What Does a Toll Free Number Really Mean?

What is a Toll Free Number
by: Shannon Givens , July 9, 2019

In today’s overcrowded marketplace, businesses have come to rely on a variety of online and offline marketing techniques to build their brands and cut through the noise. Every day, consumers are bombarded with hundreds of highly targeted advertisements that vie for their attention, which can make it difficult for companies to stand out from their competition. One of the ways small and large businesses differentiate themselves is by using easy to remember toll-free numbers for their customer service and sales lines. But to understand how these telephone numbers can support a company’s operational and financial goals, it can be helpful to review the basics.

What Are Toll-Free Numbers?

Toll-free numbers allow individuals to contact a business without incurring charges (even if they’re making a long-distance call), though cell phone users without an unlimited call plan are sometimes charged for airtime minutes. These unique telephone numbers provide consumers with an extra layer of convenience when reaching out to a customer service or sales representative, and can demonstrate a company’s commitment to superior service. Toll-free numbers are easily identified by their three-digit prefix codes – 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, and 833 – and are administered by “Responsible Organizations” that have been officially recognized by the Federal Communications Commission. In most cases, toll-free numbers fall into one of two categories:

  • Vanity 800 numbers: A vanity toll-free number spells out a specific word or phrase that directly corresponds to the products or services a business offers. For example, a residential construction company may benefit from choosing a number like 1-888-BUILDER or 1-844-NEW-HOME. Since this type of telephone number is highly sought after, they can be difficult to obtain without the help of a third-party provider. However, with a bit of creativity and foresight, even a small business can secure a memorable vanity number that their customers will be able to quickly recall.
  • Numeric toll-free numbers: When organizations are unable to acquire the word or phrase they’re looking for, the next best option is to locate an available combination of repeating digits or number sequences. For example, numeric toll-free numbers like 1-833-333-3838 and 1-866-868-8866 are much easier to remember than those based on randomized digits. While these types of business numbers might not be a company’s first choice, they can still offer customers a cost-free method of reaching out.

Toll-free numbers are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot be reserved by RespOrgs unless they have specific subscribers that intend to use them. This rule helps prevent “warehousing” and provides small businesses with equal access. Toll-free prefixes are not interchangeable, meaning that 1-888-FLOWERS and 1-800-FLOWERS would connect callers to different locations. Additionally, the FCC requires every toll-free number to be portable between RespOrgs to ensure companies can retain their numbers if they change their business phone service provider.

Why Are Toll-Free Numbers Valuable?

Most organizations obtain toll-free numbers to reduce consumers’ phone call expenses and offer a more streamlined customer service experience. However, toll-free numbers also provide a variety of supplementary benefits that can help companies improve sales and grow their customer bases. For example, using 800 numbers with repeating digits or vanity phrases harnesses the natural pattern recognition and memory recall habits of potential callers. This increases the chances that customers will remember the toll-free number and associate it with a particular brand without having to write it down or look it up online. The more barriers companies can remove from their sales processes, the more likely customers are to follow through with their transactions.

Many companies integrate multiple toll-free numbers into their marketing campaigns to help track attribution and test the efficacy of different number combinations. Selecting the right business phone service provider can also give organizations access to a wide range of advanced features, from direct response tracking and call forwarding to dynamic number display and customizable data analytics. Considering close to 80% of consumers believe the experience a company provides is just as important as its products or services, per a Salesforce study, commercial businesses should look for every opportunity to make their contact methods more convenient.

How to Secure a Memorable Toll-Free Number

There are many different ways organizations can obtain a toll-free number, but the most direct method is to partner with a RespOrg or business phone provider to search through the available options. While there are a variety of websites that allow users to check the status of 800 numbers, few offer the ability to monitor or reserve them in real time. At Custom Toll Free, we work with business owners to locate and secure brand-matching vanity and numeric telephone numbers that can directly support their customer service and marketing goals. If you’re looking to integrate a toll-free number into your business plan, our online search and reverse lookup tools can help you identify easy-to-remember numbers that your customers will appreciate.

To learn more about our personalized toll-free number solutions, browse our website or reach out to an agent today!

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