Nearly one in three UK businesses is unaware of an Ofcom deadline that will see the status of 0870 numbers change by January 31 2008, according to research by BT Global Services.

Telecoms watchdog Ofcom is bringing in changes to improve price transparency and strengthen consumer protection for calls to organisations with 0870 numbers, but many firms – nearly one in three – still have no plan in place to respond to the change.

The research, commissioned by BT Global Services amongst 100 senior IT personnel at large UK organisations, also revealed that most companies have an unrealistic view of how quickly they can respond to the changes. Nearly half (45 per cent) believe that they could switch to a new set of numbers within three months, but BT said it was hard to generalise and firms should act now.

Paul Brewer, head of customer relationship management at BT Global Services, said: “Ignoring the deadline is a dangerous strategy. Revenues from existing 0870 numbers are going to vanish and organisations need to rethink their customer relationship management strategies in light of this. That does not happen overnight.”

He added: “Companies need to be taking action now. When customers change their numbers, marketing literature needs to be reprinted, advertising changed and websites updated. Travel companies will be printing their 2008 holiday brochures now, for example. These things need to be tackled in advance if organisations want to change numbers before the new rules come into force next February.”

Most companies expect the changes to have a significant impact on their business. One business in five is expecting to divert their customer resource management (CRM) strategy away from call centres and towards multimedia contact centres using the internet, and seven per cent admit they may cut call centre resource as a consequence.