Direct Dials (known as DDi’s or DID’s) are a common feature in most telephone systems and solutions. To be candid I think they are more hassle then they are worth, here is why:
1.) They are not even used — The vast majority of users in the SMB market do not require a DDi at all. They are viewed by many (including myself) as a legacy of the days before everyone had a mobile phone. Now that everyone has a mobile, surely if someone wanted to speak with you personally then they would just call your mobile? This is not to say there aren’t exceptions, but they are fewer and further between than you may think.
2.) They are incredibly hard to move around (port) — Moving DDi’s (or any numbers for that matter) are incredibly difficult in the UK. Anyone who is loosely versed in the world of number porting can vouch for this. Between the confusion of “rangeholders”, “losing providers”, “gaining providers” and the role of BT Openreach; I sometimes wonder how any numbers are ported at all. To make matters worse this situation is only getting more difficult as people begin moving numbers between IP providers. I had a recent situation escalated to me where, unbeknown to them, a client had their DDi number ranges registered at 4 different addresses, with 3 different postcodes, across 2 rangeholders, all with 1 provider. It took us 12 attempts and 5 months to move their numbers to ourselves as a single carrier and provider.
3.) They are too expensive — I’ve known some poor clients pay as much as £20 per ddi number, so a block of 10 was costing them £200 per month! Even at £1/$1/€1 each per month, the cost can soon add up, epecially when you have poorly managed legacy blocks of numbers that are not used.
4.) There are better alternatives — Most systems now have an automated attendant option built in (also know as an IVR or Digital Receptionist) where you can simply enter the extension number, or even just say the name, of the person you are trying to reach. This is automatically set-up when an extension is created and can make management and interaction with the system much easier.
5.) They have already been replaced — As we move towards a more connected world, we have developed new and exciting ways to connect to each other. The most compelling of these technologies for the purpose of this conversation is that of WebRTC. This technology allows you to connect to people, either via voice or video, with a single click using your web browser as the communication tool. So effectively we all get our own web link, that connects to whoever clicks it for free!
Don’t get me wrong, there are exceptions, but be honest with yourself, as soon as you’ve got someones mobile number, don’t you just call them on that? Assuming you haven’t already engaged with them via email, chat, text, skype, slack e.t.c?