Though it’s not the weightiest decision you’ll make for your business, choosing the right phone number does matter. It all depends on your specific needs, which will dictate whether you should have a number with a local area code, or go toll free. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of each option.
Toll Free Numbers
Free to the Customer
Toll free numbers are great. Your customers can call your business without being charged, and they’re easier to remember—especially if you’re able to secure a “vanity” number like, 1-800-NEW-CARS. No cost to your callers, and some consider them to be premium numbers for business. Toll free numbers are in shorter supply than others, however, so they may not be as easy to secure.
Make Your Small Business “Bigger”
While a local number gives your business a sense of hometown, quality service, it can also give people the impression that you’re small-time. Having a toll free number is a good way to give your small business a large-scale feel and convey to customers that you’re kind of a big deal.
They Might Think You’re a Robot
This is one drawback to using a toll free number, albeit a small one. When someone sees that “1-800” in your number, many believe that they are about to be connected to an automated menu that will keep them from the real human contact that they crave. If, once your customer is connected, they are met with stellar customer service, then you’ve got nothing to worry about.
Bring Your Big Business Down to Earth
So you’ve done well for yourself, and you’ve got a huge business. The bad thing about huge businesses, though, is that they are perceived by customers as less accessible. Many people, when they think of a large-scale business—it’s like a big warehouse full of products controlled by robots. If you’ve got a huge business, you want your customers to feel like they can get in touch with you easily, which is why you might consider using a local number.
In the same way that smaller classrooms are more desirable for students, “small-town” customer service is more appealing for customers. Why do students want smaller classrooms? For the same reason that customers want small-town service—the thinking is that you can get more intimate, one-on-one contact with support representatives.
Multiple Local Numbers
If you can swing it, acquiring a number for each locality your customers are from is a good option to consider. It always feels good, as a customer, to know that the company you’re doing business with is from your hometown. Obviously, it’s not necessary to have a local area code for every customer you’ve ever served, but hitting the area codes that most of your business comes from can really help customers feel more connected to you.
For some businesses, the decision to go with a local or toll free number may be huge; for others, it doesn’t make that much of a difference. In either case, you may still be able to positively influence your customers’ perception of you by choosing the type of number that makes sense for your business.
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