A great customer experience is the not only the biggest driver of customer loyalty, but also a primary method for building word-of-mouth buzz that brings in new business. In our free 45-minute webinar, we want to share our recipe for delivering legendary service, and show you how it can help you attract and retain customers while engaging employees. Come behind the scenes with Christina Burns, our Director of Customer Happiness, as we explore:
By the end of the webinar, you’ll understand the benefits of a customer service-focused culture, and have you the tools you need to begin building your own service pyramid. There will be time at the end to address any questions, and the webinar will be recorded.
Join us Tuesday, October 25 at 10:00am Pacific for Ruby’s Secret Recipe: Attract & Retain Customers with a Service Pyramid.
Publish Date: October 12, 2016 5:00 AM
This week is International Customer Service Week, and as such, we’re sharing interviews with unique perspectives on what it means to be a champion of customer service. At Ruby, Problem Solvers & Happiness Makers live up to their job titles by assisting customers with account updates and head-scratching technology questions. They deliver legendary customer service by operating at the top of the Ruby Service Pyramid. Every interaction with a customer is an opportunity to deeply connect with them by going above and beyond, fulfilling their unexpressed needs, and creating stellar service experiences. Together, Ruby’s Customer Happiness team works to define, embody, and elevate the standards of world-class service.
The Customer Happiness team has been lucky enough to have Tonya Pieske as a Problem Solver & Happiness Maker for just over a year. I’ve asked Tonya to share a little bit about herself in today’s spotlight!
What do you think makes you and others on the Customer Happiness team uniquely qualified to be a Problem Solver & Happiness Maker?
We’re a smart bunch of people! More importantly, we all have excellent communication skills, genuine empathy, and we approach challenges with curiosity and enthusiasm. We’re determined to find solutions that support the success of our customers and their businesses—and I have to say, we’re very good at it!
What is your #1 customer service tip?
Go with your gut! Sometimes real concerns come in the form of general questions, so if you suspect there’s something bigger behind it, there probably is. If you can identify and fix a problem before it’s clearly presented to you by the customer, you’ll make a huge and lasting impression.
What was your career like before Ruby?
I worked my way up the retail chain for about eight years before coming to Ruby. I was fortunate to work for some great companies and wonderful people. Several co-workers from my retail life are now employees of Ruby!
It sounds like you’ve been helping people for a long time! When did you discover that you loved to do so?
When I was around 12, I spent a couple months during the summer break with my grandmother. My grandfather had been ill for quite some time and was in an adult care facility at that point. My grandmother and I went to visit him every day. It was heart-wrenching for me to see his physical and emotional health deteriorate. Because it was so hard to be around him, I offered my help to the staff during my visits. They put me to work! Every day I would take wheelchair-bound patients for strolls through the garden, and I ended up becoming very close with a few of them. After that summer, I really embraced the desire to help others. The following year, I volunteered as a peer counselor and organized benefits at my school.
In addition to working at Ruby, you’re also a talented musician. Is there any connection between your music career and your Ruby one?
Any type of art has the potential to connect with others in an incredibly meaningful way. I don’t really think too much about how accessible the subject matter of my songs will be to someone with very different life experiences than mine. It still surprises me when people reach out to me and tell me how my music has resonated with them in a deeply personal way. That’s basically the highest level of connecting you can do! My approach to customer service and writing music is very different. However, when they’re done right, a magical thing happens – human connection.
A big thank you to Tonya for taking the time to chat!
Publish Date: October 5, 2016 5:00 AM
When it comes to customer service, soft skills are the keys to success. Working with people requires a certain level of emotional intelligence and people skills. While these skills can’t be quantified the way “hard” skills can, they are no less impactful. If you Google “soft skills” you’re results will probably include things like teamwork, communication, and problem solving; all important skills for success. But these aren’t the only valuable soft skills, especially when it comes to customer service.
Here are the three often forgotten, but no less valuable soft skills that will help take your customer service game to the next level, and leave customers (and coworkers) thoroughly impressed!
While conflict is uncomfortable, it’s also an important part of how we improve communication and deepen relationships with others. After all, true growth doesn’t come without a little bit of discomfort! Most commonly, conflict in customer service scenarios stems stem from a lack of knowledge, miscommunication, or a misunderstanding. Conflict resolution is the ability to handle these misalignments with a level head, emotional control, and a strong will to solve the problem. The goal is to be able to take a potentially difficult situation, conversation, or customer and turn that interaction into something positive.
