Toll-free services have already become part of many call centers’ functional routines. They represent an essential ingredient of call centers’ physical parameters. Reasons why toll-free services are so important are numerous, but it is clear that the moment the call center is set to function and attract new customers, one of the most important tasks is to ensure that a cost-effective communication pipeline is developed and used. At times, long-distance services can become a real financial burden, especially for small virtual office centers.
Call centers need to have long-distance services, as they expand their functional possibilities and add new features.
This is why it is so important for virtual office receptionists to choose carefully among the best communication pipelines.
Just a decade ago, toll-free services used to be very simple. Few companies provided this kind of services, and choosing the best one was not a difficult task. Call centers had a few pricing strategies and plans, and it took little time to establish and run a toll-free phone line. Many call centers and virtual office receptionists did not use toll-free lines, because they simply did not need to make long-distance calls. Many of them were limited to local areas, and only with the advent of new technologies, coupled with globalization and internationalization trends, long-distance services became one of call centers’ top priorities.
AT&T was the pioneer in the development of long-distance services in the U.S. Actually, AT&T was the first to create a toll-free phone line. With the revolutionary invention of AT&T, the costs of long-distance calls began to decrease, setting a new direction for the development of the entire call center industry in the U.S. As the number of toll-free services and their range expanded, the price of making long-distance calls slowly decreased. As of today, having a toll-free telephone line is no longer unusual even for the smallest call centers.
At the beginning of the 1990s, only three companies offered quality long-distance call services, and the competition in the call center industry was truly fierce. Companies fought to obtain a greater share of the call center market, giving rise to the rapid expansion of secondary marketers and resellers. They latter created the so-called secondary call center market for long-distance services. Resellers and secondary marketers greatly contributed to the dramatic transformation of the whole telephone industry in America: they bought bulk minutes and re-sold them with a very low profit margin. They made huge money, by being able to purchase bulk long-distance minutes at an unprecedented discount. As a result, secondary marketers and resellers integrated long-distance services offered by several small call centers and integrated them into complex telecom packages, giving birth to new forms of telecom services provision in America.
Under the influence of all those trends, the costs of making long-distance services and calls fell below 10 cents. In certain instances, a long-distance call could cost less than 5 cents. However, the situation was not as simple as it could seem at first glance.