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What is an ITFS Number and How Does it Work?

What is an ITFS Number?

ITFS stands for International Toll Free Service. An ITFS Number is an international toll free number that can be called with no charge to the person making the call. ITFS numbers enable callers from a certain country to dial a phone number in a different country without being charged a long-distance fee.

How Does an ITFS Number Work?

While the person making the call does not incur any charge, the person or business that subscribes to the international toll free service gets billed for incoming call activity.

An ITFS number works by forwarding incoming calls internationally. Calls made to an ITFS number can be delivered to other countries using public switched telephone networks (PSTN) or Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

International toll free service is particularly useful for customer support and sales in other countries. Let’s assume that a business located in the United States has customers in China. That business would get a China ITFS number. Customers in China could dial the number for free and those calls could be answered in the United States or anywhere else in the world!

International Toll Free Service versus Direct Inward Dial

Direct Inward Dialing (DID) is a telephone service that enables incoming calls to ring through to a specific phone instead of going to a menu. ITFS also enables incoming calls to bypass a menu and go directly to a phone.

However, the calling party is usually charged a local fee when calling a DID number. Calls to an ITFS number, on the other hand, are completely free of charge.

ITFS Format

The format of ITFS numbers signals to callers that the phone number can be dialed for free. Depending on the country of origination, international toll free service numbers usually start with 800, 0800, or 1800.

International Toll Free Service Around the World

ITFS is available from more than 160 countries around the world. However, the format of the numbers and overall perception can vary across different countries.

United States

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.

United Kingdom

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 toll free 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

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

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

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

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?

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.

  1. The caller makes the call by dialing the number.
  2. The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) or call forwarding service receives the call.
  3. This call is then routed to a different line or number based on predetermined rules set by you or the account manager.
  4. 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!

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 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.

call center lady world map

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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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!

5. 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.

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:

1. 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.
office buildings

2.  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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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

Customers dial 800 numbers to make a product inquiry, get customer service, book a hotel room, etc. Many businesses today offer toll free numbers as a point of contact to allow callers to call the business for free. These businesses utilize call forwarding to direct incoming calls. Furthermore, companies that offer services internationally or wish to expand globally use an international call forwarding service. Here we explain what international virtual call forwarding is and how it can help your business.

What Is International Call Forwarding?

Call forwarding is a telephone service that redirects a call from one phone number (ie, an 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, smartphone, etc. International call forwarding can be used in a number of ways to improve a business’ system of communications.

Now, let’s look at how a call forwarding service works.

How Does International 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. This destination phone can be located anywhere in the world.

For example, a business in the US buys a US toll free number so that customers can contact them for free. US customers will call the new US 800 number and the call will be forwarded to an existing business line. Calls placed to your USA toll free number 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.

International call forwarding is primarily designed for businesses that want to establish a virtual presence in any country. For instance, you can get international toll free numbers for countries that you want to target or enter and establish a channel of communication.

So, Why Should Your Business Use International Virtual Call Forwarding?

Your competitors probably already use a call forwarding service to their advantage. Most successful companies advertise a toll free number so that customers, vendors, and business contacts can speak with a representative at no cost to the caller. Businesses that use international call forwarding have many valuable advantages. These include:

1) Increased Expansion Capabilities — A business with call forwarding can attract customers from any country. And so, if you want to add new countries, cities, states, or regions to your customer base, this is a reliable solution.

2) Flexibility and Mobility — Call forwarding enables users to receive calls anywhere and at any time of the day. You are, therefore, not limited to one geographical location, you can move around or work remotely and still provide excellent service.

3) Eliminating Roaming Charges — Avoid international, long-distance, or roaming charges by forwarding calls virtually.

4) Establish a Local Point of Contact — An important initial step when expanding a business is entering new foreign and local marketplaces. After targeting a country with sales potential, use this call forwarding service to answer calls from customers in the target country.

5) Growth, Reliability, and Scalability — In addition to helping your business grow, you can make your business more reliable with advanced call forwarding. Add new numbers, new locations, and new customers as and when needed.

6) Advanced Communication Features — Take advantage of a variety of settings to ensure that your business is always available. For example, call forwarding with sequential ringing will send calls down a sequential list of phone numbers when the first call fails.

How to Set Up Call Forwarding

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

On our homepage, select a local or toll free number from one of the many countries we offer. After choosing your business number, view our competitive rates to determine which plan best fits the needs of your business.

Next, decide whether you would like to add “Rollover Minutes” to your account. Rollover Minutes can save a business a lot of money if the firm has unpredictable call volume. You may also consider adding “Outbound Calling” and “Call Recording” to your account. Outbound Calling supports your outgoing or outbound calling efforts and gives you the ability to customize your outgoing caller ID. Call Recording lets you record both inbound and outbound calls and store recordings for up to 6 years.

Add these additional services to your cart, then enter your contact and payment information and checkout. Your new business number will be activated as soon as possible, in as little as two days!

Once your virtual phone number is active, there are a number of features you can use with the service. Set up call forwarding from our online control panel, which is accessible through our website. Log into your account and click the call forwarding tab to set up desired call forwarding rules.

Get Call Forwarding Today!

Call forwarding makes it possible for customers in a foreign country to call a business without incurring expensive per-minute costs. Having this feature gives you a new way to engage customers and bring new ones to your business. An international call forwarding service is a great sales and marketing tool, giving your business greater sales potential. Sign up for the service now or chat with us to learn more.