It can be easy to overlook getting a work phone number when starting a business. You won't have many clients calling, it's a hassle to get another phone, and you'd rather focus your attention on growing the business, so why not just use your personal phone number, right?
Well before long, your customers, clients, and suppliers will be hounding you outside of business hours. Even worse, you'll start getting calls on the weekend when you're trying to spend time getting your mind off of work.
Before you know it, you don't have personal time anymore, it's business at all hours of the day, and it's a decision you'll regret. That's why it's best to separate your business phone number and personal phone number from the get-go so you don't have to untangle the mess later.
In this article, we'll explore how you can do that, the advantages of having separate phone numbers, what options you have when choosing a business phone number, and things to consider.
If you're currently using the same number as your personal and business number, it's time to change. A separate phone number is a must as it will improve your work and personal life tenfold. It will also add a professional touch to your business.
Your work needs will stop impeding your personal life, ensuring a better work-life balance. You can automate phone calls, avoid privacy breaches, and share phone duties with your employees. On top of that, it's effortless to set up.
Getting a business phone number is straightforward. If you want to go the traditional route, you can get a landline number for your brick-and-mortar location if you have one. If that's too old school, you can simply use two phones, one for your personal number and another for your business number.
However, if you want to have the convenience of not having to carry out two different phones, the best way to go about this would be to get a second phone line app. Second phone line apps are a virtual phone system that will direct all calls on your business line through to the app on your mobile phone. That way, you can separate personal phone calls from business phone calls without having to fuss about with multiple phones and devices.
Whether you are a growing small business or you are already an established large business, a separation between your personal and professional life is imperative. A healthy work-life balance is essential to recover from the pressures of being a business owner, and that's not possible if your business calls and personal calls are all coming through the same phone.
Customers, clients, and suppliers will often call outside of business hours in the hopes that someone will pick up. Suppose your personal phone number and business phone number are the same. In that case, you may be unable to distinguish who a caller with a private number is. You may accidentally pick up the phone thinking it's a call from family members. You don't want to have the constant mental stress of worrying about whether phone calls on your personal phone are business-related or not, especially in your downtime. Also, you want to have the ability to send business calls to voicemails during certain hours of the day or if you're on vacation so that boundaries are set for when you're available or not. It will also allow you to spend quality personal time with family and loved ones outside of work so that you're fully refreshed and rejuvenated when you do go back to work.
A perk of having a separate business phone number is that you can engage in automation. Automating your business line can save you time and hassle and can weed out spam calls. You can do this in two ways. You can either have a voicemail system or an answering system in place.
Voicemail system: This is particularly relevant for small business owners.
As your business grows, you'll get an increasing number of calls that won't have to be answered by yourself personally. By having a voicemail system where the caller has to press a digit to reach you, it will add a buffer layer. This has the benefit of screening out callers who don't need to speak to you personally or callers who don't have an urgent issue that needs attending immediately. It will allow you to keep your phone line only for those with a pressing issue that needs attending to.
Answering system: An answering system is what most large companies have on their business number. This is where you are usually greeted by a voice menu that gives outlines different options you can press to reach various departments. For instance, it may say "Press 1 for sales", "Press 2 for customer service", etc. This not only makes your business look incredibly professional, but it allows you to engage in call forwarding and reroute callers to the appropriate department for their queries.
Both options are great for separating personal numbers from business phone numbers as they improve the efficiency of your workflow and the business workflow. You won't be wasting time redirecting callers if it's not for you, allowing you to work on the tasks that will move the needle. It also helps improve the overall caller experience.
Privacy and Identity theft
The internet is a fantastic place with endless benefits, but it can have some downsides. If your personal number is the same number you use for your business, you're opening up the possibility of privacy breaches or identity theft. Advertising your business details online, such as the phone number, means that you're also advertising your personal phone number online.
Having this readily available phone number dispersed throughout the internet for your personal banking accounts, social media accounts, and other websites, means that identity thieves can potentially find this information and engage in criminal activities using your identity. Having a second phone or number that separates your personal cell phone number from the phone number for business uses will help avoid this happening.
You probably have a team email inbox for specific departments, such as customer service, so why should the phone lines be any different? On days when your phone lines are blowing up, you're busy in a meeting, or you can't reach the work phone for some reason, it would be great to have someone else who you can share the responsibility with. If the business numbers are on personal devices, it's difficult to hand them over to someone else without having your personal information also visible to them. Additionally, they'll be getting your personal calls too, which you may not want. That's why it's essential to have a separate business line through a second phone line app that multiple mobile phone devices can access if needed.
