Direct Mail

Looking For Great "Toll-Free" Telephone Service?

Are you searching for a toll-free service that will handle your incoming phone orders with efficiency and accuracy and won’t nickel and dime you to death?

After almost twenty years of working with numerous 800# telephone service bureaus (from one of the nations largest to one of the nations smallest, and many in-between) we’ve come to several conclusions we feel worth sharing with our fellow publishers and clients.

1) Not all publishers need an 800# for orders. In fact, we know of several publishers who urge customers toward mail orders since their telephone numbers are unlisted. If your niche is such that you have a unique book not readily available in bookstores and your market is well defined, an 800# may be a waste of your time and money.

2) If you feel you must have an #800 number to prosper in publishing (many successful publishers thrive without one - more about this later), consider doing it yourself. No one will be able to offer the attentive customer service, or the up-selling that you can.

3) A Toll-Free number is far from being free; it can cost you a lot. Between the actual costs of the service, and the potential loss of customers due to subpar treatment (we've heard some horror stories), it can easily become an unprofitable addition to your operation.

4) If you presently have a credit card merchant account, utilizing an 800# telephone service bureau is a bit easier, and a lot less expensive. If not, be prepared to pay handsomely for this part of their service.

5) Most 800# telephone service bureaus don’t offer product fulfillment. This is where we come in. In fact, we urge our clients to stay away from companies that offer it all. A few less than stellar outfits low ball the fulfillment fees or the 800# telephone order fees to get a strong grip on other aspects of your book production. Of course you end up paying dearly for the convenience. It’s just another reason not to put all of your books in one basket.

Having said that, if you decide to pursue an 800# for your company, here’s what we suggest:

A) Find as small a company as you can find. But not too small. The "small" will give you personalized (and accountable) service. The "not too small" will give you 24 hour service, and in-depth coverage.

B) Monitor them frequently. Have someone you know call in an order from time to time.

C) Make the offer as simple as possible. As a rule, operators receive little training and the simpler the offer, the better.

D) Don’t let price be the deciding factor.

E) Don’t get tied into a long-term deal. It’s better to renegotiate the deal if you’ve got a winner than to let a bad deal linger for months on end.

F) And finally, do a split test, listing your regular business number on a promotion to see if the Toll Free really pulls in more responses, enough to cover the additional fees and hassles.

Do we recommend anyone? No. Several of our clients appeared satisfied with Mountain West Communications of Hotchkiss, Colorado (1-800-642-9378.) If we were to use an #800 number, we would use them. They are small and flexible. They offer 24 hour service and send orders to us daily via fax, modem, overnight and regular mail.

Many clients have asked us why don’t we offer 800# service. In a nutshell, we want to help make your business more hassle-free and cost-effective.

We enjoy what we do. Book fulfillment is important work and we take it very seriously. We feel, and thankfully most of our clients agree, that we do as good a job as they would if they had the time and resources.