Category Archives for "Advice Centre"

Oct 06

iOS 9 makes non-geographical numbers even more important for companies

By admin | Advice Centre , Articles , News , Uncategorized

Girl with smart phone

As part of the latest system update iOS 9, Apple devices now display the location of incoming calls when available.

The capability to identify unknown contacts aids users in judging not only who’s calling, but whether they want to receive the call or not based on the area code of the caller.

Many businesses remain unaware of the advantages of having non-geographical numbers for their company, whether big or small, and here’s why:

A local landline number could act as a deterrent for existing or prospective customers of your business. Imagine (as a customer) you live in Newcastle and your phone displays an incoming call from an unknown number in Swindon. You’ve never been to Swindon, not even remotely near. No one you know lives in Swindon. You have absolutely no connections at all to Swindon. Why would you pick up your phone?

Apple has a staggering 42.5 percent share in the UK smartphone market, an undeniable popularity with the majority of UK consumers. In the third quarter fiscal 2015 (ending 28th June), Apple announced they had sold 47.5 million iPhones worldwide. In theory, you could be averting 42.5 percent of your mobile customers by having a geographical number attached to your business (providing they’ve updated their device to iOS 9).

Using a number starting  in 03 or 08 is a straightforward and extremely useful marketing tool which implies professionalism and extensive, impressive nationwide capabilities. Furthermore, the numbers are much easier to memorise for consumers, and you even have the option of creating an alphanumeric number which they’ll never forget.

The service is more inexpensive than you probably think, and actually has a cheaper rate for you and your customers. Consider your options:

0843/0844 – Give you a more professional appearance and greater national footprint (and a welcome rebate from incoming phone calls – depending on the volume).

0845 – Again create a national business presence by being caller friendly who are charged at a local rate.

0300/0330 – Ofcom/Eu-friendly and good for establishing a new 03 number/transferring from an 08.

 

Improve UK-wide coverage of your products without restricting yourself to your company’s location; ask one of our eCall team for more information about non-geo numbers today.

Sep 29

Businesspeople lack interpersonal skills, research shows

By admin | Advice Centre , Articles , News , Uncategorized

New research reveals that many employees struggle with ‘soft skills’

80% of people no longer have the necessary soft skills for business life, new research from has revealed. This can prove to be a real issue when it comes to customer service, with many employees struggling with business telephone use.

Chief executive officer of alldayPA Reuben Singh revealed that almost 100% of candidates interviewed by his organisation have all the necessary technical and computer skills, however very few meet the standard expected when it comes to interpersonal skills such as verbal communication, listening and empathy.

Only one in five make the cut

The company has interviewed 1,000 applicants over the past year, and shockingly found that only one in five candidates demonstrated the necessary soft skills.

Singh, said: “We have been in business for over 16 years and in that time, people are getting better at typing, technical skills and reading information, but softer skills have gone into sharp decline.

“We are seeing the first generation that has grown up with automation entering the workplace. They shop online, talk to friends through social media and even play online games in their leisure time – and crucially, as a result, have less experience of verbal communication, and are instead becoming overly reliant on digital communications. This generation isn’t exposed to enough positive examples of good customer service either face-to-face or over the telephone.”

Singh noted that the situation is particularly severe over the telephone, where a higher level of communication is required. In this day and age business calls are most often used only in more complex situations, with the majority of simple customer interactions taking place via email, websites or social media.

70% of customers use the telephone to make a complaint

However, when it comes to making a complaint or resolving a problem, 70% of customers will pick up the phone and dial a contact number. In these situations it is imperative that employees listen effectively, get into the heart of the matter and really empathise with how the customer is feeling.

Singh believes that the real loser in this situation is the customer, and that the issue is going to get worse before it improves.

He said: ““A study by Oxford University suggests that 91% of customer service workers will be replaced by automation in the next 20 years.

“We are in danger of trying to use artificial intelligence when what customers really want is emotional intelligence offered by a real person that can offer both sympathy and support.

“More value needs to be placed on these softer skills, both in education and in business. Failure to do so will see a continued decline in levels of customer satisfaction and worsening customer service.”

