The FCC just released a new toll-free prefix on June 3, meaning there are now a whole new series of toll-free numbers for businesses to claim. The 833 prefix opens up more vanity numbers and combinations that are easy for customers to remember. And those numbers may provide some unique benefits to certain businesses.
Director of Products at Grasshopper Chris Bohlin shared some insights about the new toll-free exchanges in a phone interview with Small Business Trends. Here are 10 things small businesses should know about the new prefix and what toll-free exchanges can offer to businesses.
Making Use of the New 833 Toll Free Phone Numbers
Toll-Free Numbers Can Help Build a Brand
Of course, any business can reserve a regular phone number that’s just a series of random numbers. But if you have a toll-free number, it can actually be a part of your brand. Think about 1-800-FLOWERS or other businesses that include toll-free numbers in their business name or in marketing materials. It’s much easier to make a catchy or vanity number part of your branding or marketing materials than a random assortment of numbers.
They Make It Easier for Customers to Call
In addition, toll-free numbers can make it easier for customers to actually remember your number so they can call when they need your services. If you just a random phone number, it can be difficult for customers to recall or find it if they just heard it in a commercial or saw it on the side of a bus.
New Prefixes Open Up New Vanity Numbers
There are plenty of toll-free numbers out there already. But prefixes like 800 and 888 have already been picked over. So if you want something that’s easy to remember like 1-800-CAR-WASH, it’s probably already taken. So new prefixes like 833 open up a lot of those vanity numbers for new businesses to take advantage of.
Toll-Free Numbers Are Great for Service Businesses
But not every business necessarily needs a number that’s easy to remember or include in marketing materials. According to Bohlin, these numbers can be especially useful for local service providers.
He says, “If you’re dealing with someone like a landscaper, you need to talk with that person and have an actual conversation about what services you need. So that results in a phone call and your number is the front door to that communication.”
Toll-Free Numbers Aren’t as Necessary for Online Businesses
On the other hand, vanity numbers aren’t likely to be as beneficial for online businesses. If you simply sell products online, then people are going to mainly interact with your website. And if they do need to get in touch with you by phone for some reason, they’re likely to be on your website already. So they can get a specific number from there.
You Can Get Numbers from a Variety of Sources
If you’re interested in securing one of these toll-free numbers, there isn’t just one source you have to check with. Big name phone companies like AT&T and Verizon have access to these numbers, along with smaller providers like Grasshopper. So you can check with the providers of your choice to see which numbers are available.
It’s Similar to Buying Other Business Phone Plans
When you do secure one of these numbers, you’ll have a monthly plan similar to other business phone plans. Grasshopper, for instance, offers three different plans with different features. The basic plan starts at $24 per month.
New Numbers Are Available Now
The FCC originally announced that it would release new numbers with the 833 prefix in April. But the release date got pushed back to June. So the numbers are now available for interested businesses.
Act Fast If You Want a Specific Number
There are still plenty of different numbers available. But the really easy combinations like 833-333-3333 are probably gone or close to being gone by this point, according to Bohlin. So if you have something really specific that you want to reserve, it’s best to act quickly.
New Prefixes Only Come Along as Needed
Before this latest release, the last prefix made available by the FCC was the 844 prefix back in 2013. So new sets of numbers don’t come around that often. In fact, there isn’t likely to be a new prefix until the 833 numbers are nearly all reserved. So don’t count on a new set of numbers being released if you just miss your chance this go-round.
Dialing Phone Photo via Shutterstock
This article, “10 Things Small Businesses Should Know About the New 833 Toll Free Phone Exchange” was first published on Small Business Trends