Using Toll Free Numbers – A Canadian Perspective

More and more companies are beginning to use the toll free business numbers as a powerful marketing tool to project a professional business image and promote their services. Customers also find it convenient to call an easy to remember and free toll free number. In addition, the ability to reroute international toll free numbers to a local landline or mobile phone has enabled even small businesses to expand their reach in the global markets. The use of personalized vanity numbers such as 1-800-FLOWER has promoted the toll free numbers as a viable and cost effective marketing strategy.

The recent technological advancements in telecommunication network design, VOIP and cloud computing have contributed in making the toll free numbers affordable even to small businesses. Before, the free toll numbers also referred to as free phones or free call numbers used to be the reserve of the large business franchises due to their high cost. The free call numbers were very expensive that even the top companies could only afford a single line.

Free call services offer businesses a reliable platform to efficiently manage and control their customers calling experience. The service provides businesses with the flexibility to forward incoming calls either to existing telephone numbers or to a live answering service. The portability of the toll free numbers provide businesses with the freedom to easily transfer their existing toll free numbers from one Phone Company to another. In North America (Canada and US) all that is required is for the business owner to fill a Responsible Organization Change Form which is faxed back to the existing phone carrier together with the Toll Free Birth Certificate.

With the free toll service, small scale businesses can easily set up virtual office environments at much lower cost compared to brick and mortar office with physical communication infrastructure. Small business owners also benefit from shorter deployment time, low setup and maintenance fee and an easy to use web based management interface. Some phone companies provide virtual fax numbers based on a toll free number to enable business owners send and receive faxes from virtually any part of the world. One such company is Ozetel; an Australian based Telecommunication Company that specializes on the 1300/1800 toll free numbers, live answering and Fax to Email services.

International Toll Free Prefix

Prefix for toll-free numbers is specific to each region or country. For instance a Toll-free number in the United Kingdom starts with 0800 or 0808, in Ireland 1800 and in Australia 1800 or 1300

The prefix for a free call number in the US and Canada is normally 800 and the toll-free numbers in these countries are popularly referred to as the “800 numbers”. According to the North American Numbering Plan (NANP), the toll-free numbers in the two countries can be called from any telephone in the US or Canada. However, some phone carriers restrict the use of NANP numbers and only allow calls from either the US or Canada –sometimes only from particular provinces or states.

1300 and 1800 Numbers and The Do Not Call Register

Can you place a 1300 or 1800 number on to the Do Not Call Register?

The answer is YES and NO, based on what types of numbers can be registered and the definition of when you can register a number for the list. To be eligible, the number must be used primarily for domestic use or be a telephone line that is exclusively maintained for the transmission of incoming and outgoing faxes. Of course this definition extends to emergency numbers and numbers used by government bodies but we figured our readers were more of the small business type!

So, let’s break that down a little further to help explain the answer.

A 1300 or 1800 number is generally always activated for a business right so it would be pretty difficult to argue that the number is for “domestic use” any way you look at it. Based on that, you cannot register the 1300 or 1800. The register is designed to stop those annoying phone calls that invade your personal space. Businesses are still open slather, well in terms of phone calls that is.

Fax spammers however, are different. If your 1300 or 1800 is a fax line and you are receiving spam faxes to it then yes you can register the number. We suggest that you also consider the answer point of your 1300 or 1800 as well. So obtain the actual fax line or virtual fax to email service for that matter, and lodge that on the register at the same time. This way all bases are covered and fax spamming will stop.

Registering a number does not guarantee you will not be hounded with spam faxes completely. Some organisations are still permitted to contact numbers that are on the register. These organisations include charities, marketing surveys, political candidates completing surveys, educational bodies and religious organisations. They are still monitored in terms of how they contact that number by any industry standards put in place by the ACMA but it does stop the contact being made.

