Changing The Haven’s Toll Free Number: A Reframe

By Rachel Davey. Rachel is The Haven’s Executive Director.

I have decided to write an occasional piece for the blog to give a ‘behind the scenes’ look at things that are happening at The Haven. Also, I hope that these pieces reflect how things I have learned at The Haven are just as useful and applicable at work as in my personal life.

UPDATE! In response to my request at the end of this article, Janet and Tom Lesosky have recorded a jingle for us. Here’s what Janet said: “After our Eric Bibb workshop, we are constantly writing little songs, so this morning we put on our music hats and started to jingle. I knew when my heart started racing, we had something worth sharing. Hope you enjoy it too.”


The Haven has a new toll free number: 1 800 222 9211. Here’s the story behind the change.

The Haven’s toll free number has been a problem as long as I have been working here. The problem is that if someone makes a mistake and dials 250 instead of 877, it’s a real Gabriola number. As you can imagine, this has been a source of frustration for the person who owns that number.

My initial reaction was to try to placate the person to avoid change, something which I’ve learned in programs is a very familiar choice for me. I got myself stuck in a very absolute belief: that changing a telephone number for a business is A Bad Thing and must be Avoided At All Costs.

In being stuck in this way, I was missing two important points: The Haven was potentially losing business, and that making this change could make things better and might even be fun! It was time to move out of my stuck place and do some re-framing of the situation.

So the management team immersed themselves in the world of toll free numbers. We knew that 1 877 247 9211 had been taken a long time ago. We learned that many numbers have been bought for resale. We considered whether 1 800 was better than 1 877, or 1 866 or 1 855 (we decided it was) and whether a familiar number was better than using a number/word combination (we decided it was).

In the end we decided that 1 800 222 9211 was best number available. It allows us to use 1 800 and uses part of our regular number, the 9211. We have checked that 250 222 9211 is not someone’s number and are in the process of getting it assigned to The Haven. We will of course be keeping our old toll free number for at least a year, as it appears in print in the catalogue and in many other places. Now we start the long process of updating all the different places the number is listed online and in print.

Now all we need is a jingle! One of my favourite TV programs is The IT Crowd, and I am inspired by the new UK emergency services number in this clip:

Any musicians out there want to give it a go?

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