Why choose a geographic number for customer service?
When setting up your customer service, one of the must-haves is a telephone number that your customers can call you on for help or advice. When you operate internationally, you will require additional phone numbers: at least one for every country you are selling into*. You will soon find out that there are several types of phone numbers to choose from; from the good-old geographic to toll-free and all sorts and ranges in-between. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. So, which is right for your company? Before jumping into the number jungle, we will shed some light on the various options to choose from.
In a series of 5 articles we will cover each one of them:
- Geographic (or local)
- Business (non-geographic)
- Toll-free/ freephone
- UIFN (Universal International Freephone Numbers
Let’s start off with geographical numbers, which is how telephone numbers were originally set up. These are local numbers that begin with an area code that is linked to a geographic location, such as a city. Today’s technology enables calls made to a geographic number to be routed to a different location. The number is no longer bound to the location of the area code making it more versatile and easier to use. So far from a technology point of view. Nonetheless, local legislation could prohibit such use. For compliance reasons, you’d better be well informed about such restrictions.
Advantages of geographic numbers
So, what are the advantages of this type of number:
- Trustworthy; everyone recognizes local numbers so your customers have no misconceptions about this number
- Local presence; local numbers give the feeling of local presence of your company
- Easily called; because these numbers are so familiar and recognized, people easily call them
- Low costs for local caller; local callers only pay the local (low) cost tariff. Generally, they are cheap numbers to call from mobile as well
- Easy to reach; geographic numbers have no limitations when it comes to accessibility. They can be dialed from fixed and mobile lines and are also accessible from abroad
- Always compliant; this type of number is always compliant with national legislation
- Easy routing; as mentioned before in most countries these numbers are no longer really tied to a geographic location which means calls can easily be routed to another destination, both national and international. Mind local legislation, though!
Quite a list, right?
What about the disadvantages?
Like everything else in life, there are also some disadvantages:
- National presence; if you want to create a feeling of national presence you’re better off using a different type of number that doesn’t feel like it’s tied to a geographic area
- Not ideal for marketing purposes; if you regularly use different numbers for marketing purposes, geographic numbers are not very suitable for several reasons:
- they are usually harder to remember and look less attractive
- they have a local feel rather than national
- callers must pay to call this number (even if it is only a local tariff) so if you want to optimize accessibility/reachability, you’re better off using freephone/toll-free numbers.
There you have it, the most important advantages and disadvantages of a geographic number. We hope this helps you figuring out if this type of number is the best choice for you. Keep an eye out for our next article about the pros and cons of business (non-geographic) numbers.
And if you’d like some advice in the meantime, feel free to contact us.
*Check out our previous article about this subject ‘Localization is Key'
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