First established in 1967, the use of toll free numbers has been popular for many years. The toll free numbers that start with 800 are the most widely known, while 844, 855, 866, 877 and 888 have gained popularity as well over the years. Despite the widespread use of toll free numbers, many people do not know about the difference between 800, 844, 855, 866, 877 and 888 numbers and how these differences can impact the bottom line for a business.
A company purchases toll free numbers from a service such as Global Call Forwarding and though the calls are free for the customer who is using the number to call the organization, the party who owns the phone number pays for both the incoming and outgoing calls. toll free numbers are used as an important and effective marketing tool, for lead generation and as a means to track leads from generation to completion. Many companies know that having a toll free number can increase their response rate, but many of them are not informed as far as the best method in selecting the right toll free number for their organization. The decision depends on what the end goal is for the business.
Depending on the advertising strategy for a company, toll free numbers with the 800 prefix are typically the highest in demand for advertising media such as television, billboards, and radio. A business analyst may even advise that using a toll free number with any prefix other than the 800 prefix could have a negative impact on the company’s advertisement return on investment (ROI), but the difference between 800, 844, 855, 866, 877, and 888 numbers really just boils down to the fact that 800 numbers have been on the market for the longest period of time.
When advertising on radio or television, using a number that can easily be remembered is extremely important. People are most familiar with 800 numbers, as they are the toll free numbers that are most subscribed to in the United States. Also, beyond being the simplest to remember, most people know a number with an 800 prefix is toll free. Other toll free prefixes like 877 and 888 are not yet as widely recognizable as toll free. Because of this fact alone, an organization may have to spend more on advertising to draw customers in and the organization may also have to repeatedly point out that the call is free. From a marketing standpoint, these are reasons to examine the difference between 800, 844, 855, 866, 877 and 888 numbers.
Another important point to note regarding the difference between 800, 844, 855, 866, 877 and 888 numbers is that they are not interchangeable. In other words, if a company owns a vanity number that is attached to an 800 prefix, a caller cannot dial the 888 prefix with the same vanity number and reach the company that way. The caller will have their call routed to a different recipient and this can cause issues if a company’s competitor owns the same vanity number as they do, but with a different toll free prefix.
The difference between 800, 844, 855, 866, 877 and 888 numbers when it comes to guidelines for assignment and use is non-existent. Assignment of toll free numbers is completed by entities referred to as “Responsible Organizations” or “RespOrgs” and is done on a first-come, first-served basis. Many of these entities will also provide the service for the toll free numbers they assign.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) establishes the guidelines for the attainment and use of toll free numbers, but the FCC does not play an actual role in the process of assigning the numbers and the FCC does not have access to the number database. One of the rules of the FCC with regard to toll free numbers is that Responsible Organizations shall not reserve a toll free number without having a subscriber for that particular number. Another FCC rule addresses potential hoarding of toll free numbers by subscribers and says that a toll free number subscriber may not purchase toll free numbers that they are not intending to put to use. Purchasing toll free numbers with the sole intent to resell them, referred to as “number brokering,” is also prohibited by FCC guidelines.
Toll free numbers have been proven to be extremely useful for organizations who have customers located all over the United States or even all around the world. Removing any barrier between the company and their customers can only have a positive impact. People also tend to see a company that offers a toll free number as a more established business. Projecting this type of image is a smart marketing decision and offering excellent connectivity with a target market that spans across a wide geographical area, as well as projecting an image of an established business, can help build brand trust and ultimately increase revenue very quickly.
Another benefit of toll free numbers is that they are portable. This means that if a business owner decides to relocate, toll free number providers ensure that the business can be reached no matter where they move to. Even if the company decides to change from one provider to another, the business owns that toll free number and can keep it.
All in all, a toll free number can be a great asset for any business, regardless of the size or type of company or organization. Toll free numbers help to improve customer satisfaction, are easy to remember, help to build brand credibility, offer portability, and are a great marketing tool that can help a business gain an advantage over a competitor who does not offer the same toll free phone access.
Though toll free numbers with an 800 prefix have been around for the longest amount of time and are therefore the most recognizable, the difference between 800, 844, 855, 866, 877, and 888 numbers really stops there. While the use of mobile phones and other technologies have made long distance calling more affordable, toll free numbers are still a simple and economical way to make a business more accessible to its customers.