It takes 30 days for the number/s to be on the register officially in terms of all telemarketing and fax spamming stopping to your number. The telemarketers and fax spammers have the responsibility of ensuring they see the updates to the register and cease using your number for their outgoing marketing or calling. If they don’t, there are some major fines that will be enforced depending on the case. A Queensland based company, FHT Travel was fined $120,000 for calling 12000 phone numbers that were on the register so it is not something businesses want to mess with.

Resources:
Where to lodge a number on the Do Not Call Register
The governing body of the register – ACMA

Diverting My Business Line or Home Line Answer Point

We have been asked by a few customers this week, whether they can have control over diverting their home phone line or business phone line which is the answer point for their 1300 or 1800 number.

So, they want the 1300 or 1800 number to simply land all calls to their fixed line and then they want the control of diverting their land line when they go out of the office or are busy with another call. This all of course can be done on the 1300 or 1800 number but you can also choose to do it yourself. Why?

– Perhaps you get free calls to your mobile from your fixed line because you have a plan with your carrier,
– It provides more flexible control for the business owner, they can set and change whenever they want to.

So what will need to be done from the customer’s side?
Basically they will be setting a physical line diversion on the fixed line and it is a function built in to all Telstra fixed lines. If the call diversion function is not currently active, you will need to contact Telstra and add the function.

Once that is done you can simply pick up the handset on the fixed line and set a series of call diversions depending on what you want to achieve. The different types of call diversions include;

– Immediate call fwd for all calls,
– Diverting Calls on Busy or No Answer after a certain time,
– Choosing selected callers to be diverted and/or,
– Diverting calls by time of day.

Each of the types of diversions have their own key press code, for example immediate call forwarding is done with a *21 key press function. All of the different types of diversions can also be removed with a simply key press entry and the user can also check the status of diversions as well.

You can choose to have all of the diversions or a mix of the ones that you require for your business. It allows full control and management of calls when you cannot accept them yourself at that phone line.

The service itself is free of charge but you should consider any call charges that are instigated when you place that diversion function on your fixed line, for example if you divert to a mobile that is not part of a free call plan, then you may have to pay call charges for any calls diverted to that mobile.

The Telstra document that explains all of the different types of call diversion functions can be found within Ozetel’s descriptive website.

Remember, all of these functions can be done directly on your 1300 or 1800 number service but if you require control or may get cheaper call charges by doing it yourself, then this Telstra function may be the way to go! Good luck!

Do I own the 1300 or 1800 Number?

When a business looks to activate a 1300 or 1800 number, it is imperative that they keep ownership of the number. It is an integral part of their brand and must be available to them for the life of the business, A loss of the number may be extremely detrimental if you consider the difficulty business owners would face to attempt to introduce a new number to their customer base.

This is even more the case, if you consider the advent of the Phoneword, eg 1300 MY COMPANY. These phone numbers (phonewords) become almost the same as a domain name or business name. Losing it would mean certain problems.

With that in mind, the ownership of the 1300 or 1800 number is dictated by the path which is taken to acquire the number. There are basically 3 ways that a business can purchase or acquire the number;

Choose from a Public List
Every Telco in Australia has access to a FREE list of numbers. By free, we mean, they are free of any capital cost so the business will not be up for a “purchase” cost to choose one of these numbers from the public available list. There are in excess of 3000 of each type of number to choose from, and they are constantly being renewed so the choice is huge.

The downside: the good numbers will not be in this list. By good numbers we mean, numbers with double or triple digits in it or indeed numbers that spell words.

Ownership: if a business chooses a number from this Public 1300 Number List list, they will always own the number as long as they keep the number active and do not default with the carrier. A default may cause the number to be lost.

Purchase a number from Smartnumbers
If the number they want is not available in the free list, then they will need to buy the number from the, government run, auction system called smartnumbers.com.au. These numbers come at a cost, namely the auction price. Reserve prices start at $250.

The downside: You can get what you want but at a capital cost and, alot of the possible numbers have already been purchased.

