According to Statista, telephony will command a global market value of $571 billion by 2025. As smart devices and mobile phones grow to the billions, businesses need to consider how virtual numbers fit into their digital service offering.
For businesses, phone services are essential. A strong social media presence is great, but not enough to provide your customers with the service and availability that will keep them coming back. You will probably have engaging posts, and your customers can direct-message you on the platform, but most consumers prefer talking to a live agent on phone.
Most customers want to talk to a real person when they are having problems with their products, or at least have the option to do so. However, most businesses don’t know what kind of phone number works best for them: a local number or the toll-free one?
Toll-free numbers are an incredible marketing tool because they show how large and well-established your company is. Why then should you choose a local number over a toll-free number? How could each (or both) benefit your business?
In this article, we’ll explore local numbers vs toll free business phone numbers, their differences, as well as the pros and cons of each type.
Local Number Vs Toll Free: How Important Is a Business Number?
Smooth communication is a crucial element to growing a successful business. A professional and recognizable business number establishes the rapport between a company and its customers, establishing trust and security.
When customers have a single point of contact, they purchase confidently. A genuine phone number is a trust signal that is associated with your brand. But is there a difference in the type of number you choose?
What Is a Local Phone Number?
A local phone number has a three-digit local area code and is acquired by companies that want to communicate to customers in a specific region. Local phone number providers do not charge companies for incoming calls. Only outgoing calls are billed.
VoIP-based local area numbers or virtual phone numbers are ideal for businesses based in a specific area.
Advantages of Local Phone Numbers
In the local number vs toll free debate, local phone numbers have been a hot favorite for businesses in recent years. Customers searching for products and services will often turn to a local directory and find a local number attached to a company.
The following are reasons why companies should consider local phone numbers:
- Better Customer Satisfaction: Phone numbers offer a better assurance of direct contact with a human. Customers feel like their concerns are being personally tackled, consequently improving satisfaction levels.
- A Local Presence: Businesses located far from a given area can build a virtual local presence by acquiring local area phone numbers. Fortunately, you don’t need a dedicated office to reach customers in a specific area.
- Added Credibility: A local phone number improves a company’s credibility in a local area, giving customers a sense of community and belonging. It is a great option if you operate a regional business or are looking to develop a trusted local presence.
- Professional Image: Local phone numbers create a strong brand image that benefits businesses. A local phone number gives the company more legitimacy.
- Opportunities for Local Advertising: Businesses use local numbers in local advertising to gain quick leads since they’re easier to recognize.
Issues with Local Phone Numbers
Before acquiring local phone numbers, business owners should consider the following:
- A local phone number implies that you only have a local presence and may make the customer feel that your business is a small unit.
- Calling a local phone number from different regions can be expensive for the customer.
How to Install a Local Phone Number
If you’re considering a local phone number, you’re probably wondering whether to use a VoIP system or a PBX-based number.
PBX (Private Branch Exchange) is an on-premise phone system that’s not connected to a network. VoIP, on the other hand, can be on-premise or hosted and converts voice to data packets which are transferred over a data network.
VoIP systems cut costs and are more reliable and scalable. PBX-based systems require a large upfront investment, are not flexible since they rely on internal data networks to connect, and can be costly to maintain.
You can reach out to different telephony service providers to advise you on the correct local phone number to acquire. A competent provider will look up the availability of desired phone numbers and assign the best one to you.
What Is a Toll-Free Number?
A toll-free number can be identified by a prefix like 800 that acts as the business inquiry number.
Businesses pay for both incoming and outgoing calls. Customers can therefore call the company free of charge. This allows customers from all over the country to easily connect with your business.
As a business owner, you can create a positive impression of your business by addressing customer issues in real time without the customer having to worry about calling charges. You’ll not only be building strong customer relationships but also be providing increased customer satisfaction.
There are two types of toll-free numbers:
- Domestic toll-free numbers
- International toll-free numbers
International numbers create a strong brand image across borders, whereas domestic toll-free numbers are country specific and offer a few of the benefits of local area numbers.
Advantages of Toll-Free Numbers
Businesses can utilize the following benefits of toll-free numbers:
- Improved Brand Image: A toll-free number gives the appearance that your business is highly established and has a nationwide reach compared to a local company.
- Portability: Businesses can take their old toll-free numbers anywhere. This provides a seamless means of serving customers during transitions or for remote workers.
