Should a business have an 800 number today?

Should a business have an 800 number today?

Recently, when talking with a prospect starting a new business, they asked if they should invest in an 800 number. My quick answer, yes – unless you’re strictly serving your local community, an 800 number is an excellent option. It’s even better if you can customize it so it forms a catchy “tag line” such as 1-800-FLOWERS or similar.

But for most businesses that intend to sell online or to reach beyond their immediate geographic area (outside their local phone number area), an 800 number is an excellent investment. It allows prospects and customers to reach out to you without cost to them. It signifies you’re a “legitimate” business that cares about customer service - since it costs money to acquire and maintain an 800 number. And if you can obtain a number that supports a catchy phrase (a vanity number) it can be easily marketed and easily remembered.

But why not simply get local exchanges via VoIP?

This is an option today, but it quickly breaks down as you scale it up. For instance, we have several phone numbers ourselves, local to our home office, local to satellite offices, and local to several of our remote clients. We utilize VoIP telephony so we can acquire specific exchanges that are local when needed. However, there is a point where this becomes cost prohibitive and we’d probably switch to an 800 number. We pay $1 per additional phone number so once we approach 10-20 additional lines it would make economic sense to obtain an 800 number.

So in most circumstances, yes, a non-local-only business should obtain an 800 number. Even though most people do not pay for long-distance anymore, it’s still a good policy to have an 800 number. Especially if you’re selling or marketing to customers that live outside your area or country. Of course, international toll-free numbers can add to the cost as well. So unless your customer base is truly only local, then yes, get yourself a toll-free number.

Jan 07, 2016

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