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Research Indicates UK Companies Not Ready for New Year OFCOM Change

July 31, 2007

UK companies operating in the contact and call center space are soon to see a change as the OFCOM will be requiring mobile and fixed-line providers to charge customer the same or less for 0870 calls as they do for their national-rate calls to geographic numbers. The OFCOM sought these changes to improve price transparency and strengthen consumer protection for calls to organizations with 0870 numbers.

This change is expected to occur on January 31st, 2008 and is designed to reduce the price of many calls to 0870 numbers significantly, while also encouraging businesses to think about making their customer contact numbers cheaper or free for consumers.

While the OFCOM is looking out for the welfare of the consumer, some businesses are unaware of the deadline for changes. According to new research released by BT Global Services, nearly one third, or 29 percent, of UK businesses are unaware of OFCOM’s deadline for the changes that will impact their customer contact strategy if they are using 0870 numbers. Of those that are aware, 32 percent admit to having no plans in place or are deferring the decision until nearer the deadline.

Paul Brewer, head of Customer Relationship Management, BT Global Services, noted that the deadline marks a major change and businesses must be aware of and prepare for it now. Ignoring the deadline is a dangerous strategy as revenues from existing 0870 numbers will vanish and organizations must rethink their CRM strategies because of this. Such change cannot happen overnight.

BT Global Services’ research also revealed that most companies have an unrealistic view of how quickly they can respond to change. Almost half, or 45 percent, felt that they could switch to a new set of numbers within three months. BT shares its view that the reality for those who will want to change numbers is quite different.

This research also revealed that 11 percent of organizations are planning to switch to 0800 ‘free phone’ numbers. More than a quarter, or 26 percent, are planning to switch to a new range of revenue-generating numbers, such as 0844 and 0871.

Brewer concluded in a company statement: “Despite the fact that most businesses expect these changes to dramatically alter the way they interact with customers, few are prepared for the change and four in five do not see this as an opportunity to review their overall CRM strategy. I’d suggest that is a missed opportunity to get ahead of the competition.

Such changes implemented in this vast industry will have far-reaching implications that will touch companies in industries around the world. Unless these organizations are willing to tackle the issue now in preparation of the February enforcement, they may find themselves in a revenue-draining situation.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC (News - Alert) and has also written for eastbiz.com. To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page

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