How well do you handle conflict? Think about the last time you had to handle a frustrating phone call, someone yelled at you in traffic, or the barista at the coffee stand got your order wrong.
What was your initial reaction?
Did you take the conflict personally?
Were you able to solve the problem?
How long did it take you to recover from the interaction?
Improving Your Conflict Resolution
If you struggle with conflict, you aren’t alone. Handling conflict on a regular basis takes an emotional toll. Luckily, conflict resolution is a skill that can be built with self-assessment and a whole lot of practice. You can start improving this skill by taking the time to think about past conflicts and considering how the conflict arose, your own role in it, and how you perceived it. Then, when you experience conflict in the future, you’ll be more equipped to handle it.
Here are some quick tips:
It is well understood that customer service takes patience, yet in this fast-paced world where customers expect instant communication and resolutions, it can be difficult to maintain. Patience is the ability to control your emotions and proceed calmly when facing difficulties or delays. Possessing a high-level of patience helps you reduce stress, make better decisions, and empathize with others. If you can maintain your patience during hard conversations, everyone is more likely to leave the conversation satisfied and stress-free.
When you’re in the middle of a tough conversation do you:
Interrupt the other person or wait until they’re finished?
Do you listen to what they’re saying or try to make your point first?
Do you find yourself getting angry or can you master your emotions?
Improving Your Patience
Building this skills takes time, and it’s important to give yourself some slack if it takes a few tries before you find success. The great part is there are lots of opportunities to practice patience in your everyday life! Next time you feel yourself getting frustrated in a long line or in traffic, take a deep breath, relax your muscles and consider why you’re feeling impatient. Push the stress out of your body and manage your emotions. The more you think about it and the more you try, the better you get. This everyday practicing of patience will roll over into your workplace and how you interact with others.
Critical observation or analysis is a combination of critical thinking and observation/listening skills. It’s the ability to go beyond observing something and move to dissecting, analyzing, and finding a solution—similar to the scientific method. Think of as the ability to recognize the problem, even if it isn’t explicitly stated, then resolving the problem.
Take a moment to think about the last time you were helping someone over the phone, in your personal or professional life. Were you able to:
Recognize how the person was feeling?
Interpret those feelings?
Appropriately react to those feelings?
Improving Your Critical Observation Skills
Critical observation builds on the previous skills we have shared. If you aren’t able to manage your emotions, or maintain patience, it can be difficult to view a situation objectively and apply critical observation. Once you’ve mastered those skills, the best way to improve your critical observation is asking questions to determine the root cause of a conflict or a customer’s frustration.
Before road testing this skill with your customers, first try it with a friend or family member. Next time they are upset, take some time to think about how they’re feeling and see what you can do to improve their mood. Listen to an offhand comment about the struggles of moving and offer to help. Then, when you’re on the phone with a customer, you’ll be able to listen for cues that can give you insight into potential roadblocks, helping you best determine next steps. This ability to anticipate and solve problems will help you WOW your customers at every opportunity.
Do you know of any underappreciated soft skills? Leave us a comment and let us know!
Publish Date: September 15, 2016 5:00 AM
The Ritz-Carlton is famous for anticipating the needs of their guests, winning dedicated lifelong customers in the process (and getting some pretty great press). How do their employees achieve the impressive task of providing guests with what they need before they ask for it, or even think of it? By making it a priority: “Anticipation and fulfillment of each guest’s needs” is part of their Three Steps of Service.
Although Ritz-Carlton’s legendary service certainly sets a high bar, there are many ways for businesses big and small to fulfill unexpressed customer needs, without the aid of a Ritz-Carlton-sized budget. At Ruby® Receptionists, we call it Giving Them What They Don’t Even Know They Want, and it’s the second-highest level of our Ruby Service Pyramid. (If you missed our recent blog posts detailing each level of the Ruby Service Pyramid, you can catch up by starting here.)
Just like Ritz-Carlton, surprising and delighting customers is an achievable goal for any business that makes it a priority. Here are three ways to start enriching your customer experience with the unexpected:
Listen to what your customers tell you, and what they don’t tell you. A pause, a change in tone of voice, a facial expression, a sigh, or a casual-seeming “Hmmmm” can all be signs that your customer wants something they aren’t asking for. Take hesitation as your cue to proactively offer solutions. No mind-reading necessary—if you’re not sure, take a guess!
I’d be happy to see if we can expedite your shipping time—would that be helpful?
Why don’t we finish these forms later—how does that sound?
