How to Buy a Toll Free Number

How to buy a toll free number? You may be wondering about how to buy, what kind of number to get, where to receive calls and the kind of phone you need.  In this article we will explain how to buy a toll free number to ensure you are getting the most out of your number.  We also cover the top 3 mistakes you need to avoid when buying a toll free number.

A Guide to Buying a Toll Free Number

Toll Free Number Basics

Toll free numbers allow you to receive calls from customers within the country where the toll free number is published.

Calls are converted to digital packets and routed over international connections to your landline, mobile phone, or laptop soft phone. You can receive calls to your toll free number anywhere in the world you have Internet access.

A toll free number is a way for your customers and clients to call your business free of charge. Toll free numbers especially benefit businesses, as there is no better way to get to know your customers than by speaking with them directly. Many customers prefer to call rather than using online chat or email to communicate. You can use a toll free number to drive interaction with customers, but be strategic on where you decide to purchase your number.

Checklist for Buying a Toll Free Number

If you are a business looking to buy a toll free number, here are the basic steps you’ll take to buy and set up your toll free number:

  1. Decide whether you need a local number in a distant city or a toll free number for a particular country
  2. Choose a primary “ring-to” number where calls will be received
  3. Choose a service provider
  4. Choose your toll free or local number and enter a ring-to number
  5. Choose a calling plan with bundles of discounted minutes, or choose a pay as you go plan
  6. Select a method of payment and select Auto Top-Up
  7. Get your credentials
  8. Login to your account and record a greeting for your customers
  9. Promote your toll free number

1. Choose Between a Toll Free Number or Local Number

A local number (known as a DID number) is a number in a city exchange that can be called as a local phone call. The call received is forwarded to your office.  Customers outside the country can usually call the local number as a toll call. If you are looking to build trust and credibility in a particular location, a local number may be the best solution for your company.  Local numbers establish a local presence, showing customers that their market is important to you.  Customer often prefer to call a local business.  With the perceived availability of your accessible location, you’ll be much more likely to receive a call and get the sale.

A toll free number can be called as a toll free call from within the country or region where the number is active. This call can also forward to your office number or the ring-to number of your choice. Callers outside the country where this number is published cannot usually call your in-country toll free number. For example, if you have a toll free number in France, callers from Germany cannot call your France toll free number.

When trying to decide between a local or toll free number it is important to ask yourself, “Where are My Customers?” and “How am I trying to position my business? ”
Local numbers provide a credible local presence in a specific geographic location.

International toll free numbers allow businesses to communicate with their customers, provide customer service and expand their brand globally.  If you are seen as a larger company, or want to expand internationally then a toll free number might be the best choice.   Just remember that you’ll need more than one toll free number if you want to cover more than one country. Not a big problem, as ITFS numbers are very affordable.

2. Choose Your Ring-To Number

“Ring-to” numbers are the numbers where your toll free or local number calls will be forwarded. At this step, all you will need is a single primary number for the purposes of completing your order online.   You can add extensions later. You can also later, as an option, add a series of ring to numbers that will each ring, in sequence, when a call arrives. This can be helpful for customer service applications where you want to make sure someone answers calls.

The cost per minute for a forwarded call depends on the location of the ring to number (what country) as well as the type of phone device: landline number, mobile number, or laptop soft phone.  Usually the soft phone connection will be least expensive, and mobile will be most expensive, but usually each of these options are affordable.

3. Choose a Service Provider

Many service providers offer a good feature set and toll free numbers.  But only a handful of service providers offer toll free numbers and local numbers (known as DID numbers) around the world.  Your first choice should be to find a provider that has both local numbers (DID numbers) and toll free numbers (or ITFS numbers) in many countries around the world. These are the providers who can best serve you.

Next, from this smaller group of providers, choosing a reputable service provider is often a matter of finding a combination of reasonable pricing and great customer service. Online reviews and testimonials might help, but your experience on chat and on the phone will be more important.

For example, may not be right for you.  We are set up to serve SMB customers, established businesses, and enterprise customers, but we are not set up to provide toll free numbers for individuals.

Examples of great vanity numbers that businesses use to drive sales traffic.

Examples of great vanity numbers that businesses use to drive sales traffic.

4. Choose Your Toll Free Number or Local Number

Select a toll free number or a local number that you will use and publish for your customers to call. If it is a local number, you can choose from cities within your market.

