Are “1800” Numbers Still Relevant in the Internet Age?

Erin Compton - Friday, November 07, 2014

With so many free ways for your customers to contact you (email, web site, live chat, social media), is it really necessary to also offer them a toll-free phone number? Well, that depends. If the vast majority of your customers are local, the cost of a toll-free number may be hard to justify purely from a “toll-free” perspective.

However, if you have customers or prospective customers outside of the local calling area and you want to improve your customer service or encourage more people to call you, this just might be the perfect solution. But as we’ll explain, there are many additional benefits to 1800-numbers.

Marketing Tool

While toll-free numbers may not be as cutting edge as social media and “live chat”, they can still be a vital part of your marketing toolkit. By combining the various communication mediums that are available today, you can get the benefits of each at a reduced cost. For example, offering “live chat” on your web site is a great way to minimise the use of your “1800” number as there are many people who prefer to chat online…

Utilising a “vanity” number (something easy for your customers to remember) as part of your “toll-free” service can further enhance its marketing aspects. It’s also a well-known fact that more customers will call a business if there is no cost to call. The very same people that will spend countless dollars on your products or services will hesitate to call if they know it might cost them a couple of dollars. That’s why “1800” numbers are so popular. It’s all about making it quick, easy and free for your customers to contact you, whether it is to place an order or to resolve a problem.

Options

In addition to “1800” numbers, you also have the option of a “1300” number, which is very similar and might even be a better fit for you. With “1800” numbers, you pay for the call, which means it is completely free for your customer. Often with “1300” numbers your customer pays a local call rate for the first 5 minutes and then you pay for the remainder of the call if it goes longer than that.

How They Work

“1800” and “1300” numbers are inbound ‘virtual numbers’ and don’t require a separate physical phone line. Instead, when a customer dials a “1300/1800″ number, the call is to a normal number you choose (either your business landline or a mobile). You can’t dial out on a “1300/1800″ number but instead you use your normal phone lines and services for that. This also allows your company to own several different numbers for different purposes and have them all diverted to the same phone line.

Other Benefits

  • Gives your business a “professional image”
  • Can be answered at any fixed or mobile phone in Australia
  • Increases your marketing response
  • Vanity numbers are easy for your customers to remember
  • Keep the same phone number regardless of where your company moves
  • Increase the geographical “reach” of your businesses at minimal cost
  • Shows potential customers that you’re not just a “local” business
  • Does not require additional phone lines

So if you are looking for a simple, yet powerful way to encourage your customers and prospective customers to call you, a “1800” or “1300” number is definitely worth looking into. Even with the advent of social media and interactive web sites, there are still a large percentage of people who prefer to pick up the phone and talk to someone, for free. The opportunities to leverage marketing-response tracking, catchy numbers and multi-location appeal are phenomenal.

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