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If you had to guess, which number would you call right now to order a mattress? It’s probably something like 1 (800) M-A-T-T-R-E-S. I bet you won’t forget to leave off the last ‘S’ for savings! That’s the power of a toll-free number, and you can harness its potential for your small business in nine simple steps.
Why Getting a Toll-Free 800 Number Is Worth It
If nothing else, a toll-free 800 number can help to boost your customer response rate. Customers are more likely to engage with a business offering toll-free customer support. The prospect of making a free call may also nudge potential customers to call your business with questions or clarification before making the final decision to buy from you.
A toll-free number can also help build your small business’s credibility. Toll-free numbers have long been associated with large companies and corporations. With startups struggling with capital and branding, any little thing you can do to enhance your business image will go a long way in attracting clients. You could be running a business out of your kitchen or basement, and your customers will be none the wiser when they call your business.
Furthermore, an 800 business phone number can help you cement a national presence. These numbers are portable, meaning clients can call free of charge from anywhere within the country. What’s more, you could move your business to a different state, and your customers will still be able to reach you on the same number. This portability ensures that there is no disruption, even when you switch providers.
Finally, many service providers offer additional features along with your toll-free number. These features include a message center, voicemail, call waiting, call forwarding, and extensions. So you’ll be getting a lot more with your 800 number than simply digits that your clients dial when they need to reach you.
The Investment Needed to Get a Toll-Free Number
First, some good news, getting your hands on a toll-free 800 number is easier than most people think. You can have your number set up and ready to use in just a few hours.
The first thing you’ll need is a Responsible Organization or RespOrg. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates toll-free numbers. However, the FCC doesn’t assign the numbers. This job is left to the RespOrgs.
A Responsible Organization reserves the 800 number on your behalf. The service also manages and administers the proper records. The RespOrg has access to the availability status of all toll-free numbers on the 800 Service Management System.
Grasshopper is an exceptional cloud-based phone service that provides toll-free numbers. In addition, Grasshopper is a certified RespOrg with access to true 800 phone numbers for your business.
As far as money goes, getting a true 800 number isn’t that expensive. Grasshopper prices start at $26 per month. This price includes your toll-free number and excellent features like call transfers, call forwarding, virtual fax, and simultaneous call handling to get the most out of your toll-free number.
9 Steps to Getting Your Toll-Free 800 Business Phone Number
Here’s what you’ll need to do to get your hands on a valid toll-free phone number for your business.
Step 1 – Choose a RespOrg
A RespOrg is basically a toll-free number vendor. Most phone services also double up as RespOrgs. This means they are certified to provide customers with 800 numbers.
I highly recommend Grasshopper for several reasons. First, you won’t simply be buying a toll-free number. You’ll also be getting many useful business tools to complement your number, including:
An entire virtual phone systemVoIP, call-forwarding, and voicemail transcriptionMobile and desktop appsBusiness textingReporting
Additionally, Grasshopper will guide and support you throughout the process of acquiring your toll-free number. The service provider will even call you after a few days to ensure that you have everything set up correctly. Lastly, Grasshopper has very responsive customer support with all plans, just in case you run into problems setting up your 800 toll-free number.
If you aren’t sure if Grasshopper is the right choice for you, check out our in-depth post on the Best Business VoIP Phone Services. We review six of the best phone services available for businesses of all sizes. These service providers also offer toll-free 800 numbers.
Step 2 – Choose Your Toll-Free Number
True 800 numbers are hard to come by, but Grasshopper offers plenty to choose from. Get started by picking your toll-free number from the Grasshopper signup page. This number can be random if you haven’t given much thought to your ideal business number.
Click Pick a toll-free number to start the process with Grasshopper.
Next, pick a toll-free number from the list of suggestions. Grasshopper already suggested an 800 toll-free number for me, so I decided to go with that.
There’s also an option at the bottom of the page to refresh the numbers. You can use it if you’re not happy with the number Grasshopper offers.
However, if you already have a specific number in mind, this service also lets you specify the number you want.
The only thing to note is that custom 800 numbers take some time to be active. With Grasshopper, this could be anywhere from one to three business days. A regular toll-free number like the one I chose above will be activated within minutes of signing up for the service.
If you’re choosing your number, consider one with repeating digits. The best strategy is to keep your number memorable and straightforward. For example, the digits 2233 or 2323 are easy to remember. Alternatively, choose a number with the fewest digits possible.
Grasshopper also offers vanity numbers. These are when the phone number spells out a word, such as 1 (800) CARPETS. Vanity numbers, like other custom 800 numbers, can be more money and take longer to activate.
Step 3 – Choose a Plan
Once you are happy with the number you chose, simply click on it to proceed. Grasshopper will reserve the number for you until you are ready to make a payment. The phone service offers three plans, including Solo, Partner, and Small Business. Prices start at $26 per month billed annually.