How about I meet you before the presentation so I can answer any last-minute questions?
Even if your guess misses the mark, it’ll provide a jumping-off point for a deeper conversation, and encourage your customer to disclose a bit more.
What does your typical customer journey entail? Walk yourself through it, and as you do, ask yourself what you’d like to experience if you were a customer. What could make it easier, more efficient, more pleasant? It may be as simple as providing water and coffee in your break room, including driving directions in any correspondence, or keeping tissues within customer reach during cold and flu season. Don’t underestimate the power of little niceties—the comfort they provide can make the difference in your customer’s day.
Use common requests as an opportunity to refine your customer experience. If there’s something new customers often ask for, start delivering it proactively. Pay attention to seasonal trends, and use them as opportunities to show customer appreciation. An uptick product sales around the holidays might prompt you to offer a discount, for example. As you develop relationships with customers and learn more about them, use that knowledge to guess their next steps, and provide them with what they’ll need before they get there.
When you make it a part of your standard customer experience, anticipating the needs of your customers gets easier over time—and it never gets less fun. Giving customers what they don’t even know they want is one of the most rewarding aspects of being on the Ruby team. As excited as our customers get when met with a well-designed surprise, we’re just as thrilled, if not more so. Nothing feels better than brightening someone’s day, and nothing goes farther in building a strong customer relationship. If you invest the effort to fulfill unexpressed needs, prepare to be as delighted as your customers.
Publish Date: September 13, 2016 5:00 AM
In any role where you communicate with others, emotional intelligence is the name of the game. When everybody has a cell phone, and we can interact with people at any time of the day, it’s harder than ever to stand out from the crowd and make an impression where it counts. This is particularly the case over the phone. Emotional intelligence allows you to take what could be a generic, forgettable conversation and turns it into something memorable and compelling.
Emotional intelligence is defined by the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions; and it’s the key to standing out.
Because emotions are contagious. How you interact with others—whether they’re a client, a customer, or co-worker—determines how that person will feel about you, and the company you represent.
When you yawn, I yawn, and when you’re enthusiastic, I’m enthusiastic! It’s shown that, in conversations, we often mirror each other’s tones and postures. In a situation where you can’t see someone’s posture, your tone becomes even more influential. Your emotions bleed into a conversation and set the tone, and it’s up to you to decide what that tone is. In Daniel Golman’s book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ, he lists five categories of emotional intelligence that can impact the success of any interaction.
When you’re working in customer service, self-awareness is critical. This skill translates into an awareness of how your actions (i.e. speech patterns, word choice, tone, etc.) impact those around you.
If your tone and word choice are courteous, customers are much more likely to accept a gentle “no.” This awareness gives you the power to defuse what could be a tough conversation into something more productive and pleasant.
Those skilled in self-regulation can listen to a complaint and react without lashing out or making a rushed, emotional decision. Self-regulation allows you to stay calm, hold yourself accountable, and adapt to new situations.
When a caller is being indignant or rude, remember there could be a dozen reasons for their behavior. Perhaps their car broke down, or they have a sick family member in the hospital. A phone conversation can take on many different paths, but in the end, every caller just wants to be heard and understood. As a receptionist, or in any customer-oriented role, listening is your primary job.
Motivation requires clear goals, a positive attitude, and high standards for quality. This category of emotional intelligence requires:
It’s your responsibility to turn “what do you need” into “how can I help you.” Excellence in customer service requires a dedication to providing the customers with what they need.
The ability to empathize with how other people think or feel is one of the most recognized requirements for delivering excellent customer experiences. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It requires being service-oriented, the ability to put yourself in someone else’s position and the capacity to genuinely respond to feelings.
Empathy facilitates trust, and it’s one of the surest paths to connecting with customers. Phrases like “I can see how this would be frustrating, let me see how I can help” can turn a conversation around. You want to tell your callers “I sympathize with your plight. I understand your frustrations. I want to help.”
Social skills, or people skills, is a broad term that essentially boils down to your ability to take that self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, and empathy, and use it to drive your interactions with other. People skills include your ability to communicate clearly, resolve conflicts, build bonds, and collaborate.
When you use the above skills, you’re more easily able to WOW even the most demanding customers. The good new is, emotional intelligence can be practiced and improved!
Regular self-reflection will help you to boost your emotional intelligence, increase your confidence, and improve the impression that you leave on others!
