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toll free number ads feeling of security?
David_M




msg:625751
 11:57 am on Sep 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

Although ultimately all of my sales are done online, I do get the occasional phone call- usually asking a silly question.

Right now I have a local phone#. I'm just wondering, would adding a toll free # increase trust and therefore conversions? or would it just lead to more phone calls?

 

Hawkgirl




msg:625752
 12:02 pm on Sep 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

In my experience, the answer is - absolutely the tollfree number leads to a sense of security.

We took the TFN off of our site for a day and our overall site conversion plummeted by 60%.

Talk about a bunch of people running around screaming, "PUT IT BACK! PUT IT BACK!" :)

It gives users a sense that you're a real company. They don't necessarily use the phone number - they just like to see it there.

Shak




msg:625753
 12:05 pm on Sep 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hawkgirl just nailed it above.

could not agree more, and that applies for us in the UK...

Shak

David_M




msg:625754
 12:09 pm on Sep 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hawkgirl,

Did you replace your tollfree with a local, or remove the phone contact completely?

jsinger




msg:625755
 3:41 pm on Sep 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

For USA sites, don't let the phone company sell you on those newer 866 or 877 numbers. I did a study of our employees and most thought 866/877 were regular telephone geographic area codes. Everyone knows 800 is toll free and many know that 888 is.

You can get 800 prefix #s if you insist on it as a condition to signing up with a carrier.

800 is like dot com. 866 is about as good as a dot biz url. Great the real thing.

moltar




msg:625756
 3:58 pm on Sep 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

Make sure you check that the number haven't been used recently. You might get lots of calls regarding the previous company that owns the number.

I get calls on my toll free by mistake. Some insurance company has a similar number to mine and I get at least 2-3 calls a week meant to be for that company. Not much, but if it's close to some huge company's tech support number - then you are in trouble.

jsinger




msg:625757
 4:22 pm on Sep 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

Normally the numbers aren't reissued for a year. But that could still be a problem. We used to have the same phone number as a heating/AC company that went out of business. Every time the weather changed we'd get calls for them. People had that number on their furnace/AC for years.

One of our 800#s is similar to the collection number used by a huge bank. We get calls for them, about 3-8 a week. Annoying, and we have to pay for them. But each costs about 6 cents. No big deal.

Note that you don't get just one toll free number. I think they always provide a minimum of five. We only use one of the five we have. But calls can arrive on any of them. You will get some wrong numbers.

---------
During the stock bubble of the 90s many firms acquired far more toll free numbers than they needed. They're easier to get now.

Robino




msg:625758
 4:26 pm on Sep 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

I did a study of our employees and most thought 866/877 were regular telephone geographic area codes.

I just took a survey of ten employees at my office and they all knew that 866 877 888 are toll free numbers.

note: we have an 800 number

jsinger




msg:625759
 4:46 pm on Sep 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

I didn't say we hired geniuses :)

We're a brick//mortar retailer. I was mostly asking store clerks not techies. If you lump the three together many will realize they're toll free. But if you just ask "where is area code 866?", many will think its geographic.

Heck, 866 has only been used for a few years. 855 is next, I think. Everyone still refers to all of them as "800 numbers."

Jenstar




msg:625760
 5:09 pm on Sep 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

I agree with Hawgirl. Even if a customer never uses it, they like to know there is an easy way to contact the company quickly, without any cost to them. And some will phone the number before placing an order "just to make sure someone's there."

When you get a toll free number, some companies will allow you to ask who owned a number previously before you decide to take it. Particularly with 800 numbers, this can be a problem if you are receiving many calls (which cost you money). One company was receiving so many of these calls, they had to switch their number - turned out it was formerly a biz to speak to someone in the adult profession, "absolutely free" ;)

Hawkgirl




msg:625761
 8:23 pm on Sep 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

> Did you replace your tollfree with a local, or remove the phone contact completely?

We removed it.

Then we put it back - FAST.

And now it's never to be touched again. Lesson learned. Testing is good.

andy_boyd




msg:625762
 5:38 pm on Sep 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have a site selling gifts, we get good traffic and ok sales. As a result of this thread I am organizing a toll free number for the site.

Do you think that adding a toll free number to the site and placing it in a prominent space on each page will increase sales? Does anyone have stats to show that introducing a toll free number increases sales?

Thanks!

moltar




msg:625763
 6:07 pm on Sep 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Didn't Hawkgirl just give you stats? :)

[edit reason]sepllnig[/edit]

[edited by: moltar at 6:33 pm (utc) on Sep. 13, 2003]

jsinger




msg:625764
 6:17 pm on Sep 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Another stat: About 100% of the top commerce sites have a toll free number!

Can anyone name an exception?

