If you’re starting out on a new business venture, you’ll need a way for clients to contact you. While online contact forms and emails are the preferred method of contact for some people these days, the good old phone is preferred by many. We have all undoubtedly called a 1-800 number at some point, but if you haven’t run a small business before, you probably haven’t had to get your own and are not sure where to even start.
Toll free numbers are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and numbers are assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis regardless which provider is used. While “800” was the first intro number used back in the 1960’s, small business owners now have various other options including 888, 844, 877, and more. Many services also let you choose a “vanity” number that is easy to remember (e.g., 1-800-FLOWERS), or a “virtual number” that is connected to a user’s account so it can be utilized on multiple platforms, increasing flexibility and allowing more people to use the same line.
Small businesses cover the cost of toll-free calls so they are free for customers, and things have gotten so advanced that you can sign up for your toll-free number and have it working within hours. You’ll want to know approximately how many minutes you need per month, how many users will be on the account, and how many numbers you need. If you’re looking for the best low-cost toll-free number, it can be extremely overwhelming seeing as there are countless providers available. Three of the best options, however, are RingCentral, CallHippo, and Kall8. Read on for more information on each one of these and how one of them may be your best option for a toll-free number.
Many businesses – both large and small – opt to use RingCentral when choosing a toll-free number provider. As one of the most popular services available today, RingCentral is one of the options that allows users to start using their toll-free number immediately after signing up. The provider offers many desirable features, including voicemails and greetings, unlimited SMS messaging, call recording, extensions, apps for your phone or tablet, screen sharing, faxing, and so much more.
If your small business is looking to transfer over an existing system to RingCentral, the provider makes it easy and seamless. It can be integrated with other popular platforms like Microsoft, Google, Zendesk, Dropbox, and Salesforce. The amount of tech savvy needed to operate RingCentral is less than some of the other available providers available, and it is also customizable to fit your small business’s needs.
RingCentral gives users four monthly plan options, including Essentials ($19.99 per user), Standard ($24.99 per user), Premium ($34.99 per user), and Ultimate ($49.99 per user). The Essential plan allows up to 20 users and unlimited calls within the United States and Canada, and features increase with each plan, with the Ultimate plan offering unlimited users and 10,000 minutes a month. As your business grows, you may need more numbers, so certain plans offer local numbers in more than 40 countries as well as over 100 international virtual numbers.
RingCentral offers a free trial, so you have nothing to lose by trying it and it may just end up being your provider of choice. You can contact RingCentral’s service and sales teams via online chat, email, or phone.
CallHippo is another VoIP-based Virtual Phone System that might be best for your small business. The CRM technology makes it easy to use because it allows you to conduct all operations from one centralized platform. You can sign up and have a toll-free number within minutes – yes, minutes – and your number(s) can be based in over 50 different countries.
CallHippo’s monthly plan pricing starts at $14 per user for the bronze plan, which offers a free number, SMS capabilities, a shared inbox, call forwarding, and other basic features. The silver plan is $18 per user and the platinum plan is $30 per user. Depending on your small business’s needs, CallHippo may also offer you a customized plan, so be sure to call and inquire before signing up – they might even offer you a free trial over the phone.
CallHippo offers attractive features at no extra cost, including call recording, voicemail transcription, call transferring, on-hold music, and more. Features in the more expensive plans may include 3-way calling, power dialing, customized caller ID, and intelligence reports and analytics. You don’t need any fancy equipment or hardware for any of the plans; instead, CallHippo says that “all you need is an internet connection, a computer and a headset.” Users can always reach CallHippo via email for more information or help.
Last, but certainly not least, Kall8 is another common go-to option for a low-cost toll-free number provider because it is inexpensive and offers small businesses beneficial features to help them succeed. Kall8 is unique in that it offers both monthly packages as well as a pay-as-you-go option. Standard numbers cost between $5 and $10 a month and 6.9 cents per minute, with various surcharges for international calls and offshore areas like Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and Puerto Rico.
Kall8 offers call analytics and call histories, which can be useful for your business. You can get three-day real time call logs to analyze who your callers are, and you can use the address lookup feature to see where your callers are from. Call recording, voicemail, call blocking, maximum call lengths, and conferencing are just a few of the included features available. “Enhanced” features include hunt groups, virtual PBX, and call announcements.
Several monthly packages are also available, including the Start Up plan ($14.95), the Business plan ($34.95), the Pro plan ($49.95), and the Enterprise plan ($199). The Start Up plan includes 750 minutes for one number, and features increase to 5,000 minutes, unlimited SMS capabilities, call announcements, and more as the pricier plans are chosen. Vanity and “premium” numbers that are easy to remember come at an extra charge but are available, and you can also choose a “local” (non-1800) number. Premium packages are also offered for an additional fee and offer the standard features plus extra included minutes. Of course, you can change your plan if your business needs change, and Kall8’s customer service team can be contacted by email, mail, and phone if you want a customized quote or advice on which package would be best for you.
With so many toll-free number providers in business today, it can be hard to know which one to choose, but the three providers outlined above are good places to start.