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What is a Toll Free Number and How Does it Work?

Posted by Erica Berry

May 10, 2018 10:48:14 AM

Think toll free numbers are just for large enterprises or call centers? The reality is they can be an indispensable business asset for companies of all sizes – even a one- or two-person startup. Beyond providing customers and prospects with a free and convenient way to call your company, a toll free number offers a long list of benefits, such as brand recognition and credibility, and are a great way to expand your business into new markets.

If you’re a small business owner and haven’t cashed in on this inexpensive business asset simply because you didn't think it was easy to obtain a toll free number or because you aren’t clear on how a toll free number could help your business, read on.

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What is a toll free number?

A toll free number is a telephone number with special area codes (such as 800, 888, 877 and 866) that allow callers to dial your business without incurring any cost – making it an ideal form of communication for all types of businesses. Whether you run an e-commerce website or a flower shop, any business that requires customers to call in to make a purchase, connect with customer support, or inquire about a service can benefit from a toll free number.

Generally, toll free numbers are issued on a first come, first served basis, but going the extra mile for your customers and choosing a memorable number – like one with repeating digits or patterns – could make an impact on your call volume, sales and ROI. After all, making it easy for customers to contact your business is key to keeping them happy, which directly impacts your bottom line!     

Benefits of a toll free number

Toll free numbers can be extremely valuable to businesses looking to project a professional image. They not only provide your business brand with recognition and credibility, but they can also enhance your company’s perceived size and image – among other things. Here are a few ways toll free numbers can benefit your business: 

1. Appear larger than life.

Until recently, toll free numbers were most frequently used by enterprise level corporations or call centers, which is why having a toll free number – even if you’re working from your home office—can give the impression that you have a much larger operation. 

2. No location? No problem.

With a toll free number, location is obsolete. So whether you’re working from home or relocating your brick and mortar, you and your team can be reached simply by forwarding calls to your cell phone or any phone of your choice. Plus, if you're on the move, having a toll free number through a service like Cloud Phone lets you take all your important calls without being tied to a desk.

3. Improve privacy.

Not only does the added convenience of forwarding calls from your toll free number to your cell mean you don’t have to juggle multiple phones – it also means you no longer have to give out your personal number. Keeping personal and business calls separate is vital to maintaining a professional image for your business.

4. Virtual hub.

Many small businesses these days have remote workers, with no central office and no secretary to direct calls or take messages. With the right setup, a toll free number can act as a hub for your business calls – directing incoming calls to different “departments” or team members, as well as a message center. All it takes is a virtual assistant!

Does your small business have a toll free number? How does it benefit your business? Share your story with other small business owners and entrepreneurs by commenting here or on our social networks – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+.

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Topics: Cloud Phone, Voice Communication, Small Business Productivity, Toll Free Number, Improve Your Business, Cost-Effective Solution

Do We Still Need 800 Numbers In The Age of Smartphones?

Posted by Erica Berry

May 10, 2018 10:45:38 AM

In today’s mobile world, where it seems like everyone has a cell phone and can call long distance without paying extra, you may be wondering why 800 numbers still exist – after all, they are only useful for landlines and no one has those! Well, this perceived reality where landlines are totally gone, is just not the case. According to a Center of Disease Control (CDC) survey, nearly half of all Americans still have a landline, 41% of Americans maintain landlines (Source: CDC). What's more, the CDC also reports that 29% of 24-34 year-olds use a landline to keep in touch (in combination with a cell), and 15% of people living with non-family members still have landlines as well.

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So, why are landlines still around?  Back-up, yes, but there are various other reasons too -- for example, some people may be in areas that don't have proper cell reception or broadband access. Another example is that of senior citizens for whom it may be simpler to use the technology with which they are familiar. Businesses, particularly those that cater to people who are reliant on landlines, may want to consider 800 numbers or other toll free numbers to ensure that customers are comfortable calling.

