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5 things to look for when choosing a 1300 number

Many people who are new to the business world, specifically to the Inbound telecommunications world ask me what to look for when choosing a 1300 number for their business.

There are a few key points I always suggest, lets go through them now.

  1. Work out your budget.  If you have no budget – your restricted to selecting a standard number from the public list.  This list has 2000+ numbers on it and you probably won’t find any numbers making words.  You will find some good numbers that rhyme, or have repeating numbers or sequences of numbers.
  2. Smartnumber or not? Smartnumbers is a branch of the ACMA. It is their job to sell the premium 1300, 13 and 1800 services to the public.  They do this through auctions, and the reserve starts around $250.  This questions really ties back to Question 1 – do you have a budget.  If you have a budget and time to wait for the auction to finish (3-4 weeks) then go for it.  They look impressive and definitely have some hype attached to them in the market place.
  3. Are some suppliers better than others?  Of course! Each different supplier has their selling points, but its likely they all use one of the main core networks.  I’m aware of Telstra, Optus, AAPT, Primus and GoTalk.  Some networks are based on VOIP, some aren’t. These are questions you should direct at your supplier.  My company focuses on high quality services, simple setup and explanations and personal service – these are the main selling points.
  4. Why should I go 1300 over 1800? Well 1800 services are “generally” associated with community services and feedback services.  Also 1800 numbers are outside of most mobile cap plans and actually cost alot more to the caller than a 1300 service does and 1300 numbers generally work out to be slightly cheaper than 1800 numbers if your making use of the free time options for local callers to fixed line answer points.  There is a unsaid standard in the Australian marketplace that automatically associates 1300 numbers with business.
  5. Hidden terms and conditions.  Unfortunately, there are some suppliers out there that will charge you for everything they possibly can.  Have a good read through the terms and conditions before you signup.  Being charged for invoices, charged for answer point changes or charged extra for normal included extra facilities on 1300 or 1800 numbers are the things to look out for.  It is quite normal for suppliers to have a direct debit requirement and penalties for late payment and direct debit dishonours as this is a general standard across Australian business.

Well I hope that has given you some food for thought. Please post any comments below – I would love to hear from you.

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Looks like there hasn’t been much movement on this yet.. Maybe one day!

1300 Numbers Telecommunications | The best 1300 Number suppliers in Australia

I was just reading an article talking about how they are planning to petition to make Mobile phone carriers change the rules surrounding the call charges for the so called ‘free call’ 1800 services in Australia.

I have always wondered why it has taken them so long to do this – especially considering its supposedly called a ‘free call’. Ha.

Anyway, the article is available here.  I will be keeping a keen eye on this – I imagine if it goes forward it will suddenly make 1800 services more expensive to my telecommunications company on a wholesale level, or it could change the whole market.  See we are currently at around 90% 1300 number usage (in my customer base anyway).

The market views 1800 numbers as your community or feedback services – not the normal perception an Australian business wants.

original article: david thomas – are 1800 numbers going…

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Paid Addons for 1300 numbers and 1800 numbers

ex mobile phone!
Lets go on to discuss the other paid add-ons which will add a new level of flexibility to your Inbound Number.

  1. Live Answering Services – This would be the most common addon for 1300 numbers.  It is usually a dedicated line where the operator will answer the call based on a custom script pre-supplied to them.  Generally a message will be taken down, including Name and Number and then Emailed or sent via SMS through to the business.  Its a very good method of making sure your customers feel valued and don’t have to talk to machines.  With the SMS facility you can even provide after hours support facilities.
     
  2. Fax To Email Services – With many businesses still needing the ability to receive faxes, when combined with a 1300 Pair (matching or sequential numbers) it looks very professional and is a really cheap solution to the physical fax machine with dedicated Phone Line.
     
  3. Postcode Prompter or Dialler – As mentioned in the Exchange based routing, mobile phones don’t have this facility and often for consistency of brand, many large franchise or enterprise businesses will use a Postcode Dialler to make sure all calls that enter the 1300 number are prompted for their postcode (or for the postcode of the store they wish to speak with).  This ensures smooth delivery of calls in a cost effective manner.  Callers enter their postcode via the telephone keypad, and the system automatically routes the call through to the relevant answer point for that postcode.
  4. IVR Menu – or Interactive Voice Response, is a smaller version of the postcode prompter.  It only accepts 1 digit, so your allowed a maximum of 10 inputs (0-9).  This is a great way for many businesses to route callers through to specific departments, or if you have a small number of offices you can connect callers directly through to the suburb.
  5. Voice TO Email – As the name suggests, this is a simple answering service facility, which will prompt the caller with a pre-recorded message, and then record their details and Email it through as a MP3.
  6. Line Hunt or Caller ID service – This is a newer product that many people are adopting, its pretty simple in structure and function.  Basically all calls that come through on the 1300 are answered by a system, and then forwarded through to the answer point.  This means all calls for that 1300 number come from a specific phone number, so you know how to answer the call.  This is great if you use your personal mobile and want to be able to keep business and personal separate.  It has many of the Call Overflow and Time based features, as well as the option to have RVA’s (Recorded Voice Announcements) or even Music on Hold while the service is ringing through to the answer points.

