How Toll-Free Numbers Work and Why Your Business Should Have One

a call center of a company using toll-free numbers


Remember phones? Like, real ones. Not the 4K video-computers we have in our pockets. I’m talking about ones where there were actual buttons with number that you had to dial. We’ve come a long way from landlines, cordless & car phones. And we’ve also come a long way when talking about numbers. Let’s take a trip back in time.


Back in the mid-1960s, AT&T devised a plan to lessen the burden of collect calls on their phone operators.The volume simply was too much. They devised something they dubbed “automatic collect calling,” where the charge for the caller is reversed onto the business number they’re calling. This, along with Wide Area Telephone Service (WATS), a primitive flat-rate long distance service, preceded modern 800 toll-free numbers.


The service, introduced by AT&T to their subscribers, gave callers a direct dial number that didn’t need an operator. The service brought in billions for the telecom giant. After the landmark antitrust case of United States vs. AT&T in 1982, other telecom competitors were able to offer their own toll-free numbers. As things have evolved, toll-free numbers, once prohibitively expensive, are now widely available.


So why should your business have one?


Because the numbers don’t charge the caller anything, a toll-free number makes your business into a nationwide one. If you’re based out of a garage in Delaware, people from Tacoma, Los Angeles, Austin, and everywhere else are able to contact your business.


This is particularly important for customer service-based calling. If your company offers a service and has a call center, giving customers a convenient and free way to contact your business is a surefire way to win brand loyalty. And as more businesses are moving to SMS to interact with their customers, toll-free numbers can be text enabled as well.


Apart from customer convenience, having a toll-free number immediately gives your company a big-business look and feel. It doesn’t matter if you have two employees or even one. The response rate to a toll-free number is drastically different than a local number.


Also, they’re easy to remember. With companies offering custom (vanity) numbers, you can purchase something akin to 1-800-FLOWERS, which is a major built-in marketing tool. It doesn’t necessarily have to spell anything, as long as it’s a catchy number, potential customers will immediately be drawn to the recognizability.


So what are you waiting for? Get yours today!


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