In 2017, the FCC introduced a new toll free prefix meaning there are now a whole new series of toll free numbers for businesses to claim. This could be important news for businesses; the 833 prefix opens up more vanity numbers and combinations that may be easier for customers to remember, providing some unique benefits.
In fact, toll-free numbers can make small businesses seem as much as three times larger than they actually are, says Yaniv Masjedi, Chief Marketing Officer at Nextiva.
Masjedi adds, “Toll free numbers are a simple way for businesses — large or small — to achieve a professional image. Since toll-free numbers are easy to get and affordable, it’s something all businesses can consider.”
Here are 10 things small businesses should know about the new prefix and what toll free numbers can offer to businesses.
Ways Toll Free Numbers Can Help Your Small Business
Toll Free Numbers Can Help Build a Brand
Of course, any business can reserve a regular phone number that’s just a series of random numbers. But if you have a toll-free number, it can actually be a part of your brand. Think about 1-800-FLOWERS or other businesses that include toll free numbers in their business name or in marketing materials. It’s much easier to make a catchy or vanity number part of your branding or marketing materials than a random assortment of numbers.
New Prefixes Open Up New Vanity Numbers
There are plenty of toll-free numbers out there already. But prefixes like 800 and 888 have already been picked over. So if you want something that’s easy to remember, like 1-800-CAR-WASH, it’s probably already taken. New prefixes like 833 open up a lot of those vanity numbers for new businesses to take advantage of.
They Make It Easier for Customers to Call
In addition, toll free numbers can make it easier for customers to actually remember your number so they can call when they need your services. If you just use a random phone number, it can be difficult for customers to recall or find it if they just heard it in a commercial or saw it on the side of a bus.
Toll Free Numbers Are Great for Service Businesses
But not every business necessarily needs a number that’s easy to remember or to include in marketing materials. According to Masjedi, these numbers can be especially useful for both local and service-based providers.
Buyers are far less likely to purchase from a business, no matter how reputable, if that company doesn’t provide a free and simple way for customers to call the business, says Masjedi. Local service-based businesses may also benefit from using a toll free number along with a local number, especially when a vanity number would aid in their marketing or brand awareness initiatives.
Director of Products at Grasshopper Chris Bohlin puts it another way.
Bohlin explains, “If you’re dealing with someone like a landscaper, you need to talk with that person and have an actual conversation about what services you need. So that results in a phone call and your number is the front door to that communication.”
Toll Free Numbers Add Legitimacy to Online Businesses
Even with online businesses vanity numbers can prove beneficial. An online presence gives a business the appearance of having a national reach. Unless you only work with local customers, the last thing you want to do is detract from this national branding. As Masjedi explains, this may be one of the many reasons small businesses may choose to utilize a toll free number.
He adds, “Customers prefer to call either a number in their local area code, or a toll-free number, so for many nationwide businesses, toll-free numbers support an ideal customer experience. Plus, callers won’t have to worry about long distance fees, and toll-free numbers makes businesses look more legitimate.”
You Can Get Numbers from a Variety of Sources
If you’re interested in securing one of these toll-free numbers, there isn’t just one source you have to check with. Big name phone companies like AT&T and Verizon have access to these numbers, along with other providers like Nextiva. So you can check with the providers of your choice to see which numbers are available.
It’s Similar to Buying Other Business Phone Plans
When you do secure one of these numbers, you’ll have a monthly plan similar to other business phone plans. Businesses can also add additional toll-free numbers to be used for anything from marketing campaigns to multiple departments.
While many providers may charge by the minute for toll free lines, some allow customers to add additional toll free numbers for a flat fee plus usage costs on only a few cents per minute. And this is often with no additional equipment required.
New Numbers Are Available Now
The FCC originally announced availability of the new 833 prefix in early 2017. But the release date was pushed back. But the numbers are now available for interested businesses.
Act Fast If You Want a Specific Number
There are still plenty of different numbers available. But the really easy combinations like 833-333-3333 are probably gone or close to being gone by this point, according to Bohlin. So if you have something really specific that you want to reserve, it’s best to act quickly.
New Prefixes Only Come Along as Needed
Before this latest release, the last prefix made available by the FCC was the 844 prefix back in 2013. So new sets of numbers don’t come around that often. In fact, there isn’t likely to be a new prefix until the 833 numbers are nearly all reserved. So don’t count on a new set of numbers being released if you just miss your chance this go-round.
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