Competition Customer service Marketing

Why, even now, your business should have a toll-free number

These days, you can use Skype to call East Pajamastan for 2.3 cents a minute. Even with a phone card or a Baby Bell long distance plan, you can call in the US and Canada for 5 cents a minute.

So why in the world should you care about having a toll-free number? It’s not like the old days, when a 30 minute calls to a customer service line cost the client 10 or 15 bucks. Nowadays, it isn’t even 2 dollars.

So why show your clients a little love (hey, it is Valentine’s Day) by having a toll-free number?

First of all, it might have been about the money 20 years ago, but that was 20 years ago.

Today, it’s about convenience AND money. People call from cell phones, from airports, from hotels (where long distance is STILL $27 a minute, or something like that), from airline lounges and other places where long distance calls are still a pain.

Sure, they can get a calling card for almost nothing, but if they are in a rush, in an airport or hotel, if it comes down to dialing you vs dialing the 800 #, guess who wins? Convenience AND money.

In addition, 800 numbers are still easier to remember than 406 555 1734.

Like domain names, the best ones have been staked out for some time, but you can still get good ones and do so easily. By the way, when I say “800 numbers”, I mean 800, 877, 866, 888, and so on (yes, there are more prefixes coming).

And if you happen to print the wrong 800 number on an ad, don’t freak out and try to pull the ad or do damage control until you’ve checked to see if the number in your typo is available. If the typo’d number is available, you just learned a $49.95 lesson instead of a $49,995 lesson (or worse). It happens.

I use for this, and to easily figure out which numbers are available, whether I can spell something with them or not (my 866-997-7634 number spells out as 866-99-Profit), and best of all, the guy who runs the place isn’t a slimeball like many of his competitors. He’s an up and up guy so YOU actually end up owning your 800# and have the freedom to use whatever LD service you want with it – and easily transfer it, something the slimeballs don’t make it easy to do.

The other reason to give your clients a 800 to call? To make them more likely to call you for help. You WANT them to be as dependent on you for expert advice and assistance. Seems like such a little thing, but I can assure you, it makes a difference.

The flower photo is by Michael Jastremski of Philly, the creator of