Making Your Number Memorable
The department of Health has announced the launch of a new non-emergency telephone number for NHS services. The number, 111, has already been tested in four areas of England and will be rolled out nationally by 2013. It will not replace existing NHS services in Scotland and Wales.
Designed to replace NHS direct; the 111 number will provide access to a range of services across the NHS including out-of-hours GPs, walk-in centres, emergency dentists and pharmacies. The government hopes that this memorable number will reduce confusion although patients may still then be advised to make a follow up call to local service providers or to a slimmed down NHS direct.
Choosing a simple to remember number such as 111 is one of the drivers behind the success of the new service. Indeed, as with any business, the easier it is for potential customers to contact you, the more likely they will do so. Even with the rise of the internet, having a robust telephone service aligned with a memorable telephone number can make a difference.
In America, businesses realised the benefit of memorable telephone numbers far sooner than we did in the UK. Aligning the letters of the alphabet with the numbers on a telephone key pad means that you can refer to your business name or type within the telephone number itself. So, for example, a sports shop might want a telephone number which included the word sports. All customers had to do was remember the word sports and dial the appropriate letters, effectively dialling 776787.
Whilst in the UK we havent taken up this letter/number association with much enthusiasm, it is still true that having a memorable number is more likely to attract callers. Luckily the advent of internet technology also means that calls to the memorable number or numbers can then be routed via a virtual switchboard to anywhere in the world. This means that you can offer clients in the UK or elsewhere a memorable number which appears to apply to their area whilst retaining the flexibility to answer calls from anywhere. Virtual switchboards can even be programmed to follow the sun so that calls are switched between international offices or even between office and mobile depending on the time of day.
Some memorable numbers are more memorable than others and these tend to attract a premium when chosen. Whilst few will be as simple as 111, the choice of telephone number might still be an important cog in your marketing mix and one which is well worth considering.