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How Toll Free Numbers Can Be Used to Build Customer Loyalty

As your business grows, you may notice that your current phone number can’t handle the influx of new customers. Or maybe you’re missing out on customer calls because you’re using a landline and your customers are upset that they have to pay to call your business in order to make customer service calls. Perhaps you don’t want to take business calls on your personal phone line anymore. When these thoughts begin to creep in your mind, it’s time to think about getting a separate business line. Doing so can help increase customer loyalty and business credibility.

Benefits of a Toll Free Number for Customer Loyalty

So what is the best option for a separate business line? A toll free number has several benefits for a small business. The number one benefit of a toll free number is that it is a great way to begin building a loyal customer base.

Toll-free numbers or 1-800 numbers, as you may remember them as, grew in popularity in the 90s, but they are still prevalent today. One of the reasons is that they are a free way that your customers can make customer service calls to your company with. A toll-free number also gives your business the ability to reach a national audience no matter how small your company is.

So how does a toll free number build customer loyalty?

Recognition

Toll free numbers are easily recognizable, and therefore people have an ingrained trust of a business with a toll free number. Toll-free numbers have been around long enough that people know that they won’t get charged for calling one and therefore have no qualms about making a phone call to your business when they need to.

Branding

Toll free numbers were created to serve the people of the business that uses them. It also helps to brand your company as a trustful company because a company that chooses a toll free number is associated with a larger company. You get access to an entire nation of customers, too. You can take the number and advertise it on all of your marketing materials. From business cards to billboards, when people begin to see your number everywhere, they will start to recognize your brand and associate the number with your company.

Customer Service

Toll free numbers up to the ante on your customer service. Most people prefer to interact with a live human on the phone when they have a problem with a product or service. They want to speak with someone right away, and they want their issues handled immediately. When you refer to the web for customer service there can be delayed responses. Choosing to staff a friendly customer service representative will do wonders for your business because it helps to put an angry customer at ease. Since many of the issues in a company can be solved over the phone, your customers will be happy with the swift response time and help. You can also offer support to your customers around the clock. Only with a toll-free number can you provide 24-hour customer service which in turn builds customer loyalty.

Customer Loyalty Toll Free Number Call Center
Source: Stockphoto.com O#23559 – ID#100185868144

Did we mention it’s free for customers?

Again, customers do not want to have to pay to call a business that messed up their order. A customer service line should be free if you want your business to be taken seriously.

Memorable

Choosing a vanity number for your toll free line can also make your company much more memorable. Using a vanity such as 1-800-FLOWERS shows your customer base exactly what you are selling. Even if they forget the name of your company, they’re not likely to forget a vanity number like that.

It’s better than emails

When customers are frustrated with your company, no matter how polite you try to sound in an email, it is not going to come across well with an angry customer. Customer service lines are the best way to handle upset consumers. A brief email is no match for a charming human on the other line.

Trustworthy

If you are running an e-commerce website, people may be wary of your business. Many of these e-commerce sites are untrustworthy and sell damaged products. When your e-commerce company provides a customer service phone line, a person is more inclined to trust your company because you have provided them a way to get in immediate contact with your business in case something goes awry.

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.

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.