Non-standard numbers are a common tool used by businesses to make it more attractive for prospective customers to call up.
As part of a wider sales and communications strategy, more memorable numbers can be created through using non-standard formats that are easier for consumers to remember ahead of their call.
But according to a recent study, customers could still be put off by the appearance of these numbers, which could be having an adverse effect on enquiries and sales. In a sample run by British telecoms regulator Ofcom, customers were found to be reluctant to call numbers in unfamiliar formats over concerns about the cost of making these calls.
The phone numbering system in the UK offers several generic phone number classes, including 0800 (freephone), 0845 (local rate) and 09 (premium rate) services.
However, the introduction of new classes of number seems to have caused confusion among consumers, who are seen to be avoiding making calls to non-standard numbers.
For US businesses, the problem is no less acute. Businesses choose to opt for a number that is catchy and memorable for encouraging sales and communication, but seldom consider the unintended consequences this can create.
Despite the growth of email and alternative corporate communications tools, the telephone remains the number one way business generate leads and interact with their customer base.
No business can afford to discourage calling, and use of non-standard numbers should be a potential cause for concern for those that rely on regular phone calls.
The effects are felt more sharply by smaller businesses, according to the Ofcom research, where consumer expectations trend toward an identifiable local number.
Lost calls, whatever their reason, are at a direct cost to businesses, and around 1 in 4 calls of the Ofcom sample were found to be new sales enquiries.
Companies like A Better Connection help businesses catch more calls that otherwise they might miss. Telephone answering services are becoming increasingly popular among business owners, saving on the costs of missed calls and helping grab more of the prospects that might ordinarily go elsewhere.
These types of services pay for themselves for businesses that are already missing calls, and only those that are satisfied they can handle every call that ever comes through can afford to dismiss this type of service.
Telephone answering services essentially give businesses access to call center–style coverage, with trained personnel on hand whenever you choose to switch the phones across.
Naturally, there is always a training phase in setting this up. However, telephone staff tend to be used to dealing with different scripts, companies and sectors, and this is often very achievable at an affordable cost.
Non-standard numbers can be good, but only if they actually work to bring you more – not less – business. The appearance of non-standard numbers works well in some industries and less well in others, and it’s really a matter for individual taste and commercial reasoning. When the calls are getting through, it’s crucial to always be in a position to answer them, whether with the help of your own staff or a telephone answering team.
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