Over the years, I’ve worked with a ton of different types of local businesses, both national companies and mom and pop service businesses. In different situations, we’d choose certain 800 Number service providers for different purposes, in addition to the main landlines at the offices to help with tracking sales agents, advertising campaigns, etc…
I’m going to go over a few of the pros and cons of different 800 number providers, and specifically how particular companies can be a tremendous help if you’re actively doing offline advertising, online advertising, or have commission sales agents. Please understand right up front, that for large corporations that require landlines hardwired into the building to piggyback/operate other systems off of, these are not intended to be a replacement for those, just a helpful addition to track various performance aspects and drive more revenue.
Most people/companies do not ever consider using call tracking to monitor the effectiveness of contractors they hire to do both online and offline advertising. This can be both a life saver to identify poor performance, and a branding nightmare if used incorrectly, so we’ll cover this in great detail.
Finally, we’ll go over an alternative to using an expensive virtual Phone service provider with a live answer receptionist. I’ll show you how you can setup a professional call flow from two different companies that doesn’t require an employee to sit by the phone, but also doesn’t make the customer feel alienated or give the impression you may not be very responsive. This can save you boatloads of money compared to a VOIP system from a local service provider like Brighthouse/Time Warner, Century Link, Comcast, ATT, Verizon, etc… The only downside is, if you utilize a ton of outgoing minutes that must originate from the same number, most plans aren’t unlimited until you get into the higher cost packages.
We’ll throw in a few tidbits on how this all ties in to lead gen campaigns, SEO, hiring PPC advertising specialist, billboard advertising, and more.
By the end of this article, you should have a good grasp on which service will be the best fit for you or your company. But should you have a question that I didn’t cover, ask below in the comments and I’ll answer it within a couple days… There’s probably someone else out there with the same question, so you’ll help them out too!
My Top 3 Picks For The Best Rated 800 Phone Service Providers For Businesses (local and 800/toll free)
#1 Grasshopper Virtual Phone Systems – Manage Your Calls Online Or From Your Office
- Get a toll free or local number – national or local presence
- Keep your existing number – Maintain your brand
- Multiple extensions – for everyone on your team
- Call forwarding to mobile phones – work from anywhere
- Voicemails transcribed – delivered to your email
- No new hardware – use your existing phones
- Send business text messages – from your toll free or local number
Get Your Toll Free Or Local Business Number With Grasshopper Starting At Just $12/mo
#2 Phone.com VOIP Business Phone Service In The Cloud
- Address Book
- Analog Phones
- Bulk Number Porting
- Call Blocking
- Call Handling Rules
- Call Logs, Recording, And Reporting
- Call Notifications
- Caller ID With Analytics
- Click To Call With CRM Integration
- Custom Toll Free Numbers
Get A 30 Day Free Trial For Your Business Line At Phone.com Then $9.99/mo Thereafter
#3 Callfire Phone Numbers With Voice Broadcasting & Auto Dialer Software
- Voice Broadcasting
- Text Messaging
- Call tracking
- IVR Integration
- Cloud Call Center
- Developer API
- Local and Toll Free Numbers
Pay As You Go By The Minute With No Monthly Fee With Callfire.com
The Best 800 Virtual Phone Service Provider For Business Offices
Grasshopper has the most robust and flexible call flow setup of any of the phone service providers, and offers the most support for expansion so you’re not stuck with a limiting service if you expand down the road. They make it easy to setup your desired call flow, and even forward calls to cell phones or other numbers after a customer has selected an extension. You can choose to add new lines to your account at any time, and also keep your existing or local number too. Conference calls are a breeze, and it automatically connects all parties by entering in their phone numbers. Save time by adding an informational extension that delivers automated store hours and directions to customers in real time.
How would you use this like I mentioned above? Well let’s create an example here, and say you don’t have a receptionist, but still want your customers to be greeted properly when they call, and directed to the correct department or employee/person right? This is easy to do, and you can record multiple greetings for your primary initial call greeting, add extensions with a menu that the customer can select (with or without hold music), and then add secondary greetings further down the call flow path. (you can also create a name directory if you want customers to be able to search through personnel as well) Forwarding a customers to call to multiple numbers is a perfect way to handle an employee not being available, and the customer isn’t immediately alienated because there are secondary call flow options they can be routed to should that employee not answer.
You get the ability to setup multiple custom voicemails, and then choose how those are delivered to you. Great options that will save you time from checking messages when you’re busy are voicemail to email, and even faxes to email… so you don’t have to run back to the office every time a client sends you over a fax! Both can be transcribed and added to your emails, so you can quickly see what the call was about.
For service businesses who use their cell phones all the time and are expanding, Grasshopper makes it super easy to set your outgoing caller ID. This way it no longer shows the personal name and address associated with your cell phone, and it much more professional since it’ll match your company info exactly. Business SMS text messaging is also a nice feature, and in this day and age is a good idea for most businesses to have the ability to accept text messages.
The other thing that makes Grasshopper attractive is the low startup costs involved. Their pricing starts at $12/mo, and you don’t have to buy and expensive phone hardware or voip systems since it’s a virtual phone system.
Grasshopper in a nutshell:
How Using Local And 800 Business Phone Services With Call Tracking Can Help Improve Company Sales & Track Negative ROI In Your Business
If you’re going to hire an advertising company to run billboard ads for you, how do you know exactly how many calls you get from that exposure? Does it lose you money or break even? Do you know for sure??
One of the ways to position yourself to better analyze how much you spend, or which contracts to renew, is to track your calls. Instead of using you main office number, you buy a local or 800 number from one of the providers I’m about to introduce you to, and monitor every call that comes in on your end of the month report.