Not only do 800 numbers (and other toll free numbers) offer a guaranteed-to-be-free form of communication for your customers, but they provide other perks as well, such as:

  • Give customers a widely available, easy to use means of contacting the company
  • Remove insecurities about a business by evoking a sense of trust and the feeling of a large company regardless of business size
  • Expand business reach with one toll free number that's a fraction of the cost of adding local phone numbers in many geographic regions
  • Provide memorable contact number for promotional campaigns, making it easier for your customers to get in touch and respond to offers
  • Seamlessly support your customers by routing your toll free number directly to your support staff
  • With virtual phone systems, 800 numbers are inexpensive to maintain, easy to set up and connect directly with the phone(s) you already have

People still like to make calls to get certain issues resolved. Research from Invoca shows that voice conversations are the most influential yet overlooked interactions in a buyer’s journey -- for instance, 75 percent of consumers say a phone call is the quickest way to get a response from a company. By emphasizing the call channel, your business is likely to come out ahead. 

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Topics: Cloud Phone, Toll Free Number

Toll Free Number: An Asset for Pop-Up Shops

Posted by Erica Berry

May 10, 2018 10:36:15 AM

Consumers love exclusive experiences, which is why temporary retail and dining establishments are a growing trend across the nation. Known as "pop-up" shops, these temporary stores offer consumers time-restricted access to goods and services, and a slew of benefits to owners and operators such as brand extension and the ability to experiment with new ideas and offerings on a short-term basis.

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However, because many pop-ups are the products of entrepreneurs and small business owners, business phone systems often come second to stock and travel expenses. A toll free number is a convenient and inexpensive solution for any business looking to establish a professional phone presence, especially those who are on-the-go and rely heavily on voice communication.

Setting up a toll free number is not only a smart way to give your business a professional edge; it also allows you to keep the same phone number while travelling from city to city to build your venture. Here are 4 ways a toll free number can increase sales…

1. Connect From Anywhere

A toll free number that rings to your cell can be answered from anywhere, which is very economical and convenient for a mobile business. Keeping a steady phone number as you move your pop-up business will keep customers in touch to ask questions and gain knowledge regarding your business venture, such as your dates of your operations in their geographic area.

2. Pre-order and Phone Sales

Halloween costume shops and Christmas shops always pop up around the holiday season and some items, like trendy costumes and gifts, go quicker than others. Keep new customers happy by having their order in stock when you pull into town.

3. No Equipment

Without the hassle of costly equipment and maintenance fees normally associated with business phone systems, you can provide professional voice communications without breaking the bank – and with the right toll free number provider, you’ll not likely to ever need technical assistance because the maintenance is done in the cloud and all calls are sent directly to your cell.

4. Sound Professional

Pop-up shops can seem sketchy but a toll free number makes you sound legit by providing professional features like an auto attendant and call forwarding. Plus, these features will help you manage all of your calls and make sure that your customers never feel like you are out of reach.

There are many financial benefits of pop-up shops, and a toll free number can help you take advantage of all the perks temporary establishments have to offer. Have you started a pop up shop? We want to know your toughest voice communication challenge and how a toll free number could help – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

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Topics: Cloud Phone, Small Business Productivity, Toll Free Number, Improve Your Business, Cost-Effective Solution

4 Ways to Gauge Whether You Need a Toll Free Number

Posted by Erica Berry

May 10, 2018 10:31:39 AM

Regardless of the industry you're in, your business needs a way for customers to contact you directly. While email and online forms are convenient for some, many consumers still prefer to speak with an actual person when contacting a business. As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you may be wondering what's a better option for you -- going the local number route or the toll free number strategy. 

Many businesses have already discovered the benefits of having a toll free number, but if you're not sure if an 800 number is right for you, here are few questions to ask yourself:  

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Do you want to encourage customers to place orders over the phone?

