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What is an ITFS Number and How Does it Work?

ITFS stand for International Toll Free Service. A customer can dial an ITFS number for free, no matter where the toll free subscriber is physically located.  A business will subscribe to an ITFS service and pay all charges for calls to the toll free number. Customers can initiate free calls to an ITFS number from a specific country, and a toll free forwarding service, like Global Call Forwarding will route the calls across the globe in accordance with programmed instructions.

headset business man

How International Call Forwarding Works

Assume your business is located in Asia-Pacific, and you are targeting customers in the United States. Global Call Forwarding suggests you get a USA ITFS number. When your customers in the United States dial the ITFS number, a toll free forwarding service will route the calls to your landlines, mobiles, or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) receivers in Asia-Pacific. Prospective customers are likely to appreciate the ease by which they can contact your company toll free, and this will lead to higher sales and increased customer satisfaction.

ITFS Numbers around the World

USA ITFS Numbers

For a foreign company wishing to establish a virtual market presence in the United States, the world’s largest economy, a US ITFS number is essential to your success. An ITFS number gives domestic callers access to your company. It allows customers in the United States to reach your foreign offices and virtual call centers at no cost to the customer. Prospective customers and business contacts are more likely to reach out to your company if the call is free.

UK ITFS Numbers

The United Kingdom is a major participant in global business, and is a politically authoritative and economically dominant country. Therefore, companies would do well to establish a virtual presence there. Businesses in any country can establish a virtual presence in the UK with an ITFS number. The company simply needs to buy a UK ITFS number and forward the calls to the intended destination, anywhere in the world.

Toll free prefixes in the UK are primarily 800 and 0808, but 0500 is still used. Toll free numbers are free to call from within the UK, bust the cost of calls to the toll free subscriber is dependent upon the international destination. For example, the cost of calls to a business located in the USA differs from calls made to a virtual call center in India.

Germany ITFS Numbers

Telephone numbers in Germany are confusing because they vary in length. They contain both geographical and non-geographical codes. Cities with larger populations have shorter numbers. Older telephone numbers are also shorter. Therefore, if your company subscribes to a Germany ITFS number, callers in Germany can reach you with ease. They caller can simply dial a toll free number, and not an international dialing code plus an area code, while also paying for the call. 

China ITFS Numbers

China has a population of more than 1.3 billion people. Even the smallest company can gain access to this enormous consumer market, and project an international image in China with an ITFS number. The company simply needs to sign up for an international call forwarding service from China with an ITFS number. This will help the company grow its virtual business presence in China, and enable the firm to compete with large multinational organizations.

A China ITFS number will forward calls from China to a destination anywhere in the world. Call quality is important, and subscribers should look for a service provider that uses Tier 1 network carriers to forward calls from China. 

UAE ITFS Numbers

The UAE is a rapidly emerging market and business center in Western Asia. GCF provides ITFS numbers for the UAE as either 8000 plus 6-digit toll free numbers or local numbers with a +971 area code. These numbers allow foreign businesses to establish a virtual business presence in the UAE region. Many businesses have both 8000 toll free numbers and local numbers to provide toll free call forwarding to their customers.

If you have these numbers, consider utilizing attendants who are fluent in local dialects and languages. Because of time-zone differences, subscribers should consider setting up a free Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system that allows a computer greeting system to receive incoming calls from UAE and route them to the appropriate destination based on voice or keypad commands. By using IVR, your customers will appreciate you having gone out of your way to serve them.

India ITFS Numbers

India is one of the largest countries in the world. Its land area is just under 3 million sq km, and its population is approaching 1.3 billion. The GDP growth rate is 7.6%. Many Indian customers transact with foreign businesses using the internet and emails. However, businesses extend their reach in India by subscribing to an India ITFS number. An India toll free number gives customers in India a free way to call your business, and will encourage prospects and business contacts to reach out. A toll free forwarding service can be used to route calls from India to your business anywhere in the world.

What is a Toll Free Number?

A toll free number is a telephone number that customers can call for free. A businesses will subscribe to a toll free call forwarding service, and bear the calling costs, because customers are more likely to dial a toll free number.

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Background

AT&T introduced automated toll free 800 services in 1966 for intrastate calls and in 1967 for interstate calls. Inward Wide Area Telephone Service (InWATS) was the system name. 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 patent title was, “Data Base Communication Call Processing Method”.

At the time, long-distance calls were very expensive. This new processing method reduced costs significantly, which allowed small business to subscribe to the 800 service.

Presently, there are six toll free codes in the US: 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, and 844. Area codes 833, 822, 880 through 887, and 889 are in reserve for future use. Unlike the US, foreign countries use various number prefixes.

