Are Toll-Free Numbers Still Relevant in the Era of Call Plans with Unlimited Free Calls?


Summary: Toll-free business numbers became popular because they enabled customers and prospects to contact an organisation without paying any charge for the call. However, with country-wide calling plans becoming commonplace, does it matter for anyone to make a ‘free call’? Why should enterprises still invest in such numbers?

Toll-free numbers (TFNs) date back to the 1960s when AT&T rolled out an alternative to the collect call system prevalent in the US and Canada. These numbers became more popular in the 1990s when businesses found a potential marketing tool in them.

Over time, they were also adopted in other countries, including India. By opting for a number with codes such as 1800, an organisation allowed its customers to contact it for free.

Times have changed since then. Today, almost every telecom service provider offers plans wherein the customer pays a monthly rental and is entitled to free voice calls. Majority of the post-paid plans for mobile and fixed-line phones come with unlimited free calls. Users can reach any local or STD number from anywhere, for free. The concept of ‘roaming charges’ is now also history in India.

The ubiquity of free messaging platforms such as WhatsApp has also made businesses more approachable to customers. Several organisations list a WhatsApp number or provide chat boxes to let people contact them through messaging.

How relevant are toll-free numbers in this age of digital technology? If customers can contact them even on a local number without incurring any charges, should businesses still invest in a TFN? The answer, in short, is – Yes. That’s because the free call is only one of the features of these numbers. The scope of their benefits is much more comprehensive.

Here’s are the many ways in which a TFN helps your company:

1- Conveys the image of an established business

An entity that has its own 1-800 contact number projects the image of a legit and well-established organisation. A toll-free number is recognised as an exclusive ‘business phone number’, and a company that uses it is unlikely to be perceived as one with localised, part-time or laid-back operations.

2- Enhances trust in customer service

Any enterprise would need a contact number to let customers connect with the organisation and get their questions answered. When people find a toll-free number listed in the business contact details, they feel more encouraged to call and believe that they will be able to speak with a trained representative. A local phone number, on the other hand, usually brings a thought that the business has a basic fixed-line telephone, and the call could be answered by anyone who may not be even related to the company.

Businesses can further improve the efficacy of their toll-free customer service by using IVR options, which directs callers to a team that specialises in addressing their particular concerns and queries.

3- Improves leads and conversions

A study by Invoca¹ – a call tracking and analytics platform – revealed that 65% of the people would prefer to contact a business on the phone as against 24% who would use an online form. The reason for such trends is that people use their smartphones more often than desktops to look for business contact details on search engines. When they see an instantly reachable toll-free number, it is convenient to click and call from the mobile device. Filling up an online form to give personal information and then waiting for the business to call back is cumbersome.

For the business, a direct call from the customer is an excellent opportunity to give more information about its products and services – this, in turn, improves conversion.

4- Simplifies call tracking and recording

The toll-free number solutions provided by Tata Tele Business Services enable businesses to get detailed analytical reports on their call flow. They can easily check the average call handling time by agents, the most frequent queries raised by customers and the days or hours in a day when call volumes are the highest. Such information can help to understand customers better and improve the business bottom line.

Organisations can also record calls to give feedback to agents.

5- Is easy to remember

A toll-free number in India begins with a 1-800 prefix and usually has a simple pattern of digits that may be repetitive or alternating. An enterprise can also use a word that describes their business name or nature as a unique toll-free number. As an example, a fintech company offering personal or business loans may opt for an easy-to-remember number like 1800-LOAN-NOW that numerically translates into 1800-5626-669 when dialled from a standard telephone alphanumeric keypad.

Their unique patterns and memorable digits also make the toll-free numbers effective marketing tools for the business.

6- Is common for customers across the country

In India, a business displaying a telephone number beginning with code 011 will seem to be headquartered in Delhi, and one with 022 may look local to Mumbai. When an enterprise opts for telephone numbers with city codes, it prevents its brand from getting a nation-wide identity.

With their special call plans, customers may be able to place an STD call for free from anywhere, but an 1800 number gives them more assurance that the business is ready to serve anyone in any state or city.

If an organisation relocates or changes its service provider, its customers can still connect on the same number, because toll-free lines are portable. Businesses can also forward the incoming calls to a mobile number as a temporary measure.

The relevance of toll-free numbers, therefore, goes far beyond their ‘free calls’ nature. They become an identity for the business and make it appear more professional. They also are efficient tools for branding, marketing and customer service.

At Tata Tele Business Services, we offer toll-free numbers with flexible subscription options from any post-paid wireless or wired telecom service. Our solutions are backed by industry-first SLA and give you the freedom to define, choose and change your routing preferences at any time. To know more about these toll-free numbers, please visit https://www.tatateleservices.com/business-services/connectivity/toll-free-services.


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