Summary: Toll-free business numbers became popular because they enabled customers and prospects to
contact an organisation without paying any charge for the call. However, with country-wide calling plans
becoming commonplace, does it matter for anyone to make a ‘free call’? Why should enterprises still invest
in such numbers?
Toll-free numbers (TFNs) date back to the 1960s when AT&T rolled out an alternative to the collect call
system prevalent in the US and Canada. These numbers became more popular in the 1990s when businesses found
a potential marketing tool in them.
Over time, they were also adopted in other countries, including India. By opting for a number with codes such
as 1800, an organisation allowed its customers to contact it for free.
Times have changed since then. Today, almost every telecom service provider offers plans wherein the customer
pays a monthly rental and is entitled to free voice calls. Majority of the post-paid plans for mobile and
fixed-line phones come with unlimited free calls. Users can reach any local or STD number from anywhere, for
free. The concept of ‘roaming charges’ is now also history in India.
The ubiquity of free messaging platforms such as WhatsApp has also made businesses more approachable to
customers. Several organisations list a WhatsApp number or provide chat boxes to let people contact them
How relevant are toll-free numbers in this age of digital technology? If customers can contact them even on a
local number without incurring any charges, should businesses still invest in a TFN? The answer, in short,
is – Yes. That’s because the free call is only one of the features of these numbers. The scope of their
benefits is much more comprehensive.
Here’s are the many ways in which a TFN helps your company:
1- Conveys the image of an established business
An entity that has its own 1-800 contact number projects the image of a legit and well-established
organisation. A toll-free number is recognised as an exclusive ‘business phone number’, and a company that
uses it is unlikely to be perceived as one with localised, part-time or laid-back operations.
2- Enhances trust in customer service
Any enterprise would need a contact number to let customers connect with the organisation and get their
questions answered. When people find a toll-free number listed in the business contact details, they feel
more encouraged to call and believe that they will be able to speak with a trained representative. A local
phone number, on the other hand, usually brings a thought that the business has a basic fixed-line
telephone, and the call could be answered by anyone who may not be even related to the company.
Businesses can further improve the efficacy of their toll-free customer service by using IVR options, which
directs callers to a team that specialises in addressing their particular concerns and queries.
3- Improves leads and conversions
A study by Invoca¹ – a call tracking and analytics platform – revealed that 65% of the people would prefer to
contact a business on the phone as against 24% who would use an online form. The reason for such trends is
that people use their smartphones more often than desktops to look for business contact details on search
engines. When they see an instantly reachable toll-free number, it is convenient to click and call from the
mobile device. Filling up an online form to give personal information and then waiting for the business to
call back is cumbersome.
For the business, a direct call from the customer is an excellent opportunity to give more information about
its products and services – this, in turn, improves conversion.
4- Simplifies call tracking and recording
The toll-free number solutions provided by Tata Tele Business Services enable businesses to get detailed
analytical reports on their call flow. They can easily check the average call handling time by agents, the
most frequent queries raised by customers and the days or hours in a day when call volumes are the highest.
Such information can help to understand customers better and improve the business bottom line.
Organisations can also record calls to give feedback to agents.
5- Is easy to remember
A toll-free number in India begins with a 1-800 prefix and usually has a simple pattern of digits that may be
repetitive or alternating. An enterprise can also use a word that describes their business name or nature as
a unique toll-free number. As an example, a fintech company offering personal or business loans may opt for
an easy-to-remember number like 1800-LOAN-NOW that numerically translates into 1800-5626-669 when dialled
from a standard telephone alphanumeric keypad.
Their unique patterns and memorable digits also make the toll-free numbers effective marketing tools for the
6- Is common for customers across the country
In India, a business displaying a telephone number beginning with code 011 will seem to be headquartered in
Delhi, and one with 022 may look local to Mumbai. When an enterprise opts for telephone numbers with city
codes, it prevents its brand from getting a nation-wide identity.
With their special call plans, customers may be able to place an STD call for free from anywhere, but an 1800
number gives them more assurance that the business is ready to serve anyone in any state or city.
If an organisation relocates or changes its service provider, its customers can still connect on the same
number. Businesses can also forward the incoming calls to a mobile
number as a temporary measure.
The relevance of toll-free numbers, therefore, goes far beyond their ‘free calls’ nature. They become an
identity for the business and make it appear more professional. They also are efficient tools for branding,
marketing and customer service.
At Tata Tele Business Services, we offer toll-free numbers with flexible subscription options from any
post-paid wireless or wired telecom service. Our solutions are backed by industry-first SLA and give you the
freedom to define, choose and change your routing preferences at any time. To know more about these
toll-free numbers, please visit https://www.tatatelebusiness.com/business-services/connectivity/toll-free-services.