Publish Date: August 16, 2016 5:00 AM
When Ruby® Receptionists was founded in 2003, “virtual receptionist” was a relatively unknown term. Today, virtual receptionist services abound, and choosing the right one for your business can feel overwhelming. If you’re considering a virtual receptionist service—or just interested in learning what virtual reception is all about—our upcoming webinar can help.
During this 45-minute webinar, we’ll give you the tools you need to find your ideal virtual receptionist service, and answer these common questions:
By the end of the webinar, you’ll not only have a good understanding of whether a virtual receptionist service is for you, but also insider tips on how to customize your account! There will also be time at the end of the webinar to address any questions.
Join us Wednesday, August 24 at 10:00am Pacific for “The Insider’s Guide to Hiring a Virtual Receptionist.”
Publish Date: August 11, 2016 5:00 AM
What separates your business from the competition? What’s your differentiator? At Ruby® Receptionists, we strive to set ourselves apart by delivering legendary service. To ensure we’re always working toward that goal, we rely on Ruby Service Pyramid—our roadmap for success.
The peak of our pyramid is Make Meaningful Connections. In order to reach that peak, we need a solid infrastructure, and we need to reliably hit the second level of our pyramid: Do What We Say We’ll Do. If you missed our discussion of the first level of the pyramid, Be Prepared With the Right Infrastructure, you can find it here.
We’ve found that before we can really WOW our customers, we must establish trust by delivering on our promises. Sending a thoughtful gift to a customer can be a great way to make a meaningful connection—but if we’re failing to provide consistent service, that customer is likely to be taken aback by a gift, and may even wonder, “What am I really paying for?”
Whatever your company’s ultimate goal, making and keeping commitments is essential to building positive customer relationships. Evan H., a Problem Solver & Happiness Maker at Ruby, puts it well:
In the virtual world, communication truly defines our relationships. When we rarely meet face-to-face, how we interact voice-to-voice (or more often email-to-email) determines how we move forward, together. In this regard, consistently setting the right expectation, and then following through on that promise, allows for the development of a deep and long-term trust. A trust that in turn, serves as the foundation for lasting partnerships.
With some careful planning, you and your team can build customer trust by consistently doing what you say you’ll do. Here are some ways to get there:
Make reasonable commitments. Before you do what you say you’ll do, you have to, well, say you’ll do something. To set yourself apart from the competition, that something has to be big, right? Not necessarily. It can be tempting to make flashy promises, but without results to back them up, they’re meaningless—and possibly detrimental to your reputation. Make commitments, but choose them wisely, especially in the beginning. What do you know you can provide to customers? Tell them about it, show them why it’s important, and then—most importantly—do it. Whatever the scope of your promises, it’s your follow-through that counts.
Set yourself up for success with systems. Do you know anyone who has all the birthdates of their friends and family members memorized? Neither do I, but I know a few impressive individuals who send birthday cards to their loved ones without fail. Their system? The good, old-fashioned calendar. Don’t rely on your memory and good intentions. Put systems in place to remind you to make that call, send that bill, or place that package in the mail.
Leave space to think big. Today’s commitments may be small, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work toward bigger, flashier ones. While you’re acting in the now, think about the future, and work to turn stretch goals into standard practices. Dedication, trial and error, and time all play a role in expanding your core offerings, so carve out room to experiment and brainstorm. When you master that next offering, add it to your list of what we say we’ll dos—but only then.
Correct big for slip-ups. If one of your commitments does fall through the cracks, do whatever you need to do to show that your mistake isn’t “business as usual.” Longtime customers may be forgiving of the occasional flub, but don’t assume so—and be sure to go all out when apologizing to newer customers. Reverse charges, offer credits, send flowers if you need to. Prove your dedication, and then, do whatever it takes to ensure the same mistake doesn’t happen again.
Doing what we say we’ll do is fundamental to the Ruby, and to any successful business. Ruby Office Experience Manager Glynn D. captures it simply and beautifully:
When I do what I say I’ll do, I’m being responsible and accountable for someone else’s experience—something that I don’t ever want to personally disappoint.
Publish Date: August 9, 2016 5:00 AM
As a small business owner, you most likely understand the opportunities and value delivering a top-notch customer experience presents. More and more, that customer experience starts on the phones. If customers can’t get ahold of you or have a poor experience when you do answer, odds are that they won’t do business with you. Conversely, businesses that emphasize quality phone service are building long-lasting relationships and creating happy customers willing to shout about them from the rooftops.
