19 September 2016 11:00
Everything you need to know when choosing your business phone number
When you are setting up a business and are knee-deep in such responsibilities as registering a company name, raising the required capital and launching your first marketing initiative, your choice of business phone number may seem trivial by comparison.
Won't just any old assortment of digits do?
You might think that in today's online world many people don't give a second thought to your business phone number, but the right number can definitely make a difference to your company's fortunes.
Consider, for example, the geographical factor. A YouGov survey of more than 4,000 people across the UK a few years ago found that while 81% of them trusted 'local business', only 57% trusted business as a whole.
That difference might not be a hugely significant one for you if your company takes pride in catering for the whole country anyway, but if most of your customers are in a particular city or county, you may want to ensure that you have a business phone number to match.
Virtual numbers, for example, allow you to use a number associated with a given geographical area, even if your offices are in a different part of the country. But there are many other types of business phone number that you should familiarise yourself with before you make your final choice.
Different phone numbers meet different priorities
Go to the website of any reputable business phone number provider and you'll see a seemingly wide range of number formats available. So, here's a quick rundown of which ones you should consider and why.
If you are a private business for profit, you can ignore 0300 numbers, which are solely for registered charities and government departments such as the police and NHS. However, other 03 numbers - namely 0333 and 0345 numbers - are available for business use; these numbers having been introduced as an alternative to chargeable 08 numbers such as 0870.
Those 0870 numbers, in turn, should not be confused with the 0800 numbers that are recognised by nine in 10 people as being free to call. Of course, you will still have to incur costs on your side, but the statistics suggest that such numbers more than pay for themselves, given that they attract 185% more responses.
Indeed, there's even better news for both the businesses and customers that use 0800 numbers - since July 2015, they have been completely free to call from both mobile phones and landlines. You may wish to highlight this detail in your marketing communications to help bump up those response rates even more.
For the most professional look, you need a business phone number
Whatever considerations guide your choice of business phone number, you should definitely ensure that you have one. Many companies are launched with a mobile number adorning their business cards, which may be fine at first.
However, as your business grows and potential customers can see on your website that you have a bigger team, they may start to become suspicious if you haven't switched to a fully-fledged business phone number - particularly when it means they have to pay to contact you.
Not only does your chosen business phone number need to be memorable and reflect well on your brand, but it will also need to make financial sense. This is one more reason to look very closely at the overall package offered by your prospective business phone number provider before you make any commitment.
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