There are basically 4 different ways that you can differentiate or recognize calls from your 800 number as opposed to calls to your local number. With regular toll free service a call to your toll free number gets forwarded to the ring to number and everything works the exact same as if they dialed your local number directly, in terms of the ring, voicemail, call forwarding, hunting and caller ID, etc. If you need to be able to know when a call is coming from your toll free number as opposed to your local number you will need to use one of the following 4 options.
Caller ID is the simplest way
I hear you saying but I don’t know the numbers of the people that are going to be calling my toll free number. That’s right, but you do know the numbers of 95% of the people that call your cell phone. You probably already have them programmed in so their name shows up and you may even have a different ring for them too. So if you point your toll free number to your cell phone you can just assume that callers that aren’t programmed in are to your cell phone are probably calling from the toll free number.
This is usually the easiest solution and if it allows you to put off having a regular land line for your business for the first few months, that alone will probably save you much more than the cost of getting the toll free number.
Get a distinctive ring line from your local phone company
Your local phone company can give you a distinctive ring service which will make your phone ring differently when people call that second number. Don’t give out the second number but point your toll free number to it. Then when people dial the toll free number you’ll always hear the distinctive European sounding ring-ring. This only costs a few bucks per month from your local phone company.
Use an Enhanced Voicemail Service that announces calls
Another easy way to accomplish this is to use almost any of the enhanced voicemail services. Most of them have a feature called Call Announce. When a call is forwarded to you in most enhanced voicemail systems, a computerized voice will announce the call for you and ask what you would like to do with it… Answer it (to be connected live), Send it to voicemail, Forwarded it to someone else, Return to the que, etc. while the customer is on hold. This feature is sometimes called Whisper or if it prompts them for their name it may also be called Call Screening since you would know who they say is calling when you decide to accept it or not. This makes it very easy to tell when it’s a call from your toll free number because you don’t have to use your business voice unless you press the button to accept it after you hear the voice.
Some services like Kall8 (one of the enhanced voicemail services) can also tell you the number the caller dialed instead of the callers phone number in the caller ID. This could be an additional way to tell a toll free call from a call to your local number.
Get a Separate Line
Of course you can always get a separate line. Many services allow you to have a second line very inexpensively.
It’s also important to point out that you might start out by simply using the first option, with caller id on your cell phone and then switch to the second option, using distinctive ring on the local line once you get things going. Then when your business starts to grow and you begin working with more people, many companies switch to an enhanced voicemail service to create a virtual office. Then if you ultimately do get a full office you might graduate to the last option with your own pbx phone system and/or a receptionist.
It’s important to realize that your needs can change and just because you pick on of these options, doesn’t mean that you can’t use any of the others later on. The whole point of our service is to guarantee you flexibility.
We understand that it can be very important to keep things separate when you’re running two separate businesses, or if you’re starting a new venture on the side and there are definitely some good ways to do what you need to do. I hope this is helpful but if you have any questions you can of course call 1-800 MARKETER for more or email Bill Quimby at email@example.com.
UPDATE: Another way I just found.
Kall8.com offers an option to have your toll free number show up on the caller ID instead of the caller. This way you can tell on any phone that shows caller id, if it’s coming from your toll free number and a business call.