Join us on Wednesday, August 17 at 10:00 am Pacific, as Christina Burns, our Director of Client Happiness, and Nico Dato, Head of Marketing at Podium, discuss not only how to create a great call answering experience for your callers, but also how to convert those critical connections into online reviews. After all, U.S. consumers tell an average of 15 people about a positive business experience. Moving that positive word-of-mouth online can expand the reach from 15 potential new clients, to thousands!
Webinar key takeaways include:
Publish Date: August 4, 2016 5:00 AM
You know there’s power in phone calls. Hearing a customer’s tone, inflection, even their word choice helps you make meaningful connections, learn something new, increase your networking or close a sale.
Before a potential customer even picks up the phone, however, you have an opportunity to shape their perception of your business, as well as showcase your thought leadership in your field. This is called content marketing, and it can assist in bringing in more informed potential customers to your business.
Content marketing, sometimes referred to as pull marketing, or inbound marketing, is designed to attract prospects to your brand because of the value of your product or company. Through blog posts, white papers, podcasts, social media, and videos, you share the benefits of your product or company with people searching for the same type of product. This has become a widely popular concept in the marketing world since it’s so effective for building leads in several ways.
Customers are already searching for a product similar to yours. Quality content marketing puts your resources and information at the top of a potential customer’s search results. The beginning of a content marketing plan should start with an analysis of your typical or ideal customer — their interests and likes, their demographic basics, and the reasons that they might choose you over your competitor.
As you develop and publish content, you’ll want to make sure the pieces are centered on your customers. Think about the reasons your product stands out, and address those in your content. For example, rather than a computer repair company telling people to choose them for a computer repair, the company writes articles about the importance of computer maintenance, creates how-to guides or videos on relevant topics (like increasing memory size), and provides helpful hints to keep computers running smoothly. As the content appears in search results, customers will become more acquainted and familiar with the company.
Prospects want to know they are choosing the best in the industry. Publishing content that teaches and informs, rather than sells, shows your customers you know what you’re talking about, and that you have the experience and expertise necessary to help them with their needs. In the computer repair company example, this instructional content positions the company as a caring leader, who wants to arm individuals with the knowledge they need to take care of their computers. Since prospects have learned from the content provided, they’ll feel a closer connection, and will be more likely to call this company when they need more in-depth care.
Let’s face it—everyone has a problem. Whether it’s big or small, and whether or not they’re even conscious of the problem, your prospects are looking for a solution. Content marketing helps these more top-of-funnel prospects not only see their problems more clearly, but also learn more about the exact situation and solution.
Going back to the computer repair company, prospects might search for information to speed up their computers, and then come across a guide pointing out the reasons computers might be slow. They sign up to get a white paper showing computer users the common ways to increase computer speed, and find the content so helpful, they sign up to receive the repair company’s emails. Each piece of content published helps customers identify a problem and shows them how to fix it. Ultimately, the content points the prospect toward the company itself for computer repair.
Think of content marketing as a way to tell your brand’s story—the ins and outs of what, why and how you do what you do. Before you’ve ever had a phone conversation with your prospect, you’ve already cultivated a relationship and level of brand loyalty, and laid the groundwork for a long-standing relationship.
Gabe Arnold is the founder of Copywriter Today where you can get unlimited fresh content for all your marketing needs. If you want 250 free headline ideas for your next marketing campaign, use their free tool here.
Publish Date: August 2, 2016 5:00 AM
Even a short phone conversation is full of opportunities to make a great impression. Help set your business apart from the competition by paying attention to these eight telephone touchpoints—and don’t forget to check out our first eight tips from last week!
1. Your go-to “yes.” When you have the opportunity to tell customers what they want to hear, show your enthusiasm! Instead of “yeah” or “okay,” try these on for size:
I’ll be happy to!
2. Your go-to “no.” Even when the answer is “no,” your words and tone can show you’re happy a caller took the time to engage with your business. If another solution might work, try suggesting it:
We don’t currently offer custom t-shirts, but we can customize a variety of mugs and glassware with your logo.
If you have a referral, all the better:
Our firm doesn’t handle bankruptcies, but I know a great attorney who does! Let me get you her number.
It pays to be courteous when you can’t give callers exactly what you want. If you can meet their needs in the future, you want your business to come to mind!
3. Your go-to “I don’t know.” Great customer care isn’t contingent on having all the answers. Keeping some phrases like this in your pocket will help you respond confidently when you need to do a bit of research, or need to connect your caller to someone with more expertise on a particular subject:
That’s a great question. Let me look into that for you!