Advertising a toll free number is an effective way to drive phone traffic because it can be easier to remember. Choosing a toll free number with a pattern or repeat numbers means people are more likely to call you, generating more sales!

Do you provide customer service via phone?

A toll free number has the perception of being customer-friendly, as the idea is to make calls free of charge for customers who want to connect with you. In the age of the mobile phone and unlimited plans, the cost savings of a toll free number isn't what is used to be, but the perception of reliable customer service is still in play here. There's nothing worse than needing help with a product or service and finding it nearly impossible to get a hold of a real person -- talk about frustrating! The toll free number is inviting and accessible, so it makes your customer feel welcome to give you a call (and more likely they are to remain a customer).

Would a higher call volume benefit your business?

Whether you sell directly over the phone, have a brick and mortar or are a consultancy, more calls generally mean more sales. A toll free number can also give the impression that you have a large operation -- providing the instant credibility you need to gain more business! 

Do you have a broad geographic customer base?

Wherever you're based, if you are able to serve customers outside your local area, a local number may be limiting. A toll free number can help you capture new markets.  

Did you answer yes to any of the questions above? If so, it may be time to take advantage of all that toll free numbers have to offer. Still have questions?  Comment below or ask us on our social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

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Topics: Cloud Phone, Small Business Productivity, Business Phone Number, Toll Free Number, Improve Your Business

Are 800 Phone Numbers Still Relevant? History of the Toll Free Number

Posted by Natasha Grach

May 10, 2018 10:30:55 AM

The toll free number has evolved over the years from a novelty during the days when AT&T had a monopoly on them in the 1960s, to the ubiquitous customer service and marketing tool it is today. But the world has changed. Modern customers often aren’t as concerned with who is going to pay for a call, especially with many home phone plans now including long distance and mobile phones which will ding them for minutes no matter where the call is ending up. So it begs the question: are toll free 800 phone numbers still relevant today?

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The early days

From the creation of 800 numbers in the 1960s to the 1980s AT&T held a monopoly on them, and charged a premium many times those of regular calls for the service. Fortunately that came to an end in 1982 when the monopoly that was “Ma Bell” was divided into more seven independent companies. The ensuing competition for long-distance rates, including 800 numbers, drove rates down. This opened the door for businesses that previously could not afford 800 phone numbers and many adopted them as a standard business practice.

Following the breakup is also when the vanity number cropped up. Customers could now select their phone number associated to numeric keypad codes and with it unforgettable corporate numbers. This innovation changed the way businesses marketed phone numbers forever. 800 phone numbers became so popular and such an accepted business practice, that by the late 1990s there were none left and thus the creation of 888, 877, 866, and, most recently in 2010, 855 numbers were introduced to meet growing demand.

The year 2000 and beyond

While the Internet age has delivered a multitude of voice options for consumers including various VoIP offerings and the growth of mobile phone usage has changed our communication patterns and business landscape, the need for toll free numbers is still present today. Even though the draw of the toll free number has less to do with cost to the consumer than in the old days thanks to the unlimited phone plans of today, toll free numbers still offer the perception of reliable customer service. They offer a professional image for businesses, as well as the ability to appear larger, either in size or geographic scope. This is especially important for businesses looking to represent themselves across various cities and states, but also for the smallest businesses who want to appear larger and more established. That combined with the advances in technology that allow for call forwarding with the aid of a virtual assistant make it an essential business tool even in today’s mobile world.

What’s next?

Some have even speculated that we may see 1-800 data in the future, where customers will avoid costly data usage to glean customer support via the web. We will have a front row seat to that debate, which is sure to continue. One thing is for sure, there is no replacement for talking to a live human being, whether that dialogue kicks off with a web search or not, you will want to make sure you have all the bases covered. Customers expect to be able to contact you in their preferred mode of communication and for some that still means picking up a phone and calling someone. For many businesses, offering 800 phone numbers means projecting a professional, larger appearance while also giving them the ability to pair it with many modern conveniences to route calls.

