Initially when toll free Numbers were introduced in the 1960s, they played the sole role of being a cost-free mechanism for connecting consumers with businesses and organizations. However, over the years, their role has evolved beyond a voice-centric service to become a multichannel communication platform. Toll free is playing a critical role in branding, marketing and customer interaction. Today, there are more than 40 million Toll-Free Numbers in use, with companies from every industry, including healthcare, communications, travel, education, high-tech, and more offering toll free numbers to help customers with questions about products or services. Here are some of the few interesting ways toll free numbers are used:
Reality shows, talk shows, game shows or talent hunts are usually most popular amongst the audiences. Reality television thrives on viewer participation to guide the outcome of their competitions. Viewers can pretty much decide the fate of a participant using a toll free number to vote. Some shows may have just one toll free number to use to vote, while others have one per contestant. You would then call the phone number ending in the number corresponding with your favorite contestant, vote for him/her and it wouldn’t cost you a penny!
Medhavi Foundation, an NGO focused on improving education system ran a project in India called EduDisha which is a career counseling helpline for Class IX-XII students in Government schools. They use toll free numbers eliminating the need for these students to pay for the call which are attended by specially trained counselors from India’s best psychology colleges; to help these students decide what to do next in life, and help reduce school dropout rates.
Toll free numbers act as a traceable marketing tool that drives inbound leads and sales. Specific toll free numbers are used to track individual advertisements including Tv and web campaigns,bill boards and print. Organizations use these powerful marketing analytics tools to narrow down on the most effective and value for money campaign strategy.
Another effective marketing tool is the vanity number. These eye catchy numbers are easy to remember and are used by successful business. These numbers are unique and specific, thereby communicating what the business does with just one look at the toll free number. For example, 1800 FLOWER connects you to a flourist. These numbers although being a little pricy offer a good ROI with the call response rates increasing, typically by more than 20% than a regular toll free number.
A Voice portal for providing health related information has been created by the National Health Portal to address queries regarding various issues related to health, diseases, lifestyle, First aid, directory services, health programs, policies, laws and guidelines. Users would need to dial a toll free number (1800-180-1104) and enquire about the information they are seeking. This advanced system is capable of recognizing user voice input and the information is currently available in 5 languages including English, Hindi, Tamil, Bangla and Gujarati reaching out to masses in remote locations, where there is no Internet access, thus overcoming the barrier of illiteracy.