Robino




msg:625765
 12:59 am on Sep 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Amazon. They're pretty big.

jsinger




msg:625766
 1:36 am on Sep 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Foiled!

"Another stat: About 100% of the top commerce sites have a toll free number!"

By top commerce sites, I mean one that actually makes a consistant profit. :)

--
But you are right. I looked all over Amazon and found no phone #, not even on the page where they have $5,000 Segway scooters for sale.

Any other major sites without phone numbers? Interesting topic to me. Especially looking for sites selling higher priced products.

andy_boyd




msg:625767
 7:05 pm on Sep 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

When you go looking for well known, successful sites selling pricey stuff it soon becomes clear that having a toll free number is a no-brainer. It seems to be the defacto standard, big sites selling lots of stuff should have a toll free number available.

I thought I had found one large, well-known site without a toll free number, but then discovered it. I have yet to see a big player in my section of the market that doesn't have one. This is indeed, interesting. Even some of the smaller stores have one.

Better get on to BT again!

sun818




msg:625768
 6:59 am on Sep 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Okay, so how much should one expect to pay for a service like this in 2003? As mentioned earlier, I would want an 800 prefix. For example, for the domestic USA, can one expect to pay $15 per month plus $0.07 per minute for incoming calls? Is that reasonable or should I expect to pay more?

andy_boyd




msg:625769
 7:42 am on Sep 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'm based in Ireland, but most customers are from the USA. So I need to set up an international toll free number. For those who might like to know in the UK, and don't want to get passed from one agent to another, the costs are as below:

Quarterly Fee: 90.50

Call Charge (Per Minute): 0.45

Not too bad really considering. The only thing is BT are sooooo slow in getting things like this set up, agents say they'll ring back, but they haven't a clue what they're at and never call back :(

jsinger




msg:625770
 11:31 am on Sep 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

"For example, for the domestic USA, can one expect to pay $15 per month plus $0.07 per minute for incoming calls? Is that reasonable or should I expect to pay more?"

As I recall, we pay 6.4 cents per minute. There is a $25 minimum on our plan but we always go well over it. Whole setup process took a few days when we did it several years ago. We use Sprint. We used them for our brick/mortar stores so we may get some discounts.

rise2it




msg:625771
 8:11 am on Sep 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

If you are Amazon, eBay, or Yahoo then you can get by without an 800# (or providing any kind of contact info or customer service).

If you are not that big, then it will help with your credibility.

franklin dematto




msg:625772
 12:09 am on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

What about a professional B2B site? My feeling was that seeing an 800 number makes you think "MegaCorp, long hold, sales rep" while seeing a local number makes you think "I'll get to someone who actually knows what they're doing"

Robino




msg:625773
 2:13 am on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)


What about a professional B2B site? ...seeing an 800 number makes you think "MegaCorp, long hold, sales rep"

No way! Local number tells me that I have to pay for the call and this business might be a local mom and pop type.

I suppose it depends on what kind of business you are. Smaller operations may appealing for some B2C. B2B customers think, "Hey, big company, they're well established." Less risk!

David_M




msg:625774
 3:31 am on Oct 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

After a couple of weeks with a change from a local number to a toll free my results-
The overall conversion rates stayed the same, but I did get a couple of telephone orders from people who may not have ordered otherwise. They said they had seen my site online, and didn't have a chance to order right then, but wrote down the phone number. If it had remained the local number, I don't think they would have bothered. Although I didn't ask them that, next time I will. If I had been in their position, I would be much more likely to write down a toll free than a local number.

franklin dematto




msg:625775
 3:36 am on Oct 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'm quite surprised - a ten minute call long distance is about a dollar - is that such a big deal (B2B)?

Hawkgirl




msg:625776
 11:38 am on Oct 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

>a ten minute call long distance is about a dollar - is that such a big deal (B2B)?

It seems like it shouldn't be a big deal - but it really can be.

Even though rates have come way down, a lot of people are still trained not to pick up the phone to make a long distance call. Old habits die hard.

Also, there may be company policies in place against LD calls - even for business purposes.

Another factor keeping LD calls to a minimum: a lot of companies have "account codes" set up on their outgoing LD service. This means employees have to punch in an accounting code before they can make an LD call. Those types of codes are put in place to make it easier to account for expenses - but it can stop some people from making LD calls.

And there's also that legitimacy thing that we touched on earlier in this thread. Consumers (both business and non-business) see your company as having "gone the extra mile" in providing a toll-free number on the site. In the U.S., we're trained to know that a "1-800" number means it's for a business. So we associate (appropriately or not) that someone who has one of those numbers is a "more" legitimate business than someone who doesn't. And that may be all that it takes to get their business - or lose it.

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