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Guide to business phone numbers

How do you know which number is going to be the most effective for you? Do you go for a free 0800, a chargeable 0845, or a premium rate 09 prefix?

The number you choose for your customers can have a direct impact on their behaviour. And on your bottom line.

Our guide to business phone numbers takes you through the options. 

Make it easy for customers to call – 0800 numbers

Using a low-cost or free 0800 number encourages customers to call you. By removing, or at least minimising, the cost of calling you get rid of a major barrier for the customer. They don’t have to think of the cost; all they need to think about is ‘what’s your number?’

Using low-cost business phone numbers is a particularly good tactic for customer service numbers. You create a positive experience from the outset that doesn’t cost your customers a penny – especially useful if they’re ringing to complain.

Get a national presence without a big bill – 0845 numbers

While not a premium rate number, the 0845 prefix does carry a charge for callers. The charge is split between you and the caller. 0845 is ideal for businesses who want to project a national presence.

With some low-cost numbers (0844 and 0871 prefixes) you can choose how to balance the costs. So you could set the charge to the caller at a level that generates a profit to you every time someone calls. Or you may want to eschew the profit in favour of making the call cheaper for your callers.

Make money whenever people call you – 09 numbers

Useful for competition lines, tele-voting, or technical support lines, these business numbers can generate up to £1 a minute in revenue, which could make a real difference to the profitability of your business. And you don’t have to give up your existing landline number either, as the premium-rate line sits on top of it.

There are some regulations around operating a premium-rate number. Take a look at PhonepayPlus. They regulate the UK’s premium rate services on behalf of Ofcom. 

Keeping on top of the numbers with BT Business

Business telephone numbers work particularly well for large, complex organisations with very high volumes of phone traffic. With a BT Business number you get more than just a cost-effective or profit-generating way to connect to your customers. You also get two Call Management tools:

1. Inbound Analyst

This management reporting tool lets you analyse data from incoming calls. It’s a free service if you commit to one million minutes of call traffic a year (there’s a charge if you take less than that).

2. Inbound Architect

Use this web-based portal to monitor and adjust your service to make sure that you’re maximising the numbers of calls you’re getting and answering. This is especially useful for call centres handling thousands of calls where it can help improve efficiency and customer service. 

The psychology of phone numbers

The BioCircuits Institute at the University of California, and the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen, published research in 2009 revealing that the average human brain can only remember a sequence of seven numbers.

So if you use a dialling code that everyone already knows (such as 0845, 0808 or 0800) the brain doesn’t have to think about the whole number; it only has to remember the last six digits. And that could make all the difference when you want customers to remember your number rather than your rival’s!

Time to sort out your business phone number

Whether you’re wanting to generate revenue or make it easier for customers to get in touch, there are plenty of options available. By picking the right type of business telephone number you can influence the behaviour of your customers and maybe add to your bottom line at the same time. 

Find out more from BT Business

If you want to find out how business phone numbers can help your business, just give us a call on 0800 808 800.

And you know what? That’s a free number.

Business phone numbers in a nutshell

There are three types of business phone number you can choose to enable your customers to call you.

Freefone numbers (0800 and 0808 prefixes) and low-cost numbers (03 prefixes) encourage customers to call you. They’re especially useful as customer service numbers.

Chargeable numbers (0845 prefixes for example) let your business project a national presence.

Premium rate number (09 prefixes) make you money when people call you. They’re useful for competition lines, tele-voting or technical support lines.

All BT Business numbers come with call management tools to help you get the most from the service you’ve chosen.


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