This edition of Countries in the spotlight: Belgium with Belgian Phone Numbers.
Belgium is a central hub in Europe. It is home to the NATO, the EU Commission and European Parliament and it is the most densely populated country in Europe (after San Marino and the Netherlands). The country’s diverse economy includes transportation services, manufacturing, high-tech and exports, which make up over 80% of the country’s gross domestic product. Each of these points contribute to the significance of the Belgium market.
In general Belgians really seek to enjoy life and learn as much as possible in the process. What is important is mutual respect, really listening to each other and coming to a joint consensus. They adhere to formal language and building a personal relation and trust before entering in a business relation. It is important to take this into consideration when addressing the Belgian market. Therefore, having the right Belgian Phone Numbers and call routing is critical if you want to be successful in Belgium. Let’s dive into the options and best practices specifically for Belgium.
Belgians build a relationship of trust before entering in a business relation. That has its impact on which phone numbers work best for your business. Trust increases with vicinity and recognition. Therefore, it is important to have Belgian Phone Numbers. These are available:
Belgian Local Number
Belgian local numbers are – as in any other country – tied to a specific area and are reachable against standard caller cost. Area codes have 1 to 2 digits (not counting the national 0) and range from (0)10 to (0)89. Download a map with the local number prefixes as issued by the BIPT here.
What is noteworthy is that you need an address with proof in the area of the number to be able to request a Belgian Local Phone Number.
Belgian National Number
Belgian Freephone Number
Belgians respect international standards where it makes sense. Belgian Freephone numbers have the recommended 0800 prefix and calling is free for the caller. Freephone numbers are generally only reachable from within the country – although international calls in some cases do come through.
Freephone is a Belgian number type that is relatively easy to request. You do not have to take any special conditions into consideration.
Universal Freephone Number
An International Freephone – officially a Universal International Freephone Number (UIFN) – is a global number. It is not regulated in Belgium itself. The ITU has defined this type of number as an international alternative for the regular in-country freephone. This type of number can be activated in Belgium and the exact same number can be activated in other countries as well.
Infographic – Belgian Phone Numbers. You ar free to use this infographic in your own publications provided a link to this article is placed as well.
Belgian Premium Rate
Belgium has reserved 2 main number ranges for added value Belgian phone numbers: 070 and 090x. The 070 range is intended for lower caller tariff general business services. While 0900 can have fairly caller rates. An overview with the prefixes and intended use:
070 for business services with max € 0,30 per minute
0900 for business services with max € 0,50 per minute
0902 for business services with max € 1,00 per minute
0903 for business services with max € 1,50 per minute
0904 for business services with max € 2,00 per minute
0905 for entertainment per call
0906 for adult
0907 for adult
0909 for business services with € 3,50 per call
Please note Belgian premium rate numbers require attention. Regulation is tight and elaborate. Besides the tariff announcement, max call duration can be valid, and a service description and promotion need to be supplied for approval.
Belgian Mobile Number
Belgium has assigned a couple of prefixes for mobile usage:
These numbers are reachable against mobile cost and internationally.
Note: (0)44 is not assigned yet but could be added to the mobile number ranges in the future.
You should always be careful when choosing a phone number type. This guide provides excellent guidelines for your selection process. But here are some considerations to make with the specific Belgian market in mind.
Support for Belgian Premium Rate Numbers
As stated, respect and being able to find common ground is important for Belgians. They support this also with their legislation.
For Belgian Premium Rate Numbers for instance, a caller may never be in a queue longer than a minute. And when providing service via the phone (e.g. consulting), a premium rate number can be used as a payment solution. That is fine according to the Belgian legislation. However, any organisation utilising a PRS number must have and – advertise – an alternative complaints phone line which must be reachable against standard cost. It must be possible for anybody to find common ground in case of a dispute or explanation of the available service.
Alternative support lines for PRS numbers with a standard caller rate or less are Local, National and Freephone numbers. In most cases a regular local number is offered for this type of support.
What is valid for support, is even more valid for sales phone lines. You want to welcome callers with open arms. Confirm to the potential customers they can expect an excellent customer experience. Any possible threshold must be removed.
The most successful organisations in Belgium (such as Carrefour, Daikin and ABInbev) have freephone numbers for their sales lines and support.
There can be a specific reason to choose a different Belgian phone number type, but in general freephone numbers are the most effective option for a sales line.
Local businesses with local clientelle should take local phone numbers. In Belgium even more so than in most other countries. The statement ‘Source locally’ is valid but you also need to consider the language differentiation within Belgium. Even though most Belgians are multi-lingual, most people prefer to explain their situation or ask their questions in their preferred language. So, there are 2 reasons to have local numbers:
- Confirm with your number your business is close by
- Confirm with your number the caller will be able to talk in their preferred language
In Belgium local business should choose local numbers – no question. The only thing to consider is whether 2 numbers are required to service the 2 neighbouring cities, especially when you are operating in 2 different language zones. Both can be forwarded to the same destination(s). So you can keep working as you are used to but your potential callers have confirmation you are able to service them in the preferred language in both areas.
The obvious choice for a nationally operating company is a national phone number. However, it is not the best choice for all situations. And in some case, it might even be worthwhile to opt for multiple types of numbers.
If you have an organisation which is targeting customers with multiple locations spread out over Belgium, a national number is definitely the best choice. If you are operating nationally but targeting local customers, it is better to opt for local phone numbers in the areas where your customers are since Belgium is multilingual.
And there are always the sales and support lines to consider. A freephone number remains the most effective option. Based on these guidelines, it should be easy to make the best choice for you.
The best advice for a multinational is to do localization for their phone number the same way as they do for their website. Most corporates put effort in fine tuning their online presence and keep on tweaking their localisation. But somehow optimisation of the phone numbers stays behind while the same results can be achieved. So, per country look at the specifics and determine the number types to be used based on these specifics. Do not underestimate the importance of localisation of phone numbers.
An additional option for multinationals is an International freephone number. This type of number can be activated in multiple countries and therefore there is only one number to remember by the caller and a single phone number can be printed on documentation used in multiple countries. This can be quite the optimisation. Do check up front if calling such a number is acceptable for your specific audience.
When providing consulting or other professional services via the phone, you expect to be rewarded and a Belgian caller will respect that.
Due to the extensive regulations, make sure to elaborate and verify your project in detail before proceeding. A couple of points of attention are:
- A calling queue may not last longer than 1 minute
- Any company must have and advertise a support line with standard caller tariff next to their premium number
Detailed regulation can be found on the website of the BIPT. And obviously, we are happy to help as well.
No Address in Belgium
An address in Belgium is required for a lot of Belgian number types. If you do not have an address available, a freephone number is an excellent Belgian phone number option. It is a good number type to unlock a market in general but as stated previously, it fits even better with the Belgian market.
Unlock the full potential of this strategic European country with international aspirations via Belgian Phone Numbers that fit your business.
A very extensive guide to optimise your call routing can be found here. This guide is applicable for all countries including Belgium. What should get additional attention when defining a call routing flow for a Belgian audience: Be polite and respectful! Always use a pleasant tone of voice and you should mostly stick to formal use of language.
Next point of attention is the language. There are 3 official languages in Belgium: Dutch, French and German. If you are targeting an audience in multiple language area’s: Take this into account when handling calls. Make sure to offer a language choice to the caller in the menu or have people answering with multilingual capabilities.