The FCC is responsible for regulating the use of toll free numbers. Toll free international calls are facilitated using international call forwarding, the best service that GCF provides.

The FCC designated SOMOS, Inc (formerly SMS/800) to administer the Service Management System (SMS) Database for the RespOrgs and the Service Control Points (SCPs). The SCPs help control intelligent network telephone systems.

How Does Toll Free Work?

The following steps outline the process for connecting toll free calls.

  1. The caller makes the call.
  2. The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) receives the call.
  3. Service control points at the PSTN route the call to a gateway based on the area codes, the gateway being a domestic or international call-forwarding network.
  4. The local carrier for the destination’s locale receives the call.
  5. Finally, the call reaches the designated destination.

What Are Vanity Numbers?

A vanity number is one that uses mnemonics to aid in remembering the number. For example, 800-GOT-JUNK is easier to remember than 800-468-5865. Studies, of video and broadcast advertisements, have shown an 84% improvement in recall when vanity numbers are used in place of numeric toll free numbers.

Are Toll Free Numbers Obsolete?

In 1967, long-distance calls were very expensive. As a result, the use of toll free numbers spread quickly. However, 50 years later, many landline phone services offer free long distance. In addition, time and number of calls determine cell phone fees; this applies to domestic and long distance calls. So what is the benefit of toll free?

Communication and marketing studies have consistently shown that toll free numbers and international call forwarding are beneficial to businesses by maintaining connections to customers. The toll free numbers give a virtual presence in all advertising and promotional media. Customers have one number to call, and the calls reach the appropriate destinations via call forwarding. Some of the special features offered by Global Call Forwarding include advanced call forwarding, simultaneous or sequential ringing, call recording, and voicemail. The answer to the above question is that toll free is definitely not obsolete.

Telephone versus Digital Media

Internet-driven communications play an increasing role for businesses. Having an online presence is very important. However, sales managers agree that live conversations provide a direct path to sales. Studies show that customers prefer to speak directly to their suppliers. In addition, a recent American Express study found that 90% of respondents wanted live representatives to handle their questions over the telephone.

There are differences, however, in the types of toll free number subscriptions. Global Call Forwarding provides vanity 800 toll free numbers, numeric toll free numbers and local phone numbers. Subsequent paragraphs discuss these differences.

Vanity 800 Toll Free Numbers

Vanity numbers are the easiest to remember. Many studies prove this. (However, a suitable one may not always be available.) Cell tracking systems associated with these numbers provide valuable call data for businesses.

Numeric Toll Free Numbers

Numeric toll free numbers are harder to remember than vanity numbers, but they still provide users with valuable call data. They also provide a single point of contact for promotional displays, advertisements, and web pages.

Local Numbers

Local numbers are best for smaller businesses, which cover a limited geographic area, or for rural businesses. The area code recognition resonates with local customers, and it is effective for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for locally based, internet searches.

Conclusions

Since 1967, using toll free numbers in advertising has produced results by allowing businesses to connect with their customers. As we all know, effective communication leads to increased customer satisfaction, which leads to increased sales. Social media, web pages, and other digital content are important elements of business identity. However, many clients and customers still prefer direct telephone contact.

5 Call Center Features You Need for an Inbound Sales Team

Inbound call center agents handle incoming calls for your company, usually in large volumes. Traditionally, call centers take on product orders or provide customer service during hours when your office is not available.

 

call center lady world map

Call centers will typically use virtual toll free numbers when the call center is located outside the country. They are especially beneficial in areas where labor is less expensive. For example, you may have a few call centers setup in the Philippines or India. Depending on your industry, you may even have call centers specified just for bringing in new sales opportunities.

International call forwarding services are imperative to sales teams. Whether you are the owner of a call center in the Philippines or India, a toll free call forwarding service provider can get your enterprise set up with a call center phone system so you can increase sales at your company. We highlighted 5 key features that can increase the effectiveness of your inbound call center.

Your Inbound Sales Team

Inbound sales, by definition, is the budding relationship between a potential client that reaches out to your company and a salesperson from your organization. Because the digital realm has transformed the way companies interact with consumers and make sales, enterprises have now included digital phone numbers, or virtual phone numbers, to streamline the process.

When these features are integrated into your processes, your inbound call center can be more effective than ever. Global Call Forwarding is able to help you attract the revenue you want with new and more modern techniques than ever before.

Below you can read about 5 of the top call center phone system features that can improve the performance of your inbound sales team.

  1. Call Recording

Call recording is a feature that allows you to record any inbound calls automatically. Simply select the number you want to record and enable or disable the feature as needed. With this in place, you can monitor your international call center’s conversations and understand how to improve the sales process. As a manager or business owner, you may find that after listening in on a few calls, you will have just the right knowledge to help out your employees. You can also use these recordings to train new sales staff.

