Telecoms for Competitive Advantage

1. The Right Number

The phone number you publicise for your business can immediately give a customer information about your company and the sort of relationship you are expecting. A non-geographic number can help you present a consistent image of your business and hide its location (if you wish). There are several types of non-geographic numbers.

1.1 You can use a free phone number – one starting with 0800 or 0808 – to encourage people to call you.

  • These numbers are used successfully by businesses selling to the general public – for example, mortgage brokers, driving schools and local tradesmen.
  • They are also used by businesses that sell to other businesses. For example, if you sell commodity products to small, cost-conscious firms – such as a tyre distributor competing with many others for telephone orders from garages – a free phone number will be a point in your favour.
  • Using a single free phone number, you can channel calls by area. So calls from the North are fed to your Manchester office, while calls from the South go to Reading.
  • Remember that you will pay every time someone calls your free phone number.

1.2 Low call charge numbers – like those starting 0845 or 0844 – can be used to encourage callers, without inviting them to stay on the line indefinitely.

  • Calling these numbers typically costs about the same as making a local call.
  • These numbers are often used for sales or customer services.
  • They are also widely used for local call rate connections to internet services.

1.3 You can also get a ‘national rate‘ number. These usually start 0870 or 0871.

  • Calling these numbers typically costs about the same as making a national call.
  • Your business usually receives a portion of the call charge. You might earn around 3p per minute.
  • The cost may dissuade some customers from calling these numbers.

1.4 There are certain special numbers that can be exploited for marketing purposes.

  • ‘Golden numbers’ that are easy to remember can sometimes be bought from the phone companies, for fees of up to £1,000 each. There is also a ‘grey market’ in secondhand golden numbers.
  • Alphadial numbers, where the letters on the phone keys spell out a name, are not widely recognised. They are best avoided.

1.5 Premium-rate numbers – such as those starting 090 – are generally used to fund a service such as technical support.

  • They can cost as much as £1.50 a minute to call. Your business will receive a significant proportion of the call charges.

1.6 You can use international 0800 to give people a free and simple way of responding to your overseas advertising.

  • The fixed costs are low, at about £100 per quarter. You only pay call charges if you are successfully generating sales leads.
  • Many UK hotels and holiday companies use this approach to win business.

BHP Infosolutions

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