By Jo Powell, Head of Fixed Specialists, Telefónica UK.

Regulations governing post-sales helplines change on 13 June 2014. This means that if you sell goods and services or digital content to consumers, you may be affected.  Time is tight, and I’ve pulled together a 4-point guide to help you react to these fast approaching new regulations.

1. Determine the impact

If you are not in a sector which is exempt – most notably financial services – then from 13 June 2014, all the telephone numbers you provide for Post Contract queries (customer services, payments etc.) must cost the same or less than the ‘basic rate’. That’s no more than a geographic or mobile rate.

You’ll also need to review your current inbound numbers to see what is currently in use, and if they’re linked to any network services (such as virtual receptionist, auto-attendant, IVRs).  Word of warning – this may be more difficult than you think and I would urge you to act now.

You also need to consider the financial impact.  If you receive revenue share from your post-sales helplines, it’s important that you calculate how many calls they generate and what revenue you might lose.  Speak to our experts about our Manage, Optimise, Transform methodology. Together we’ll be able to help you review your inbound contact approach and identify where you can minimise costs across your telephony estate.

2. Review your options

We’ll help you to review your inbound contact approach.  Often it’s as simple as swapping from a 08xx number to a 03xx number.  And our Virtual Receptionist  means you can set up a changed number announcement.  If you’re running tight on time, you can run new “basic numbers” in parallel with existing ones. In this case you will need to tell customers that reach the old 08xx number that there is a new cheaper 03xx number available.  Ultimately you might choose to separate pre- and post-sales calls.  And we can talk you though these decisions.

3. Make the changes

The regulatory changes affect your numbers, your numbers affect your business. That’s why you’ll need to think about the changes to your:

• Operational systems

• Business processes

• Network services

• Advertising e.g. example shop and van signage

• Communication of your contact numbers e.g. stationery, 3rd party resellers or agents of your services, printed materials, websites and self-service portals

And these changes can take time. Your operational and network services may need reconfiguration and testing.  Updating stationary might take longer than you would think.

4. Keep your customers happy

Our solutions provide a Virtual Receptionist, an automated call answering, queuing and messaging service that can advertise number changes and divert calls to the correct new number.

Audio messages on your on-hold and queuing systems will help but don’t forget to update your web site “Contact us” sections, local directories like Yellow Pages, and any trade and consumer listing services you use.  Notices on email footers get the message across too.

It’s not long until the changes happen but my specialist technical team can give you the support you need. What’s more with further regulation changes in May 2015, we can make sure you’ve got the best numbers for your organisation and your customers.

You can find a guide to the changes here and on our website. Or if you’d like to meet up, we’re holding a Telemarketing numbers Discovery Session on 4-June 2014 in London. Hosted by Louise Carter, Product Manager for Telemarketing numbers at Telefónica UK, this short, informal session will help you make the appropriate decisions for your organisation. Register here.

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