0800 numbers - still effective?

Telecoms /

For a number range like 0800 it's a strange time. For such a long time they were the number to have in your adverts. They would produce the best results and customers and would be glad that businesses had them.

In some way this legacy still holds them in high regard; but the rise of the mobile phone has brought them into this strange time.

Still free to call from UK landlines

It's still the case that 0800 numbers can be called for free from a UK landline. This is what's so great about them. Giving customers a free line to call made advertising response stronger and even increases customer loyalty; they're never afraid to call you.

That is until your customer hasn't got a landline, or it's simply more convenient for them to call you from their mobile. I think we've all experienced this with businesses we want to contact (and it's not restricted to 0800 numbers; 0845 and 0844 numbers are the same). We desperately search for an alternative number to call because we don’t want to stump up the ridiculous charge our mobile provider wants us to pay.

All this does is tarnish a businesses otherwise good reputation and hurts your customer experience.

Will eventually be free to call from UK mobiles

Eventually. The word without any sense of a timescale. Eventually, it will be free to call an 0800 number from a UK mobile. It should be happening over the next few years, and we have already seen a few mobile providers, in some cases, make 0800 numbers free to call. That's generally been restricted to helplines or public sector organisations though.

Alternatives?

Because of this scenario, and as we've already said, the scenario with all 08 numbers and calls from mobile phones, we've seen a rise in the use of Local Numbers. This seems to also coincide with a general trend for businesses wanting to use Local Numbers to track the success of their advertising in various area codes.

Ofcom also released the 03 number range as an alternative to 08 numbers. These numbers are already free to call from a UK mobile (if the caller has free minutes from their provider). They're simply the cost of a local call from anyone who doesn't get free minutes from their provider.

So, it's mixed messages for 0800 numbers. They are still effective, but that's based on how accepted they were in the past. May be there’ll be a real resurgence if the mobile providers finally make all 0800 numbers free to call.

Richard Morrisson