What is a toll-free number and why do I need one for my business?


If you’re just starting out or trying to grow a business, you might be asking yourself, “What is a toll-free number?” You might have seen them around, but how do you get one? And do you really need one for your business? Well, we’re here to answer your questions!

What is a toll-free number?

According to the Federal Communications Commission:

“Toll-free numbers are telephone numbers with distinct three-digit codes that can be dialed from landlines with no charge to the person placing the call.”

Toll-free numbers have changed since the inception of 1-800 in 1966. Since then, six more codes have been added — most recently, 833 — but they still have the same benefit of instilling trustworthiness in a company. We take toll-free numbers for granted these days. This means that, in business (even small business), people usually expect to connect with you using a toll-free number.

A dedicated toll-free number with set hours just for your business means a higher likelihood for customer loyalty, and it also increases your business’s credibility.

Can you give me an illustration?

What Is A Toll-Free Number Phones
Photo: rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Need a use case to fully understand what is a toll-free number and how having one can help? Picture a couple trying to find a flower company to provide flowers for their upcoming wedding. Say you are said flower company, and you have a website with good reviews, but you don’t have a toll-free number. The couple likes your website and reviews.

However, because you only have a local number on your site, they feel that you are probably too small to be able to deliver the type of service they need and desire. So, they move onto another flower company that does have a toll-free number. What does that mean to you? Lost contract. Lost income.

You want to dress your business for success.


Toll-free numbers work to create a good impression — whether you are an organization of one or a company with several employees — and give you a competitive advantage to help stand out in a crowded marketplace.

The public perception is that companies that have toll-free numbers are big and established, so having one associated to your business gives customers the impression that it’s well-established, successful and operates on a national level.

What if I don’t want a separate business phone?

SmartLine Incoming Call
Don’t want a separate phone? No problem. You can set up a toll-free number on your existing mobile device that’s separate from your personal line. When you receive incoming calls, you’ll be able to immediately tell if it’s business or personal — meaning, you’ll always be prepared to answer your phone in a professional, business-like manner instead of an unprepared, “Hello?”

In a survey conducted in August 2017 by SurveyMonkey, 89 percent of respondents said they were more likely to trust a business if they answer the phone in a professional manner. Plus, with a toll-free number, customer can reach you at no cost to them, which makes it even easier for them to pick up the phone.

Will a toll-free number increase my reach?

Are you trying to grow your business? Of course you are! A toll-free number can help you achieve this goal. Since toll-free numbers are location independent, the entire U.S. becomes a “local” calling area for your customers. Giving your business a national presence with its own toll-free number allows it access to a much wider audience, and thereby, a wider arm for reaching potential clients.

Mobile advertising is hitting an all-time high, and toll-free numbers are driving more sales than ever before. In a universe where customers can seem out of reach, toll-free numbers make it easy for them to contact you.

Consider making your toll-free number a vanity number, such as 1-800-FLOWERS, to provide immediate brand recognition and credibility.

Your number then becomes a memorable marketing tool that can be used across multiple ad channels.

What about incoming numbers?

What Is A Toll-Free Number Incoming Call
Photo: Johan Larsson via VisualHunt.com / CC BY

A toll-free number also helps you capture more business from the customers who call. Instead of plain-old caller ID, which can be blocked or spoofed, toll-free numbers use a special service called Automated Number Identification (ANI) to show you the true phone number of the person calling. Never again will you get a business call from an “unavailable” number, so you’re always sure to have the right number to return any calls you miss.

Will a toll-free number help improve customer satisfaction?

Offering a toll-free number not only builds your business by giving it a national presence, but it also increases customer satisfaction by simply making you available for customer service inquiries.

If a client is interested in your company, but has questions that need answering before they hire you, a toll-free number gives them the option to call you anytime, from anywhere.

With all the competition out there, it becomes increasingly important for you to provide an effective communication solution. Toll-free numbers allow for quick, easy access to you and your company, which in turn, makes it more likely for them to recommend your services and consider you in the future.

What happens if I need to move?

You can take your toll-free number with you should you need to relocate. Once you choose a number, it’s yours to use for as long as you want.

Ready to get a toll-free number?

Providing a toll-free number implies that you care about your current and potential customers and that you want them to be able to contact you quickly and at no charge. With a toll-free number attached to your business, you are encouraging communication.

And the best part? There’s no need to buy any new, expensive equipment. A toll-free number for your small business from GoDaddy Smartline is an indispensable addition that will enhance your company’s image, broaden your marketing reach, and increase your overall business. Get a toll-free number today and don’t leave your business in the dark!

Image by: Taylor Grote on Unsplash

Michele de Boucaud
Michele de Boucaud is a contributor to the GoDaddy Garage blog. She believes that it is very important to support the small business model in this age of multi conglomerate companies. When she isn't writing, she is running or helping manage and market local running races, hiking, traveling and enjoying life with her husband and four children.