When you keep and store these calls from your personalized Control Panel, you can also recover lost information from previous calls in case that you need to remember important details about your prospects. Let’s say, for example, a prospective client has spoken to a salesman in your India call center. However, when the same client calls back a week later, your salesman is either out of town, on vacation, or no longer working for your company. To find out information about this specific client, you can access your Control Panel and pull important information from their previous conversations. Now you will be able to hand off the inbound client to another member of your call center in India without worry. This can be a useful add-on to your current plan with Global Call Forwarding.

  1. Call Transfer

This feature is just like having an auto-attendant or virtual assistant! Call transfer allows you to make a transition immediately or place a person on hold while you brief the individual on the other line. This can be done even if all three parties are in different countries or area codes.

How does this help your inbound sales? If a potential client contacts your call center in the Philippines and has reached your virtual assistant, your assistant can place that person on hold while they brief the salesman. This allows your salesman the opportunity to quickly research the client’s needs or requirements. This is especially useful if a salesman would like to offer unique products or services that are even better than the competition.

  1. Simultaneous Ringing

There are many reasons to have simultaneous ringing in a call center. With this feature, you can forward calls from your line to two or more numbers through your inbound call center. Even though they will ring at the same time, the call will only be connected to the first salesman to answer it.

This is useful if you have a sales team that is not always in the office or at their desk. Perhaps they frequently travel and meet with different business partners. With simultaneous ringing, they could get calls transferred to their personal cell phones if this is a more convenient option for them. This ensures your team does not miss out on important communication while they are away.

  1. Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) gives your callers a computer greeting and directs them to the appropriate line for their needs. All of this is automated for their convenience as well as yours. All they have to do is navigate through the menu system through their voice and keypad. Best of all, this system is customized to your needs. Within your IVR, you can include company announcements and new deals. This even gives you another opportunity to sell!

IVR also saves your employees time and effort if there are individuals who tend to call your company for a simple, specific reason. For example, if a customer contacts your India call center because they only need to receive their account information, your Interactive Voice Response can do it for them!

  1. Black and white lists

Filtering calls is now easier than ever. Reject numbers coming in from specific area codes to maximize your efficiency. No more unwanted or unsolicited calls!

If your call center in the Philippines is getting hounded by spam, for example, you can integrate black and white lists with toll free call forwarding services. Your “Black List” blocks unwanted callers while a “White List” places preferences on those you want to hear from.

Improve Your Inbound Sales Team

These are just a few of the call center phone system features that can improve the performance of an inbound call center sales team. It is incredibly important, now more than ever, that your sales teams remain consistent in the way you provide service.

5 Reasons to Change Your Virtual Number Provider

2017 is right around the corner, and for an entrepreneur, the start of a new year can be a great time to take a step back and evaluate your business. Not only do we encourage business owners to review their financials, they should determine what their necessary business expenses are.

 

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Each business has different expenses that are vital to their operations. For example, most firms need to rent an office, pay their employees, and pay for the products and services they sell. Technological advances have also changed the way many organizations operate, making services like internet and phone a requirement.

Virtual Phone Numbers Can Help Your Business Succeed

Virtual phone numbers are practically required for most small, medium and large enterprises to succeed. A virtual phone number is a local or toll free number that is not directly associated with a telephone line. Local and toll free numbers make a business more accessible to call, which will translate to more inbound sales calls and greater customer satisfaction. It is a worthy, almost necessary expense, in today’s business environment.

Although setting up a call forwarding service might be a requirement, businesses have a lot of options when it comes to choosing the best international call forwarding service provider.  Many providers offer new users a free trial of their call forwarding service. However, you might already have a virtual number provider.

For those with an existing service provider, we created a list of 5 reasons you might want to change your virtual number provider:

One: Poor call quality

There is no excuse for poor call quality today. When virtual phone numbers were first created, call quality was inconsistent in certain regions. However, technological innovations have enabled providers to offer crystal clear phone calls in any part of the world. The best call forwarding service providers will use Tier1 networks to deliver excellent call quality. We recommend changing providers if you have trouble hearing what callers are saying.

Two: Not enough features

A call forwarding service without features is like computer without software. Depending on the needs of your business, a good call forwarding service provider will have useful features. For example, a virtual number for the purpose of a call center phone system will benefit from features like simultaneous ring and call recording. On the other hand, solo entrepreneurs or small business owners can benefit from Integrated Voice Response, voicemail, time-of-day routing, etc.