(Name) would be a great person to ask about that. I’ll be happy to try his line for you!
Good question! How about I look into that and call you back to let you know what I find out?
4. Your call screening routine. If you’re routing calls, try to avoid the temptation to ask for lots of information up front, unless you truly need it. Over-questioning can make first-time callers suspicious, and routine callers annoyed. Do you really need every caller to spell their last name before you connect them to the right party? If not, don’t ask. When you do need to collect information, a custom spelling alphabet can help you confirm information while creating connections.
5. Your message taking routine. When it comes to taking messages, repeating contact information like phone numbers and email addresses puts customers at ease, and ensures you have the information you need to reach out later.
6. Your hold experience. Always lay the politeness on thick before placing callers on hold. “Hold, please,” can come off as gruff. Instead, this friendly question works nicely:
May I place you on hold for a moment?
Aim to keep hold times short—callers may hang up if left waiting for too long. If customizing your hold audio is an option, engage callers while they wait with music or messaging that matches your brand. Ruby offers a variety of free hold music choices, and our clients are welcome to provide their own audio as well.
7. Your voicemail greeting. Make a good impression when you can’t chat in person. A well-crafted voicemail greeting helps ensure callers leave the information you need, and feel taken care of.
8. Your follow-up. A follow-up routine ensures your clients always know what to expect, and helps you stay on track. For Ruby’s Client Happiness team, that means sending an email after every call. For you, that might mean setting a reminder to check in at a designated time. The key is to create a routine you can stick to. If you say you’ll get back with an answer by the end of the day, be sure to reach out—even if you don’t have an answer yet. A friendly “I’m still researching” makes a much better impression than radio silence. Answer or no answer, your customers will appreciate the thoroughness and thoughtfulness of a follow-up!
Need a little help making the most of your telephone experience? The customer service experts at Ruby® Receptionists are ready to WOW your callers! Give us a ring at 866-611-RUBY.
Publish Date: July 19, 2016 5:00 AM
With all the ways we have to communicate today, it may surprise you to learn the phone is still the preferred method for customers to interact with businesses.
In fact, companies big and small are seeing an explosion of inbound calls. Why? One big reason is click-to-call, the ability to dial a business directly from a mobile search. Click-to-call is booming, and its popularity isn’t expected to fade any time soon: a predicted 162 billion calls will be made to business from smartphones in 2019.
Our upcoming webinar is designed to help you capitalize on the inbound call renaissance and turn your phone into a productive marketing channel. After attending this 60-minute webinar, you’ll be able to:
Join us Tuesday, July 26 at 11:00am Pacific for “The Business Call is Back: Capturing & Converting Phone Leads.”
Publish Date: July 7, 2016 5:00 AM
If you’re a small business owner hoping to broaden your customer base, appealing to Spanish speakers may be a sound move. The United States is home to 41 million native Spanish speakers and an additional 11 million who are bilingual. Businesses in states with higher concentrations of Spanish-speakers, like California and Texas, likely understand the value of having a bilingual staff. But gaining customers is about more than speaking the same language—a quality customer experience is critical. And what if you’re not yet confident in your ability to converse with customers in Spanish, but you’d like to move in that direction—what’s the best way to get started?
For businesses with and without bilingual team members, the path to creating great experiences for Spanish-speaking customers begins at the same place: the first impression, which often takes place over the phone. Employing these three habits can help turn Spanish-speaking callers into happy customers.
Be responsive. Getting to the phone isn’t always easy, especially amid the demands of a growing business. To establish connections with new customers, however, a live answer is a must. First-time callers are likely to hang up if they reach voicemail or an automated system instead of a live person. And if your voicemail or automated message is recorded in English, the odds that Spanish-speaking callers will stay on the line or leave a message is slim. Aim for live answering during business hours, or consider investing in Spanish-language options for your voicemail or automated system at a minimum.
Be enthusiastic. Take the time to craft a friendly telephone greeting, so callers immediately know you’re happy they chose to connect with your business. Do you need to greet callers in Spanish? That depends. If the majority of your callers speak English, it probably makes sense to greet callers in English—just be sure to get your phone answering team on the same page with a strategy for Spanish-speaking callers. At a basic level, that means an understanding of where to route callers who speak Spanish. But if you advertise in Spanish, it’s sensible to greet those callers in Spanish—otherwise, they may be taken aback. If you publish ads in English and Spanish, it may be best to set up separate phone numbers for each, and greet callers accordingly. (Sound interesting? We can help you do this!) Whatever language you choose for your greeting, ensure your phone answering team is ready to convey warmth and friendliness in their tone of voice. Enthusiasm—and lack thereof—transcends language.
