How to Get a UK Phone Number

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So you want to grow your company beyond its North American footprint and expand internationally? The United Kingdom is the perfect place to start your global march.

The U.K. has the world’s 7th largest economy, and it is growing rapidly. A recent report suggests that by 2030, the U.K. will surpass Germany as Europe’s largest economy. This is a relatively wealthy market that is home to more than 60 million people, and best of all, everybody speaks English, or at least some version of English.

How to Connect with your Target Audience

If you are going to reach out to British market, you’ll need to find an easy way to speak to individual British customers. At this early stage, many businesses try to establish a Universal International Freephone Number (UIFN), a single toll-free number that can be accessed by customers in more than 30 countries.

In many cases, acquiring a UIFN is a mistake that companies ought to avoid. It is a cumbersome bureaucratic process that can take months to fulfill. And as we have seen, a UIFN brings many restrictions and limitations. It may not be accessible from all phone or network types.

And perhaps more importantly, a UIFN may be confusing or unrecognizable to British consumers since they often need to add certain prefixes or digits in order to dial the number correctly.

This is problematic for two reasons. First, adding extra digits and prefixes increases the chances that people will dial the number incorrectly, adding a level of frustration that you don’t want your customers to have when dealing with your company.

Secondly, you want to establish a relationship of trust with your customers, and that begins with a phone number that they recognize and are comfortable dialing. Though the customer’s call in the U.K. might be forwarded to your U.S. office, or to any phone number you designate, you want to engage your customers in their own language, so to speak, and this begins with the number they dial.

Getting a Local UK Phone Number is a MUST

That being the case, U.S. companies seeking access to the British market soon realize that they will need to get a local U.K. phone number, or a recognizable British toll-free number. In order to do this, it seems logical to go directly to the national phone service provider in the U.K., British Telecom.

But going this route brings its own set of problems. British Telecom (BT) is a multinational phone conglomerate, and its customers are forced to contend with an even larger bureaucracy than UIFN. If you want to get your U.K phone number up and running in a day or so, it is simply not going to happen with BT. Again, it will be weeks or even months before your U.K. phone number is operational.

Furthermore, British Telecom will hit your business with all kinds of hidden costs associated with starting up a new phone service contract. Anyone who has signed a phone contract with a major provider here at home is surely familiar with these unpleasant surprises.

What you are looking for is a seamless and responsive way to manage your account. Perhaps you want to add more local dialing numbers for other cities in the U.K. Or maybe you need to change where you want your U.K. calls to get rerouted. The truth is that trying to get these done through BT is guaranteed to be a major hassle.

Avoid the Wait and Hassle of Massive Conglomerates

No company trying to establish a foothold in the U.K. needs to deal with these hassles. You’ve made the decision to enter the U.K. marketplace, why wait weeks or months before you can actually get a U.K. toll-free or locally-forwarded line? Why not get the line set up in minutes so that your U.K. strategy can hit the ground running?

Find a provider for your U.K. phone numbers who’s not going to soak you for hidden startup fees or other unwanted charges. Why sign a contract when you don’t need to? Some companies offering this service will even make you purchase your own PBX equipment. Again, this is completely unnecessary.

You will want to find a provider who allows you to manage your account, and your phone numbers, whenever you need to. Ideally, you should find a service where you can manage everything online. You’ll want constant access to your real-time call logs, so you can monitor where and when and from whom your calls are coming. You’ll want to be able to change your forwarding settings at a moment’s notice.

And you want a provider who covers even the smallest detail, like making sure the ringback tones — the sound the caller hears on their phone when it’s waiting to be answered — sounds exactly like they do in the U.K.

Finding a provider who can give your company all of these things would simply be, as the Brits would say, the dog’s bollocks. Or in other words, worth finding.