The recent explosion in telephone usage, through modem links, faxes, pagers and the internet, has resulted in a shortage of new telephone numbers. As a result, in April 2000 the whole UK telephone numbering system will change and no company will be left untouched. Area codes, freephone numbers, mobiles, pagers and premium-rate numbers will be affected, as will the telephone numbers of all customers and suppliers. With such huge implications on everyday business activities, companies need to sit up and start planning now. The following checklist should help.
- As the majority of small businesses don't have a dedicated telecoms manager, appoint someone in overall charge of planning and give them the time and resources they will need to do the job properly.
- Know whether your numbers are going to be affected. This is easy to find out. Call freephone 0808 224 2000 and ask for a copy of The Big Number Planning Checklist.
- Use the checklist to do an audit of all your systems and equipment. Remember that phones, faxes, modems, PBXs and alarms may all need to be re-programmed. If you don't have the experience in-house, speak to your suppliers.
- Check contact details of customers, staff, suppliers and update your contacts database.
- List all publicity materials that carry your contact numbers. Stationery, web site, transport, promotional and advertising material will all need to be changed.
- Decide on key dates and milestones for changes to be implemented and stick to them.
For further information or advice on The Big Number Change, visit the web at: www.numberchange.org
John Skarratt is marketing and customer service director of Telia UK, 0171 416 0306.