The interesting psychology behind memorable phone numbers10th June 2019
What phone numbers do you remember? You could be surprised. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, phoning a number is often just a matter of tapping a name on a screen rather than manually typing those digits – but, as an organisation, you still need a memorable phone number.
That’s because it can help you to reach out to people who are unlikely to have that number already saved on their phone. So, what exactly makes a phone number memorable?
This might initially strike you as a strange question, but research suggests that we can instinctively react in particular ways to specific numbers. One survey mentioned by The Guardian saw “7” most commonly cited as a favourite number. A case of “lucky number seven”?
It could be. The number “cheers me up and gives me a feeling of comfort,” one 48-year-old female respondent from Norway said. The number seven also “has great symbolic value as an expression of Muslim belief and the miracles of God,” one man, aged 25, in Lebanon wrote.
Meanwhile, the number eight is considered lucky in east Asia due to its aural similarity to the word for prosperity. That’s something for you to think about if you are targeting the east Asian market and would like to make your firm’s phone number more tempting for members of that market to dial.
The nostalgia factor
Are there certain phone numbers that you used to input digit by digit, but you no longer put to this use – whether because modern technology has relieved the need for you, or you simply don’t have to keep using those numbers at all? The numbers might have lingered in your memory to this day…
You could attribute this stubborn mental footprint to the nostalgia effect. In an article for inews.co.uk, Rhodri Marsden recalls that he can remember a particular phone number over two decades after he last called it, as his grandfather would always utter it when answering the phone.
Professor Martin Conway of City, University of London notes that many still-remembered if disused phone numbers are “highly self-relevant” as “they’re usually the numbers of people who were family and friends.” He adds: “The frequency of dialling the number, and the fact that it’s someone who is meaningful, both act to make the information long-lasting in memory.”
You can encourage people to use the “chunking technique”
Of course, when a phone number is displayed in advertising, it tends to be shown in chunks. Our own customer helpline appears as “08000 886 886” on our website and so is undoubtedly easier to commit to memory than, say, “08000886886”, which reads more like a soulless credit card number.
The Verywell Mindsite explains that chunking works well due to the limits of our short-term memory – which, research suggests, can accommodate only about four chunks of information. We offer a wide range of memorable numbers for businesses, while non-profit organisations can tap into the benefits of an 0300 number thanks to our help.