So yes, they are still relevant today, for many reasons. Wondering if you need a toll free number? Visit our recent post to learn more, 4 Ways to Gauge Whether You Need a Toll Free Number.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Cloud Phone, Toll Free Number, Mobility

Voxox Cloud Phone Now Supports Two-Way SMS for Toll-Free Numbers (and Gives Business SMS Away for Free!)

Posted by Natasha Grach

May 10, 2018 10:28:20 AM

 

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We are excited to share that our Cloud Phone service is now supporting two-way SMS for toll free numbers!  Not only that, but Cloud Phone customers will also get complimentary SMS that they can use with their toll free numbers. It's an awesome deal - check out our announcement here.

Topics: Toll Free Number, Business SMS, Texting

5 Clever Ways to Use Phone Numbers to Grow Your Business

Posted by Ron Kinkade

May 10, 2018 10:23:23 AM

Last night we reduced the cost of additional phone numbers from $5/month to $1/month. To celebrate I thought I would share some of the reasons for this change and provide some examples of how you can use multiple numbers to help grow your business.

Also, it's notable that if you already have additional numbers on your Cloud Phone account; the cost has also been reduced from $5 to $1 per month going forward.

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At Cloud Phone, we aren't just trying to provide another virtual phone service. We are trying to provide an incredibly valuable service that also disrupts the marketplace and challenges our competitors. When I explain the service, a common response is often, "Oh, it's like Google Voice". While there are similarities to Google Voice, I could write an entire post on why Cloud Phone is far different and more valuable and why Google Voice would never be a good business solution.One of the most important ways that Cloud Phone is a better solution is that you can have more than one phone number with Cloud Phone.

Until now, we charged $5/month/number on your account. You get one included number at signup, but have to pay for additional numbers. The awesome news is that now numbers are only $1/month/number!

So the big issue for a lot of customers is why they would need another number to begin with. Here are the main reasons why additional numbers can help you grow your business:

  1. Appear More Established & Professional
    Toll-free numbers are immediately associated with business, even more so - established business. Having both a toll-free and local phone number provides an immediate sense of professionalism that leads to credibility with customers.

  2. Secure a Local Presence & Reach New Markets
    For some businesses, having a phone number that begins with a recognizable area code is key to capturing the market. Additionally, adding numbers in neighboring area codes or other markets can be a great way to reach new markets and grow your existing business. In just a few minutes, you can add office locations in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Dallas!

  3. Measure ROI for Marketing Campaigns
    One way marketers track the ROI of campaigns is to use a dedicated local or toll-free phone number for various campaigns. With Cloud Phone, it's easy to measure incoming calls to a phone number and judge the ROI for that campaign. Real Estate? Assign a number to each property you are working.

  4. Improve Responsiveness with Direct Lines
    While having a main company greeting and menu with options is great for general calls, it's not the best experience for established customers or closing new clients. Setting up a main number and direct numbers for each employee is a great way to improve customer satisfaction related to reaching staff directly.

  5. Run Multiple Businesses!
    Today's entrepreneur is often working more than one opportunity. Maybe you aren't just a wedding planner, but also an event planner, florist, photographer, online seller, etc... Often, a single person is running many businesses. Having a dedicated number for each within a single account makes it easy to manage them all (and know which way is up) all from a single account on a single cell phone.

In conclusion, this just touches the surface of how to leverage multiple numbers for your business - but we are thrilled to have made it one step easier (and more affordable) tonight!

To add a number to your Cloud Phone account, here are the steps;

  • Login to Cloud Phone from the web portal
  • Navigate to the "Account" section
  • Choose "Numbers" from the menu on the right side
  • Click the "Buy a Number" button

Once you add a number to your account you'll be billed on your next statement. The charge will reflect $1 for the current month, and $1 for the upcoming month. After that, you'll be billed $1 each month per additional number.

Topics: Business Phone Number, Toll Free Number, Local Number