Be consistent. You know the enthusiasm you just expressed in your warm, friendly greeting? It needs to continue throughout that first call—and for every call thereafter. Implement systems to ensure Spanish-speaking callers get the same great experience any time they call during business hours. Meetings and vacations happen, and customer calls won’t always match your schedule, so prepare whomever answers your phone to take thorough messages and set reasonable follow-up expectations—and then be sure you meet (or exceed) those expectations. One great phone experience can lead to a happy customer; many great phone experiences can lead to a lifelong customer. If you want a customer to trust you with their business for the long term, consistency and follow-through are essential to getting there.
So what about these strategies is specific to Spanish-speaking callers? Nothing! Apply these basics to any call, and you’re likely to see positive results. Seem like a tough task to tackle? RubyⓇ Receptionists is here for you if you need a hand. We’re now proud to offer Spanish and English bilingual service to all of our customers—at no extra cost. Whether you receive a few Spanish-speaking callers or a lot, we’re ready to create connections in English and Spanish.
Publish Date: June 22, 2016 5:00 AM
Creating a culture of service requires a solid foundation to ensure that every interaction is consistent and WOW worthy. Ruby client Robin recently asked:
“I know customer service is important to building long-time clients and growing my business, but I’m not sure where to start! How can I create a culture of service like Ruby?”
Great question Robin! The Ruby Service Pyramid is the foundation of our culture and our success. Having a service pyramid in place to guide the actions and decisions of your company and employees is a critical step in providing top notch service to your customers. And it’s something that we absolutely recommend you take the time to establish.
Inspired by Maslow’s famous “Needs Pyramid”, our Service Pyramid is our guide to WOWing everyone we interact with. Like Maslow’s pyramid, we list our core service fundamentals at the bottom, and our finer service practices at the top! While every level of the Service Pyramid is important, it’s always best to start at the bottom. After all, what good is remembering to send a client a card on their birthday if we haven’t been answering their calls due to a technical issue? With that in mind, let’s start by breaking down Ruby’s own Service Pyramid!
At the foundation of our service pyramid you find “Be Prepared With The Right Infrastructure”. At Ruby, this means our technology and employees. For your business, infrastructure might be your phone system, e-commerce site, staffing, maybe even your court or appointment schedule! Much like a building, your infrastructure is your foundation, and ensures that your Service Model is rock solid from the ground up.
Consistency is key when building customer trust, and with the right infrastructure in place, the next level on our Service Pyramid focuses on our table stakes. We call this “Do What We Say We’ll Do.” It sounds easy enough, however we’ve found it takes a great deal of attention to ensure consistent delivery. To be successful at this level of the service pyramid you need performance monitoring, training programs, and feedback systems to ensure that “Do What We Say We’ll Do” is measurable! These tracking systems are part of the infrastructure your business can put in place to monitor all levels of your service pyramid. It’s all intertwined and each level can’t exist without the other!
With the right infrastructure, and a commitment to “Doing What We Say We’ll Do” we are ready to “Foster Happiness”! When you have the right infrastructure, including the right people, you are more easily able to recognize and react when an opportunity to connect with a client presents itself. When you do this consistently, your business can really stand out.
“Fostering Happiness” goes hand in hand with the next level of the Service Pyramid, “Create Experiences”! Have you ever had a perky barista brighten your day? Or maybe a call center representative who went out of their way to make your day because they noticed the subtle frustration in your tone? Everything from the look of your office, to your follow-up email after an appointment with a client or even the moment you offer a client free shipping because they are purchasing so many things play directly into an absolutely uplifting experience for your client.
At Ruby we often strive to “Practice WOWism”. That kind act, or gesture that literally causes someone to say “WOW”. Each experience is an opportunity to WOW, and thus the next level of our Service Pyramid is “Give Them What They Don’t Even Know They Want”. If a caller wants to buy something from you, but can’t until Friday, that’s your chance to proactively offer to hold the item for them till Friday! Have a client that gets nervous before a court appointment? Maybe offer to meet with them for 30 minutes prior to court so you can put them at ease! Whatever the situation is, there is always an opportunity to go above and beyond. And it’s often this opportunity that sets your business apart.
