The words “phone porting” probably sound terrifyingly complicated. However, in the simplest terms, phone number porting is transferring your phone number from one service to another. It’s also not limited to cell phones either. As long as you stay within the same geographic area, your number can be ported to a landline as well.
Porting a business phone number involves the following steps:
1. Decide If Porting Your Number Makes Business Sense
Take a moment to look at how your business runs under the current system and watch how staff use the service and equipment you already have. Do you see frustration and struggle surrounding the phones and transferring calls? Are customers annoyed because they keep getting dropped or have a difficult time hearing your employees? Take note of these things. Ultimately, the decision to move your number rests on you, so make the best one for your business.
Certainly, there are reasons a business might not want to transfer an old number to a new service, such as a harassment or bullying situation via telephone, but if you determine that moving to a new system is the right course of action, overall it’s better for you and the health of your company to retain the same phone number. Change is good, but it can also be difficult for clients to process as well.
2. Determine Which Provider Works Best for You
There are many different reasons for switching phone providers. It is an important part of your business technology workflow, so it is important to take the time to determine the right solution for you. What do you need in a business phone system to help your company run at maximum efficiency?
There are plenty of services that would be happy to answer your questions, so call ahead and ask away. It can be especially beneficial to decide to partner with a company like RingCentral. Using cloud-based messaging services, these third-party companies help you streamline all your methods of communication—which means that you and your employees are connected throughout the workday.
For more information on the top providers available, check out our article on the best business VoIP systems, which include information such as pricing, features, and who each option is right for.
3. Ensure That You’re in a Proper Geographical Location
There are restrictions when it comes to porting numbers. For example, if you are relocating to a new geographic area, then you might not be able to retain your phone number because someone else might already have it in the new area code. This in itself could be a major deciding factor in whether or not you decide to go through with the transition.
4. Contact the New Provider
The actual changes take place once you’ve decided on a new provider. The process is easy, but it isn’t as simple as a phone call to give them a heads-up. There are other things that you should know before as well:
- Paperwork: Expect to sign some paperwork, called a Number Transfer Request form, that verifies that you agree to the porting number process. This requires a wet signature, opposed to an electronic signature, and therefore needs to be faxed or scanned and emailed.
- Account information: Keep a recent copy of a bill handy during the setup so that you can quickly access the account number and any other information that might be requested of you. Bear in mind: You need to know the PIN code and Social Security number of the primary account holder.
- Process time: The process could take some time, so don’t expect it to be done overnight. In some cases, it can take up to two months for everything to be fully transitioned, so be aware.
- Do not cancel your old service. You must understand this going into a transition period. If you cancel your service and there is a long wait during the completion of the process, then you essentially have no phone in the meantime. Do not—repeat—do not cancel your old service until everything has been completed.
5. Enjoy Your New Service
The process of porting numbers and changing services is so different today than it was in the days of dial-up and physical wires. It’s not hard to get a phone ported; it’s simply a matter of understanding how it’s done and knowing how to get it completed efficiently. In fact, you’ve probably already done it without knowing what the process was called.
Why Should I Port My Business Phone Number?
Businesses can take advantage of number porting for several reasons. For example, a business might be unhappy with the current service. Provided the contract is ending, transferring the business’ phone number to another phone provider can result in a better overall package or lower monthly fees.
Other reasons for porting your business phone number include:
Customer retention is another reason businesses should consider porting a business number. No matter how well you prepare the public for the change and post the new number online, you’re likely to lose valuable business due to callers dialing the old number.
Use of Outdated Technology
On the subject of keeping your system updated, let’s discuss the use of outdated tech, namely phones, in the workplace. The mindset of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” might come to mind when you consider updating your system, but think about the benefits of switching to an infrastructure that makes the most of modern technology.
- You are paying for quality. Is it pricey to change over to another phone system that is essentially its own minicomputer lab? Yes, it can be a nice chunk of change when you add up the total cost. But will you be dropping calls, frequently buying new equipment, and always replacing broken pieces? Assuming you’ve gone with a reputable carrier, likely not. You’re paying for more than a name when you’re spending money on a system like voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP)—your money is going toward quality service and quality products.
- You will notice an increase in efficiency. When you’re no longer relying on a clunky old piece of technology like a switchboard to get things done, something amazing happens: progress. Processes are streamlined, things happen more quickly, and everything just runs better.
- Fewer mistakes: You make fewer mistakes and stay better organized.
Manual processes do the job well enough, but when you can depend on a piece of technology to help you complete those processes, why should you keep doing them the old way? Tech is your friend; it helps to keep track of data and information that you might otherwise be doing on your own. As the saying goes, to err is human. Machines don’t make as many mistakes as humans do.
What Prevents Businesses From Porting a Phone Number
Ideally, you would love for the entire process to be as smooth as vanilla ice cream, but you know as well as anybody else that that’s not always the case in real life. Unfortunately, there can be issues when you’re trying to port the phone number that prevent you from getting it completed.
It may not be possible to port your number if you are moving to a new area code or geographical location. If you’re planning to move to an outside area code and you want to keep your number, check well in advance with your desired provider to ensure that your number is available in your new location.
Errors on the Number Transfer Request
Remember that little piece of paper? It can be the source of issues during the porting number process if there is incorrect information entered on it. Some common errors might include:
- Incorrect spellings of names, addresses, or business names
- Information that doesn’t match, e.g., Social Security numbers, PIN codes, telephone numbers, and so forth
- An invalid or unrecognizable signature
Poor Account Holder Standing
For better or worse, our mistakes from the past tend to catch up with us in the long run. If you’ve had some bad history in your past, it could be that the new provider denies your request to transfer service.
If this is the case, call the billing department immediately and try to get to the bottom of the situation. In some circumstances, you might be able to explain your past situations and work something out with the company.
The size of your company can cause you to use all methods of communication, even older ones like pagers. However, your new provider will not be able to successfully port pagers. The reason? Pager numbers are typically not owned by service providers; they are owned by the paging company.
Deciding to change technology in the workplace can be tough on employees, especially older ones who might not be as keen to learn an entirely new process. Before you make any transitions, ensure that you’ve gotten your staff well-prepared ahead of time instead of throwing them into the ring without a pair of gloves.
One idea that you might consider is having special training sessions on the new system. In the VoIP setting, all phones have their own unique IP address, which means that each phone is its own computer.
Digitally accessing menus and learning how to operate the options through different buttons can be quite a learning curve. Some common questions and answers you might go through should include:
- How to transfer calls to different people within the office and externally.
- Setting up voice mailboxes and checking messages, as well as changing the greeting and creating an out-of-office greeting while staffers are on vacation.
- Making use of the built-in contact list and accessing specific people (this one can be especially long and arduous, even for the tech-savvy).
Remember that some people will require a little more handholding than others, so consider offering helpful screenshots and printouts to guide them through. Encourage staff to help one another, and if you’re not available at the moment, ensure that they have a contact within the company (who knows the system well) readily available at all times who can help answer questions.
Any major transition within your company is going to cause some frustration and questions when you’re going through it. Before you decide that you’re porting numbers or update any phone technology, prepare yourself and your staff well ahead of time. The process can be clean and smooth, but it can also go haywire in a hurry. Knowledge is power, so fully understand what you’re about to get yourself into.