Does your business need a pocket landline?

By the end of this year BT will have hiked their monthly line rental for the third time in eighteen months. Calling costs have also been creeping up over the past few years, even among the telephony providers we usually think of as cheap alternatives to the biggest brands.

Taken as a whole, the price increases are significant and have hit businesses just as much as many households. For many it’ll be even more galling given that, in the age of phone line-free cable broadband, mobiles and VoIP, clunky landline phones seem increasingly out-dated.

Ditching the landline altogether is one option but that could prove to be more costly than paying the inflated prices for many SMEs. That’s because multiple studies have shown that having a landline phone number available, rather than a mobile, significantly increases the chance that consumers will contact you in the first place.

According to research by Orange, 43% only advertise a landline so there’s plenty of competition out there.

The more you think about it the more it makes sense: it makes the business seem grounded and suggests that you have a fully staffed office. Even unconsciously, a consumer may be more likely to make contact with a business with a landline than one without.

Which leaves SMEs, and those in charge of their IT, with a conundrum: how to cut costs and keep flexibility?

‘Pocket landline’, call forwarding by any other name, could be the solution. According to the same research above, 80% of businesses say they miss one to five calls a day by being out of the office when the phone rings.

For a fixed monthly fee that’s less than line rental, the service allows businesses to either take a new landline number or use an existing one and make it accessible to a number of company mobiles.

Some services even include monitoring software: storing numbers and recording the busiest times of the day so that businesses can ensure they have enough staff on hand to cope.

There’s a whole internet industry, or perhaps more of a mindset, built around making global services seem personal and local.

Think of this service as part of that, one that could get you a lot more business than starting your newsletters: ‘hello there you’.

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Julia Kukiewicz is editor of consumer information site Choose. The site offers market research and debate into the home media and mobile and personal finance industries, as well as covering rights issues for consumers. Follow Choose for more on twitter at @choosenet.

  • John

    After honouring my 24 months with Vodafone one net express virtual landline I thought I would give Orange’s pocket mobile a try. It has turned out to be the worst business descision I have ever made. On the face of it Orange seem cheaper, but the elephant in the room for me was the fact that Orange have NOT got an agreement in place which allows new pocket landline customers to bring their landline numbers over from vodafone to Orange! I made it crystal clear that I must retain my landline / mobile numbers when I initially enquired to Orange about joining & I was informed it was easily done. 3 weeks on & I only today was I informed about the landline issue (after chasing the porting delay for this period!!). I have now had to cancel the orange contract & go back to vodafone. As it stands now I am without both my comapnies landline & mobile numbers, thanks to orange’s incompetence I am uncontactable. I found the network coverage laughable too, and getting cut off mid call to customers was something I had to put up with.