This edition of Countries in the spotlight: France with French Phone Numbers.
France is the third-largest economy in Europe and the sixth largest in the world in terms of GDP. It is business-focussed, has a sophisticated financial market, and educated workforce. France is also one of the most visited countries in the world and its cultural influence is widely recognized. All of this makes it one of the top markets to enter.
France is a proud country and rightfully so with their rich history. This has its impact on how to do business with French people. Appearance is important for the French; you are expected to present yourself in quality business attire – even on ‘casual Friday’. In order to make a great first impression in France, a high level of politeness is critical and you are expected to use formal language with words like ‘Monsieur’ or ‘Madame’.
That brings us to the next point of attention: French is a beautiful language and the French are proud of it. for international business English is accepted, but first contact in French is appreciated. When addressing the consumer market: French language is a must! Not being able to interact with consumers in France will drastically reduce your chances.
The French require a formal and pleasant introduction before engaging in any form of business. This makes having French Phone Numbers important for your chances of success. Here an overview of what French Number Types are available for you to use:
French Local Number
French local numbers are – as in any other country – tied to a specific area and are reachable against standard caller cost. The French have divided their country in 5 main geographical areas:
Download a graphical presentation of the division here.
It is noteworthy that you need an address with proof in the area of the number to be able to request a French Local Phone Number.
French National Number
French Freephone Number
The French regard Freephone Numbers as important and have reserved a slightly bigger range than other countries: 0800 to 0805, where most countries only reserve 0800. French Freephone Numbers are free for the caller and generally only reachable from within the country – although international calls in some cases do come through.
Freephone is a French number type that is relatively easy to request. You do not have to take any special conditions into consideration.
Infographic – French Phone Numbers. You ar free to use this infographic in your own publications provided a link to this article is placed as well.
Universal Freephone Number
An International Freephone – officially a Universal International Freephone Number (UIFN) – is a global number. It is not regulated in France 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 France and the exact same number can be activated in other countries as well.
French Mobile Number
In France the ranges (0)6 and (0)7 have been reserved for Mobile, where (0)7000 to (0)70004 is intended for M2M mobile. These numbers are reachable against mobile cost and internationally.
Note: Mobiel numbers are sold in combination with a SIM.
French Premium Rate
The definition of French Premium Rate Numbers is not straightforward. These ranges have been reserved for this type of phone numbers:
- 0806 to 0809
- 0810 to 0829
- 0890 to 0899
The current designations are as follows:
- 806 to 809: Standard calling cost
- 081: < € 0,06 per minute or € 0,15 per call*
- 082: < € 0,20 per minute or € 0,50 per call*
- 089: < € 0,80 per minute or € 3,- per call*
* Plus standard calling cost
It should be clear that French premium rate numbers require a lot of attention. Regulation is tight and elaborate. Besides the tariff announcement, a service description and examples of the promotion need to be supplied for approval. During the approval process additional information can be requested.
Presentation French Service Numbers
Since French Service Numbers all start with 08, it is more difficult for a caller to recognise what kind of number it is. Therefore the French have obligated a specific presentation of these number types.
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 French market in mind.
The Impact of the French Culture
France is an economically progressive country, but culturally it’s very conservative – social values, family culture, gastronomy (the food and wine culture), and certain social structures maintain a strong sense of what is “correct” or “pas correct”. The French are very proud of their country. French patriotism is certainly a common cultural value. “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” (Freedom, equality, brotherhood) is their national motto, and they certainly try to live up to it.
This drive to Freedom means that any form of pressure is not done. If you are coming on strong or in case a French person senses any kind of pressure, they will turn away.
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.
Why a Freephone number fits well in France particularly, is their drive to Freedom – and a French freephone number expresses just that: The freedom to call.
Do not forget that the presentation of a French freephone number is key. Not only because they value design, art and fashion, but also because Freephone numbers and Premium Rate numbers look alike. They both start with an 8. Therefore, it is important to present these “numéro vert” – as they call this type of number – in the color green.
There can be a specific reason to choose a different French 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 France, the drive behind this is their value for family and friends. So the importance for local businesses to have a French Local number is even more important than in most other countries.
In France local business should choose local numbers – no question. The only thing to consider is – when you service multiple cities – whether multiple numbers are required to service the multiple cities. All phone numbers 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 their respective 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 France, 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 France is a huge country.
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 the localisation as defined for your website. 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 French caller will respect that.
Due to the extensive regulations, make sure to elaborate and verify your project in detail before proceeding.
Detailed regulation can be found on the website of the arcep. And obviously, we are happy to help as well.
No Address in France
An address in France is required for a lot of French number types. If you do not have an address available, a freephone number is an excellent French 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 French market.
Unlock the full potential of this huge country with its top market via French 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 France. What should get additional attention when defining a call routing flow for a French audience: Be polite and respectful and avoid any impression of pressure! Always use a pleasant tone of voice and you should mostly stick to formal use of language.
Next point of attention is the language. For international business, English is accepted, but French preferred or at least greeting in French and using the words ‘Monsieur’ or ‘Madame’ is expected. For the consumer market, only the French language has a change to success.