Ability to customise your business phone number
Using your own number for the business limits you to what number you're able to choose from. Typically, your personal mobile phone will have a number that follows the following format 07XXXXXXXXX. Whereas if you have a dedicated business number, you can customise it according to your business goals. For instance, you can choose between a local number if you want to build brand trust amongst local customers. Alternatively, you can choose an 0800 number if you want to give off the impression that you're an established company that operates country-wide. With this in mind, let's look at your options when choosing the right business number.
Various choices are available when deciding on a phone number, from freephone numbers, local rate numbers, premium-rate numbers, etc. Let's explore all of these in detail.
Freephone: 0800 and 0808
You often see these numbers associated with large companies that operate nationwide. They have the prefix 0800 or 0808 and are non-geographic phone numbers, meaning they give no information on where the number is located. As suggested in the name, these numbers are free to call from any mobile or landline number and can thus help with increasing the number of customers who call. This makes it a great choice if you want to encourage leads and sales. Whilst the customer won't get charged for the calls, that cost would have to be fronted by the business. Typically, charges are around 1.5p per minute per call.
Local rate: 0845
0845 numbers are also non-geographic, but the key difference is that the charge for the call falls on the caller. The caller will pay the local cost from wherever they are calling from, which in some places is still incredibly cheap. This, too, encourages more customers to call in as they're not paying much more to contact you than they usually would.
Since it's a local rate charge, the exact cost will vary. But, the business will have to pay an access charge to the phone company for the service.
0843 and 0844
These numbers work in a similar way to local rate numbers where the caller is charged at their local rate, again making it a cheap call. With 0845 numbers, the business has to pay an access charge to the phone company, which is the same as the 0843 and 0844 numbers, but the key difference is that each call can generate revenue for the business as well. The business receives a share of what the customer pays for every minute of each call.
In order for the caller to pay their local charge, the business still has to pay the difference to the phone company. But the revenue generated can help offset these costs which will make it cheaper for you. Depending on where the customer is calling from, you could potentially even make some money.
National rate: 0870 and 0871
0870 and 0871 numbers work the same as 0843 and 0844 numbers in that you can generate revenue with each call. But the key differences are that the caller is charged the national rate, which is typically much more expensive than the local rate, and the business won't have to cover the access charge – the caller pays for the entire rate of the call.
UK-wide: 03 and 0345
03 and 0345 numbers are a little less common than the numbers mentioned above. They are non-geographical numbers that are typically used by charities because the cost of set-up is reasonably low compared to the other numbers on this list. They're also relatively cheap to call to, often charged the same as 01 and 02 numbers, and can be used towards free call minutes on mobile tariffs.
Premium rate: 09
As the name suggests, calls to premium-rate numbers are charged at a premium rate, sometimes as high as £3.50 per minute, plus an access charge. The caller is responsible for the total bill, and the revenue is then split between the phone operator and the business. So, for example, if you're charging £2 per minute per call, you could earn £1 for each minute someone is on the line.
Due to the high cost for the caller, this number isn't suited for a customer service phone line, instead lending itself to competitions, chatlines, or phone-ins such as for radio.
070 numbers are virtual numbers that can be automatically forwarded to other numbers globally. Also known as 'follow me' numbers, these numbers are ideal for those who often travel or if you have overseas offices that you want UK customers to contact instead.
You're able to choose which phone line the number gets forwarded to, and you can make rules about what times of the day it does this. For instance, you can have phone calls forwarded to the UK office between 9am and 5pm and then to a call centre in another country for the remaining hours of the day until your UK offices are open again.
Lastly, we have alphanumeric numbers. This is often seen in the United States but is becoming more common here in the UK. With these numbers, a word will determine what your phone number is. For instance, a building company may decide to choose 'freephone builder'. This means that their phone number would be 0800 2845337. In the phrase 'freephone builder', freephone refers to 0800, and builder refers to 2845337 (b=2, u=8, i=4, l=5, d=3, e=3, r=7) as it would be seen on a phone pad.
With alphanumeric numbers, you have the flexibility to choose from freephone, local rate, or national rate numbers. However, due to its novelty, it can be pretty expensive to purchase, particularly for numbers that are quite memorable.
There are a few key things you want to look out for when setting up your business phone number:
- Features - Does the service or phone operator have the features you need, such as Caller ID, voicemail system, answering system, auto-replying to messages, etc.
- Cost - Does the cost justify the features you are getting?
- Ease of use - You don't want to fuss about trying to set it up or use the service. It should be straightforward, allowing you to have it entirely set up within 10 minutes
- Customer service and tech support - How reliable are the customer service and tech support in case something goes wrong?
These are all things that should be taken into account when setting up your business line. You need to ensure you can do everything you need to with minimal effort since you don't want to spend more time trying to get the service to work than actually using it.