Nearly every business needs a phone system. There are more means of communication than ever, but in many ways, the telephone still reigns supreme. Short of a face-to-face conversation, there’s no replacement for being able to actually speak with a client, customer, or business partner over the phone.
That doesn’t mean phones haven’t changed in our time. Far from it: the internet and the smartphone have both altered phone communications, opening up new platforms, features, and options for voice chat.
So, how should businesses sort out those options and find the best one for them? In the end, that comes down to a business: a 10-person company with a small sales team is going to have very different needs from a three-person accounting firm, which is going to be different from a one-person solopreneur operation. Let’s discuss your options so you can decide which one may be best for your small business’ needs.
You have three main options for a small business phone system: VoIP, landline, and virtual phone system apps. Let’s take a closer look at each below.
Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP for short, is common technology you’ve probably used before. If you’ve ever made or received a Skype call, you’re already familiar with VoIP. As the name suggests, this type of phone system uses the Internet to transmit voice calls. Some VoIP providers go exclusively through desktop or mobile apps—more on that in a minute—but first let’s focus on business VoIP systems, which work primarily through desk handsets. Here are the main benefits of a VoIP system for business:
When compared to the installation fees and monthly charges associated with a landline, a VoIP phone line is much friendlier to your budget. A VoIP system for five employees will typically cost between $150-$300 a month, compared to a landline at $400-$500 a month.
Easy to install and use.
If you have the Internet and a VoIP handset, you have everything you need to install and operate a VoIP phone system. Handsets range from $30 on the low end to several hundred dollars for the top systems. With most VoIP providers, your service can be operational within minutes.
One of the best reasons to go for VoIP is flexibility. Unlike with a landline, you’re not tethered to your desk. You can leave the office and forward your incoming calls to your smartphone or any other line.
What type of business should use VoIP?
Since VoIP is so affordable, it’s a great option for any small business. Businesses that may benefit the most from a VoIP system include those with distributed teams that have no central office. If you manage a remote team but need everyone to have access to a central phone system, VoIP is a smart choice.
VoIP is also great for customer-facing businesses. Using advanced features such as barge or whisper, you can listen in on phone calls between your staff and customers and also coach them (or whisper) in real time. You can use these features to improve your customer service and employee training.
The biggest caveat is you need a reliable high-speed Internet connection to maintain consistently clear phone calls. For this reason, we recommend businesses take a VoIP speed test before committing to a VoIP provider.
Is your small business fully mobile? Do you operate a small business where there’s no need for a dedicated office space with desk phones? Perhaps you’re always on the go and need your phone system to travel with you? A virtual phone system app may be the perfect solution to your needs.
Operating like any other app, a virtual phone system can be accessed by clicking on an icon on your mobile device, such as a smartphone. You can add departments and a variety of extensions to employees across multiple continents, and receive calls from any location.
A virtual phone system app gives you the option to use your existing number. You can also go with a toll free or local number—whichever would be easier for your customers to access. The varied options are perfect for businesses who want a separate phone number with advanced features but don’t necessarily need a desk phone. Most VoIP providers also include an app with their service.
What type of business should use a virtual phone system app?
A virtual phone system app is also a great option for small businesses. If you’re a solopreneur or a small team with the need to place and phone calls on the go, an app may answer all of your phone needs. You can pay monthly while also presenting a professional appearance to your customers.
Next up is the old faithful: landlines. Many businesses go with a landline because it’s the most traditional choice. However, compared to the agility of a VoIP system, landlines are sluggish, expensive, and antiquated. That said, there is at least one reason why a small business may choose to use a landline service instead of a VoIP: Internet. If your Internet service is unreliable, weak, or non-existent, a landline phone may be your best option. VoIP relies on Internet, but landlines are analog systems that use copper wiring. Businesses that experience frequent power outages may also benefit from a landline phone system.
What type of business should use a landline phone system?
Small businesses without access to reliable high speed Internet service should either consider upgrading their Internet package or go for a landline system. This system is also best paired with office staff that work from one stationary location, without leaving the office.
Which phone system should you choose? It depends on your budget and your office set up. If you need or want desk phones, opt for a VoIP system that gives you everything a traditional landline system does and much more at half the price. If desk phones aren’t important or necessary, choose an app that can be accessed on your smartphone.
Any of the above options will help you succeed in the most important task: being accessible to your customers. It’s only a matter of how much you’d like to spend and how often you’ll use your line.
