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10 Questions to Ask When Searching for a Toll-Free Number Service

Posted by Daniel McFarland on September 16, 2015 at 2:34 PM
Daniel McFarland

There are some questions you should ask to get the most out of your toll-free numbers.If you’re a business owner, you know that toll-free numbers are an ideal method to communicate with a wide array of customers. Since your toll-free service is such an integral part of your business communications, we are providing you with 10 questions you should ask yourself to improve the effectiveness and your understanding of toll-free numbers.

1) Is my Provider a Responsible Organization (RespOrg)?

Accreditation is a key factor when deciding to accept any type of service. Just as you would want someone like a heart surgeon to be fully accredited, you should also look for certification in your VoIP wholesale provider. When a wholesale carrier is known as a RespOrg (Responsible Organization) that means that they have been certified by the FCC to provide toll-free services. VoIP providers who have been certified have access to the Service Management System (SMS/800). By choosing a RespOrg wholesale carrier, you can take solace in the fact that they have been certified and internally trained to provide excellent VoIP services.

2) What Surcharges Can I Expect?

Expect surcharges when dealing with toll-free services.Receiving surcharges is typical when purchasing and consuming services from a toll-free provider. The most common surcharge is known as “toll-free incompletes”. This surcharge occurs when the number of rejected incoming calls exceeds the maximum percentage of toll-free traffic. Many things can happen for a call to be rejected. Usually calls are rejected because they have not been properly set up on a switch, or the number has become inactive. It’s never fun to receive unexpected fees, so be aware of what kinds of surcharges you may receive from your toll-free provider.

3) Does Your Provider Have Failover Protection?

It’s always good to have a Plan B. As mentioned before, RespOrg certified VoIP carriers have the ability to integrate failover protection into their toll-free DIDs and services. When a call switch goes inactive, your calls will automatically be carried over with a failover plan. You can also make this switch manually. When a VoIP carrier has a failover plan, you can be assured that your calls will not be dropped or lost.

4) Who are Your Provider’s Underlying Carriers (ULC):

When you sign-up with a VoIP wholesale provider, they will provide you with telecommunications services from ULCs (Underlying Carriers). Underlying Carriers are separated into tiers; Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3. Tier 1 carriers are the large, practically monopolized, telecom providers known as ILECs (Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers). Tier 2 carriers are known as CLECs (Competitive Local Exchange Carriers) which have been created to compete with the larger ILECs. Over time, many CLECs have been absorbed by ILECs. Tier 3 carriers are typically wholesale aggregators. Using a Tier 3 carrier is fine as long as they provide service from a Tier 1 carrier. Be sure to know and understand what ULC your toll-free carrier is offering you so that you receive the best quality in service.

5) How Does Your Current Toll-Free Carrier Provide Billing?

You typically have two options when it comes to toll-free billing: one simple, and one a little more complex. The simple way is to have calls billed at a flat per-minute rate. This method is easy to recognize on a bill, but it is possible you might be overcharged on certain routes. The complex method is to be billed by reverse rate deck. With billing by reverse rate deck, you have more control in configuration and management. It may be more difficult to bill this way, but it can result in you paying less than in the flat rate method.

6) Where Does Your Provider Offer Toll-Free Services?

Be aware of the locations your provider allows toll-free services.When selecting a wholesale toll-free provider, keep in mind of where you’ll handle your business. Identify location of your end users and decide if you will need US, US + Canada, or US + Canada + International toll-free services. Make sure your toll-free provider can cover all the locations you need to satisfy your demographic.

7) What Types of Numbers Does Your Wholesale Carrier Provide?

You may have noticed that rather than the traditional 1-800 number, there are now 888, 877, 866, etc. numbers floating around. These are simply toll-free numbers that have been introduced once the availability of 800 numbers has been depleted. There are very few 800 numbers left in existence and they have become a somewhat precious commodity.

There are also vanity numbers, such as 1-800-LUV-VOIP or 1-800-NUMBERS, that are designed for convenience. These numbers are great if you want to keep your numbers easy to remember and fresh in your customer’s minds.

8) Can You Port Your Numbers?

Porting toll-free numbers is a little different than porting local numbers.

Does your carrier allow you to move your numbers? If your carrier is a RespOrg, you will have more success when porting a number. Just be aware that the process isn’t the same as porting a local number. You’ll also have to fill out a Letter of Authorization (LOA).  

9) Can You Receive Toll-Free Reporting?

When running a business, you’re going to want to know how every aspect of your company is performing. Receiving real-time reports is incredibly useful in tracking how your numbers are doing, all while keeping your costs low and traffic up. This can be accomplished through management dashboards and email alerts.

10) Can You Easily Manage Your Toll-Free Services?

Your numbers and services should be easily manageable and accessible. Management tools are often found in the form of dashboards. Dashboards will give you access to reports, daily task automation, and alerts. Management dashboards are the best way to keep an eye on your toll-free numbers and navigate through your services.

How does your current toll-free provider stack up to these questions? If you feel as though you are missing out on some features that we've covered in this blog post, click here. VoIP Innovations will hook you up with a Free Trial so you can see how all these features can improve your toll-free numbers, and your business. 

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Tags: Telephony, Telecom, Entrepreneurship

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