Perhaps one of the greatest challenges facing many small and medium sized businesses is breaking out of what is essentially a local sales base for their goods and services and expanding into wider national – or even international – markets.
One of the barriers to that kind of expansion might seem at first sight to be so trivial and innocuous that it is barely worth thinking about – something as simple as the business telephone number.
John Hayes from specialist business telephone number supplier Telephone Number Solutions says: “Just changing your business number from a locally identifiable code to a number that is geographically non-specific may alter the whole way in which your customers – and potential customers – view your business. If they are able to see that you are operating on a national rather than a purely local basis, your public image is likely to grow accordingly.”
Business telephone numbers in the UK
Advertising your number is an important aspect of telling potential customers that you are in business and in many cases lets them know where you are, as you might do through the business directory Yell, for example.
What the numbers might or might not reveal
- If you subscribe to a regular 01 or 02 number, these are geographically specific – letting any customer know that is where you are based and suggesting that it is your primary area of operations.
- If you wish to give an alternative impression, however, many telecommunications providers allow your subscription to use a different 01 or 02 number to the area in which you are based – giving callers the impression that you may be operating from a different part of the country.
- For the expanding business, an 0800 or 0808 freephone number might be worthwhile – it is location neutral and allows a potential customer to call free of charge, although you need to pick up that particular tab.
- If you are prepared to shift to a number that generates revenue for your business when a customer calls, you might instead opt for one of the many 0845 or 0847 numbers specifically designated for business use. And because these numbers are non-geographic, they can suggest that your business might operate further afield than just your local area.
- However, premium rate telephone numbers starting 09 can be very costly for a customer to call and would probably dissuade them from doing so. This could potentially lose you business.
- 03 numbers, on the other hand, are both location-neutral and also charge callers the same rate as they pay for calls to 01 and 02 numbers. Therefore, it is possible for callers to use such numbers on the free minutes issued by their mobile network provider or any other discounted call offer.
But what if you want to go further afield and test international markets? The good news is that there are options.
John Hayes of Telephone Number Solutions explains: “If your business is really expanding its markets and looking overseas, then both local and freephone international telephone numbers are available. These numbers will give you a virtual presence in a foreign company, while you remain based in the UK.”
So, as a business you are not necessarily anchored to the locality in which your business happens to be based. If you have eyes on the expansion of your markets, today’s telecommunications facilities are there to help.