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What Is a Toll-Free Number (And Why Does Your Business Need One)

Even in a time when long-distance calls cost the same as local calls for most people, toll free numbers are still popular. There are a number of reasons for this, but most of all, businesses with toll free numbers find that their business is more successful with them than without them.

What are toll free numbers, and in what ways do they help the businesses that have them? Read on to find out how these phone numbers haven’t waned in popularity even in the present day. There’s good reason that more than eight thousand toll free numbers are registered each day in the United States.


The History of Toll Free Numbers

Long ago, any time you made a phone call you would have to call the operator and have her put you through to the person you were trying to call. If you wanted to avoid paying for that call, you could tell the operator that you wanted to call collect and she would reverse the charges to the caller on the other end of the line.

For a long time, this was the only way to make a phone call without paying for it.

Toll Free Calling Begins

In 1967 AT&T launched an automated calling system called InWATS that allowed people to call businesses for free. This service was very expensive and was only available to and used by large, major, national companies.

A federal judge ordered the breakup of the “Ma Bell” nationwide telephone monopoly into a dozen regional companies in 1984. This move encouraged competition, and as a result, the cost of toll free numbers dropped; finally, smaller companies could afford to use 1-800 numbers for their businesses as well.

The concept of the “vanity” number became popular during this time. More and more businesses chose phone numbers with their business name or some other memorable words in it that could be spelled out using a telephone’s alphanumeric keypad.

Popularity Grew

In the late 1990s, there was an explosion in the use of toll free numbers. In fact, the demand for these numbers became so large that the ten million number supply of them was depleted.

To expand the pool of numbers to meet the demand, new toll free prefixes were introduced. In 1996, the prefix 888 was rolled out; it was followed by 877 and 866 in 1998 and 855 in 2010.

Toll Free Numbers Today

The demand for toll free numbers somewhat decreased as cell phones gained in popularity but they are still in high demand.

Today, toll free numbers are a mark of professionalism. Any business that wants to be taken seriously on a large local or national scale has one. Although they are available to everyone, a toll free number on business materials tends to give any business some extra prestige and clout.

What Are Toll Free Numbers Used for Today?

You may be wondering why your company needs a toll free number for in this day and age. If you do all of your business locally, you may think that you don’t need one at all. But if you are wondering what are toll free numbers used for today in business, then read on for four great reasons that you should consider getting one sooner rather than later.

1. Customer Satisfaction

The main reason businesses get toll free numbers is to improve their communications with their customers. This results in immense customer satisfaction. When your customers know that they can reach you at any time just by dialing one simple number, they will feel more comfortable doing business with you.

2. Credibility

A toll free number also gives your company a great big dose of credibility. It enhances your company’s image and makes your business look more professional.

There are people all over the country running businesses in their pajamas in their garage or basements who have toll free numbers. Because of their fancy number, you automatically picture them in a professional building wearing a suit and tie.

Think about it. Imagine you are looking for a company to do work on your house. You find several different local businesses online that seem like they could do the job. Two of them have local numbers with area codes, but one has a toll free number. Which one do you imagine is the larger, more established business? Which one will you choose?

3. Marketing

Further, a toll free number gives you great opportunities to promote and market your business. Toll free numbers are easier to remember in general, but if you also choose a vanity number that spells something, your customers will never forget it.

If your company makes commercials, repetition of a toll free number with a jingle ensures that your number will be engrained in your potential customers’ minds for years or even decades to come.

4. Portability

You can point the toll free number you choose anywhere you please. You can set the number so it forwards to your personal line so you can answer your business calls anywhere you go. If you’re asking “I want to know how to get a toll free number for my cell phone,” then you’ll be happy to know the process is easier than you might think.

You can also take the number with you when you move. Even if your company moves from one coast to the other, your toll free number can remain the same. Your customers won’t even know you moved.

Toll Free Numbers Are Great

As you can see, toll free numbers are alive and well. They have been helping people for the past seven decades and they will continue to be popular onward well into the future.

Your business will benefit greatly from the addition of a toll free number. Whether you choose a standard number or a special vanity number, your customers will see your number, they will remember it, and they will know that they are doing business with a company they can trust.

Purchasing and setting up a toll free number is easy. Now that you know the answer to the question, “what are toll free numbers?” the only question that remains is what are you waiting for? Get your own toll free number today!

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