There’s an additional pro to this that can put you many steps ahead of your competitors. One is call recording, whereby you can see how well your receptionist is doing taking the calls, how well your sales agents are closing, and easily spot areas to improve by doing weekly quality control checks. You’d be surprised by how many businesses are losing business from improper greetings by receptionists and employees. You just never know about it unless you deploy a technique like this.
There are a couple of cons to using a call tracking line for everything however. For instance, if you have a branded vanity phone number, and you’re doing a national ad campaign, you would not want to use a separate call tracking line in this case simply because you’ll lose the brand recognition. Another case where you’d want to be careful, is using a call tracking line to track how well an SEO company performs for you. You want to be sure they deploy your numbers as an image, not raw text so your NAP doesn’t screw with your local SEO.
However, if implemented properly, you can quickly see where your company is losing money each month, and where to scale up in places that delivers your best return on investment. Once identified, you no longer need to use these numbers any longer, and can ditch them aside form testing new advertising methods.
The Best Phone Service Providers (800 & Local) For Businesses Looking For Call Tracking & Analysis
Callfire is my top choice here, for it’s huge number selection (you might even find a second vanity number as well) and affordability. You can be setup in 5 minutes, and receive texts and forward them to whatever number of your choosing. Turning on call recording and voice whisper (so your receptionist knows where the call is coming from if you have a special greeting for certain circumstances) is a click of the mouse, and you can easily record custom messages that only you can hear.
Full compliance no matter what your state regulations are are available, including call announcements on your customers end if you happen to be recording entire conversations for quality control.
At the end of the month (or anytime really) you can log in to your dashboard and listen to how well your staff is doing, see how many calls went unanswered, and view caller id reports to see how many times the same customer had to call to get the service they desired.
Second on my list for call tracking providers, is Phone.com. They actually are my favorite, but cost a bit more, and are not always cost effective for every situation. However, the features are on par with Grasshopper in regards to what you can do under the hood, and it’s very easy to setup custom call routing/forwarding and have your voice-mails transcribed and emailed to you instantly. In addition to this, you can get email notifications every time a call is transferred, so if you;re tracking an ad campaign by the day or hour, it’s easy to get a feel for what’s working and what’s not.
Specialized 800 Number Service Providers For PPC And Display Advertising
If you’re spending money with ongoing online ad campaigns, and you want dynamic number insertion to track conversions down to the exact landing page and referrer, Ifbyphone is bar none the best phone service provider for you.
Their advanced applications and tracking allow you to setup campaigns in ways other companies can’t support yet. The ability to split test, both ad copy with direct phone extensions and landing page variations with different CTA’s, is second to none compared to other providers I’ve used.
The only downside to IfbyPhone is the costs involved for normal call tracking without needing some of these features… You’d be better off with Callfire or Phone.com if you aren’t doing heavy digital advertising.
Update – haven’t used IfbyPhone since they switched to Dialog Tech after a round of funding it looks like, but if you’re doing strictly a ton of PPC, their dynamic keyword insertion and tracking is the best in the business.
Toll Free 800 Phone Number Service Provider With Vanity Numbers And IVR Integration
Kall8 is a company I started using many years ago before Grasshopper was around, and still have an account with them today. Their pricing isn’t the cheapest, but still a good value for that their system can do, and they have all the advanced features like VOIP integration, payphone blocking, call announcements, address lookup for caller id, lead management, and hunt groups.
I’m pretty sure Grasshopper has now evolved to offer all of these features and more at this time, and is probably the more favorable choice if starting fresh. But Kall8 still makes the cut… My only complaints about kall8 are the clunky interface. They’ve been rock solid for me for the last 4 + years, and I still have multiple lines with them. However, they don’t make it as streamlined to setup new campaigns and adjust things like call recording and whatnot, along with limited voice whisper features. Be sure if you’re running campaigns with an active spend, you have a backup card on file. Late last year my numbers were suspended because my credit card expired and I was out of town, and didn’t get their courtesy call reminding me to update payment.
I’ve used Twilio in the past successfully for lead gen campaigns for clients and whatnot, and don’t get me wrong, they are VERY affordable. Probably the cheapest in the business, if not beating other companies by a long shot! But there are a few caveats about them that stop me from recommending them for most businesses. The big one is call quality… Sometimes their lines can be quite staticky, and the connection speed seems to have a lag at times, but other than that, their network is rock solid. In terms of customization and what you can build on top of their platform for custom autoresponders for customers, there is no comparison.
The biggest reason they didn’t make the list since you sort of have to be a programmer to work with their api, or subscribe to a third party software company/license to integrate with it. This isn’t a huge deal, but I don’t like having an additional point of vulnerability between the primary service provider in case of failure… The whole operation could be compromised until a patch or bug fix is pushed out, which isn’t acceptable to me when your business is on the line.
Who’s The Cheapest, Who’s Has The Best Service, And Which Provider Is Best For Toll Free 800 #’s & Local Area Codes
In my opinion, the cheapest is going to be Callfire right out of the gate. But, I wouldn’t pick them if I planned on keeping office phone systems integrated for the long haul, I’d go with Grasshopper instead. Reason being, Callfire’s dev tech is aimed toward a niche in the market that includes voice broadcasting. That’s kind of their thing, and when I’ve called customer support before and asked about implementing advanced features, the feedback wasn’t positive in that direction.
For that reason alone, for most small businesses, the best provider is going to be Grasshopper. They offer the best all around feature set, with future development looking to support a variety of applications.
In a close second, is Phone.com. I absolutely love their service, and the ease of which you can setup lines for businesses and route the calls for lead generation campaigns is just awesome. If you’re looking to track ad campaigns, or experiment with new lead sources as opposed to running office lines, I’d go with Phone.com. Their pricing is still attractive, and if you look around at any other reviews or comparisons, you still get all the advantages over going with a local provider like Verizon or ATT for example.
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