Jacqueline Thomas writes about small business development, business technology, and real estate for Fit Small Business. She can be reached on Twitter @kyothomas, or on her personal website, ThePearlofAfrika.com.
Publish Date: March 24, 2016 5:00 AM
How cool are smartphones? These little computers allow us easy access to a wealth of information and services, and although we may rely on them more than we’d like, there’s no doubt about their ability to make our lives easier. Of the many ways smartphones allow customers to connect with businesses (email? online forms? social media? I’m looking at you!), a recent Invoca study shows that smartphone users are, well, phoning more than anything else.
With click-to-call functionality, smartphones users can search for, find, and call a business in seconds with just a few screen taps. And for small businesses, the stakes of these calls are high. 74% of those polled said they’re likely to choose another business after a poor phone experience, while 80% said a positive experience is likely to make them a repeat customer. Any call could be a raving fan in the making, or a bad Yelp review waiting to happen—a review that could easily be written from the very smartphone used to call your company moments earlier. Yep, the danger is real, folks. So is the opportunity.
So what constitutes a poor phone experience? You probably know from experience. Think of a time you were unimpressed when you called a business. One or more of the usual suspects was likely involved:
How about a positive experience—what does that look like? Well, if you’re a small business owner, it’s probably exactly what you’d like give every caller if you could: an engaging, informative, helpful, friendly exchange. Of course, you never know when a smartphone user’s Google search will lead to a phone call, and fielding phone queries is just one of many demands of running a business. In between meetings and planning your next steps, you have to actually do the work your customers paying for—not to mention find time to eat, sleep, and maybe even have a personal life. Small business ownership can become an all-consuming endeavor, and the accompanying stress means even if the phone rings when you have a rare bit of downtime, you might not be in the mood to pick it up.
Any time someone calls your business, you have an opportunity to make a real, meaningful connection that sets you apart from the competition. A conversation relays so much more than any advertisement, website, or email ever could. When a new customer builds trust with the person on the other end of the line, they build trust with that company. Trust leads to lasting relationships, repeat business, and referrals.
The convenience of click-to-call means more phone traffic for your business, and that’s great news if there’s a friendly voice on your end of the line. Reap the benefits of the business call renaissance by reviewing and investing in your caller experience. If you’re looking for customer service expertise, Ruby’s got your back. We’re here to ensure your every business day call is answered by a live, friendly person who cares about the welfare of your company and delights in creating powerfully positive experiences for each caller.
Publish Date: March 22, 2016 5:00 AM
When your company’s mission is to produce customized, unique experiences for your customers, it’s important to deliver personalized service from the outset. For Nick Gray, Founder and CEO of Museum Hack, great first impressions are a business necessity. That’s why he relies on Ruby.
Museum Hack provides renegade tours at the world’s best museums, telling the untold stories of the art and artists, juicy gossip about the museum, and hosting activities in the galleries like “Buy, Burn, Steal,” where guests choose their favorite (and least favorite) pieces. All tours are customized on-the-fly to include the pieces Museum Hack guides are passionate about, not necessarily the most famous or most expensive pieces. Their goal is to make tours fun and engaging, overcoming the dreaded “museum fatigue.”
In Museum Hack’s early days, Nick used his cellphone to handle calls, which quickly became unsustainable. Later, he got a central line and routed calls to team members’ phones, but this also became problematic as the company grew. Most of the Museum Hack team works remotely across multiple time zones, and they didn’t have a good way to track incoming calls or make sure they were following up with contacts. Team members would sometimes misplace contact information, or have a delayed follow-up with contacts, resulting in lost business or a poor experience for customers.
When he began looking for a solution, it was critical to Nick that customers felt Museum Hack was an awesome company to work with right from the get-go. Nick had invested in a great team known for building genuine connections, and wanted guests to have that experience every step of the way—especially on that first interaction. Once Nick found Ruby, his search was over. As he says,
In hindsight, we should have invested in Ruby sooner. They’ve helped remove barriers to our growth, as well as capture more opportunities for new business. They’ve given our own staff more flexibility to schedule their time and focus on their own work—including the guided tours, sales, marketing and operations help make our business grow. We reached $1 million in sales this year, and the experts at Ruby have been a key contributor to that growth. There’s simply no way that we could support all of the increased business without having hired the experts at Ruby.