Ownership: Yes, if you buy the number, you own the number as long as you connect the number within 3 years from smartnumbers.com.au. In this case, even if you default with your carrier, you will still keep the ownership because a cancellation by a carrier will simply return the number back to smartnumbers and will remain, owned by you ready to reactivate.

Lease the number
If the 1300 or 1800 number has already been purchased, then your only option is to lease the number of the owner of the number. The price can range dramatically depending on the number you are looking to lease.

The downside: You may pay a much higher monthly fee then normal, simply to have access to the number.

Ownership: NO, in this situation you will NOT own the number. It is owned by the purchaser of the number and the business owner is simply leasing it. It is in the best interests of the owner to keep you having access to the number but there is no guarantee.

Routing Options for 1300 and 1800 Numbers

How Can 1300 and 1800 numbers be routed?

A very informative article was written by the director of Ozetel Pty Ltd that will help that question be answered. We have included it for our readers. It is a very descriptive point point by discussion on all things to do with routing and configurations on 1300 and 1800 numbers. Enjoy!

“We have had quite a few enquiries this month from clients asking what types of routing are available on 1300 numbers in Australia.

So I thought I would detail the information here. The first note by the way also is that all of these configurations can be applied to the 1800 number as well. There is no difference between the routing availability on 1300 or 1800 numbers.

Single Answer Point
So the first option, and of course the most common, is to land your number to a single phone number. That can be a land line, VoIP line or a mobile phone line. The rule generally is, if you can ring the number directly then it can also be an answer point for a 1300 or 1800 number.

Overflow Routing
You can choose to overflow your number to additional numbers. You would choose a primary answer point (as mentioned above in the Single Answer Point option) and then also advise of additional numbers to land to in the event that the primary number is busy or is not answered. For example you may terminate calls to your business land line first and then overflow to your mobile phone on busy or no answer after 15 seconds. Thus if you go out of the office, you will still receive your business calls. Of course you may also have 2 or 3 land lines in the office and you could overflow through those first so that different team members could take calls when times get busy. The multiple of overflows is unlimited but you would want to consider the callers experience and have them looked after as quick as possible.

Time Of Day
This option is very effective for landing calls to different numbers during hours and after hours. Often our customers at Ozetel will land their 1300 number calls to the office during business hours and then to their mobile phone or live answer service after hours. The routing is pretty much unrestricted in that you could choose an answer point for every minute of the day if you wished!

Public Holiday Routing
We can even highlight public holidays and have your number land to special numbers for each holiday. Very useful if you are going away on a particular day.

Call Percentage Splaying
This basically means landing calls to different numbers based on a percentage set in our network. Often this is coupled with the time of day routing so that between 9am and 5pm for example, we could land 90% of calls to your Melbourne office (where the bulk of your staff work) and the remaining 10% of calls to your Sydney office. Any percentage can be set and again, as many numbers that you require to include in the splaying.

Barring Calls
There are a multitude of barring possibilities including;
– all mobile phone callers,
– callers from a specific state or region,
– specific phone numbers that are considered nuisance calls.

State Based Routing
A business can choose to have each state or territory in Australia routed to it’s own answer point – so if you have offices in each state of Australia and want only callers from that state landing to the right office, this is achievable. This of course is done for both incoming mobile and incoming fixed line callers.

Regional Routing
There are approximtaely 200 mobile phone regions covering all of Australia (for incoming calls on a mobile) that can each have their own answer point. There are far more fixed line (incoming call) regions but again, all of these set regions can have it’s own answer point for your 1300 or 1800 number.

Telstra Exchange Routing
There are thousands of Telstra Exchanges around Australia and a business can choose to have every exchange land to it’s own answer point. It is a massive routing table but very effective when you want to deliver calls to a high number of offices around Australia. The downside is this is only for incoming calls on a fixed line and the default setting for incoming mobile callers is to have just one single number for ALL mobile calls. Clients using this option will often use the Ozetel Postcode Prompter service as the default number for incoming mobile phone callers. This refines the deliver of calls and creates a much more efficient system.

