Getting your hands on a toll-free 800 number is easier than most people think. You can have your number set up and ready to use in a few minutes following just four simple steps. We’ll walk you through each step below.
Step 1 — Choose a RespOrg. We Recommend Nextiva
Nextiva is our top pick for just about anything business communications related, including this.
With it, you’re not just buying a toll-free phone number. You’re getting a full virtual phone system and business communication suite with a toll-free number included (at no cost) in your plan.
Unlimited voice and video calling, unlimited internet fax, team chat, multi-level auto attendant—these are just a handful of the features that come with your Nextiva phone plan. You’ll get all of this for a fraction of the price compared to a traditional landline, and Nextiva lets you make and receive calls from any computer or smartphone. No need to purchase additional hardware.
When you factor in Nextiva’s reliability and call quality, it’s really a no-brainer choice for any business seeking a toll-free 800 phone number.
You can check out our full Nextiva review to learn more if you’re still not convinced.
Step 2 – Sign Up and Choose Your 1-800 Number
True 800 numbers are hard to come by as many of the best ones are already taken, but Nextiva offers plenty of toll-free options to choose from.
Get started by picking your toll-free number from the Nextiva signup page.
While a randomly generated 800 number is fine and establishes trust with callers, here are a few tips you should keep in mind when choosing a 1-800 number for your business:
- Use a vanity number that spells a word or phrase (1-800-FLOWERS)
- Pick number sequences that are easy to memorize (3456, 8888, 2233, 2323, etc.)
- Get multiple toll-free numbers to track marketing campaigns (TV ad vs. radio ad)
- Set up toll-free numbers that automatically route to specific departments (sales vs. support)
- Choose a number with the fewest digits possible
- If using a vanity number, ensure it fits your brand and business type (don’t use 1-800-GOT-JUNK if you sell pool supplies)
You don’t need to spend a ton of time trying to brainstorm a creative toll-free number. Most businesses end up using more than one eventually.
So if you’re stuck, just go with a random 800 number, and you can always add another one later on.
As of right now, Nextiva doesn’t offer vanity numbers. But you can always get one elsewhere and then port it over to Nextiva for free.
Step 3 — Configure Basic Settings
Once you’ve chosen your 800 toll-free number, you still need to set up a few settings to ensure your phone system works as desired. This will only take five or ten minutes max.
Greetings and Voicemail
Nextiva comes with a default greeting that plays for incoming calls.
But if you want to make this more personalized, you can record custom greetings or even trigger different greetings based on specific scenarios.
For example, you might use a standard greeting when nobody answers the phone but have a different greeting if the line is busy. Or you can set up extended away greetings if a department is out of the office for the weekend or off on a holiday.
You can manage all of your greetings and voicemail settings from the same screen of your Nextiva dashboard. Just click Voicemail on the left side of your dashboard.
Make sure you enable the voicemail toggle to the On position from the top right corner of the screen. Otherwise, callers won’t be able to leave a message.
You can also configure how many rings before callers are sent to voicemail, set your voicemail PIN, and optionally set up voicemail to email settings.
Next, you can set up extensions to specific users or departments. This makes it easy for inbound callers to get quickly routed to the right person.
Click Voice Settings or Voice Setup to configure your extensions. Then scroll to Phone Number to add or adjust your extension settings.
From here, you can also set up call forwarding to a separate number if the extension dialed is unreachable.
For example, say a caller dials your sales extension, but there’s no answer. You could have the call routed to a receptionist or support rep instead of sending them to voicemail, ensuring that the caller gets to speak to a real person.
To help cut down the costs associated with inbound calls to your toll-free number, Nextiva makes it easy to screen calls and automatically deny calls that don’t fit a specific criteria.
Aside from lower actual charges, this also helps you save money on indirect costs—like interrupting your team’s workflow or having sales reps waste time answering calls from telemarketers.
Go to Users > Actions > Voice Settings > Call Routing > Selective Call Rejection.
Then it’s just a matter of adding any conditions you want to apply.
For example, you can block anonymous calls, unavailable numbers, or conditions for specific phone numbers. You can also reject calls during certain schedules, like weekends or lunch hours when nobody is around to answer the phone.
