According to a recent survey, 60% of customers prefer to contact small businesses using the telephone. This proves the importance of having a telephone number that your customers feel comfortable calling, and often non-geographic numbers like 0845 or 0345 can create a sense of unease, particularly with an older demographic who may be unfamiliar with calling different phone prefixes. Ofcom recently found that older generations have a much stronger understanding of area codes and appreciate their geographic significance.
By contrast, toll-free numbers don’t cost anything for your customer to dial, but they are formatted differently as compared to local numbers. Local numbers are associated with a physical location and are generally provided with your landline service if you open an office, warehouse, or shop, within a particular area.
You can, however, purchase a virtual local number. Let’s look at the benefits of adding a local number to your business, and why local numbers give customers peace of mind:
Advertise a local business anywhere in the UK
You can advertise your business as ‘local’ regardless of where your business is based by using a virtual local number. You can get a local area phone number very cost effectively, and they can make a big difference to your business and your customers. You may want your national business to appear local everywhere, or you might want your small business to expand its presence into a nearby major city. For example, if you’re self-employed in rural Manchester but you’re not attracting inner-city customers, a virtual local number for Manchester could improve your visibility. Most importantly, local numbers add a level of trust for the customer.
Opportunity for company expansion
If your business has more than one base of operations, it’s wise to have more than one local number to suit this. This means that you can keep your departments and locations separate, whilst still keeping up the appearance of a local, friendly and small-town service. Customers like the idea of supporting a local business, whereas a non-geographic number can give the impression of a huge, robotic corporation. Even if your business is growing, keep your local numbers for maximum accessibility.
Cheap or free for you
With local numbers, the costs involved are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s free for your company to receive business calls. On the other, some mobile service providers charge their customers to call local numbers. However, most customers will overlook, or perhaps not even notice, the small charge if it means they are given peace of mind by dealing with a local company.
Use a virtual number for better customer service
Even if you have a local number, it pays to add a range of service-enhancing features. Add a virtual switchboard which offers callers redirection options, or a diversion plan which redirects their call to a secondary number if the main line is busy. With a virtual, local number, you should never miss a customer’s call.
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