Home Business NewsBusiness Are you losing customers without realising? Your phone number might be to blame…

Are you losing customers without realising? Your phone number might be to blame…

15th Jan 14 11:49 am

Pick a number – but not any number!

In the wake of the 0845 premium rate phone scandal with government departments and large corporations accused of ripping off the public, Lindzey Evans, account manager for Penelope, the virtual phone system for start-up and emerging businesses, gives the inside track on the importance of choosing the right number for your business whatever its size. This article is brought to you in partnership with Penelope.

Choosing the right telephone number for your business is vitally important because it says a great deal about you. But if you don’t know your 01s, 02s, and 03s from your 0800s and 084s or the potential costs to you and your callers, it can be a minefield. Here’s a guide that should help you choose correctly, first time!

More than just a number…

Telephone numbers are more than just a means of customers and prospects getting in touch with you, vital though that is to a thriving enterprise. They also reveal something about your business.

If you provide only a mobile (07) number, people may think your business is small. Choose a geographical number (beginning with 01 or 02) and you appear to be tied to a specific area – which, of course, is fine if you wish to operate on a local or regional basis, but not ideal if you have ambitions to trade nationwide.

Provide a number that begins with 084 or 087 and callers may fear the call will cost them too much following the recent bad press about them being used for helplines at premium rates.

Opt for an 09 number and people will know you are looking to make serious money from the call, perhaps, quite rightly, for a cause or a competition – or maybe they’ll just think you’re greedy!

First impressions count. The customer or prospect may not make the call – and perhaps you just lost a new client, or maybe an existing customer went elsewhere.

Yes, playing the numbers game when it comes to choosing a phone prefix for your business or organisation can be daunting – but for smaller businesses, it looks like 03 could be your lucky number.

So why is 03 so good?

While it may not suit every business, 03 has the following advantages:

  • It will be free to use for the majority of callers as, by law, it has to be included in free minutes and free call deals
  • Even if paid for, a call to 03 will be at no more than the basic rate
  • You may attract more enquiries from outside your area – with an 03 number, you won’t be judged on your location
  • A non-geographic number like 03 may also give the impression your business is bigger than it really is in the start-up and development phases
  • It is a less costly alternative to 0800 ‘freephone’ numbers, for which the business has to bear all the costs of incoming calls

Government could do more for 03

The public awareness of 03 numbers is limited. There’s no doubt that the government needs to do more to promote the benefits of an 03 number for callers and business owners, especially in the wake of recent legislation banning the use of 084 and 087 numbers for consumer helplines.  

Joanna Swash, commercial director of Penelope, the UK’s leading virtual phone system providers,  comments: “We have seen a consistent increase in the use of 03 numbers. However, there is still much confusion amongst start-ups about which number is best for them. We are calling on the government to provide more clarity on this matter to ensure that business owners make the right decision for their business.”

To find out more about call charges, visit  OfCom.

This article is brought to you in partnership with Penelope. Launched in 2013, Penelope is the newest creation from call handling experts Moneypenny. A virtual phone system for small businesses, Penelope does all a traditional phone system can do and more. Together, Penelope and Moneypenny handle in excess of eight million calls a year for more than 6,000 UK businesses.



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