One of the best things about operating a voice over IP (VoIP), or Internet, phone service is the opportunity a business gets to choose their phone number. Traditionally business telephone service providers allocated a random number. With managed hosted systems, a company can choose the type of virtual number they want, whether this is location specific or a UK wide number. With geographic numbers, there is even the opportunity to choose which area code you want your phone number to start with. Even if it is not the one that is local to you.
How do you decide which number to choose; it can be hard deciding which phone number is right for you?
Geographic numbers are numbers with a local area code starting 01 or 02. A local number is very useful for businesses with a premise. A ‘bricks and mortar’ business. Even if your business works from serviced offices, or from home, having a local number cements you within the community and helps you to build trust and authority.
Geographic numbers do not carry any extra charges for customers calling from mobile phones. This removes a potential barrier for doing business, which is a real benefit.
Non-geographic numbers have developed a bad reputation, in part, because people are charged a premium rate for calling them. This is the case, in particular, when calling these numbers from a mobile phone. In addition businesses can also take a cut of the profits, making the use of non-geographic numbers a sneaky way of earning extra revenue.
03 ‘UK-wide’ numbers
Introduced in 2007 by Ofcom the 03 number range was brought in to overcome the problem of additional charges being levied. A business gets the status of having a national number, with no link to a particular city; and at the same time calls to these numbers do not cost extra on mobiles. Calls made to these numbers are included in minutes bundles, or, at the very least are charged at the same rate as a national call to an 01 or 02 number, should the customer have run out of credit.
The 030 range is reserved solely for charities or organisations in the public sector.
If you are a limited company, you’ll be able to purchase an 033 number.
Other non-geographic numbers
The most well-known non-geographic numbers are probably 0843, 0844, 0845, 087X, 0800 and 0808, with the last two prefixes in the list being “Freephone” numbers.
These dialling codes are charged at varying rates based on your network and whether you are using a landline or mobile phone. Calls from mobiles have always been more expensive to these types of numbers, although 0800 and 0808 numbers became free from mobiles in 2015.
There is an additional dialling code of interest, covering premium rate numbers, prefixed with the digits 09. These numbers are regularly used for competitions, chat lines, and other related services. Calls can be charged at anything up £3.60 per minute.
Along with directory enquiry services, 118 numbers, these are definitely calls to be avoided. Especially with the ease of searching the internet today for readily available information. Calls to directory enquiries are under an Ofcom review because they can cost as much as £20 a call!
One website that will help you to find an alternate number, to one from the chargeable list above, is the “Say No To” website. This link will take you straight to their search page.
The choice is yours
Whether you are operating in a business to consumer (B2C) or business to business (B2B) market you can make a personal choice of the number you will associate with your business.
To remove as many barriers as you can to making a sale any number starting in 01, 02, or 03, will provide your business with a plus point for the marketing campaigns you run.
The main aim is to ensure that callers to your number are not charged extra for doing so!
Stamford Telephone Company recommend the use of geographic numbers. These give your business a sense of place and familiarity, and, as mentioned earlier, allow you to develop trust and authority with your local customer base.