Do you know what the difference between local phone numbers and toll free numbers? In this article, we’ll take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of local phone numbers and toll free numbers, and how virtual phone numbers can offer the best of both worlds for your business.
Local Phone Numbers at a Glance
Local presence is key for businesses to establish authenticity, professionalism, and access. This is especially true for telephone numbers, where those located in that city/ region/ country may not answer an unfamiliar number appearing on their caller ID. Local numbers influence a customer’s perception and they help with the localization process, which is especially important if you’re looking to enter a new market or specifically target a customer base.
Not using local phone numbers can have a drawback. There are customers who may be charged for contacting your business if you don’t offer a local access number — which excludes those who don’t have the means or preference for unlimited national calling plans. This is an important consideration for businesses that want to reach the largest number of customers.
Toll Free Numbers at a Glance
Toll free numbers, on the other hand, come with their own pros and cons.
First, toll free numbers are meant to be a way of encompassing the largest number of customers. In fact, by their function of not charging callers to reach your business, toll free numbers reduce any preference or financial obstacles that callers may have. After all, when a caller is given the freedom to call your business, they are more likely to do so.
Secondly, toll free numbers provide your business with a professional appearance. If you take a glance at Fortune 500 businesses or high-volume businesses, like a national law firm, you’ll notice that they offer toll free numbers. Therefore, by using a toll free number, your business joins the ranks of those organizations, which subconsciously communicates to the market that your business should be taken seriously.
Of course, toll free numbers have a few drawbacks. When making outbound calls to customers and clients, the number on the recipient’s caller ID will appear as the 800 number. For customers that avoid unsolicited calls like this or don’t answer them as a matter of habit, toll free numbers can actually work against your business. Toll free numbers impart an “anonymous” quality, where a customer may feel that they are just another number on a calling list, or they feel that your organization is calling them randomly to solicit.
Furthermore, it’s important to know that toll free numbers in one country are not necessarily toll free in other countries. For instance, a caller in Israel dialing a United States toll free number will be charged by their service provider. Unless your business uses an IFTS number (International Toll Free Service Number), which can bridge the gap, there are still the same obstacles that local numbers present towards encompassing the largest customer and client base.
The Best of Both World: Virtual Phone Numbers
You may be wondering if there’s a sweet spot between local phone numbers and toll free numbers. The answer is “yes,” through the functionality of virtual phone numbers.
Virtual phone numbers are phone numbers that work through cloud computing advances. Virtual phone numbers automatically route calls from one phone number to another. When dialed, a virtual phone number automatically routes the call to a destination number of your choosing. Likewise, when you choose to make outbound calls from the destination number, those calls will be routed to the virtual phone number, appearing on the caller ID as a number of your choosing.
For businesses, virtual phone numbers can be purchased in any region of the world and function the same as “regular” phone numbers. This includes both local numbers and toll free numbers (including IFTS numbers). Taking the previous example of IFTS numbers by using a virtual phone number, your United States-based business can subscribe to an Israel toll free number and it will assist customers who call this number to do so unimpeded. Similarly, if you want to establish a local presence with local area phone numbers, you can subscribe to an Israel virtual phone number that routes calls to and from your United States call-processing center.