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Your Toll Free Number is BORING – Here’s How to Fix It

It’s not a secret that it’s much easier for people to remember vanity numbers over the average phone number or toll free number. Vanity numbers are making a comeback in popularity for large and small businesses alike. Any business can benefit from using a vanity number, so here is a deeper look at what they are and what they offer. If your toll free number is boring and you are ready for an upgrade, read on!

If your toll free number is boring – Use a vanity number!

Vanity numbers work exactly like toll free numbers, only you can customize the number to reflect your business or products. For example, 1-800-Flowers lets you know exactly what you’re getting when you dial them.

Vanity numbers have all of the benefits of a toll free number, plus they are easy for people to remember. The more people who know your number by heart, the more often you will receive calls, and the more sales you can make. Vanity numbers are still no cost to the customer, and they can be used for marketing purposes. Vanity numbers can be placed on billboards, and the drivers whizzing by can read your ad and remember your number on their commute to work. You should also be advertising your number on your website and business cards. Customers and clients prefer the companies they do business with to have a phone number. This is because they know that they can reach your company at any time and be greeted and helped.

Why are words easier to memorize?

According to cognitive neuroscientists, when a customer wants to remember a telephone number they heard or saw, they will use their “working memory,” which is the “voice” inside of your head. The one you hear when repeating something to yourself silently, so you do not forget. However, repeating something over and over to yourself does not guarantee that you will remember it. While your brain works to try to memorize a number, anything can come along to distract you. Whether it is a crying baby, barking dog, or a car horn honk, things are always around to distract you from what you want to be doing. This is why we will forget a sequence of numbers no matter how hard we try to remember them. The best way to remember a telephone number is to link the number to something meaningful or memorable. This puts the number into our long term memories, instead of the short term, which is quickly forgotten. For example, if you associate a phone number with a word, then that word will bring up a picture in your head, which is precisely how vanity numbers work.

Oddly enough, some sequences of numbers are easier to remember for humans than other number sequences. Many American citizens have an easier time remembering a number using the series 1776, as that is the year that America gained independence from Great Britain. A citizen that is not from the US will not have that ability, unless they studied American history or it is important to them for another reason, like a date of birth. If your toll free number is boring, it won’t stick as much than a number with a more familiar number sequence.

Now that you understand how vanity numbers can work for your business, you can begin your research into choosing the right one for your business. So how do you go about finding the number that you want? It can be tricky, because some of the best number and word associations are already claimed, such as 1-800-CONTACTS. Nonetheless, you can still find a vanity number that will get the job done for you. The first step is to brainstorm a list of numbers and words that would work for your business, and then you can search for these numbers. Some of them may already be taken, but Global Call Forwarding will work with you to find you the best number. One way Global Call Forwarding looks out for their customers is that they offer other toll free prefixes. So if you won’t budge on a word, then you can make an exception from 1-800 to other alternatives such as 1-855 or 1-866. The popularity of alternate toll free prefixes is rising, and more people are becoming aware that 1-800 isn’t the only toll free option. All you need to do is use a little bit of creativity, and you will be on the fast-track to success.

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.

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.

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.