Three: Exorbitant rates

Advances in technology have reduced international calling rates a great deal over the past 2 decades. Has your service provider passed these savings along to you? Or does paying your monthly bill cause you a lot of financial stress? Virtual phone numbers are relatively inexpensive and they typically offer a pretty good return on investment, but you need to be forwarding phone calls with the right service provider.

Four: Unfair contracts

A good call forwarding service provider will not require you to sign any contracts. As a business owner, you should be able to add or remove virtual numbers as you please. Some providers force users to sign long term contracts that will lock the user into a rate or require termination fees. Look for a provider that doesn’t charge setup fees, nor require you to sign a contract.

Five: Too much required equipment

Virtual phone numbers are just that – virtual; the call forwarding service, along with the advanced features, can be configured and customized from the cloud. The only thing you should need is an internet connection and phone service.

Virtual Numbers – Is it Time to Switch Providers?

Are you satisfied with your call forwarding service? If not, now could be an opportune time to switch your virtual number provider. The beginning of a New Year is a great time to make a change to ensure that your business will hit the ground running in 2017.

Do you use virtual phone numbers for your business? What qualities do you look for in a call forwarding service provider? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

International Call Forwarding Explained

What is international call forwarding?

Have you ever dialed an 800 number before? Most people have dialed 800 numbers at some point – to make a product inquiry, book a hotel room, etc. Many businesses today offer a toll free number as a point of contact to allow callers to contact the business for free.

The businesses that offer you a free point of contact, in the form of an 800 number, utilize call forwarding. International call forwarding is a telephone service that redirects a call from one phone number (the 800 number) to another destination phone number. The destination number is typically a call center or company headquarters, but can also be a home phone, mobile phone, etc.

International call forwarding can be used in a number of ways to improve a business’ system of communications. The uses and benefits will be covered later, but first let’s break down how a call forwarding service actually works.

How does call forwarding work?

When a business buys a toll free number from Global Call Forwarding, they select a new phone number and a destination phone number. Calls placed to the ‘new’ number get forwarded to your destination number. The destination phone can be located anywhere in the world.

For example, a business in the United States will buy a US toll free number so that customers can contact them easier. Customers will call the new US 800 number, and the call will be forwarded to the existing business line – the destination phone number.

To explain this example further, calls placed to your US 800 numbers connect automatically to a local public switched telephone network (PSTN). Global Call Forwarding’s network then forwards calls, via your local carrier, to your destination phone number. The destination phone number will ring and customers can connect with the business.

International call forwarding is primarily designed for businesses to establish a virtual presence in any country. But there are many more advantages and additional reasons to use international call forwarding.

Reasons to use international call forwarding

Your competitors probably already use call forwarding to their advantage. Most successful companies advertise a toll free number so that business contacts can speak with a representative at no cost to the caller.

Businesses that use international call forwarding have many valuable advantages. The most significant advantage is increased expansion capabilities – a business with call forwarding can attract customers from any country. A second advantage is reliability of the business’ phone systems. International call forwarding enables users to receive calls anywhere and at any time of day. A third advantage of call forwarding is eliminating roaming charges.

Call forwarding allows businesses to establish a local point of contact in a foreign country. An important initial step when expanding a business is entering new marketplaces. After targeting a country with sales potential, use international call forwarding to answer calls from customers in the target country.

In addition to helping your business grow, a call forwarding service can make the business more reliable because of advanced call forwarding. Call forwarding services offer a variety of settings to ensure that your business is always available. For example, call forwarding with sequential ring will send calls down a sequential list of phone numbers when the first call fails. International call forwarding can make a business more accessible and reliable with advanced call forwarding features.

How to set up call forwarding

International call forwarding is very easy to set up and the service can be activated in a matter of seconds. The easiest way to set up call forwarding is to buy a local or toll free number from Global Call Forwarding.

On the “View rates” page, users can select a local or toll free number from one of many countries. After choosing a local or toll free number, view our competitive rates to determine which plan best fits the needs of your business.

Next, decide whether or not to add rollover minutes. Rollover minutes can save a business a lot of money if the firm has unpredictable call volume. Click “add to cart” and enter your information. Your new toll free number will be activated as soon as possible.

Once you buy a toll free number from Global Call Forwarding, there are a number of features that can be used with the service. You can set up call forwarding from an online control panel on our website. Log in to your account and click the call forwarding tab.

Bottom line

Call forwarding makes it possible for customers in a foreign country to call a business without incurring expensive per-minute costs. International call forwarding will automatically forward calls from a local or toll free phone number to a destination phone, which can be anywhere in the world. A call forwarding service is a great sales & marketing tool. The bottom line is that your business has greater sales potential with an international call forwarding service.