telecom consulting servicesWhen establishing a new business or a new branch for an existing business, one item that should be near the top of your list is an easy, professional sounding phone number.

When I worked for Qwest the one thing I could do to make a customer happy was to provide them with an easy to remember phone number.  I did so for two reasons: I knew that’s what I would want if I was setting up a new business and it added value to the services I was offering.

Back when the phone company was more of a monopoly, you had to pay for an easy number.  Qwest charged an upfront and a monthly fee for an easy or custom number.  In fact, we were instructed to offer a customer a choice of three phone numbers and then charge them a fee for each subsequent number inquiry.

As soon as I realized there was no way to monitor how many phone number inquiries I made for a customer, I made as many as necessary to secure them a business phone number that they liked.

What’s the best way to secure an easy number for your business phone service?  If you’re a small business and are ordering business phone service, here are a few strategies to incorporate:

  • Sweet talk the phone company customer service rep who’s helping you establish your new business phone service.  The person you’re talking to could be a new, enthusiastic employee who’s eager to serve or a rep that’s approaching retirement and just wants to make it through the day.  They both have the ability to help you but only one might be willing to.  Being pushy and demanding won’t get you anywhere.
  • Call a telecom agent.  Agents are eager to prove their worth and will do whatever’s possible to get you what you’re looking for.
  • Call the incumbent’s competitor.  If anyone is eager to secure your business, it’s the incumbent’s competitors, like Integra and XO.

If you’re a larger business, it’s simple to secure an easy number.  If you’re subscribing to a service, like a PRI, that allows the use of DID phone numbers – typically sold in blocks of 100 – order a sequential block.  Securing a sequential block of 100 phone numbers guarantees you’ll receive a business phone number that ends with 00.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re shopping for a business phone service:

  • DON’T print business cards or letterhead until your number is working.  Numbers can change and your provider won’t reimburse you if you pay for printed material and for some reason they can’t provide you with the same number that you ordered.
  • Numbers that spell a word can be more of a hassle than they’re worth.  Callers will need to search for what number corresponds with each letter, BlackBerry and other smart phones make dialing these numbers difficult and you’ll need to include the word and number version of your phone number on all your printed material and advertising.
  • If you’re in a large city, with multiple area codes and you want to portray stability and longevity, do your best to secure a phone number with one of the older, better known area codes and prefixes.
  • If you’re in a business that your customers need to travel to or if you travel to your customers, choose a local area code.

Establishing an easy phone number for your business phone service doesn’t guarantee anything but it is an important ingredient in the success of your business.

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