by Tom Senkus
Author’s Bio: Tom Senkus is an international entrepreneur that seeks to share his knowledge with small businesses and bootstrapped startups looking for a competitive advantage in international markets. For additional information about Tom’s published work and a list of services, visit www.tomsenkuswriter.com
Has your business been looking to expand internationally with toll free numbers? As you may already know, using your domestic toll free number may work for areas within your country. But when an international caller dials or receives a call from your toll free number, they will be charged long distance fees, just as if the number was a regular international phone call. Or, the call may be blocked by the service provider based on their protocols or the subscriber’s phone plan. Either way, this defeats the purpose of extending a toll free way for customers and clients to get in touch with your business.
With international toll free numbers (that use the power of virtual phone numbers), this problem is circumvented completely. Calls are processed just as if they were a domestic toll free number originating within the caller/recipient’s own country. Virtual phone numbers for businesses are available from service providers such as United World Telecom, which can create new opportunities for your business in international markets.
Now that you’ve been brought up to speed, the question is now: How do I use international toll free numbers for my business? In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the many uses for international toll free numbers.
Projecting a Professional Brand Image
Think about many of the large-scale organizations or high-volume businesses that you do business with on a daily basis. Chances are, you’ve had to receive a call from a toll free number or called one yourself. However, the effect you’ve probably felt was that if this business has a toll free number, it is because they conduct business in a professional manner. The same goes for international business. By choosing an international toll free number (sometimes referred to as “ITFS numbers”), your business instantly gains a professional presence and brand image that can mean more sales. After all, consider receiving a local area phone call from a supposed “professional” organization. If you’re not familiar with the business, you may feel that you’re being contacted by a smaller entity, which may not be able to handle your high-priority needs.
One of the other benefits of toll free numbers is that they use a geographically-agnostic numbering scheme so that callers may not know exactly where their call is being processed or originating from. As a foreign business entity, you can use this fact to your advantage in your localization process.
International customers typically want to do business with domestic businesses. The reason is that they subconsciously trust domestic businesses or those that they’re familiar with — or, they may feel a nationalistic pride to keep their money in domestic organizations. International toll free numbers help make your business blend into international markets seamlessly.
Advertising and Marketing Efforts
International toll free numbers also make it easy to advertise your business versus using local area phone numbers. For instance, suppose you placed your local area phone number on a series of billboards in different cities. This could work in local markets, but what about areas that have a different area/region code? Even this difference could make potential customers think, “Hmmm, why is this Birmingham-based business trying to get my attention in Edinburgh?” Instead, international toll free numbers are more homogenous and can be reused more convincingly in disparate markets.
Similarly, international toll free numbers themselves can be used in your marketing campaigns. This is particularly true if you use toll free numbers with a recurring set of digits or ones that contain a pattern of digits related to your business model. Remembering a common toll free numbering scheme plus a word/phrase related to your business (i.e. 1 800 FLOWERS) is much easier than having customers try to recall seemingly-random digits.
Because modern international toll free numbers are powered by VoIP and cloud computing, they come with a series of add-ons that can add new dimensions to your business model. For instance, you can use “time of day routing” to route inbound calls to an outsourced call center when callers contact you during off-hours. And if you’re deciding to do international investing or banking, “call recording” is a mandatory add-on demanded by international regulatory committees to ensure that legitimate business is conducted and it remains verifiable.