Toll-Free Telephone Services
What It Is
Toll–free or "800" service lets your customers call you free of charge. Your agency pays the phone bill for all incoming calls. There are different levels of service, and depending on the package you select, it can accommodate callers from the U.S. and U.S. Territories, and Canada. With special arrangements, it can accommodate callers from other countries.
Why It’s Important
The public doesn’t want to pay long–distance charges to obtain government information and services. Toll–free telephone networks can help your agency manage customer calls more efficiently and effectively. They offer a combination of toll–free telephone service and call routing services to optimize the operation and management of contact centers. You can serve a wide geographic region, with multiple locations and staggered hours of operation across time zones.
How To Implement
There are different levels of service available. Choose the toll–free service provider that works best for your agency, then choose the features you need. Basic toll–free service includes the following routing features:
- Dialed Number Identification Service (DNIS)—Identify which toll-free number your caller dialed, so your reps can answer the call with a personalized greeting.
- Caller ID/Real–time Automatic Number Identification (ANI)—Also, known as caller ID. Helps reps to easily retrieve customer information from your database. You can handle more calls per day, since this typically shortens each call by 10 to 20 seconds.
- Route Advance—Directs overflow calls to another dedicated circuit (On–Net Route Advance) or local lines (Off–Net Route Advance), so callers never get a busy signal.
- Uniform Call Distribution (UCD)—Move excessive call traffic on your business lines to a toll–free trunk group. Track and distribute incoming calls evenly.
- Shared Location Service—Redirects overflow toll–free calls to other locations, and can serve as a backup/disaster recovery solution.
- Multi–Carrier Routing—Manage multiple carriers through a single point of contact.
You can also screen calls based on the following controls:
- Information Digits—Block calls based on phone type, to help control pay phone surcharges.
- Area Code/Exchange—Offer customers in your geographic market a toll–free local number, to better manage costs.
- Time of the Day—Limit toll–free calls to hours of operation.
- Day of the Week—Greet callers with a recorded announcement on the days your call center is closed.
- Day of the Year—Greet callers with a recorded announcement when your office is closed for a holiday.
Enhanced toll–free service adds even more functionality:
- Information Digit Control—Identifies the caller's phone type, to route calls to designated locations. For example, calls from pay phones can be routed differently than residential phones.
- Area Code Control—Offers one toll–free number for all regions, and calls are automatically routed to the closest answer center.
- Area Code/Exchange Control—Pinpoints a caller's exchange to provide toll–free calling to all exchanges within an area code, and calls are routed to the correct answer center.
- Time–of–Day Routing—Take advantage of time zone differences to expand your business day, by routing calls to different locations at different times.
- Day of Week—Routes calls to different destinations, or deliver a courtesy announcement if your office is closed, depending on the day.
- Day of Year—Same as “day of week”, but useful for holidays.
- Dynamic Network Routing (DNR)—Includes: call–by–call, skills–based routing, and uses customer–defined business rules (like IVR); designed for sophisticated customer segmentation strategies.
- Call Allocation—Distributes calls across different locations, helps match call volume to each location's capabilities.
Toll–Free Service Providers
For federal agencies and certain entities who are authorized to obtain services from the General Services Administration (GSA), toll–free telephone services can be obtained through the Networx contracts managed by GSA. Requests for services under the Networx contracts are generally handled by trained Authorized Agency Representatives (DARs) within the Telecommunications or IT Department of an agency. Consult the appropriate Department within your agency for assistance in ordering telecommunications services under the Networx contracts.