Recent Advances in Toll-Free Phone Numbers

Toll-free dialing has been around since 1967, but today there are a wide range of benefits that make toll-free numbers a key business tool. While the original 1-800+ prefix lasted 30 years before its 7.8 million numbers were used up, today toll-free area codes are being used up at an increasingly rapid rate thanks to advances in telecom technology that make these numbers incredibly helpful for businesses.

In the past, the key benefit of a toll-free number was that a customer could call from anywhere in the country, without paying extra, and access your product or service. While this was helpful, it was also very limited in scope.

Today, multiple options are available for routing incoming calls to businesses, ranging from Time-of-Day (TOD) routing to converting toll-free calls to incoming VOIP calls to transfer them to local numbers. All of these options help businesses handle customer calls more efficiently and effectively than ever before.

The Benefits of Toll-Free Dialing

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Expanding the Reach of Small Businesses

When toll-free numbers were first introduced, the pricing structure was fixed and prohibitively expensive for anyone but high-volume users. This put local businesses at a disadvantage, as they could not use toll-free dialing to expand their customer base into neighboring areas.

Today, however, toll-free calls can be routed anywhere, and billing is based on a record of per-minute incoming calls rather than a flat rate. This allows small businesses affordable access to toll-free numbers, allowing them to expand their reach across the country at a fraction of the cost of opening additional stores.

Falling Rates due to Competition

With the implementation in 1993 of toll-free number portability, a toll-free number no longer tied a company to a particular carrier. As a result, companies can take their toll-free numbers with them to any carrier that offers better rates. Today, many large users are able to purchase toll-free services for two cents per minute or less. As competition continues and telephone companies work to gain customers, more features and services will be available at lower and lower prices.

‘Vanity’ Numbers for Memorability

Vanity numbers, such as 1-800-FLOWERS, allow businesses to have toll-free numbers that customers can easily remember. In the same way that a memorable website address drives traffic, a custom toll-free number can help a business be the first choice in a customer’s mind for a particular product or service. A vanity number can help a business with both branding and getting a better response from advertising.

Large Variety of Customizable Routing Options

A business using a toll-free number wants to make sure they know where their customers are calling from and also needs to control where each call goes. With current advances in telecommunications, a large variety of options are available, ranging from simple to complex. A business can choose the services they need and set up their telephone system in a way that is completely unique to them. Here are just a few of the available toll-free options.

The ultimate benefit of having a toll-free number is that the options are totally customizable. Not only can it extend your reach nationwide and help customers remember how to reach you, you can understand your customer base by using the increasingly sophisticated tracking and routing options available. Each business can contact various providers and find the services they need at a price they can afford. Ultimately, a business using toll-free dialing is making it easy for customers to reach them and easy for the business to understand their client base, which are keys to business success.