Communication is a key to every business and while making it more efficient and accessible, various type of contact numbers are used. Toll-free number and DID number fall in the category of business phone numbers but fulfil different purposes.
Cloud or Internet-based communication has given a rise to the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), the internet is being used to make calls, and the major impact comes to the call rates. Call rates have become quite lesser, and even small businesses can afford it today to connect with customers spread across various continents.
Toll-Free number has existed since very long now, and it has transformed the ways of doing business in the past. Toll-free numbers are telephone numbers with a three- or four-digit distinct code that can be dialled without any charge incurring to the person placing the call.
Whereas, DID numbers are virtual numbers that allow to route a call to an existing number. In a simpler way, if you have a DID number, you don’t need a physical line coming to your desk, but you have a contact number for your desk phone.
Let’s look at these two types of numbers and how they support business with their unique propositions and how they differ from each other.
Today, every business needs a phone number that customers can contact without incurring any charge. Toll-free number comes as a solution. These are easily recognisable because of their distinct number code prefix. These dial codes can be of two, three or four digits.
As, a toll-free number on traditional phone lines can only have a certain number of simultaneous calls but when the call is completed through the servers, there can be a higher number of simultaneous calls. It helps the businesses to handle the high call volume.
Initially, toll-free numbers came into existence as customer service number, but now most of the customers expect to reach out a business on a toll-free number.
And if it is integrated with an IVR then it works as an effective self-help tool. In addition to it, toll-free numbers help in sales-acceleration and, give a brand recognition. If the toll-free number is chosen smartly then the contact number of the business stays in the minds of customers.
The use of toll-free numbers has a legacy too, the well-known computer manufacturer, ‘Dell’ set an example quite early that put it ahead of its competitors during the 80s for providing customised computers by communicating with customers over toll-free numbers.
It gave Dell’s promising customers a free channel to put an order and change or customise further by using the toll-free number multiple times.
DID (Direct Inward Dialing) initially came into existence in the U.S. by AT&T in the 1960s. DID came as an analogue technology that needed hardware to use the DID numbers. The basic utility of DID numbers was equally unique, and it connected the PSTN line to the company’s PBX extensions to connect with the particular employees of an organisation.
DID numbers are local numbers that forward inbound calls to a business line. And several companies use DID numbers as their caller ID for outbound calls because potential customers are more likely to take calls from the local area code.
DID numbers directly connect to the PBX of a company. It means it is a channel to connect with a particular person or reach a particular desk in the company. It can be said, DID numbers make the company’s PBX available to an outside person.
Initially, companies bought phone numbers to distribute it over their physical phone lines. For example, 100 phone numbers bought from a telecommunication company could be distributed over a particular number of PRI lines. Let’s assume there are eight physical lines. So, these 100 numbers will be distributed on eight phone lines, and there can be eight simultaneous calls at a time.
Here DID numbers stand ahead because the number of simultaneous calls can be increased by assigning an added number of channels as per the need.
Companies use DID numbers to provide personal numbers to employees without assigning any individual separate lines. So, for Direct Inward Dialing, one has to have a range of phone numbers that become extensions of the in-house PBX.
Choosing Between Toll-Free and DID Numbers
- Various factors come into play when it comes to choosing DID or toll-free numbers. DID numbers are assigned by a local area code, and toll-free number is formatted through a country code. So, DID numbers vary according to the city and toll-free numbers vary according to the country.
- When a caller calls a toll-free number, it doesn’t cost him anything but the called party bears the charges, on the other hand, with DIDs call charges are shared between the caller and the called party.
- Toll-Free numbers have a professional appearance, and customers are quite used to it. Whereas DID numbers give a local presence for the business, and they look like a normal phone number.
- There are usually one or two toll-free numbers in a company but DID numbers can be many, and a company can have a virtual presence in several cities in the world by using it.
Cloud has made its presence felt in business communication, and with the passage of time, solutions such as Toll-Free Numbers and DIDs have become a mainstay of businesses. The advantages are not merely economic but also introduce some unique business propositions that were never there with the traditional setup, earlier.