If you are choosing a toll free number, you can select numbers that are memorable or easy to pass along person to person.  Vanity numbers may be a good choice (see 1-800 Numbers as Vanity Numbers and Vanity Numbers Hall of Fame Nominations

If you are on the website of the service provider, you’ll be able to enter your ring-to number at this step as well, just after you choose your new toll free number.

If you don’t see a toll free number that you prefer, don’t hesitate to call the service provider and have the service provider search for other numbers that are available for you.

Toll free calling plans can save money when you have significant call volume.

Toll free calling plans can save money when you have significant call volume.

5. Choose a Calling Plan

When choosing a toll free number plan, it is important to analyze the number of incoming calls and related minutes you expect to use each month.  Most (but not all) toll free service providers offer pay-as-you go plans, where you pay only for the minutes you actually use.

Toll free providers also offer calling plans that provide blocks of minutes and have a monthly fee.  This type of plan can save you 8 % to 14% typically over pay as you go, depending on your call volume.  You can choose a calling plan and adjust it later. Most calling plans are month-to-month, but providers offer discounts for an annual sign up because it saves providers time and money collecting payments each month. There are plenty of options and plans on the market today that are great for businesses of every size.

6. Select a Method of Payment and Auto Top Up

At this step in your ordering process, provide a valid credit card in your name or your company’s name.  If the card is not in your name, the service provider will send a permission form to get authorization from the card holder, who will in many cases have to provide government-sponsored photo identification.

You want to select any Auto Top Up option offered. This will typically charge your card an extra $25 to establish a credit balance. This credit balance ensures that when your account runs low on its credit balance, your card will be automatically charged to replenish your credit balance.

This way, you will always have a credit balance with the service provider. If you ever cancel or close your account, the credit balance is refunded to you. Having an Auto Top Up service for your account ensures that your calls will never be stopped because you didn’t notice that you had already used up all of your credit balance for calling.

7. Get Your Credentials

You should receive a welcome email with your login credentials to your user portal. When you log in the first time, you may be asked to create a new password immediately.

After that, you can tour the portal and get ready to configure your features. This is a great time to read over the “getting started” guide you probably received.

8. Login and Configure Your Features

With top service providers, you will receive many features that will help you use your toll free number for your business.  You can configure each of these features, but it is a good idea to start off by setting up the two most important: your greeting and your call forwarding.

The call forwarding feature will let you configure where your calls will ring (which number) by time of day and in what order.  For example, you can have calls ring to your office from 9AM to 5PM, and then to your cell phone until 10PM, and then to voice mail thereafter.

Your greeting should be short and clear.  Later, you can add extensions and enable your IVR feature, so that customers can contact individual members of your staff.

Other features that you can configure will include sequential ringing, voicemail, fax to email and call recording.

Typically, each of these features can be regulated in a web-based user portal.  Having an array of powerful features will enhance your credibility with customers and help your business operations flow more smoothly.

9. Promote Your Toll Free Number

The most common failure in buying a toll free number is failing to promote the toll free number after purchase.  It’s like painting a Rembrandt and then not showing it in an art gallery for all the world to see.

Toll free numbers should appear on all your marketing and sales material and online properties.  That means you should include your toll free number on every piece of marketing material, every business card, every landing page, every web site, every bumper sticker, every online directory listing, every social media profile, and every email footer.  Include your toll free number in all your email campaigns to start reaching as many customers as possible.

Where your toll free number appears, make sure your call to action is as clear as possible so that your potential customers will have an incentive to call. Use click to call button as a great promotional technique for mobile.

For more tips on promoting your business with toll free numbers, read How Can I Promote My Toll Free Number

10. Listen to Your Call Recordings

Listen to your call recordings after you start using your toll free number.  You will be able to increase your business, improve the quality of your sales, and service the reviewing your calls.

At first, you may find that callers are not getting through to your team members. You may have routed calls incorrectly, or some team members may not be available on the schedule you specified.  You could be losing sales, as customers wait on hold and finally hang up.

Second, you may find that your agents are not correctly trained or do not give the right answers or offer upsells and cross sells where appropriate.

Finally, you may recognize additional opportunities for sales, service, or improved customer relations by better understanding the questions and concerns of your customers.

Visit Listen to Your Call Recordings to learn about more of the benefits of monitoring call recordings.