Much has changed since American Telephone&Telegraph introduced toll-free 800 service in 1967. While most people today don’t even realize AT&T still has “telegraph” in the acronym of its name, many businesses today already have or want to have an 800 phone number for their company. Asking your current and potential customers to call you and saying you’ll pay for the call when they do makes a statement. It says you care about your customers, you’re an established business and you are or can be a national company that’s not shackled to doing business merely in one area code.
Research has also shown that customers prefer calling an 800 number over a long-distance number when wanting to contact your business. And why wouldn’t they? If you’ll pay and they don’t have to, that’s more money in their pocket. It ends up being more in a company’s bank, too, because the statement encourages more people to call.
But not all companies have opted to make that statement. The large domain name register GoDaddy, for example, still asks its huge customer base to call the long-distance number (480) 505-8877 and even markets that number prominently so people can pay for those minutes themselves. If you’re reading this article, though, that likely means you’re interested in taking these charges into your own hands so your customers don’t have to.
How 800 service works. It’s time to familiarize yourself with the SMS/800. The 800 Service Management System (or more commonly the SMS/800) is the source of 800 number availability. The SMS/800 also handles all operations and support for the creation and maintenance of 800 records.
In addition to beginning a phone number with 800, toll-free numbers can also come in the form of 877, 888 or 866. As the popularity of the service continues to grow, the numbers 855, 844, 833 and 822 have already been reserved to meet that future demand. The help desk for the SMS/800 can be called (toll free, of course) at 888-SMS-330. While the SMS/800 is an excellent resource to learn about 800 phone numbers, where should businesses look when wanting to actually buy one?
Compare 800 number providers. Flooded with a sea of options and confusing competitive promises from the wide array of 800 service providers that advertise online, some businesses start with their local phone company. This list of providers includes the big and national companies including Qwest, Verizon and AT&T and also includes lesser-known providers (that can only provide coverage in certain areas) such as Cleartel, Sage Telecom and PowerNet Global Communications.
Since those telecoms often focus on local and long-distance service and 800 service is only an addendum to their service roster rather than a focal point, pricing there can be more expensive. That’s why many businesses opt for one of those Internet-advertised 800 service providers. They specialize in 800 service and typically offer hefty discounts to attract your business. Vonage can be a compelling and cheap choice for some businesses because it already focuses on low-cost and high-quality service. Along with its voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) local and long-distance service, Vonage also offers an affordable 800 service. Their Toll Free Plus service, though, only comes with 100 minutes per month. For many businesses, 100 toll-free minutes per month wouldn’t be enough and they may not want to pay per-minute fees over a low pool of minutes.
Cheap 800 numbers. eVoice Receptionist is an affordable option for those who want to sail that boat. Your first month is free and then you pay $29.95 per month with 1,000 minutes. There’s no contract required and no setup fee. In addition, RingCentral offers a 30-day free trial and then $9.99 per month for 100 minutes, and extra minutes cost only 6.7 cents.
If you want a really cheap 800 number, kall8 is the way to go. With this basic 800 service, you just pay $2 per month plus 6.9 cents per minute. The quality is good, and you can choose a vanity 800 number for just $15, which is half the cost of most 800 providers.
Tracey Parker recommends choosing a cheap 800 number to improve your business professional image and increase website conversion rates.