Last week, we came together again as an industry to the second annual Toll-Free User Summit. Somos was thrilled to be able to connect with the Toll-Free industry and celebrate its innovation and diversity. The entire Somos team works to serve you and to help evolve Toll-Free. Somos means “We Are,” and we see this manifest in our role in the Toll-Free industry: we are a trusted source of information, we are an advocate for this industry, we are making connections that lead to solutions, and we are helping to enable new opportunities for Toll-Free.
Toll-Free has been on quite a journey, one that is far from complete and we have an opportunity to write our next chapter. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the future. Where will the growth come from? Do we need to reinvent or possibly re-name our industry? That answer is not going to come from one single person or company. This is an industry effort. The future is entirely in your hands. And that future is full of opportunities to drive emerging applications built on an enduring concept: that Toll-Free evokes trust, access, and service. It’s used across the customer journey, and there’s opportunity to do more to create the future of Toll-Free.
Toll-Free Numbers hold so much value, but it is clear we need to re-invent the concept of Toll-Free in the mind of the consumer and even in our own eyes. We need to shift our thinking from cost-avoidance to value-creation, digital marketing, and mobile texting solutions, while harnessing the strength of Toll-Free. Here are some statistics that should impact our next wave of progress:
73 billion calls will be made from mobile search ads by 2018
70% of mobile users use click to call to connect with a business directly from search engine results
Over half of phone calls to businesses come from mobile advertising channels
Calls convert to revenue 10-15 times more than Web leads
All this goes to show you that voice calls aren't going away anytime soon. In fact, they are critical factors in online acquisition success.
And there is more to the story. There are 23 billion text messages sent every day. In an enterprise study that we conducted, we found that texting to Toll-Free Numbers is still new to people, but the value was clearly recognized. We found that it wasn’t just millennials that wanted to use text to communicate with businesses, but people age 35–65 and older had a strong preference for getting more business tasks done via text. And most of them said that they would prefer to use a Toll-Free Number to text a business, if they knew they would get a direct connection to a real person, instead of an automated response. When you take all of this into consideration, there is a true opportunity for the Toll-Free industry to be a key part of these communications.
Let’s not forget about the innovations we are seeing in call center intelligence to enhance customer analytics. Recorded calls are transcribed and analyzed to gain valuable intelligence to deliver a better customer experience, assess business risks, improve brand development and measure both marketing and customer support effectiveness. Newer technologies and journey analytics can leverage Toll-Free Numbers to generate customer insights.
Threading this all together, our research indicated that there is clear value in Toll-Free Numbers to support complex advertising and campaign tracking, and as a communications vehicle that can seamlessly support the customer journey. They rely on Toll-Free Numbers to integrate offline channels – like newspaper, radio, TV – to digital channels – like eCommerce, email marketing – and test the effectiveness of various online and offline channels to improve marketing ROI.
Moving the Toll-Free journey forward with you makes us stronger as an industry. We have a profound future together, so let’s evolve with new solutions and innovation built around the value of Toll-Free Numbers.
Gina M. Perini
Chair of the Board of Directors & Chief Executive Officer