Das Kundendialog-Blog | atms

What really constitutes a "good" telephone number?

Christian Rupitsch | 20. Mai 2017

Any business owner faced with choosing a new telephone number is often overwhelmed: How do you go about finding a good number among the seemingly infinite number of possible combinations? Should it be as readable as possible? Or preferably easy to remember? How often should a particular digit appear? In this blog post, we identify the trends and reveal what business owners should pay attention to when choosing a phone number.

If we're honest, we all now and again wonder about the choice of some phone numbers. Things like a single digit repeated countless times or how many unnecessary reversed digit combinations a phone number can contain. Our colleague, Christian, experienced something similar recently when driving on the motorway, where he was thoroughly confused by the number on an advertising decal on the vehicle in front of him made up of a combination of "63" and "36". His reaction: who could possibly find such a series of digits good, let alone remember them?

This is the topic we want to address in this blog post and raise the question: what is a really "good" phone number? Does such a thing exist at all, and what general rules should companies bear in mind when choosing a telephone number?

4 phone number trends you should be aware of

Do you know what a vanity number is? Does the term "star number" mean anything to you? Why is the number 6 both popular and dreaded? You should at least be aware of the following phone number trends:

1. Vanity numbers

The term vanity number is used to describe a method of representing a phone number using letters. They're composed of letters that correspond to a specific digit on a standard telephone keypad. The vanity number "0800/SAMSUNG", for instance, corresponds to the phone number 0800/7267864.

As such, a telephone number isn't written as a sequence of digits, but using letters. This allows companies to verbalise their company names or service, and in doing so create an easy-to-remember phone number.

In the USA, vanity numbers have been used for service numbers for decades. This trend hasn't yet caught on in Europe, though – not least due to the high setup costs, which quickly puts the benefit of having a number that's easy to remember into perspective.

2. Star numbers

Like vanity numbers, a star number is based on a sequence of letters. But as its name suggests, it begins with a star or asterisk. The caller dials *TAXI or *BANK, for example, and is directly connected to the organisation that managed to secure the term. 

This relatively new concept is not yet very well known in Austria, but it's steadily increasing in importance. Companies that have an easy-to-remember star number give their customers a simple, toll-free option of contacting them and thereby highlight their high level of customer service.

3. „Sexy“ numbers

The number 6 is indispensable in the erotic industry. The general rule here is: the more frequently a 6 appears in the phone number, the better. Most people associate this number with erotic themes too.

So when choosing a phone number for your company, it's probably best to avoid combinations of digits that inadvertently hint at an erotic connection, such as the combination "69" – unless, of course, that's precisely what you want to do ;-).

4. Astrology numbers

Very spiritual, but widespread: the deliberate use of specific digits that have an astrological significance. Those familiar with astrology are well acquainted with the power of numbers and symbols.

The number 7, for instance, already acquired holy significance in the Bible, in which the world is described as being created on the seventh day. Many people regard the number 7 as their lucky number. What many people don't know, however, is that in some countries, such as China or Thailand, 7 is considered an unlucky number!

Telefonnummern können auch für Missverständnisse sorgen (c) Fotolia

Warning! Three no-goes when it comes to phone numbers:

1. Transposed numbers

Leave numbers with unnecessarily transposed digits well alone – unless you want to confuse your callers, that is. Take, for example, the number 0316/34 36 63. The numbers in the last two of the three digit pairs appear in reverse order. A number like this is pretty much predestined to be mistyped!

Better to stick to the principle of choosing pairs of numbers that appear either in ascending or descending order. In the example above, the number 0316/32 36 38 would be a much better choice.

2. Too many occurrences of the same digit

A phone number like 0800/1111111 will inevitably cause annoyance. How often have we all experienced the irritation of having to laboriously count the individual digits? So were there six or seven 1s?

When choosing a phone number, try to avoid having too many of the same digit in a row – and if you really have to, arrange them in blocks. A person's short-term memory can only store a maximum of 7 ± 2 information units, so-called "chunks", at a time. So don't tax the brains of your customers unnecessarily!

But if you still insist on doing so: You can make your callers' lives somewhat easier if your write the number in the form 0800/11 11 11 11, for instance.

3. No repetitions

While we're on the topic of information units, or "chunks": A number in which there's not a single repeated digit and no recognisable hierarchy or sequence is likewise a nightmare for many people. 0800/925 38 47 - in terms of being "easy to grasp", numbers like this rank way down at the bottom of the scale.

Die perfekte Telefonnummer sollte leicht wählbar sein (c) Fotolia

Other things you should pay attention to when choosing a phone number

Doublets and triplets

Numbers arranged in pairs and recurring digits are a good way of making a number more easily memorable. Consciously select intervals that make sense in order to emphasise the "doublets" and "triplets". Using these forms of writing for the numbers 0800/44 88 60 ("doublet") or 0800/600 600 ("triplet"), for instance, makes them correspondingly easier for the caller to register.

Local dialling code

A phone number ought never to be seen in isolation of its dialling code. In Austria and Germany, the dialling code (also known as the local area code) is firmly linked to the geographical location. Before you decide on a telephone number, make sure you consider the digits in the corresponding dialling code: Are there digits that recur, or follow a specific ascending or descending sequence?

Thumb-typing sequence

In the smartphone era when our thumbs do most of the work on the display, it makes sense to check for yourself how easy it is to type a new number before committing to it. Simply enter the number yourself and test whether the pattern that the sequence of numbers makes is easy to dial.

Also bear in mind that on large smartphone displays, some areas are harder for thumbs to reach than others. For right-handers, for instance, the 1 is much harder to reach than the 9. The central number block (2 – 5 – 8 – 0), on the other hand, is easier to access.

Telefonnummern sollten am Smartphone leicht tippbar sein (c) Fotolia

Conclusion: first impressions count!

To break it down: When all's said and done, what makes a "good" telephone number is a subjective matter. But you can make it easier for your callers to get in contact with your business if you select as practicable a number as possible.

We live in an era in which people hardly ever store phone numbers in their heads any more, but just in their smartphones. As such, a "good" phone number doesn't necessarily have to be easy to remember – the main thing is that it's easy to comprehend and type without leaving any room for doubt.


Still looking for a nice phone number?

As the specialists for service numbers we´d be glad to advise you and are confident we´ll find the perfect number for you!

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Über den Autor

Christian Rupitsch

Solution Consultant bei atms


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