with UK or Singapore customers. You can purchase UK toll free numbers or Singapore toll free numbers from a virtual phone service provider like Global Call Forwarding. With these numbers, residents from these countries can call your business for free, even if you are not located in or have field offices in those countries. And incoming calls will ring at your main office in the US.
3. Domestic Toll Free Numbers
A domestic toll free number of a country is accessible to callers from within that country. These are often called true “800 numbers” and enable toll free calling within a country. For example, Australian residents can call a 1800 Australian toll free number for free from inside the country. Additionally, domestic numbers do not incur additional fees when called from mobile or payphones.
Choosing a Toll Free Number for Your Company
Effective business and sales communication leads to increased customer satisfaction which, in turn, results in more sales. While social media, email, and live chat are important elements of a business’ identity, many clients and customers still prefer direct telephone contact. Based on your business and what your goals are, it is imperative to choose the right business toll free number. To learn more or to get your own toll free phone number, call us at 1 (888) 908 6171 today!