When operating your own business, it can be difficult to decide if you should invest in a toll-free number as a customer contact option. While there is an additional expense, that should not be your only consideration. To help you determine whether your business can benefit from a toll free number, here are some points to consider.
Your first point of consideration should be focused on the location of your customer base. If you are a small business with only local customers, a toll-free number may not be necessary. This is mainly because local calls are traditionally free in your immediate area. Therefore, a toll-free number will cost you money and may not provide a notable benefit.
However, if your customers are located across the state or country, giving those outside your local area a chance to call you for free regardless of their location, a toll-free number can be helpful. This is especially true if you intend to provide customer support for your products over the phone.
Aside from customer support benefits, a toll-free number is also helpful if your business accepts orders over the phone, especially with customers outside of your local area. Customers automatically feel more satisfied when a company provides toll-free access if doing business over the phone is part of the business model.
Similarly, customers may be frustrated if the only platform for filing a complaint or getting help involves a regular phone number. While most people do not pay long distance fees when calling from the cell phone or landline, not all potential customers subscribe to these plans. Additionally, calls made via payphones can also be completed through toll-free numbers without costing the caller anything.
While pay phones are not as commonly used, they are still available. For customers with limited cell phone minutes and no landline, having an option that does not use their minutes is also appreciated.
By wisely choosing your toll-free number, you can connect the number to your business in a meaningful. With each number on a keypad representing different letters, you have the chance to create a number that connects to your business based on a keyword or two. These are referred to as Vanity Numbers. For example, 1-800-FLOWERS is highly memorable and can provide marketing benefits based on how easy it is for customers to remember.
A toll-free number can be used anywhere across the country. In fact, the FCC requires that the business is permitted to port their number between service providers at their discretion. This allows business to relocate without impacting the availability of their toll-free number to them. While this may not be as vital to small businesses, it can be incredibly useful for businesses that do not have customers coming to their facility, such as online only retailers.
This is also helpful for customers, as they do not have to learn new contact phone numbers if you move your business. You can also direct your toll free number to multiple facilities in different locations, providing you the option to focus all customer service efforts through a single number even if you have multiple call centers around the country or the globe.
Changing Your Mind
If you initially decide to add a toll free number and find that it is not being used often enough to justify the cost, you can choose to end the service. However, there is no control regarding who may then claim the number. If a similar business decides to claim your old number, then your previous customers may inadvertently be connected directly to your competition.