Finally, at the top of our Service Pyramid, you will find “Make Meaningful connections”. At Ruby, everyone is a part of the team, our clients included! Getting to know your clients is one of the most rewarding parts of working for any business, it’s also a critical key to success! Your business can make connections on every level, whether you are discussing weekend plans, talking about your favorite music, or even the weather!
From “Be Prepared With The Right Infrastructure” at the base of our service pyramid to “Make Meaningful Connections” at the top, we have an established guideline for your success and the success of your clients. While every businesses Service Pyramid will look slightly different, the concept applies across the board. At the bottom, you have the fundamentals of your service, and at the top you have those finer practices that help your team stand out.
Well, that wraps it up for this episode of Paging Dr. Ruby. Huge thanks to Robin for her fantastic question! For more information on how you can create a Service Pyramid for your business check out our blog series “The Ruby Service Pyramid”! And of course, if you’re looking for communication advice, or tips about the Ruby Service we’re here to help. Dr. Ruby is always on the case! Send us your questions on Twitter @callruby, Facebook or put them in the comments below!
Publish Date: June 15, 2016 5:00 AM
If you’re a small business owner in the United States, you probably understand the value of communicating with your potential and current clients in English. But did you know the U.S. is home to the second-largest Spanish-speaking population in the world? With more than 52 million Spanish-speaking residents, we outnumber Spain—only Mexico exceeds us. In fact, our Spanish-speaking population is expected to grow substantially, with the U.S. Census estimating 138 million Spanish speakers by 2050—the highest in the world. For small businesses striving to grow, communicating in English and Spanish can be a big opportunity to gain customers.
While the majority of Spanish speakers in the U.S. are fluent in English, one third of our Spanish-speaking population is not. In 2013, 12.5 million Spanish-speakers rated their ability to speak English as less than “very well,” and 3.2 million reported they don’t speak English at all. For those who speak English less than “very well,” the flexibility to converse with a business in Spanish brings peace of mind. If you’ve ever traveled to an area where your primary language is spoken infrequently, you know what a relief it can be to find a friendly person who does speak your language.
With more than 50 million Spanish-speakers in the U.S and counting—including more than 15 million who aren’t confident in their English—it stands to reason businesses serving Spanish and English-speaking customers have a competitive advantage, particularly in states with high concentrations of Spanish-speaking residents. But there’s more to securing Spanish-speaking customers than simply speaking and advertising in Spanish. Lasting customers are built on human connection. If you advertise in Spanish, but aren’t able to get to the phone when a Spanish-speaking prospect calls, they’ll likely do what most customers would do: move on to another business.
If you’re interested in winning business from Spanish and English speakers alike, Ruby® Receptionists has exciting news. We’re thrilled to announce we’re now offering our legendary service in Spanish and English to all customers, at no extra cost! Reaching a live person on the phone not only creates that critical connection, it boosts a client’s confidence in your business. Our bilingual receptionists show Spanish-speaking callers you care about their needs from the very first interaction, building trust that is enhanced with every subsequent call we answer. We’re dedicated to creating meaningful personal connections with every caller, making them feel special while making you look good.
Ruby can help you deliver consistently excellent experiences for your Spanish and English-speaking callers. Whether Spanish-speaking callers are commonplace or occasional for your business, we’re ready to deliver a WOW-worthy experience to your callers.
Start making stellar first impressions in English and Spanish today!
Publish Date: June 8, 2016 5:00 AM
Becoming a teenager is a major milestone on the path to growing, one that comes with lots of exciting changes—and for Ruby® Receptionists, it’s not much different! Just like real teenagers, we’re growing at a fast pace: opening a third location, hiring more than 100 additional employees, and achieving our ninth year in the top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in Oregon.
Teenagers also begin taking on bigger projects and being trusted with more responsibility. With 13 years under our belt, Ruby has built a great deal of trust among small businesses for our ability to create connections and consistently deliver exceptional experiences. Our team takes this responsibility very seriously, and over the past year we’ve taken on big improvement projects like redesigning our mobile apps and Member Services site, as well as exploring integrations with services that can make our customers’ businesses more efficient.
And, just like real teenagers, it’s a time of new experiences and lots of fun! Our unique culture continues to be the cornerstone of our company, and we’re enjoying all the new faces and new programs, like our Swellness Campaign, photo booths, doodle wall and more!
Thanks to all our Rubys, customers, friends, and fans that make every birthday a special one—and cheers to many more!
Publish Date: June 2, 2016 5:00 AM