Remember when 800 numbers (aka Toll Free Phone Numbers) were all the rage? If you ever watched TV using an antenna, the answer is probably "yes". They were an easy way to reach consumers and could even use a catchy phrase to make the ad stick. Do these look familiar?
Times have changed however and, with a few exceptions*, you should not be using one for your business. Here's why
1) Without a doubt, the #1 reason is that they feel impersonal. The mere sight of a toll-free number can trigger thoughts of automated menus, long hold times, and bad service. Consumers want to connect with real people. They want to understand the humanity on the other side of the line and on the other side of their dollar. Keeping a local area code # tells the consumer "Hey, you're probably going to get to speak to a real human being. Without having to navigate through 3 minutes of robo-menus"
2) The end of long distance - Toll-free #s used to be a terrific way to help people avoid paying for long distance. Yes, you used to have to pay extra to call someone outside your area code. That rarely exists these days*
3) People still use their phones for calls? The vast majority of consumers will submit a website form, do live chat, or text message. An increasing minority of consumers want to actually speak on the phone
4) Toll-free numbers actually make it more difficult for anyone outside the US to call you. There are ways around this, but if international business is important to you, toll-free is not the way to go
*So what about those exceptions?
1)You actually DO need to make the business seem bigger. What if you're offering loans to other businesses? Or running an auto-purchase business to compete with Carvana or Carmax? Or working with homeowners to refinance their homes? In these cases and others, the consumer may actually want to believe they're dealing with a large company. One with plenty of experience and funding
2) You are taking credit cards over the phone. Despite all of the advances in technology and comfort with all things internet, people still think it's safer to read credit card info over a phone vs a website (hint, it's not). But perception is reality so why swim against the current?
3) They're cheap these days. So, if using a toll-free number aligns with your brand and business goals, it can still make sense
What do you think, do you have a toll-free number? Would you ever add one to your business? Comment below and let us know