Toll free numbers

Maximize value and authority with a toll-free or 800 number.

Guide to toll free numbers for business

Toll-free service has been around longer than the internet. Yet, its staying power has helped 800 numbers remain an important way for modern businesses to support their customers and manage voice operations. Much of that staying power is thanks to VOIP toll-free numbers and CTI software, which helped advance call routing, call monitoring software, and other call management capabilities.

Thanks to these advances, even small businesses can get an 800 number and cost-effectively route calls, manage call queues, track and report on call data, and seamlessly resolve customer issues.

But for new buyers, it can be tricky to know how to choose the ideal service for their needs. Read on to learn about toll-free, 800, and vanity numbers—what they are, how to get the best toll-free phone number service, and why they might be a good fit for your business and customers.

What is a toll-free number?

A toll-free number is a phone number that allows customers to call your business from a landline for free. Usually, when a customer calls a number that is not toll-free, they’re charged for the call. But with toll-free numbers, the fee structure is switched, and the business pays for the cost of incoming and outgoing calls. This provides customers and prospects out of the area with a more convenient way to reach a business and troubleshoot via the phone because they can avoid long-distance toll fees. Customers can also send text messages to a business’s toll-free number.

When businesses don’t use a toll-free number, customers are often afraid to reach out in fear of having to pay for call charges. Toll-free phone numbers for business can be domestic, which allows only callers from within the country to call for free, or international, which allows international callers to call free of charge as well. It’s worth noting, however, that if you call from a wireless phone, your service provider will charge you for minutes unless you have an unlimited plan.

Toll-free vs. 800 vs. vanity number

Between toll-free, 1800 numbers, and vanity numbers, it might seem like a lot to wrap your head around. But vanity numbers for business, 800 numbers, and toll-free numbers are all similar. You can think of 800 and vanity numbers as subsets, or different kinds, of toll-free numbers.

Any toll-free number that starts with 800 is considered an 800 number, but toll-free numbers can also start with different three-digit sets. Toll-free numbers may start with 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, or 833.

A vanity number is another type of toll-free number that uses numbers to spell out a brand, product, or familiar phrase. Examples of vanity numbers include 1-800-CONTACTS, 866-FLOWERS, and 833-LAWYERS.

As you can see, a vanity number can also begin with 800, so a number can be both an 800 number and a vanity number.

Are toll-free numbers good for business?

If phone support is one of your primary customer service channels, toll-free numbers are absolutely a good thing for your business. The business as a whole and customer service teams, in particular, can benefit from the use of toll-free numbers. For one, by eliminating the cost of calling, toll-free numbers reduce friction that might otherwise stop customers from calling and resolving their issues.

Plus, with business VOIP, businesses can use toll-free numbers to more efficiently track incoming caller information for reporting purposes. And that benefits sales and marketing teams as well as customer service teams.

How toll-free numbers benefit businesses

Here are a few benefits of toll-free numbers for both your business and your customers.

  1. Helps customers resolve high-stakes issues

    Despite the proliferation of social media, messaging,, and other forms of digital communication, customers still prefer the benefit of voice conversation for high-stakes issues. According to our 2022 Customer Experience Trends Report, while digital channels, particularly messaging, are growing fast, ticket volume also increased over the phone in the past year.

    Channel preference often depends on the type of issue the customer has. For example, if you’re looking for the closest ATM, you’d probably prefer to find a quick answer in a knowledge base or via a chatbot. But if your credit card is lost or stolen, you might want to speak to an agent voice-to-voice. That’s why it’s important to provide your customers with a choice of channels.

    And providing your customers with their preferred service channel is imperative to maximizing customer value. Of 3500 customers who responded to our 2022 survey, 93 percent said they’d spend more with a business that provided them with their preferred method of communication.

  2. Enables advanced call tracking and reporting

    Web analytics changed everything for virtually every business. All of a sudden, you could see what your customers were doing on your website, where they were getting stuck, and when they were abandoning your site. With 800 numbers for small businesses, you unlock many of these contact center software capabilities for your voice operations.

    To name one example, you can use different toll-free numbers for various social media campaigns to compare performance over time. And you can extend your use of toll-free numbers into print, pay-per-click, and traditional media campaigns.

  3. Boosts brand recognition

    Simple and brand-specific, vanity numbers are a great way to build brand awareness with customers using a business telephone number. Vanity numbers that relate to your brand are easy to remember for your customers, which makes calling your business for help much simpler. Plus, even the small advantage of a pneumonic phone number can be the difference between a prospect calling a competitor or calling your company.

  4. Improves the customer experience by allowing customers to call you for free

    Customers expect quick, easy, and effective service, and are willing to look elsewhere if they don’t get it. Having to pay a fee to get help from a business can cause a negative customer experience. And 61 percent of customers would now defect to a competitor after just one bad experience. Make it two bad experiences, and that number snowballs to 76 percent.

    Toll-free numbers create a more seamless customer service experience because they remove barriers for customers to contact you by ensuring they can reach you without the hassle of an additional fee.

  5. Makes it easier for international customers to reach you

    A toll-free number is essential if you’re a global business and your customers need to call you from long distances. For instance, hotel customer support teams can benefit greatly from toll-free services since they have international customers who want to avoid long-distance call charges.

Toll-free FAQs

How much does it cost to have a toll-free number?

How much it costs to have a toll-free number depends on the calling plan you choose. According to Business News Daily, your monthly costs will generally range between $10 and $15 per month. This is based on calls to the number costing you between 6 and 30 cents per minute. So, of course, if you receive higher call volumes, you will pay more.

Why do businesses use toll-free numbers?

Businesses use toll-free numbers to make it easier for prospects and customers to remember their phone numbers, provide a free service, and manage their voice operations more effectively.

Toll-free numbers can also be an important part of a customer feedback platform because it helps businesses easily collect insights via phone from their customers. 1800 numbers are also prevalent in inbound contact centers. In short, toll-free numbers help businesses remove barriers, financial and otherwise, to their customers contacting them.

Should I get a local or toll-free number for my business?

Whether you should get a local or toll-free number for your business depends on the nature of your operations. If your customers or prospects need to call you from long distances, a toll-free number is essential. For instance, hotel customer support teams can benefit greatly from toll-free services since they have a global customer base. But if you don’t expect a high volume of calls, the majority of your calls will originate from local numbers, or if you run a strictly outbound call center, a toll-free number may not be necessary.

Can 800 numbers receive text messages?

Some, but not all, 800 numbers can receive text messages. For example, if you purchase an 800 number from Zendesk, you can use that number to receive texts. With other providers, you may need to go through an additional setup to configure your 800 number to receive text messages.

How to get a toll-free number

While the specifics of buying a toll-free number may vary depending on who you purchase it from, the process generally follows a familiar path. First, you’ll need to choose a toll-free number and purchase it. Depending on the country, you may need to verify your business before completing the purchase of your number.

Once you purchase a number, you’ll configure it with your telephony provider.

With Zendesk, for example, you purchase the phone number from within the Zendesk interface. Then, you add a line to your Zendesk account. The following resources can help you through the process:

You can also purchase a toll-free number from a RespOrg, short for Responsible Organization, and then port it over to an IVR software platform like Zendesk’s. Just keep in mind that purchasing the number from a RespOrg rather than a virtual call center platform means you won’t necessarily have access to advanced features like phone forwarding, business text messaging, customer support software integrations, and other important call center features.