Universal International Freephone Number Service (UIFN)
In most parts of the world people will instantly recognise telephone numbers beginning with 0800 as Freephone numbers (so, incidentally, are numbers beginning with 0808, although this is less widely known). They enable customers to contact your company without charge (you pay for the incoming call, not the caller), removing at a stroke a significant obstacle to sales and customer care. Studies consistently show that people are 75% more likely to use Freephone numbers than those they have to pay for.
The recognition of “0800” as a Freephone number is now so widespread that you will not even need to inform customers of this fact in company websites, leaflets or brochures – they will just know. This is less true of the newer (and less expensive) 0808 numbers – they have not has as much time to settle into the popular psyche quite so much and you probably do need to draw attention to the fact your number is free if you opt for this variant.
There is an additional benefit over and above the free call itself – the numbers are non-geographical and can be directed to both landlines and mobile phones, making them much easier to memorise. Area codes and standard mobile numbers are exceptionally unwieldy in comparison. A Freephone service provider will re-direct all customer calls to your standard local number if you wish to use an existing number, although you can set up a dedicated new line for freephone calls only if you prefer. A Freephone service provider will also route calls to mobiles and international numbers if required but obviously costs will be higher to these locations.It should also be noted that in general calls made from mobile phones to Freephone numbers are not free and will be charged as a chargeable call.
There are thousands of 0800 numbers available, although the easier-to-remember the numeric combinations are, the more expensive the service. Set-up is simple: just phone or mail the Freephone company you have chosen, select the package which most suits your business, and installation is normally within 48 hours depending on the Freephone service provider selected.
The Benefits of Using Freephone Numbers
There are some business owners that consider Freephone numbers to be a waste of money, instead offering customer support services which can cost up to £1 a minute. However, a moment’s reflection shows the reasoning behind this strategy to be totally counterproductive – as soon as a customer becomes aware of that kind of charge, your number will never be contacted again. In addition, not just by that customer – word of mouth news travels far, fast and wide. Whilst it’s true that your company, not the caller, bears the expense of a Freephone service, the benefits stemming from those 0800 and 0808 numbers are likely to far outstrip the costs.
Study after study has shown that, even though the cost of phone calls is not especially expensive, customers respond to the offer of a free service very positively: 75 per cent are far more likely to use a Freephone number than a paying equivalent. To put it another way, if you are using a free service and competing with a firm in the same area who is not, you are going to draw 75 per cent more calls. You also benefit from a subtle but powerful message – by paying for the customer’s incoming call you are declaring that you care about them, that you welcome not only their custom but also their queries. Market research suggests that this influences customer loyalty very positively. Not only this, but your company also conveys a strong impression of trustworthiness and established reliability with a Freephone number;
customers see Freephone services as an indicator of a firm’s success and durability. Put simply, the gains you are likely to see in increased business are likely to outweigh the costs of a free call service by a considerable amount. If ever there was a wise investment to make, this is certainly it.
By format a toll-free number is a non-geographic number, meanwhile local telephone numbers are considered as geographic. By calling a geographical number, it is possible to determine an approximate destination of the call based on the area code (e.g. 206 for Seattle or 404 for Atlanta). Whenever an 8XX (800, 855, 866, 877 or 888) toll-free number is dialed, the operator has to determine where the actual physical destination is, using the intelligent network capabilities to query the call routing instructions assigned to every freephone number.
One of the reasons why the toll-free phone service became such a powerful business tool is that 1-8XX numbers are designed to route large amounts of (peak)traffic 24/7. Another reason is that wide range of intelligent routing options are available for subscribers of toll-free services, such as Time-of-Day Routing, Day-of-Week Routing, Area Code Routing, Emergency or Disaster Routing etc.
By calling a 1-8XX number, the subscriber of the toll-free service pays for it, not the caller. Therefore, the recipient can choose what locations within the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) is willing to accept calls from: one area code, one state or province, an entire country, or the whole NANP.
How about companies doing business on a global level? Toll-free numbers can be internationally forwarded and terminated, supporting businesses of any size and profile in acquiring more international customers. The two main types of International Toll Free Services are the following:
ITFS and (0)800 – the abbreviation stands for International Toll Cost-free Service. This is the international equivalent of a national or home 1-8XX number. If your international toll-free calls originated from a single nation, ITFS is the most effective solution for you. This service provides your visitors or employees with a single toll-free quantity to dial coming from a specific country.
UIFN / 00-800 : the abbreviation stands for Universal International Freephone Range. UIFN offers an individual international contact quantity for calls originating in multiple participating places. For example, while an ITFS quantity activated in Australia won’t work in england, the UIFN support is universal and enables the identical number to work in Australia, UK and some other participating country.
You can easily extend the reach of your existing American 1-8XX numbers on a global level by applying for identical UIFN numbers. With UIFN companies can subscribe to the number of their choice, which is essential in case if you have a Vanity toll-free contact number as part of your brand identity.
How about the Total Cost of Ownership and ROI? Employing International Toll-Free Services require minimal capital investment and the monthly operating expenses are predictable. Thanks to the advanced calling, routing and monitoring features available, the ITFS and UIFN contact numbers are a Profit Center as they increase efficiency and productivity of handling your international inbound business calls. As the ultimate ROI, they facilitate customer retention and boost customer loyalty.
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