At one time, “800” numbers were only for large corporations with multiple lines. Until 1996, it was almost unheard of for a small- or medium-sized business to have an “800” number because the costs simply weren’t worth the benefits. Now, things have changed. Many small- and medium- sized businesses have opted to spring for an “800” number in order to track calls, maintain a professional reputation, and to allow customers to call without worry about long distance charges.
The following article is about the benefits of obtaining an “800” number for your business, and how to locate the service that is right for you.
What is an “800” number?
An “800” number (now also “888” and 866″) is a considered a toll free number because the recipient is the one who pays for the call. Rather than calling collect, the customer calls the “800” number, and the charges are automatically applied to the recipient’s account.
Why are there “888” and “866” numbers?
The answer to this question is very simple: “800” numbers were becoming exhausted. So many businesses have begun to request “800” numbers that the Industry Service Providers were forced to create “888” and “866 numbers to serve new customers. The “800” numbers have become so popular that even the “888” and “866” numbers are beginning to go quickly. Individuals have even begun to request residential “800” numbers.
How can a business benefit from an “800” number?
The most important benefit is for any business that serves customers outside of its metro area. If your business is headquartered in New York, and you routinely do business with clients in California, your customers will get tired of paying long-distance charges to call you whenever they need to place an order or discuss a project. Having the “800” number is also a benefit to your business’ reputation. Clients who see that you have a toll free number will be more likely to trust your company.
It also saves money in the reverse. Let’s say you are out of town on business, and you need to call the office. Rather than searching for quarters in your pockets, you can dial the “800” number and reach your office for less money. Also, if you have employees out of the office, they can reach you through that number without having to submit a call log for reimbursement.
Other businesses use “800” numbers for more specific reasons, like for advertising. If you have multiple “800” numbers, you can place ads in several mediums with different “800” numbers listed, thereby allowing you to track which ad drew the most calls. You can also set up your voice mail with options to speak to different departments in your business, eliminating the need for a receptionist to answer all calls. This can be an excellent time saver for businesses and administrative assistants.
Do I want an “800” number or an “888” number?
Some businesses insist upon obtaining an “800” number, while others don’t care about the prefix. There are pros and cons to both sides. On the one hand, “800” numbers are more common, and most people assume that a toll free number will carry that prefix. At the same time, “800” numbers are passed around quite a bit. Chances are, the number you receive belonged to three other businesses before it got to yours, and when you receive wrong numbers for those other businesses, you will have to pay for the call. I advise that you take the number assigned to you, whether it be “800” or a different prefix.
Can I transfer carriers with an “800” number?
Absolutely! “800” numbers are “portable,” which means that they can be transferred between carriers. If you decide to switch, allow 5-10 business days for the change to go into effect.
What is a Vanity “800” Number?
Vanity “800” numbers are similar to vanity tags on your car – they are obtained according to the letters that they spell on your telephone keypad. For example, if you want to reach JP Morgan Chase Bank’s Checking and Savings Department, you dial 1-800-MYCHASE, or 1-800-692-4273. The numbers themselves don’t mean anything, but the letters they represent do.
If you would like to obtain a Vanity “800” Number, figure out what you want before you try to set it up. When you have determined a word or phrase that works well with your business, call it to make sure that it isn’t already in use. Many carriers charge a “search and retention” fee to make sure that a number is available. To avoid that charge, do your homework before calling about service.
How much do “800” numbers cost?
The rates vary from state to state. In some areas, the charges may be up to 42 CPM (cents per minute) while others might charge as little as 7 CPM. It is important to shop around and find the best quote in your area so that you aren’t overpaying.
Are there any other associated costs?
The following charges may apply, and will be different from state-to-state:
1. “800” Listings – There is a monthly publication that lists all of the “800” numbers in the country. In order to have your number listed in that directory, the charge is $20.00 per month. If you have multiple “800” numbers, I recommend listing only your main sales line; anything beyond that will be a waste of money.
2. Monthly Fee – Some carriers charge a monthly fee in addition to CPM charges. I would avoid these carriers because you can always find free “800” numbers, which will only charge for CPM used.
3. Six-Second Charges – This is actually an added benefit for businesses. Rather than charging only by the minute, some carriers will charge in six-second increments for calls lasting less than a minute. This will save you money on inbound calls that are wrong numbers or that last less than a minute.
Do I need to install a separate line for an “800” number?
No, your “800” number can be “fed” directly into your standard telephone line. When people call the “800” number, it will automatically ring in through your regular telephone number, which means that you will only have to have as many lines as you do “800” numbers.