- Enhanced Customer Service: Customers prefer communicating with a business before closing a deal. Toll-free numbers offer the support customers need in reaching businesses quickly and effectively.
- Additional Marketing Tool: Many businesses entice users on different social media platforms to use the “click to call” functionality in the advertisement to connect with the company. When a toll-free number is used for these marketing channels, users don’t have to worry about the area code of the company or their own location.
- Affordability: Toll-free numbers don’t require much time to set up, and their subscription rates can be lower than traditional phone services.
Issues with Toll-Free Phone Numbers
- Unexpected Scams: In some cases toll-free numbers are at risk for scam calls, like in this scam where robocalls rack up charges for the owner of the number.
- Toll-free numbers can be memorable for inbound callers. On the other hand, the recipients of a toll-free number phone call could instantly label that call as spam and not answer it.
How to Install a Toll-free Phone Number
Seek the help of reliable service providers that offer VoIP or PBX-based numbers. They’ll easily install your toll-free number by checking for number availability and assigning it.
Fortunately, you can always opt for another service provider if the one you’re using doesn’t serve you well.
Domestic Vs. International Toll-free Numbers
Domestic toll-free numbers work only in a specific country, whereas international toll-free numbers can be reached globally. Domestic numbers also have fewer restrictions and are more affordable than international toll-free numbers.
Related: Globalizing With International Business Phone Numbers
How Can I Differentiate Local Numbers from Toll Free?
The key difference between a local and a toll-free number is that a local number is usually linked to a specific location, while a toll-free number isn’t location-sensitive.
For example, if you’re situated in Austin, TX, your local area code would be 512. Customers can therefore use a single phone number to contact your business.
As the name suggests, a toll-free number makes it possible for your customers to call you free of charge.
A local number is designated to a specific area code associated with your town or city and can be accessed either through a traditional landline or virtually.
In summary, local and toll-free numbers have the following properties:
A distinct look at local and toll-free numbers reveals the multiple advantages they offer to businesses. For instance, VoIP technology reduces costs in monthly spending and offers a host of other advantages.
Local Number Vs Toll Free: What Should I Get for My Business?
It depends on your specific needs. The following few questions will guide you in deciding correctly:
- What’s Your Customer Base? Are they limited to a certain area, or are they spread across various states?
- What’s Your Expansion Plan? Are you planning to expand nationally or globally?
When to Acquire a Local Phone Number
Local numbers are most appropriate for small local companies whose businesses are limited to a specific region or city.
For example, if you’re frequently traveling between Chicago and New York, get local numbers for both areas to contact customers and business partners quickly. People are more likely to answer your call when it comes from an area code they recognize. Additionally, your business will feel local to the residents in that area.
When to Use a Toll-Free Phone Number
Toll-free numbers work best for businesses that serve a broad customer base and don’t have a definite location.
Businesses that use toll-free numbers aim at expanding outside their current location, either nationally or internationally.
A local coffee shop, for example, doesn’t need a toll-free number. However, a software company with a user base across the US and Canada will definitely need a toll-free number.
Should I Get Both a Local and Toll-Free Number?
You can get both local and toll-free numbers to support different aspects of customer interaction. They have different advantages which you can maximize by using both.
For instance, if you’re looking to gain a local presence in a certain region, a local number will be more helpful. It’ll also be better suited for local advertising.
However, for scalability and reliability, a toll-free number is ideal. Plus, unlike a local number, a toll-free number does not appear to be tied to one location. Because it gives your business the appearance of a big, established brand, you’ll receive calls from different regions and you can scale easily.
Additionally, toll-free numbers are cloud-based. You can link them to different customer support agents so there’s always someone to answer the call. This way, you will improve customer experience and build your brand.
Furthermore, your customers will appreciate being able to call you without incurring any charges, regardless of where they’re calling from.
Get a Business Phone Number Today
Local number vs toll free? Each comes with advantages and disadvantages and your choice depends on your business needs.
At Phone.com, we offer modern, work-from-anywhere business communication solutions that enable you to connect your business phone number — virtual, custom, and global — to any device. You get the text, video, call management, voice, and collaboration features of an enterprise phone system without the cost.
We’ll provide you with a number and unparalleled support to keep your brand ahead of the competition. Sign up and get your unique business number today.