Setting up schedules for your toll-free number is a convenient way to automatically route calls based on a time or day of the week.
From your Nextiva dashboard, navigate to Users > Actions > Voice Setup > Business Hours.
These settings are highly customizable, and you can do it for different users, extensions, or locations.
Call routing can be somewhat complex depending on how large your company is and how in-depth you want to be. For now, we recommend starting with a basic routing tree so you can get your 800 number up and running as soon as possible.
You can always come back later to configure these settings at a higher level.
The easiest way to set up basic routing parameters is with an auto attendant. You customize a menu that directs callers through different flows based on their needs and your business operations.
Examples like “press 1 for sales” or “press 2 service” are common menu navigation options.
From your admin screen, click Communications > Phone Systems > Call Flows > Create New Flow.
Then select your main 800 number.
From here, simply select Add Action for any new parameter in your call flow. If you’ve already set up business hours, this is an easy place to start.
Next, click Phone Menu to configure specific buttons on the dial pad.
You don’t have to set up all 12 buttons right now. But start with a few of your most basic extensions or departments, and you can always come back later to add more.
Step 4 — Do a Quick Round of Testing
Your 800 toll-free number should be good to go. But call it first to make sure everything is working like it should.
After answering the first call, let the next one go to voicemail. Did your customized greeting play as intended? Next, try your extensions. Are you being routed to the right departments?
Once you’ve verified everything is working properly, you can publish your toll-free number everywhere:
- Plaster it on your website
- Add it to your email signature
- Order new business cards with it
- Update your contact page
- Add it to your social media pages and Google Business Profile
You get the idea. Make sure it’s everywhere and ready for use so people can start using it to contact you.
Do You Actually Need a Toll Free Number?
Toll-free numbers are beneficial to most businesses. They’re common in nearly all industries for small businesses, large corporations, and everything in between.
You need a toll-free number if you want to unlock benefits like:
- Establishing trust with customers and prospects
- Reaching new markets with a national presence
- Allowing people with landlines to call your business for free
- Creating one main number for all inbound calls
- Streamlining the way inbound calls are automatically routed
- Tracking campaigns to measure the effectiveness of different ads or channels
Most businesses need a toll-free number. With that said, some regional or hyper-localized businesses may not need one. For example, if you’re running a small restaurant or laundromat with one location, you probably don’t need an 800 number.
How Do 1-800 Toll Free Numbers Work?
Toll-free numbers can be dialed from a landline without the person placing the call being charged a long-distance fee. This allows people to call a business in another state or region without having to worry about it costing money.
Wireless callers may still be charged for toll-free calls, unless they have an unlimited calling plan with their phone provider.
When a toll-free call is made, it’s automatically routed to a specific local phone number.
Toll-free prefixes are set by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). The FCC also sets all the rules and regulations for obtaining and using toll-free numbers—even though those numbers are ultimately distributed by RespOrgs.
What About Other Toll Free Number Numbers (888, 877, Etc.)?
Currently, there are seven different toll-free number codes, each starting with unique three digits:
While all of these numbers are toll-free, they are not interchangeable. For example, calling 1-800-FLOWERS would not get you to the same number as 1-888-FLOWERS (unless the company purchased both numbers).
All of these numbers work the same way—it’s free to call them from a landline, and the call gets routed to a local number.
The only potential downside of using a non-800 number is that it may not be as memorable or trustworthy to customers.
1-800 is the most widely recognized toll-free prefix. The first 800 number was issued back in 1967. With nearly 60 years of hearing and seeing these numbers, most Americans automatically associate “800” with “free.”
An 833 number works the exact same way as an 800 number. But this prefix wasn’t made available until 2017—50 years later. So it doesn’t quite have the same recognition or decades of trust.
Getting a toll-free number is easy, and it’s a must-have for most businesses.
As you can see from the steps in this tutorial, the entire process can be completed in less than 15 minutes. It’s just a matter of choosing your RespOrg and selecting your number.
Nextiva is our top recommendation, and a toll-free number is included when you sign up for Nextiva’s business phone service.