Thank you Nick for sharing your Ruby story! If you’re seeking stellar first impressions for your company, we’d love to help! Send us an email at email@example.com, give us a call at 866-611-7829 or get started right away by completing our online service agreement!
Publish Date: March 15, 2016 5:00 AM
Rubys like nothing more than to make personal connections—especially when it’s face to face! Next week, several members of our team will be in attendance at the American Bar Association’s annual TECHSHOW at the Hilton in downtown Chicago, and we want to meet you! Whether you’re a current client, interested in learning more, or just a fan of the Ruby brand, we’d love for you to stop by our booth (#503) and chat.
Additionally, our VP of Product, Katharine Nester, will be giving a live demo of Ruby’s integration with Clio’s practice management software at the Clio booth (403 & 405) on Thursday, March 17th at 10:00am. Don’t miss this opportunity to see how Ruby and Clio are streamlining the client communication process, saving attorneys time and money.
We look forward to seeing familiar faces and making new friends at the show!
Publish Date: March 10, 2016 5:00 AM
It’s rare for a company to sustain double-digit growth year after year, while maintaining a close-knit culture. Being named a top 10 “Best Company to Work For in Oregon” for the seventh year in a row is a testament to the amazing team we’ve built over the years and their desire to protect what makes Ruby special.
So here’s to the day makers—our fantastic Rubys who come to work every day ready to WOW our clients and each other. Rubys who go out of their way to comfort a coworker on a rough day with a slew of “Ruby Rave” notecards or stuff their cubicle full of balloons to celebrate a recent marriage. Rubys who use their culture funds to buy pizza and throw a goodbye party for their fellow team members moving to a new location. Ruby empowers our employees to be themselves and we’re consistently amazed by what they create.
Oh, and did we mention we’re hiring?
Publish Date: March 4, 2016 5:00 AM
What if you ended every phone conversation in a better mood than before you called? That’s Ruby’s aim with every interaction. Our combination of real, human connections powered by smart technology has gained us national recognition and helped us achieve double-digit growth year after year.
We’re thrilled to announce Ruby’s founder and CEO, Jill Nelson, has been selected to speak on the value of Ruby at the very exclusive Montgomery Summit in Santa Monica next week (March 8th-9th), addressing such topics as Ruby’s business strategy and approach to the marketplace, current and future product development, scaling the business, and our competitive advantage. All 140 presenting companies were hand-selected from more than 4,000 impressive technology industry nominees—stiff competition to be sure, and Ruby couldn’t be prouder to be among the few chosen! The summit is an invitation-only gathering boasting over 1,000 attendees. Ruby will present as part of the Emerging track on Tuesday, March 8th at 8:30am.
Be sure to follow along with the event on Twitter with hashtag #MontySummit!
About the Montgomery Summit
The Montgomery Summit gathers an invited group of entrepreneurs, senior investors and leading executives to discover the most important innovations in business and technology. The event features two days of presentations, keynotes, panels and salons in Santa Monica, Calif. Previously known as The Montgomery Technology Conference, the Summit has for more than a decade provided unparalleled opportunities to meet a diverse blend of technological visionaries and innovators from all over the world. For more information, visit www.montgomerysummit.com.
Publish Date: March 2, 2016 5:00 AM
Did you know that since 2011, U.S. businesses have seen a 130% increase in calls from folks searching on their mobile phones? This is great news for small businesses who are often located nearby—which means it’s a great opportunity to up your customer service game and truly set your business apart! Ruby client Debbie noticed this trend and asked:
“I’m getting more calls from folks who find me using search or maps on their phone. Since they often seem to have different needs than other callers, do you have any tips on how I can create the best experience for them?”
Thanks Debbie for the question! Since these callers won’t have conducted a lot of research on your business, first impressions are especially important. To win over these callers, let’s get back to the basics, starting with your greeting. Make sure that it sets the tone for your business and welcomes callers warmly, like this:
“Thank you for calling Poseidon’s Fish Emporium. Don’t be Koi, our fish bring joy!”
Once you’ve locked down your greeting, it’s time to find out how you can best assist your caller. Since they’re calling after a quick search, they’re likely to have a lot of basic questions about your service. Having a stellar description of your company on hand and some go-to FAQs is going to be extremely useful for both you and your receptionist. It might sound like this:
“Hi, I just found you from my phone. I’ve been searching for tropical fish for an aquarium I’m building.”
