Suppose you need to contact a US-based business and want to place an order by phone. You find their website and look through a list of contact phone numbers. Immediately, you notice something strange — all the numbers are local. Hmmm, you think, maybe they’re not doing so well. Considering their competitors have toll free numbers at the ready to process your call, you might be onto something.
To compound things, what happens when you call from outside of the United States? Even having US toll free numbers aren’t enough to process calls that originate from outside the US. Instead, international callers will be billed as if that toll free number were any other long-distance number (which defeats the purpose). Heck, they may not even have a domestic phone number, forcing you to call long-distance just for the privilege of contacting their organization.
Does this sound weird to you? If not, we’ll explain why it’s weird for US businesses to not have a toll free number.
Why is it Weird? Reasons Your Business Needs US Toll Free Numbers
Reason #1 – Customers are Finicky: Like the example in the introduction, consumers can be pretty finicky. In our high-pressure, low-attention-span world, if your business doesn’t have an easy way to get in contact, they’ll look elsewhere.
It’s just human nature and a way of making our lives more efficient so we can spend more of our time enjoying our lives, not hunting for ways to get in contact with a business. After all, no one on their deathbed ever wished that they spent more time on the phone with a business! Therefore, having a toll free number makes life easier… and customers appreciate this.
Reason #2 – The Telephone is High-Priority ONLY!: Most people dislike using the telephone in the first place, only saving this method as a way to contact family, friends, and making important business decisions with sales reps. Because customers are trying to maximize their time, they don’t want to waste their time calling phone number after phone number just to get in touch with a business.
Toll free numbers from virtual phone number service providers (like Global Call Forwarding) offer add-ons that can solve this problem efficiently. You can subscribe to a toll free number plan and then add “call extensions” to route calls directly to where customers need to process calls. Customers can dial your toll free number, self-direct to the appropriate department of your business (or a direct extension to key employees), and get what they want efficiently.
Reason #3 – Outbound Calling: Similar to reason #2, when a caller receives a call from an unknown number, they’re less likely to pick up — especially if this call comes from another country or region of the United States. However, toll free numbers are more neutral — having an 800 number appear on their caller ID subconsciously communicates to the recipient that an important business entity needs to get in contact with them. Of course, toll free numbers require an add-on called “outbound calling” which allows businesses to reach customers and have the caller ID reflect this toll free number. Without outbound calling, a long string of digits appears on their caller ID… and most people assume these are spam calls.
Reason #4 – Processing International Callers: As mentioned in the introduction, international callers may be out of luck when trying to reach a US business by calling their toll free phone number. Luckily, there are toll free numbers that can make toll-free calling possible. They’re known as “ITFS numbers,” which are short for International Toll Free Service numbers.
Just like they sound, these phone numbers are toll free numbers that international callers can dial to reach your business toll free (your business gets charged instead). For instance, if you had a Germany ITFS number, German callers can reach your US-based business by calling it. This process is instantaneous, as well as identical in functionality and look (0800 prefix) to normal German toll free numbers.