It seems like everywhere you look, more and more businesses are offering toll-free numbers as a service to their customers.
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These numbers make it significantly easier for customers to contact your company, but are they worth the effort?
The answer to that question is complicated. In truth, a toll-free number might be a good fit for your business. Then again, it might be a complete waste of money. To make an informed decision, there are several other questions that need to be considered.
What are the benefits of a toll-free number?
There are a number of potential benefits to providing a toll-free number for your customers. The most obvious benefit is that it provides a way for customers to contact your company at no cost to themselves. It also gives your company a certain amount of credibility because it tells the customer that you take customer service seriously.
What are the disadvantages?
In addition to the added expense, a toll free number is an open invitation for unnecessary phone calls. Since it is a free, customers are more willing to call, even if they have no intention of purchasing your product. This is especially relevant for high-end product offerings where people (and competitors) do frequent price comparisons.
What types of businesses benefit most from toll-free numbers?
Some businesses benefit more from a toll-free number than others. For companies that are involved in high volume sales via the internet or catalog mailings, a toll-free number is a must. Toll-free numbers provide a nice benefit for businesses whose products require a significant amount of technical or follow-up assistance (e.g. computer technology products). However, if your customer base is largely local (e.g. a local hardware store), the benefits you will receive from a toll-free number are few, if any.
How do I obtain a toll-free number?
Toll-free numbers are available through a number of service providers. These service providers can be found on the internet or through referrals from other similarly sized businesses. The major communication providers also provide toll-free number service, however since they usually sell to higher volume clients, they usually charge small businesses a higher rate than other service providers that specialize in lower call volumes. Whoever you choose should be able to provide you with the equipment you need to bring your number online. They should also be able to help you obtain an available number and direct your toll-free calls to the extension of your choosing.
How will I be charged?
Long-distance charges for toll-free service are based on blocks of time. These blocks of time are available in several options including 6, 30, and 60 second intervals. Not surprisingly, shorter increments are billed at a slightly higher per second rate than longer ones. Nonetheless, most small businesses choose the 6-second increment option.
For additional information on toll-free number costs, see our article: How Much Do Toll Free Numbers Cost?