Your phone number, your business

As a business your phone number is as much part of your brand image as your name, your publications or your website. The business number you choose can tell callers that you are a part of the local community or demonstrate a national or even international presence. Even in an era of automated contact lists your choice of business phone number can still call out to customers, helping them to keep in contact and to stay loyal.

That is why local businesses from florists to bakers and from dental practices to opticians may well opt for a local or regional number. With their customers living and working in the same locality, offering up a local number helps to strengthen the bond between the business and its customers. Alternatively, an organisation which looks to secure business from across the country may well opt for a national number, promoting its national presence as it offers its services to a wider audience.

The same criteria apply for those looking to trade internationally; with international national, regional and universal numbers available to choose from. Here again by tailoring their choice of number to their potential audience, businesses can maximise visibility. And we shouldn’t also ignore the power of freephone numbers as a means of encouraging people to pick up the phone and get in touch.

Recognising the important part which the choice of telephone number plays in the business mix, the communications regulator Ofcom had previously put regulations in place which gave individuals and businesses the right to take their telephone number with them when switching providers. Now they have gone one step further, setting in place an independent process which helps to ensure that number porting attempts are not frustrated by telecoms providers.

Under existing regulations, firms which have tried to block customers from porting their phone number have been on the receiving end of Ofcom fines. However, fines come after the event and may not help businesses which are trying to take their number with them when switching providers in the short term. This new process is designed to ensure that numbers can be transferred without delay.

In essence, if requests to port a number are being frustrated a business can put its existing phone provider on notice that they have five days to resolve any issues. At the end of that time businesses can submit a complaint via the Ofcom website which will generate a reference number and trigger an assessment by an independent panel. This panel can then authorise the new telecoms provider to override any blocking attempt and expedite the number transfer; provided that they are satisfied that certain criteria have been met. The process is the same for individuals and businesses looking to switch telephone provider.

As the Ofcom announcement says this new process “is particularly important for businesses, who would face significant costs and other issues if they had to change their phone number, such as needing to change their marketing materials, or potentially losing business from customers who try to call their old number.”

Written by Alison