Many consider toll free number as an antiquated wonder of the past. But as current world developments go to show, this tried-and-tested method of information exchange can be a boon for modern-day companies. Case in point: India’s economic slowdown, and the slow and seemingly inevitable slide of our financial sector. Citizens are constantly looking over their shoulder to determine whether after the Punjab & Maharashtra Co-operative Bank and Yes Bank fiascos, their respective accounts are next. For redressal of these worries, the State Bank of India introduced a toll free number for mini-statement and balance updates. Startups that handle non-banking financial assets are likely to follow suit. With a resource crunch in the coming days due to sickness and hoarding, businesses in other sectors might find it wise as well.
These pressures may come and go with seasons, and companies must be ready to combat them with a dependable arsenal of communication points that the public is familiar with. At the top of this, is the quintessential toll free number.
Here’s four reasons why they’re still relevant today, and can heighten your startup’s capabilities:
Calm operations in times of duress
This can pan out in two possible, but highly effective ways.
As the world battles the Coronavirus, many companies have directed their employees to work from home. When your entire day-to-day operations shift to the comfort of one’s residence, it’s great news for the workers, but can be tricky to navigate on the customer service side, especially when it comes to phone conversations. Customers may only be aware of your dashboard number and try to make calls, but with no one on the premises, it means a lot of lost leads. If employees are forced to switch to their individual numbers to recover from these damages, it not only confuses customers but also invades your agent’s privacy. The one, unified solution? A toll-free number, because communications can seamlessly continue regardless of where you’ve set up shop. Whether it be a three-person company or a staff of 300, it keeps everyday proceedings sharp, without giving consumers an inkling of what may or may not be happening on the backend. Even if you shift locations, your number stays the same, removing the hassle of having to update customers.
This can also be combined with a call forwarding feature to reduce the burden on the toll free number. A caller will then be automatically patched to an employee’s private number without knowing the difference.
The other avenue for a toll free number here is its use as an emergency helpline. Several essential government services, non-profits like the Red Cross or Oxfam, along with medical, food and grocery, and delivery companies benefit from having a single point of contact with the population. In stressful situations, a toll free number has easy recall (since the first four digits, for India, are usually ‘1800’), and can be shaped into a better mnemonic using a vanity number. For example, a company offering subsidised rations during crises situations may have the number 1800-265-RICE, which would stick to the youngest (or most unobservant) of minds.
Bridging the gap between customers and the offering
When incorporated with an IVR (Integrated Voice Response) system, a toll free number can help your startup improve lead management to make successful real-time connections. This form of automated cloud telephony allows customers who have already used your product–or are just curious about it—to reach out to your business with enquiries, grievances, and suggestions. Showing a consumer you care is important. As a caller waits for a human connection, the IVR system uses automated messaging and DTMF tones to appropriately route the caller to the concerned department, or the agent who is on shift. Often a caller isn’t entirely sure of what direction to take their conversation, which is when a preset recording and menu, which is offered in IVR packages, comes in handy. Certain toll free numbers have the option of customers registering with them, so that they may be intimated of product/service updates and new releases periodically.
Tracking new marketing efforts
It’s been a year you’ve started your company. All seems to be going well. The advertising agency you’ve hired promises newer heights with a snazzy campaign and offers to help with some of the tracking. But what can you do to monitor its progress so you know you’re getting what you paid for? A toll free number solution partnered with call recordings. Once your campaign messaging hits the masses, this feature helps marketing managers track callbacks and how they are handled by employees. Call recordings help an executive pick out common queries and mistakes in redressal, plus talking points of interest emerging in the target audience. Administrators can then refine employee training to meet these temporary needs. Data is your best friend here, and the call recording should ideally be supported by a larger cloud telephony bundle that contains caller analytics and a call monitoring dashboard. They make for concrete performance reports and provide instant data and trends to improve outreach. If there are any dropped calls noted from the dashboard of your startup’s toll free number, then real-time SMS alerts can be sent to the marketing manager to better understand and mitigate the problem. Different campaigns can employ different types of toll-free numbers, so that branding efforts are clear-cut and do not overlap.
Improving overall efficiency to cruise ahead
Small or medium-sized startups don’t need too many employees to taste success, but they must funnel all available resources in a way that the performance graph only points upwards. Opt-in for a toll-free number solution instead of traditional telecommunications hardware will remove the requirement of routine maintenance and setup. Should you need hardware upgrades, you can then contact your cloud telephony provider for a software update. These companies normally move with the pulse of the Internet and are likely to be miles ahead in terms of response-time and setup efficiency. It’s a much higher return on investment than choosing to run with old, tired switchboards. If your startup is bestowed with impressive capital in new rounds of funding, a cloud-based toll-free number would also ensure it has the breathing room to grow with the company’s need. This extendable quality is a hallmark of cloud-based communication.
The Indian government is more than willing to put a spotlight on innovative startups that are willing to go the extra mile and make themselves stand out. The Start-up India Vision 2024 plan proposes debt financing, setting up of 500 new incubators and accelerators, and even credit guarantee schemes and a seed fund. Over 24,000 startups have been recognised as worthy of attention and will be able to enjoy tax incentives, work orders and pilot projects from the government. Becoming a company that is capable of extracting the best of these resources isn’t easy. But with a smooth telecommunications plan, the sun can shine a little brighter and fiercer on the road ahead.