Delivery By Postcode
This isn’t technically routing on the 1300 number network but Ozetel has an additional service called the Postcode Prompter service. Larger businesses, (and specifically franchises), can land their 1300 or 1800 number to the Postcode Prompter indial phone number so that all calls land to this service. Callers are then asked to enter the most relevant postcode for them and then they are landed to the most appropriate store or office, as advised by the business owner.

The final point to keep in mind is that combinations of these options can be used depending on the requirements of the business model. It really is an unlimited situation and often we will have different configurations for the same business as they grow in their industry. There are more services that Ozetel offers (similar to the Postcode Prompter) such as the IVR Menu, Fax to Email, Live Answer services but we have not mentioned those in this article. The Postcode Prompter was included because it was relevant to this discussion.

As you can see, the 1300 and 1800 number has powerful routing capabilities and fits to all business sizes from the small private company to the multinational corporation.”

Original Source: Anthonys Blog

A New Website Design, Again!

Well I have just got used to the new site and it has only been in play for a year or so. And in my wisdom, I have decided it is time for a new, fresh design revamp.

The web seems to need freshness and well, for SEO purposes, we need to continue redefining the content for the google algorythms. It is just one small component of the SEO world but an important one in my opinion. The redesigning of the layout and customer perception also allows me to individualise from my competitors and to give visitors a new experience of Ozetel.

I have always been motivated when I have new things in business whether it be software gaining a new feature or a new office environment. It just keeps things expanding and fresh. It also ensures I am up to date with the latest design trends and technologies. The customer interaction with the business online is such an integral part to the success of the company in the long run. So allows for new ways of getting the customer to obtain information and improved ways of signing up for a service, especially if that service is complicated like a 1300 Number packaged with a Fax to Email. Packages create more complexity but we want to keep the interaction as simple as possible for the customer. Keep their time and you will lose their attention.

So how do we go about the redesign process?

I am not a designer or up to date with fresh design elements and processes. I like to farm out the design work to a designer and work with them to achieve the functionality that I need for the site. I have great results for the last 2 design revamps from Spinn Media and recommend them for anyone looking to create a new web concept or overhaul an existing one.

The second important task is the cutting of the design and bringing it to life on the web. We are very lucky in that a contact for my business is a very skilled programmer and is able to make the design come to life in web form and ensure functionality is achieved.

And finally, for those who are familiar with the current site, get ready! The launch of the new looking Ozetel is just days away. We look forward to bringing it to you.

How Much Does A 1300 Number Cost

One of the most common questions we get within the 1300 Service Game is How can I choose my number for my business?

Well there a basically four ways to choose a number;

1. A public list is issued to every telecommunications company in Australia, generally once a week, although it can be obtained as frequently as the company likes to update it really. Make a point of asking for the absolute current list from your chosen supplier. The benefit of this public list is that they come free of charge. That is, you do not have to pay anything to choose the number. You would simply go through the list and choose the number that you want (most companies will ask that you select 4 or 5 numbers in order of preference and they will obtain the highest preference for you).

2. Let your chosen supplier pick one for you, again this will be from the public list so the number will be free of any capital cost. The difference of course, is you would let the company issue one for you rather then have the luxury of choosing your own.

3. One of the problems with the public list, if you are specific about what type of number you are after, is that the government has taken out most of the numbers that would spell words and placed them in their web based auction system called Smartnumbers. You can purchase number from this government auction and the reserve prices start at $250 for the lower ranked or more obscure words. Prices can reach into the tens or hundreds of 1000’s believe it or not for the higher ranked words. So it is a careful decision that a business owner must make.

4. Finally, there are many companies in Australia that purchase these numbers via the auction system and the lease them back to businesses. This can be the most costly of all given that leases can again range from small amounts to very expensive depending on the Phoneword.

So that is basic round up of choosing a number, depending on your business cash flow and model.

Originating Article Posted by; Anthony’s Blog