With the changes in technology, there are some who question whether 800 numbers are relevant anymore. As cell phones and other calling plans limit or eliminate the cost of calling long distance, many say that 1 800 phone numbers will soon become useless and no longer justify the cost. However, with the number of toll-free prefixes expanding due to demand, it seems that businesses see things differently.
Those who proclaim the demise of 800 numbers often point out that toll-free calling doesn’t matter to customers anymore. They state that everyone has a cell phone or other device that has free long-distance, and as a result, toll-free calling is no longer a benefit.
However, not everyone does have a mobile device. Some consumers still pay for long distance. Even more importantly, most businesses still pay for long distance calling, and so a business-to-business company would do well to have an 800 number. Having your customers reach you cost-free still means a lot.
In addition, there are a huge number of benefits to maintaining an 800 number beyond the traditional toll-free aspect. There are benefits for business prestige, call routing, and especially for international markets.
Business Prestige and Marketing
Businesses have long used 800 numbers as a marketing tool. Personalized 800 numbers from 1-800-FLOWERS to 1-800-GOT-JUNK have helped customers not only remember how to reach a company, but remember what the key differentiating service is.
Americans see around 250 advertising images a day, and notice less than half of them. In today’s ad-saturated world, a personalized or vanity 800 number can help a business not only get noticed, but get remembered. And that memory is worth its weight in gold to most companies. Even a non-personalized 800 number is easier to remember than a local prefix, and is considered more trustworthy by customers.
In addition, a smaller business with a small staff can benefit a great deal from the professionalism that an 800 number can bring. Not only can you receive calls from anywhere in the country, but the call-forwarding, auto-attendant, and voicemail services that come with 800 number service will give a very professional impression. Customers will know that you are an established business and will have more confidence in your ability to meet their needs
Call Routing and National Markets
When a company has a national customer base, it benefits even more highly from having a toll-free number. A single number is much simpler than maintaining a series of local numbers, and offers a great deal more flexibility than a single local number.
800 numbers offer services such as call routing, call tracking, and call forwarding. These services are invaluable to national businesses, especially those with high call volumes. Call routing allows a business to route calls to the customer service office of their choice depending on time of day and caller location. Tracking allows firms to be aware of where the majority of their customers call from and at what times of day they tend to call, which is important for staffing purposes. Finally, call forwarding can allow calls to be sent to another phone or to voicemail if needed.
International Markets and 800 Numbers
International markets are perhaps the fastest-growing reason a company would want an 800 number. Many other nations do not have the infrastructure that exists in the United States, and long-distance international calling is very pricy. To do business in another nation, a company needs a toll-free number that those customers can use to reach them, even in the United States. An international toll-free number can be set up with the same call routing and tracking features as a local one, and can route calls to a local call center or to a U.S. based office.
Those who say that mobile devices and VoIP telephony will lead to the demise of 800 numbers are not able to see the whole picture. Toll free numbers are simple, functional, and stand the test of time. When a business looks at the professionalism, marketing, national routing, and international reach that an 800 number can provide, it’s clear that 800 numbers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.