“Wonderful! I’d be happy to help. Poseidon’s Fish Emporium specializes in rare tropical fish as well as the equipment needed to house them.”
“Sounds like what I’m looking for. Do you have much of a selection?”
“We do! In fact, we have more than 200 varieties of tropical fish. Are there any specific fish you were looking for?”
Once a caller knows you have the service or product they’re looking for, they’re most likely to ask next about price. Whether you have a fixed price, or it’s on a spectrum, knowing some answers ahead of time will ensure that your caller will have a great experience. For example:
“I don’t have a specific fish in mind; I was hoping to come in and look at the selection to see what catches my eye. What’s the usual range?
“That’s a fantastic question! Our prices vary from fish to fish. Some fish such as our Dwarf Spotted Cory are as low as $3.00 a fish, and others can reach into the hundreds of dollars. We also have bulk discounts available, and are happy to help you pick out fish for your aquarium based on your budget.”
In this example they went above and beyond by giving the caller what they didn’t even know they wanted with their offer of bulk discounts. Once the caller knows that you have what they want, and they know the price, it’s time to plan the next step with your caller. It may make sense to schedule a time for them to stop by your location or jot down their information. Knowing what information you need helps keep the call flowing and shows the caller that you are the best person to help them!
“If you are looking to pick out some fish today, we’d love to have you stop by! I’d even be happy to schedule a consultation for you with our tropical fish expert.”
“Gosh, that sounds fantastic! Could I stop by around 2:00 p.m. today?”
“Perfect! May I jot down your name and number for our expert?”
With a fantastic greeting, prepared answers, and enthusiasm, you will easily win over these cellphone shoppers. Just remember to have patience! Often these types of callers will have many questions about your product or services. Most importantly, always be thinking about how you can provide the best experience. Callers can tell when you’re passionate about your business. They want to buy from someone who believes in what they sell!
Well, that wraps it up for this episode of Paging Dr. Ruby. Huge thanks to Debbie for her excellent question! 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!
For even more videos on small business communication tips, subscribe to your YouTube channel!
Publish Date: February 23, 2016 5:00 AM
I think we can all agree customer service is important. Statistic after statistic has shown consumers are willing to spend more on a service or product if they believe it will result in a better overall experience. Yet, there seems to be a key component of the customer experience movement being missed in the discussion—the importance of delivering consistently great service.
First off, let me state I’m a terrible patient. I had been experiencing a pain in my knee for several months, but waited until it had become debilitating before scheduling an appointment with a doctor. Naturally, I wanted to get in as soon as possible as I was in a great deal of pain and was having trouble walking. I explained my situation to Receptionist #1 over the phone, hoping my positive tone would endear her to me and result in an early appointment. Receptionist #1 spent several minutes going through the schedules of all her doctors, but was unable to find anything earlier than a few weeks. I thanked her, took the later appointment and hung up.
15 minutes later, Receptionist #1 called back and said she’d had an appointment cancellation for the next day, but it couldn’t be reserved ahead of time as they hold cancelled slots for “day of” calls. She explained I’d have a good chance of securing the appointment if I called right at 7:00am the next day. I thanked her profusely and set a reminder. It was a wonderful example of an employee going above and beyond to help a patient in need.
Sure enough, I was Receptionist #2’s first call the next day. I shared my story and let her know I had an appointment in a few weeks, but was hoping to get in sooner. She mentioned the cancelled appointment, at which point I exclaimed my thanks to Receptionist #1 for sharing the information with me.
Her tone immediately changed.
Receptionist #2 became very upset with me, explaining her colleague wasn’t supposed to give out that information and I really shouldn’t be allowed to take the appointment. After apologizing for several minutes and promising I would never do it again, Receptionist #2 allowed me to schedule the appointment.
More disappointing than having a poor experience with Receptionist #2 was that it had immediately followed a fantastic interaction with Receptionist #1. I had begun to build trust in the practice, started making connections with the staff—yet, now I felt awkward even walking into the building. All it took was one bad call to immediately throw me back to square one in the customer-provider relationship.
Committing to delivering great customer experience means making sure you can live up to what you promise every day, in every interaction. You don’t have to go above and beyond every single time—as that in itself often creates inconsistent expectations. Instead, always do you what you say you’ll do. Being consistent in your tone and interactions establishes a baseline for the relationship and helps clients feel comfortable. Plus, it lets you learn about your customers so you begin to discover what they need even before they know it themselves.