Well that’s enough information for now.  In the next article I’ll go through some of the common setups small businesses throughout Australia are using so maybe you can get some ideas.

Free Addons for 1300 and 1800 numbers

"RINGTONE"
1300 Numbers are very flexible services as you probably already know.  Here is a list of features that Good Telco’s include for free such as:

  1. Call Overflow – This is perfect configuration when you want to make sure every call is answered.  You can overflow from your business line in your office -> your mobile.  You could overflow from your mobile to an answering service.
     
  2. Time Based Routing – The most common setup for this is to setup your 1300 service to come through to the office line from 8am – 5pm.  All other times you might want the service to go to a Voice To Email service which states your opening hours and gives the caller the option to leave a message.  You might want the service to go straight to your mobile or a call answering service.
     
  3. Caller ID information – This information will automatically come through to your compatible handset.  You will also be able to view the Caller ID history in your customer login area, or on your invoice.
     
  4. Location Based Routing (Limited) – You can drill down to a State level, Broad Regions, or even to an Exchange on a suburb level (Please note you cannot do this accurately for Mobile phones, you will need the Postcode Dialler for mobiles).  This obviously can be quite tedious to setup and maintain, so often you would expect to pay for the staff time setting up this configuration.  This really is best if you are a national service with multiple offices in multiple cities.  You would be able to direct all Eastern states to the eastern head office etc.
     

Well that covers the free options, many of which are extremely helpful and generally people actually setup a 1300 number or 1800 number because of one or all of these features.

Are 1800 Numbers going to be free from mobiles?

I was just reading an article talking about how they are planning to petition to make Mobile phone carriers change the rules surrounding the call charges for the so called ‘free call’ 1800 services in Australia.

I have always wondered why it has taken them so long to do this – especially considering its supposedly called a ‘free call’. Ha.

Anyway, the article is available here.  I will be keeping a keen eye on this – I imagine if it goes forward it will suddenly make 1800 services more expensive to my telecommunications company on a wholesale level, or it could change the whole market.  See we are currently at around 90% 1300 number usage (in my customer base anyway).

The market views 1800 numbers as your community or feedback services – not the normal perception an Australian business wants.

original article: david thomas – are 1800 numbers going to be free from mobiles?

Choosing a Inbound Number Supplier

I sat down at my computer and did some brainstorming. I tried to put myself in my customers shoes, so I decided I wanted to search for a company to supply my new business a 1300 number. Google has thousands of results, and I see there is stacks of competition in the paid advertisements in google, so how do I find a company to supply me this service?

The first thing to look for is a company that answers the phone, or calls back quickly and connects you through to a real person who can answer your questions. The second thing is a website which explains the process and makes signing up easy. Some companies specialise in 1300 numbers, however most Australian telecommunication companies will be able to sell you additional services which will complement the 1300 or 1800 service.

The process of setting up a 1300 number or 1800 number can be made very easy or quite complex depending on your businesses requirements. They have a whole bunch of features such as overflow, time based routing and a somewhat daunting provisioning process which is made more difficult by governmental bodies. Most companies should be able to supply you with free configuration updates, free setup and the features I just mentioned at no additional charge.

The next step in getting your own 1300 number is settling on an actual number or more importantly a few numbers. There is a public list of numbers available to all Australian telecommunication companies (telcos) which has a few thousand available numbers on it. Because its available to everyone, sometimes the numbers are already taken, so most telcos ask you to choose a few. If your looking for a number that spells a word, you will be looking for a smartnumber, and you have to purchase these numbers from auction.

Once you have chosen a company, and found some suitable numbers, make your application. Most 1300 numbers are supplied on credit, so expect to sign a contract or direct debit agreement with the telco. The average wait time to get your number up and running without any hitches is 5-6 business days at the time of writing, but you should ask your telco how long they expect it to take.

original article: david thomas – choosing a telecommuncations company

How do 1300 numbers work

On this theme of 1300 numbers, I just wanted to put a little more information out there to answer the question on how 1300 number and 1800 numbers work.

Unfortunately, it’s not such a simple answer, we will need to discuss the basics of how the telephone network works in order to answer it.

First, lets discuss the telephone network. When you lift your handset and enter the number you want to dial, or push dial on your mobile, the system on the other end received this command.

This system looks through a big list of destination information and finds out where it should send the call, a bit like the postal system. If a call matches a local record, it connects the call locally.

If the call matches a remote destination or mobile telephone, the call is routed to another system closer to the destination. It is possible that the call may have to go through a whole series of destinations on it’s way to the final destination.

Now how does this relate to 1300 numbers? Well they are handled in the same way. 1300 numbers and 1800 numbers don’t belong to a specific address (like a fixed line) or to a sim card (like a mobile). They only exist on the network and thus have to have a destination or answer point configured. When a call is received at the exchange or mobile tower, the system will do a look up request to the carrier of that service and find out the relevant destination for the call.

Keep in mind this destination can vary based on caller type, time based routing, state/region/exchange based routing and even overflow routing. Once the destination has been confirmed the call is routed as per normal.

So that’s the basics of how 1300 numbers and 1800 numbers work.

original article: david thomas – how do 1300 numbers work