A 2015 “Forecasting Utilization of Toll-Free Numbers” report from the North American Numbering Plan Association (NANPA) estimated that by Q1 2018, 100% of toll-free numbers would be in use with a 66% probability of exhaust. In comparison, 85% of numbers were in use in Q2 2015 with a less than 1% chance of exhaust.
You might not love them, especially when they’re used to make spam calls, but the fact is we need toll-free phone numbers. We like them, even with the majority (63%) of us turning to them for customer support.
Overall, the annual growth rate in registered toll-free numbers has hovered near 9% since 2010. There are over 40 million in use today, with so much demand that there are now several alternatives to the classic 800 including 888, 877, 866, 855 and 844.
Think about it: what would your impression be of a company that didn’t offer a toll-free number for customer support? Probably not good.
On the contrary, we’ve seen these numbers promoted in some of history’s catchiest marketing jingles: 1800Mattress.com’s "1-800-MATTRES,” Stanley Steemer’s “1-800-STEEMER,” and J.G. Wentworth’s “877-CASHNOW.” The reality is that toll-free numbers are a pervasive part of everyday life, and they’ll continue to be moving forward.
There’s no denying the evolution of customer communications over the last 20 years. Today, tens of millions of text messages, online messages and social posts are sent each minute for brand engagement. But that doesn’t invalidate the telephone as a critical touchpoint.
Consider the financial services industry: 84% of customers say they still want the option of a live person for discussing their banking needs, and expect this need to stay the same five years from now. Even millennials still prefer phone for handling certain banking needs (a recent study from Humley found that 56% would rather communicate with a live person than a chatbot).
We see this pattern across several industries. When traveling, 89% of customers prefer help from a live person when something has gone wrong. In healthcare, 94% of patients prefer to speak with a real person than a virtual agent. Overall, phone has proven to be invaluable during certain stages of the customer journey, like in the purchase phase of the buying cycle or when a problem occurs.
Only 27% of end-users who engage with MSPs feel “very satisfied” with their experience, according to CompTIA’s annual “Trends in Managed Services” report. So, how can MSPs step up their game? Here’s how VoIP Innovations’ award-winning BackOffice platform transforms these experiences and instantly expands value:
- Programmable services: Create CPaaS-enabled apps and services with an easy-to-use programmable telco platform. This can be used to improve your own costs and efficiency (i.e. building an app that automatically schedules customer appointments) or to get creative with solving specific customer issues. Virtually anyone can get started with CPaaS; no extensive skills or experience required.
Communications is core to successful digital transformation, and that means a lot for Internet Telephony Service Providers (ITSPs). In fact, a 2017 benchmarking study from Autotask found that 63% of ITSPs are now managing up to 50% more endpoints than they were in 2015, with a 10% increase in companies working 26 or more projects per year. In a nutshell, business is booming.
ITSPs stand to significantly gain as companies adopt next-gen communications like AI, cloud, and mobility…but only if they play their cards right. At a time of incredible growth opportunity, these providers must get ahead by making the right decisions in terms of product and business model.
Today’s world is full of collaboration possibilities, yet still only 24% of employees feel connected to their peers according to TINYpulse’s “2017 Employee Engagement Report.” This disconnect is significant as companies champion for cultural, behavioral and digital transformation growth.
So, what’s going on here? Research suggests three common threads for struggling organizations:
Disconnect between departments: 76% of employees surveyed by TINYpulse say they feel connected to people within their immediate team, but not to other departments. The reason for this is likely due to “app overload,” in which different departments use siloed communication tools to get work done (research estimates this can waste as much as one hour per day per employee). Sustainable growth and transformation requires seamless cross-departmental collaboration using integrated, holistic tools.
The global managed service provider (MSP) market is growing fast (as in, slated-to-be-a-$300-billion-industry-by-2019 fast). Technology is advancing at an unbelievable rate with increased focus on specialty services for meeting specific vertical and business requirements. That has put MSPs in a comfy position, offering specific market knowledge and an understanding of evolving customer needs.
At a time of incredible growth opportunity, MSPs can’t afford to fall behind. Yet that’s exactly the risk they take without the right backend solution to support their business; one that ensures organizational agility, competitive differentiation and strategic growth. In the end, every benefit of working with a trusted MSP—minimized risk, proactive problem-solving, reliable service—depends on that provider’s backend platform.
As businesses leverage Toll-Free texting to enhance customer communications, scammers are using the service to trick consumers into sharing sensitive information. So much so, that phishing scams now account for over 20% of outbound traffic for leading Toll-Free texting API providers. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently toughened its stance against this fraudulent use of Toll-Free text messaging to “protect the integrity of toll-free texting.”
In an “evolve or die” era defined by rapid business transformation, Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are a key resource for innovation and growth. But there’s no time to waste: these companies are expected to move at the pace of a revolutionizing industry to enable enterprise customers to adapt and better compete.
Embracing market change is a given; rather, the question is how MSPs can differentiate against the competition (cited as the No. 1 challenge in Datto’s 2018 “State of the MSP Report”). Our suggestion: Communications Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS). Gaining share in this booming market allows MSPs to deliver greater value with next-gen communication services while improving their own credibility and sales.
Organizations are coming to understand the pivotal role of communications for successful digital transformation: research estimates $7 trillion will be spent on digital transformation by 2021, with a large share allocated towards communications technologies. Critical growth and innovation objectives boil down to real people collaborating to create extraordinary outcomes, and this depends on the communications tools that are employed.
In this next-gen era where communications drive sustainable transformation, Communications Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) has emerged as a strategic weapon (the global market is expected to grow from $400 million in 2015 to over $800 million by 2019). But CPaaS isn’t anything new; in fact, the technology was founded by The Parlay Group 20 years ago.