Finding The Magic Number: Which Phone Numbers Work For Which Businesses?

Wesley Balten
September 26, 2018

Local numbers. National numbers. Freephone numbers. UIFN numbers. Premium numbers. Cloud-based communications have given businesses ‘numerous’ options to choose from. But how do businesses know which type is best for them? It very much depends on the kind of business they are.

Here’s our guide to different number types and which sort of companies they suit.

Local numbers

Local numbers tell potential customers where a business is based. Customers like them because local call charges are low, and because they often prefer dealing with local companies.

Businesses targeting local customers should always choose a local phone number. This is especially true for sole traders like electricians because ‘being local’ is seen as a real asset.

Nowadays, however, businesses don’t actually have to be local to appear as such. VoIP allows companies to choose numbers ‘on-demand’ wherever they’re based. Companies can therefore use a local number even if they’re located further afield. Indeed SMEs can appear to have a network of offices by buying local numbers in different towns and then routing all calls back to a single central location.

National numbers

If a business choses a national number they’ll lose the local touch but seem larger and more established. There are two options to choose from:

    1.Freephone numbers

Customers love calling Freephone numbers. Research shows they boost enquiries significantly as people are far more likely to call a number that doesn’t cost them. It helps that people usually recognise Freephone prefixes too. According to Ofcom 64% of people in the UK recognise that 0800 numbers are free.

Freephone numbers say that a company cares about its customers. It implies the company is trustworthy, friendly, and ready to help. Freephone numbers are therefore excellent for customer acquisition and customer service. The flipside is that the company must foot the bill for calls received. They must therefore decide whether the likely increase in enquiries is worth the cost.

Both national and international Freephone numbers are available. An UIFN (universal international Freephone number) enables companies to use the same number in different countries around the world. This gives businesses a true global presence whilst improving the customer experience and cutting costs: callers need only remember one standalone number whilst companies need only advertise a single number globally. UIFNs are therefore great for businesses looking to expand their horizons.

    2.‘Caller Pays’ Numbers

There are many varieties of national ‘caller-pays’ numbers. Some numbers split costs between the caller and the business – customers pay a local rate and companies pay the difference between this rate and the national rate – whereas other numbers charge callers the full national rate.

Many companies go a step further and earn money from customer calls. 0843 and 0844 numbers in the UK, for example, raise up to 4p per minute; therefore they’re ideal for customer and support lines because companies can use the revenue raised to cover technical staff costs.

However, the rules governing the use of ‘caller-pays’ numbers varies from country to country. The EU’s Consumer Rights Directive prevents business from using certain numbers for customer support or complaints. The rules are even stricter when it comes to so-called ‘premium rate’ numbers that can cost a high amount per minute with an access charge added on top.

Business should think carefully before using premium rate numbers. The costs are so high that customers are reluctant to phone them. Having said that, premium lines do have their place. They’re an excellent choice for companies offering valuable advice over the phone. They’re also suitable for businesses running competitions and chat-lines.

Numbers to count on

Before choosing a local, national, Freephone, or premium number, businesses must consider their brand and business model. Organisations should also put themselves in their customers’ shoes. Who are their customers? Where are they going to come from? What are their expectations? Why are they likely to call? The answers to these questions should tell businesses exactly which numbers add up for them.

Telecoms providers can offer all these numbers ‘on-demand’ by adding the SpeakIntelligence widget to their website. Find out more by clicking the button below.

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