The most popular is the Partner plan which costs $44 if billed annually. You get three phone numbers with this plan. You can also choose multiple numbers in different area codes. Alternatively, you can mix the numbers up between toll-free and local numbers.
Simply click Buy Now on the plan that suits your needs. All plans come with neat features, including mobile and desktop apps, call forwarding, VoIP and WiFi calling, and custom greetings.
Each plan also comes with a free trial just in case you’d like to try out the service before you purchase. The only thing is Grasshopper doesn’t offer true 800 numbers with its free trial. You’ll have to settle for alternative toll-free prefixes such as 855, 866, or 877. However, your customers still won’t be charged for calling you, just like with 800 numbers.
Step 4 – Purchase Your Toll-Free Number
Next, enter your payment information to purchase your 800 toll-free number.
Review your order summary and click Create my account
You’ll be prompted to create your Grasshopper account as soon as the service provider processes your order. You are now the proud owner of a toll-free 800 phone number!
However, you’ll need to go through just a few more steps to start using your toll-free number. These steps entail setting up your number so it’s ready for use. The process may look slightly different depending on the phone service you chose.
Step 5 – Add Extensions
First, log in to your Grasshopper account using the username and password you created in the previous step. You’ll be adding extensions for each employee and department in your business.
Customers can dial a specific extension to be directed to a particular person or department with the extension. By default, Grasshopper sets Extension 0 to receive calls at the contact number you provided during signup. Be sure to edit this if you need to change it.
Next, add extensions for your business. From your dashboard, click the Extensions tab and select Add Extensions.
Note that Grasshopper offers two different types of extensions. The department extensions route calls to various departments like billing or sales. These extensions use a single-digit extension. You also get employee extensions used to direct calls to individual employees, such as a sales rep or customer service rep. Employee extensions use a three-digit code.
Step 6 – Set Up a Call Forwarding Number
Now it’s time to set up a call forwarding number. This is the number callers are directed to when they call your Grasshopper 800 toll-free number.
Click the Extensions tab and open the extension you’d like to use.
Next, click Add a call forwarding number. Simply add the phone number you would like to forward calls to, such as your office phone or a cell phone.
Grasshopper also offers convenient options for how you would like to forward calls. For example, calls can be announced when you pick them up. With this option, you can choose to accept the call, listen to the caller’s phone number, or send the call to voicemail. You only need to press a digit to perform the action you want.
Alternatively, you can select for calls to connect as soon as you pick up the phone. In this case, you’ll answer calls just like your regular cell phone. Simply choose the most convenient option for you.
Step 7 – Set Up a Call Forwarding Schedule
Grasshopper sets your default call schedule to 24/7. However, not every business can accept calls around the clock. In this case, you’ll need to set up a schedule for when you can receive calls.
You can choose a schedule or create a custom one from the drop-down menu.
You can also choose how to forward calls if you have more than one forwarding number on an extension.
Simply click Options and select the option that works for you.
The first option, in order, just once, means that each forwarding number will be called once. After that, the calls will follow the order of the forwarding numbers that appear on the list. If none of the numbers pick up, the call automatically goes to voicemail.
The second option, indefinitely, until someone picks up, follows the same formula as the first option. However, this time, the calls will cycle through the forwarding numbers indefinitely until someone picks up without going to voicemail.
Lastly, the simultaneously option means all your forwarding numbers will ring at the same time when someone places a call to your 800 number. However, this is a paid service that costs an additional $10 per month.
Step 8 – Set Up Voicemail Notifications
Grasshopper sends voicemail messages in MP3 format via email. This is convenient since you can listen to your messages on the go. In addition, you can add up to 10 emails to receive voicemails.
To set up voicemail, click Notification with Attachment.
Step 9 – Record Greetings
You have your toll-free 800 number, extensions, and call forwarding numbers. The only thing left is to record greetings, and you’re ready to go! This step is crucial since it walks customers through their calls.
Your Grasshopper account comes with a default main greeting. The greeting thanks customers for calling and asks them to press 0 to speak to a representative. You can leave the greeting as is if you’re happy with it. If not, you can change it from the Settings tab > Create new greeting.
You are now ready to start receiving calls from your toll-free 800 number!
The first thing you’ll want to do is screen calls to your toll-free number. Although a toll-free number makes you more accessible to your customers, it can encourage unnecessary calls. Screening your calls will help to reduce your phone bill.
Grasshopper offers a great Incoming Call Control feature with all of its toll-free phone number plans. You can easily customize how and when you receive calls. Additionally, you can block numbers from your call history to prevent spam and unwanted callers.
However, you may need a more comprehensive call screening feature. In this case, a PBX system can help you set up an automated process for screening customer’s reasons for calling. Also, these systems enable you to route calls to the correct department or employee to increase efficiency and reduce costs.
You can also sign up for a virtual PBX phone service with Grasshopper if you’d like to stick with the same service provider. You can also check out our Best Business Phone Systems post for more information about choosing the best phone system for your business.
This article was written by today’s Daily Eggspert.
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