Monthly Archives: June 2015

Jun 27

Ofcom to End Call Cost Confusion

By admin | Uncategorised , Uncategorized

Hazy Issues & Vague Estimates

For far too long the issue of service call charges has, for many, remained a hazy area crammed with vague estimates of possible costs. In case you are unsure, ‘service phone numbers’ are those beginning with 03, 08 or 118 and are generally used by companies, organisations, directory enquiries and even TV shows. Terms such as ‘depending on your provider’ and ‘rates may vary’ typically left callers guessing as to what that famous, ‘pence per minute’ actually was. In a recent survey callers were asked questions specifically about call costs. We think you will agree that the results speak for themselves.

As illustrated the public’s awareness of service call costs varied dramatically. Uncertain? People certainly were.

(Survey taken June 2015 prior to Ofcom 1st July ruling)

  1. How much do you think an 03 number costs to call per min?

Less than 5p
Between 5p & 15p
More than 15P
 

  1. How much does it cost to call an 0808 number from a UK landline?

Free
Les than 10p
More than 10p

 

So, when it comes to uncertainty surrounding the cost of making a service call, the figures certainly did speak volumes.

1st July 2015 – clarity reigns

The introduction of Ofcom’s legislation regarding the clarity of call costs was launched on 1st July 2015. Knowing exactly the ‘pence per minute’ to call a service number before even dialling aims to remove unnecessary ambiguity for bill payers. From 1ST July 2015, all organisations must indicate the cost of calling these numbers.

How it works?

For Callers

Call costs are broken up into an ‘access charge’ and a ‘service charge’ – applied whether calling from a landline or mobile. Both charges will appear on your bill. Final billing is calculated by:

Access Charge + Service Charge = Total Call Cost

Access Charge – this goes to your phone service provider. It can be found on your bill and can be clarified by contacting your telephone company.

Service Charge – this is established by the company you are calling. When you see the number advertised, you should find the ‘service charge’ too.

Sounds like common sense doesn’t it?

For Businesses

Business owners must be fully aware of what the Ofcom legislation means. You will find a comprehensive guide to corporate effects at www.ukcalling.info

However, we have also highlighted the steps you should have taken in order to conform. 

If you use an 084, 087, 09 or 118 you should:

  • Contact your phone number provider – addressing how changes may affect your business.
  • Confirm all service charges with your TCP
  • Question if service charges are still suitable or consider changing your telephone number(s).
  • Ensure all advertising material clearly displays call costs. Ofcom recommend the following wording:

‘Calls cost xp [or xp per minute] plus your phone company’s access charge’.

FREE means FREE

Previousy, ‘freephone’ numbers, 0800 and 0808, have on occasion still carried charges and were excluded from some free mobile minute packages. However on the 1st July 2015, free actually means FREE, from a mobile or landline.

Will recent legislation achieve the desired effect of greater call cost clarity? For now, only time and a new survey hold the answer.

Jun 27

Does my business need a non-geographic number?

By admin | Advice Centre , Articles , Uncategorized

Many businesses, especially smaller ones, remain unaware of the benefits of using a non-geographic telephone number. These ‘virtual’ numbers can be great marketing tools for your company, and can really work wonders for both start-ups and long-established firms.

So what exactly are non-geographic numbers?

Non-geographic numbers are, as their name suggests, numbers which are not assigned to a particular geographical location. Instead they can be pointed towards any existing landline or mobile number, allowing for flexibility within your business. When a customer calls your non-geographic number, their call gets automatically redirected to your chosen phone, wherever in the world it may be located.

Non-geographics have become significantly important to businesses of all shapes and sizes, thanks to the features and benefits they provide. These numbers, which begin in 08 and 03, offer an effective way to enhance your brand, and some can even help to generate revenue for your business.

Let’s take a look at the benefits in more detail…

Increase customer base – Opting for a number that doesn’t pin you to a geographical location can help you reach a wider customer base. If you only operate a local landline number, you are limiting yourself to a narrow target market. Using a non-geographic number promotes the fact that you are offering a national service, and therefore invites customers from all over the country to contact you.

Increase flexibility – Having the ability to direct all calls to a separate number, rather than a fixed geographic location, enables you to be able to speak to your customers, wherever you may be. What’s more, you can choose to point the calls to as many numbers as you like, offering the ultimate in flexibility. Your customers should always be able to get in touch.

Generate an additional revenue – Some non-geographic numbers, namely 084s and 0871/0872s, allow the number owner to receive a share of the revenue from all calls received. This volume-dependent rebate can give businesses a welcome residual income, and can be especially useful for smaller businesses who may need that additional cash boost.

Inspire trust – Using a non-geographical number gives your business an established, professional appearance, no matter how small your firm actually may be. Using a free to call 0800 number or 0808 can especially encourage your customers to trust you, and is a great option for a customer service or support line.

Memorability – Non-geographic numbers can be easier to memorise than standard local or mobile numbers. This is especially true if you make use of the alphanumeric keys, spelling your number out to make a word that relates to your service, eg. 0800 440 TAXI = 0800 440 8294.

There’s no doubt that non-geographic numbers can benefit from your numbers, whether used in place of or alongside local or mobile numbers. The type of non-geo you choose depends on your business and what you want from the number, for more information contact eCall today.

Jun 27

BT plans to switch off ISDN network by 2025

By admin | Advice Centre , News , Uncategorized

BT Group CEO Gavin Patterson has announced that BT intends to migrate all its customers onto the IP network by 2025, switching off their ISDN Network. As the leading business phone provider in the UK, this shake-up will affect thousands of businesses across the nation. So what does it mean for your business?

The plans to switch off the costly ISDN network is a massive step forward for telephony in the UK. SIP VoIP technology has been around for years now, but many businesses continue to put their trust in traditional legacy tech, preferring it for its familiarity. As of August 2013, there were 3.2 million ISDN channels in the UK. But utilising SIP is far more beneficial for your business.

SIP technology is scalable, portable, and can offer much higher quality audio than that of ISDN. What’s more, making use of SIP technology can save your business a fortune, both in call costs and equipment expenses.

By announcing the planned switchover date, BT have set a timeline in place. Yes, ten years may seem like a long time, but the key to migrating your business onto a new telephone system is time and planning. The sooner you set your switchover strategy in place, the better.

Firstly, you will need to ensure that your system and handsets support SIP. If they don’t, they’ll be rendered useless as soon as ISDN is switched off. If you need to get a new system, you have the choice of a premises-based SIP PBX or a hosted one. There are many benefits to a hosted SIP-based system, such as cost-efficiency and ease of setup.

You’ll also want to retain your same phone number following the switch, so as not to disrupt your service or confuse your customer base. To ensure this you’ll need to make sure that your VoIP supplier has a BT porting agreement.

Most importantly, you’ll want to make that switch in time for 2025 – being left behind will undoubtedly have grave repercussions for your business. Bear in mind that migration can take up to eight weeks, depending on the system you are planning to bring in. But you shouldn’t just count on these eight weeks, you should set aside a far longer period of time to safeguard against any mishaps along the way.

It’s best not to focus on 2025 – you should think about the here and now. It’s time for you to understand the huge benefits of a SIP VoIP system, and consider making that switch as soon as possible. It could transform your business.

For more information about SIP technology and advice about the changes, contact eCall today and an advisor will be happy to help.