By Jo Powell, Head of Fixed Specialists – Enterprise, Telefónica UK

As one of O2’s voice specialists and with the regulatory changes on post-sales helplines coming into effect on 13 June, I’ve been talking a lot about telemarketing numbers over the past few months. If you have missed the news, please don’t panic!  But you do need to act – and quickly – but aside from updating your website and stationery, our inbound solutions can make it quite easy.

First of all, the changes.  From 13 June, it will be a legal requirement for customers in many sectors to have free or standard charge numbers for post-contract customer service helpline or customer complaint numbers. Notice that I said many sectors because most, but not all will be affected.  As an example, Financial Services is generally exempt although warranties, credit agreements and insurance offered in conjunction with the sale of non-financial goods or services, will still need to meet the telemarketing requirements for cancellation of ancillary contracts and additional payments.

And what about the numbers? Well, premium rate (09xx) and other revenue sharing ranges (e.g. 0844, 0871) will not comply with the new regulation. 0870 numbers, often charged at higher than geographic rates, also may not comply – if you want to keep your 0870 number, you’ll need to charge your customers as if it’s a geographic number.

But, as I said, don’t panic.  Most of our customers have found that swapping to a 03 number is a simple solution.  With 03 numbers you don’t have to worry about customers using the old helpline numbers as Interactive Voice Recordings (IVR) can advertise the change and divert calls to the correct new number.  Our solutions provide a Virtual Receptionist. An automated call answering, queuing and messaging service, that can direct customers to where they need to go.  We also have our Advanced Virtual Receptionist which is a multi-level IVR allowing you to build your own bespoke call routing.

What’s more 03 numbers are popular.  Callers pay the same as they would for a call to 01/02 numbers (local rate numbers) and since 03 numbers are included in many call packages, they can be effectively ‘free’ from landlines and mobiles.   03 numbers are becoming increasingly ‘trusted’ and are widely used by charities and public bodies. For instance they have been adopted by government and quasi-government organisations such as the DVLA and Blood Transfusion Services as well as the BBC for all listener and viewer contact.

So, if you haven’t made the change yet, I’d urge you to do so.  Aside from damage to your brand, there’s a financial hit if you don’t comply.  Our specialist technical team will give you the support you need and 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.

Journalists can contact the Virgin Media O2 press office on: 01753 565656
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