When making a call to a business, having to sit listening to the phone ring out or being passed from operator to operator immediately gives a customer a negative first impression.

Let eCall make the best first impression

Taking on a business telephone system from eCall is the perfect way to give a professional first impression to your customers. Our wide range of multi-line phone systems will allow you to effectively manage all of your inbound calls, ensuring that your callers always reach their intended destination.

By combining telephone systems from eCall with one of our non-geographic numbers, you’ll be taking on a feature-packed, disaster-proof telecoms solution and what’s more, you’ll never miss a call.

Poor customer service is one of the biggest put-offs for telephone callers, so don’t let your telephone system let you down.

Sep 15

BT, TalkTalk & Vodafone rate ‘poor’ for customer service

By admin | Advice Centre , Articles , News , Uncategorized

‘Which’ survey highlights poor BT, TalkTalk & Vodafone customer service

A recent survey conducted by ‘Which’ asked around 3,500 customers what their biggest annoyances were when contacting the customer service departments of 100 of the UK’s largest brands.

Some of the main bugbears included not being able to access UK-based call centres and automated lines. As ‘Which’ executive director Richard Lloyd comments,

“Call centres and telephone systems are the biggest customer service gripes by far. Firms need to up their game, those that don’t give customers the care and attention they deserve risk losing out to their competitors.”

Statistics are clear to see

From the 3,500 people asked a massive 46% said that they were irritated by call centres not being UK-based. In addition, 36% did NOT like automated telephone systems. What is more, when it came to being passed around from person-to-person, around 32% were dissatisfied.

Poorest performers

Surprisingly some of the companies to rank worst for customer service were high-profile telecom brands including BT, Talk Talk and Vodafone. In fact, their statistics did not shine a positive light on them at all.

The highest rate names included the cosmetic firm ‘Lush’ with a phenomenal 89% followed closely by online bank ‘First Direct’ with 86%.

Shockingly BT only received 63%, Talk Talk rated with only 64% and Vodafone came in at just 66%.

Improving your business’ communication

Obviously, excellent customer service matters, whatever business you are in. Thankfully there are ways in which you can keep your customers happy, especially contacting you via telephone. One simple way to automatically instil confidence into your customers is to adhere to the recent introduced legislation by Ofcom.

If you are not already aware, on 1st July 2015 Ofcom introduced legislation designed to give callers greater clarity regarding the cost of calls.

From 1st July call costs must be clearly stated on all corporate material featuring a service number such as 0843. Call charges are calculated by:

Access Charge + Service Charge = Total Call Cost

The ‘service charge’ is the element established by the company advertising the contact number. Ofcom legislation states that when you see the number advertised, you should also find the ‘service charge’.

The result

These recent changes can instantly give callers peace of mind of knowing how much their call is likely to cost. Therefore, reducing that fear of expensive calls to customer service centres not based in the UK.

But that’s not all…

The great thing is that (depending on your provider) you can actually offer callers a far improved customer experience through a variety of supporting telecom services. Take call re-routing for example, which means your callers will always be directed to the nearest possible member of staff in the most efficient way. No more extended waiting times, no more customer frustration.

If you would like more information regarding the easy installation of an 0843 or wish to pick your 0843 today – just click or call 0800 161 5552.

 

 

Aug 25

Labour MP calls for Ofcom to force BT split from Openreach

By admin | Advice Centre , News , Uncategorized

The Labour party has joined calls to separate BT from its infrastructure unit Openreach, with MP Chris Bryant backing the split.

Bryant, the shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport, believes that Openreach should be fully separated from BT if the UK wants to meet its broadband targets. He believes that the current set-up, together with ineffective government broadband schemes, is harming both consumers and businesses.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Bryant said: “Although BT Openreach, which owns the existing copper network and delivers the rollout, is nominally at arm’s length from BT, it is right that Ofcom is now considering whether this provides an unfair advantage to BT and whether it should be split off in the interests of transparency and fair competition.”

