All right, let’s talk for a minute about toll-free numbers. Like I mentioned before, people get all freaked out when they hear “toll-free number”, they think, “Wow this is going to be this expensive, huge, challenging set-up that’s going to take a week or two or three” and that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s super cheap and super simple. Activation happens instantly, you have the entered number the same day.
Credibility and Perception
Now the main reason you want a toll-free number isn’t necessarily so you can sit and answer the phone all day. Really, the biggest benefit to getting a toll-free number is to be able to display it on your website. It instantly adds credibility and trust to your users. As soon as they get to your site, if they see an 800 number displayed on the template of your Ecommerce store, instantly, whether they realize it or not, subconsciously they think “This is a credible, trustworthy place that I should feel secure giving my credit card number to.”
Of all the trust graphics, which is what we call basically anything you display on your store that increases the trust of the visitors. Of all the trust graphics, an 800 number is probably the biggest conversion improvement trust graphic you can display. It really gives that established, trustworthy company feel to all your websites, and like I mentioned before, you can actually use your 1-800 number for all your Ecommerce stores. So this is a small expense that you have to incur for this first store that you can use for all your upcoming stores.
So, like I said, you don’t necessarily need to man the phone all day. What we generally do and what we recommend is put a nice professional voicemail message for your customers that basically says something along the lines of “Thank you for calling our customer service department, we’re currently assisting other customers. Please leave your name, phone number and a detailed message and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.” So anybody that goes to voicemail just gets the perception, they get the idea that you’re really busy, you’re a successful store and if they seem like they are interested in ordering you can call them back. If their question is totally irrelevant and you don’t think there’s any chance they’re going to order, you can brush it off and not even return the call if you don’t want to.
During regular business hours, during the middle of the day when we’re at our computer or whatever, we do try to answer the phone because you will get some orders over the phone that you may not have gotten if you hadn’t answered the phone. So it is recommended to try and answer it during the day, but again you don’t need to feel like you’re a slave to your 800 number.
Recommendations for Toll Free Numbers
Now, we have a recommendation for an 800 number service and they’re called Global Call Forwarding and we feel the same way about Global Call Forwarding for 800 numbers as we feel about HostGator for hosting. We’ve been using Global Call Forwarding for several years now. 100% reliable, super cheap, great customer service, easy to configure, very professional set-up. Their basic plan — their lowest plan is $14.99 a month and again you can use that for all your stores. That includes, I believe, a 100 minutes, which should do you just fine for your first couple months. Once you start getting more traffic and sales and you’re getting more calls and using more minutes, you can step-up to the next plan which is what we use. And I believe that’s $29.99 a month and it includes like a thousand minutes, so that should be plenty of minutes for you, no matter how many stores you get. If you’re needing more than a thousand a month, you’re doing really well and that’s going to be the least of your problems is needing more 800 number minutes.
Now the cool thing about Global Call Forwarding is it’s so customizable, you can set it up to when your customer calls it says your business name, it gives them hold music, you can have it ring multiple phones simultaneously, you can have it ring your cellphone, your home phone, your Skype number whatever it might be. You can have it ring multiple numbers at the same time, or you can do a sequential order type thing where it rings your cellphone twice, and then your home phone twice and then your Skype number twice and then go to voicemail. It’s fully customizable so within their simple control panel you can set up business hours, off hours, you can even set it up to Follow me. You can create a rule, that’s basically the Follow me rule and whenever you’re taking off, leaving home for a while and you don’t want to miss customer calls you can change the Follow me rule and it will ring your cell while you’re gone.
What we do is, we actually have a Skype phone number on our computer and when we get an 800 number, we answer it with our Skype and then we can use our headset and talk to the customer while we continue to work on whatever we need to work on. So it keeps our hands free and we can do whatever we need to while we talk to the customer on the headset and that works great.
If you look below, there’s links to a couple good articles. One is to help you configure your Global Call Forwarding account and do all those cool things I just told you about and then the other one is how to use Global Call Forwarding with your Skype number which is what we do and what we recommend. So check those out.
That really does it for 800 numbers. The sign-up to start your two week free trial with Global Call Forwarding is actually below this video. Again this is something you can wait on, if you’re on a super tight budget, you can list your actual personal home or cell number for now or no number at all on your web store for now. But as soon as you can afford it, and if you can afford it today, we recommend getting an 800 number as soon as possible, because it will increase your conversion rate.