Archive for April, 2012

 

Non-geographical numbers and how your business may benefit

Friday, April 20th, 2012

There was a time when a business relocation meant not only all of the traditional logistical challenges involved in getting people, equipment and furniture from A to B but also the need to potentially change your telephone numbers.

In fact, at one time even moving a relatively short distance within the same major city may have resulted in the obligatory need to change your telephone number, with all the implications of that for things such as stationery, business cards, advertising and so on.

If your move were over a significant distance, your entire telephone number including dialling prefixes would also have needed to change.  In fact, today that may still be the case unless you choose non-geographical telephone numbers.

Why retain your existing numbers?

In the past, the effort associated with ordering and printing stationery carrying a new telephone number, may have been a significant cost and logistical inhibitor.

It may be fair to say that today that remains an issue, although perhaps proportionally not as significant as it may once have been.

What may be far more serious today are things such as:

  • you may have worked hard to get your phone number to be the first number of instinctive choice for your clients.  Essentially, it may be seen as part of your brand and changing it may undermine much of what you have previously achieved in these respects;
  • existing advertising may have an intended lengthy shelf life but that may be totally undermined if it cannot be left in place due to the fact that it is now carrying a number that is no longer correct;
  • you may have relationships with customers and suppliers who interface directly and possibly even automatically with your systems through dial-up services - they may all need to be notified and their systems changed if you intend to change your number.

Are there options?

Assuming that some of the above effects are unpalatable and ‘do nothing’ is therefore not a serious contender, you may be faced with one of two choices:

  • re-route your calls from your original number to your new geographical based number, wherever that may be;
  • adopt non-geographical numbers as your strategic solution.

The former option may be perfectly viable and even desirable, particularly in situations where you may wish to maintain a token physical or marketing presence in your original location.

The second possibility may offer the attraction of meaning that you are free to locate your business wherever you wish and however often you may need to move, your number stays the same and goes with you. It might be particularly appealing to newer businesses that have no legacy numbers to deal with.

So, no need to change stationery, issue number change notifications to customers or scrap existing advertising in a hurry, should you need to relocate your business.

These options may be something worth considering further and we’d be only too happy to discuss them with you.

Cold calling on the telephone: what can you do about it?

Friday, April 6th, 2012

There are some types of unsolicited telephone call, typically described collectively as cold calling, which may prove to be a serious nuisance for some businesses and individuals.

If you have never experienced these calls, you may be relatively fortunate.

A Parliamentary Report issued in August 2011 reported that in 2009, OFCOM received around 6,600 complaints about silent and abandoned calls* - both examples of this genre of cold calling. OFCOM also estimated that over 22% of the UK population experienced silent calls on their landline in the period February-August 2011.

If these are an occasional occurrence, you may be able to shrug them off as a relatively infrequent irritation, however, in some situations they may become a more noticeable nuisance and even, at times, potentially distressing and disruptive.

What are they?

Advertisers have always sought to find new ways of bringing their products and services to our attention.

There may be nothing fundamentally wrong with yet there are some fundamental principles of human psychology that some advertisers may overlook.

Those relate to the fact that many people may have no major objection to impersonal passive advertising such as in the newspapers or on the TV. However, they may feel uncomfortable and the victim of unwanted intrusion, if approached on the street by salespeople or through door-to-door sales techniques.

Some people believe that cold calling is the telephone system equivalent of those intrusive sales techniques.

In practice, cold calling may include:

  • unsolicited sales telephone calls to your business or private numbers;
  • silent calls / abandoned calls - having answered a call, you are then automatically disconnected or you hear nothing at the other end (these may typically be associated with automated dialling systems used by some sales organisations);
  • automated dialling calls - aimed at fax machines, resulting in the transmission of unwanted sales materials etc.

What are the effects?

Such calls may prove to be a serious annoyance as a matter of principle or they may also cause disruption to your time management.  In some cases, they may tie up your telephone or fax lines at critical times.

To some extent, the net effect will depend on both your tolerance levels and the frequency/duration of such calls.

Your options

The link to a UK Parliament paper below provides an excellent overview or the options available to you in some detail.

As a first step, you may wish to register (free of charge) with the TPS (Telephone Preference Service).

By law, organisations making telephone marketing calls, must check with the TPS before dialling a number in order to see whether or not the owner of the number has registered that they do not wish to be called for sales purposes.

If your number is so listed on the TPS, it should stop a significant percentage of the calls reaching you (estimated at 85%*).

A second sound idea may be to ensure that your personal or business telephone system is equipped to display the calling number in order to enable you to choose whether or not to answer it.

Under current legislation* automated calling systems must display a number capable of accepting a return call, though this may be difficult to enforce in the case of calls originating from outside the UK.

Thirdly, if a problem appears to be persistent and you are able to identify the source, you may be able to make a complaint to the Information Commissioners Office*.

Finally, remember that your telephone services provider may be able to facilitate the tracking of persistent nuisance calls in order to trace, block and possibly pursue further action against the perpetrators.

*Source:

UK Parliament - www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN06033.pdf