“The situation is so bad that Ofcom’s review should work on the presumption that Openreach should be split from the rest of BT unless their review produces conclusive evidence to the contrary,” he added.

The shadow secretary also criticised the regulator for being too cautious, and said that it is about time the government revisited its “overly burdensome” appeals process.

He believes that “the system has failed to deliver”, as “a swathe of the country (is) still travelling at a snail’s pace digitally”.

Targets

The UK government is aiming for 95% superfast broadband coverage by 2017, with 100% covered by the end of the current parliament. To date, its Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme has connected more than three million properties in areas that are not included in commercial deployments to fibre.

However, Bryant believes that the government and BT have failed to deliver the speeds and coverage that the UK needs to take advantage of the promised entertainment, economic and e-government benefits.

Harming competition

Bryant was especially critical of Openreach, which he believes has been given an unfair advantage by the BDUK, receiving almost all of the money on offer. BT’s rivals are able to access the Openreach network on a wholesale basis, but claim that the current structure is harming competition and that Openreach itself is too slow to fix faults and install new lines.

The Labour MP wants Openreach to be held accountable for its poor quality of service at the very least, including delays in repairs, missed appointments, and months of waiting to switch service providers.

What Ofcom says

Ofcom has admitted that it is contemplating the split, alongside other options, as part of its once-a-decade review of the UK communications market. The last of these reviews actually resulted in the creation of Openreach, back in 2005.

The regulator has previously faced calls from BT’s competitors Talk Talk and Sky to separate the provider from Openreach. The much-debated issue has caused tensions between the companies to escalate, with BT responding by criticising the ‘staggering hypocrisy’ of its rivals.

 

Aug 12

Councils say ‘no’ to 0845 numbers

By admin | Advice Centre , News , Uncategorized

Expensive Council numbers replaced

Rochdale Borough Council is replacing 13 of its most commonly used 0845 0845 to 0300numbers with more affordable 0300 options. Lancashire County Council has also made the transition, replacing its 0845s with local rate 0300s. Costing no more than an 01 or 02 call, 0300 numbers are a customer-friendly option, ideal for everyone’s pocket.

Alongside 0845 numbers proving typically more expensive to dial, they are regularly not included in many mobile minutes packages. This was an influential reason behind Rochdale Council’s decision as they say,

“Changing to 0300 numbers is undoubtedly the right thing for us to do and enables the people we serve to contact us via their mobile for the same cost as any other geographic number. These numbers are often also included in people’s mobile phone packages.”

Amongst the main service numbers to change for Rochdale are council tax, housing benefit, payments and bins. It is the intention of the council that other 0845 numbers will follow suit as will their 0844s. With the cost of a typical 0300 call costing just 1p-9p from a landline and 10p – 40p from mobiles or even included in most free minutes packages, this move will certainly mean smiles all round.

Lancashire County Council also on 0300 map

Despite official Ofcom legislation regarding the use of 0845s not coming into play until 1st July 2015, Lancashire County Council decided to change to 0300 back in March 2015. Leader of the County Council, County Councillor Jennifer Mein highlights the customer-focussed decision behind their decision and the ease with which the telecom changes can be made, as she comments,

“Ensuring that the existing numbers continue to work means that we can introduce the new numbers without inconveniencing anyone and can minimise the costs of the change.”

Moving is made easy

0300 numbersThe move from 0845 to the cheaper 0300 is a pretty straight-forward process and like others choosing to make the change it can be done at a rate that suits the individual organisation. Initial stages will still allow callers to use the old 0845 numbers, being greeted with a short information message about the cheaper alternative 0300 which are in place. However, those who wish to continue their call can do with no need to redial. The 0845 numbers will gradually be phased out of operation – ensuring no downtime along the way.

Nationwide Initiative

Designated only for non-for-profit and charitable organisations 0300 numbers are a sector-specific initiative – strengthening the genuine nature of the concern using them. In addition, charged at no more than a regular local rate call, 0300 provide a point of contact which is easy on consumers’ pockets, too. If you are unsure whether your organisation qualifies for an 0300 or you are looking for a customer-friendly option for your callers please ask for details. 

 

 

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.