Non-geographic telephone numbers, or NGNs, have been with us for years. The two that we know best are 0800 (freephone) and 0845
(local-rate) numbers, but what are they? Why would we want them? How do they work? How do you get them and how much do they cost?
“Call Us NOW on FREEphone 0800…”. Did somebody just say “FREE”? Even now in our hard-nosed, been-around-the-block capitalist Western world, the word still gets our blood pumping.
Without doubt, FREE is the top word for marketeers, a ruthless predator they will release whenever the financial bosses say it’s ok to open it’s cage. “Cheap” is in second place by a number of lengths, which is why 0845 still gets our attention with it’s low rate, about the same as a local call.
Back in the days when doing anything clever with phones meant spending a king’s ransom, 0800 and 0845 numbers were the realm of large corporate businesses. Firms used NGNs to show size, quality, stability and national presence. If a company was prepared to pick up the cost of your call to them, they must be delivering a good service, right? And don’t forget the “free” bit with it’s narcotic attraction.
They work very simply. When your customer calls an NGN, the phone exchange simply “points” the call at your normal landline number.
Effectively, you run your existing numbers in parallel with your NGNs.
Clients who are used to ringing your old advertised number can continue to do so, and you may choose to advertise your NGNs in the press, or on your website, etc.
As well as the obvious advertising benefits, there are a number of other advantages. NGNs usually come with itemised phone bills, so you can see how successful your advertising campaigns are. Many companies use multiple NGNs associated with a range of services and products.
Modern phone system technology even allows staff to answer calls according to which NGN has been dialled. NGNs can also be combined with services such as fax retrieval. A fax-to-email number simply sends you an email with an image of the document attached, instead of using paper and a fax machine.
Another big advantage is that non-geographic numbers are never fixed to a single location. If your business relocates, or if you need to divert the calls to a different number in an emergency, your NGN can be reprovisioned quickly before your callers even notice.
NGNs are easy to get hold of, and even easier to set up. All it takes is a quick call to your telecoms vendor, pick the numbers you want from a list and they should do the rest for you.
Costs are much more affordable now and will vary, but you should expect free set-up for just about any non-geographic number. Rental should be free too, and the cost of incoming calls should be around the same as a national call for 0800 numbers, and even lower for the likes of 0845, 0844, 0870 etc. Rates vary so check with your vendor.
Some NGNs such as 0844 can even generate revenue for you, handy if you take a lot of calls and want to reduce your phone bills further.
The great thing about NGNs is that now, like everything in telecoms, you can get them for next to nothing and the marketing power is still as strong as it ever was. With deregulation and extreme competition in the UK telecoms industry, now is the time to take advantage of NGNs, and the telecoms vendors are falling over themselves to give them to you.
Southern Communications provide 0800 freephone and 0845 numbers with free set-up and rental. 0845 number inbound call costs are also free.
For more information on our business calls and lines services visit us at www.southern-comms.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org