If you’re truly committed to delivering great customer experiences and developing a culture of service, consider these tips for creating consistency:
1. Develop a “Service Pyramid.” Like Maslow’s pyramid, service fundamentals are at the bottom, with the finer customer service practices at the top. Only when the bottom levels are mastered can the higher needs come into play. Feel free to use Ruby’s own Service Pyramid as an example!
2. Become a customer! Sometimes the best way to determine if your company is set-up to provide great service is to experience it yourself! Walk through your client onboarding process, review your website, audit your email templates and make sure all these pieces together are creating a consistent experience that sets your clients up for success.
3. Focus on your strengths. It can be tough to be upbeat and patient with customers when you’re running a million miles a minute trying to build your business. Acknowledging your strengths are in tasks like completing orders, writing briefs, or designing websites (to name a few!), versus talking to customers, is the first step to delivering great service. Consider hiring a virtual receptionist to handle incoming calls or investing in a lightweight marketing automation platform to create and deliver eye-catching, simple customers emails. Then, you are freed up to focus on delivering consistency with your strengths.
There will always be a hard times that come along with the good. However, it’s only when you’ve put in the time and delivered consistent service that customers will understand a bad experience isn’t the norm.
Publish Date: February 9, 2016 5:00 AM
Let’s face it—meetings are not everyone’s cup of tea. We all have our own hang ups and frustrations but the major complaint I’ve heard most often is meetings don’t always feel productive. This could be for a variety of reasons, but I suspect many of the complications that arise in these less productive meetings stem from a lack of proper preparation.
What if you could walk into a meeting that was scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. and actually sit down and begin meeting at 2:00 p.m.? It sounds simple enough, but it seems more often the first 2, 5 or even 10 minutes of a meeting are spent syncing technology, waiting for attendees to refresh their coffee or grabbing more chairs. Not to mention the time lost when someone needs to run back to their desk for a new pen or the notepad they forgot.
These little annoyances are easily avoidable if you’re prepared with the right infrastructure from the get-go. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you hit the ground running in your next meeting!
Having a defined system for scheduling and viewing meetings can cut down on confusion and frustration and create clear lines of communication. There are many options for making your office’s meeting schedule transparent. Consider using a shared Google calendar, the company Intranet or even a physical meeting calendar hung in a convenient place.
In your office, you may be responsible for setting up your own meetings or there may be a person designated to assist in these situations. Either way, the more information that is able to be included and planned for ahead of time, the better. Consider noting information like number of attendees, food or beverage requests and technology assistance in a calendar posting.
Every office is different but generally, it’s helpful to answer the following questions:
It’s important to plan out time to prepare for a meeting so you and your team are set up for success. Don’t underestimate the amount of time you might need to accomplish your prep work. Always give yourself more time than you think you’ll need to have everything in place. If it’s ready early, fantastic! By planning ahead, you’re giving yourself more time in the actual meeting for, well, doing meeting things!
Beyond the specific items necessary for each meeting, it’s helpful to keep an area in the room stocked with all of the little “maybe” and “whoops” items someone could need. This way, no one needs to leave the room to find it! These items range from basic office supplies like extra pens, notepads and tape to more specific items like to-go boxes, laptop power cords and lens cleaner. You can even include informational cards for easy technology access. Wi-fi credentials, projector instructions and even a guide to the features of the conference room can help to make meeting set-ups a breeze!
For the most part, meetings are set to facilitate innovative new ideas and cultivate teamwork. If your meeting rooms make guests feel comfortable, welcome and special, you’re more likely to have an energized meeting that supports these types of goals. Consider adding greenery with fresh flowers or potted plants. Take time to choose conference chairs that are not only comfortable but up the style factor in the room. Even adding throw pillows, tabletop décor and wall art can help the conference room feel less sterile and more inviting.
By taking time outside of your meeting to follow these few simple tricks, you allow yourself the time during your meeting to be more productive, more efficient and less frustrated, all while creating a WOW-worthy experience for your team. And honestly, couldn’t we all use a bit of WOW in our lives?
Publish Date: February 3, 2016 5:00 AM
Call data is the backbone of an organization like Ruby, where we look to the information to help direct staffing and ensure we’re providing the best experience for callers. In addition to keeping Ruby running smoothly, the data also provides some fascinating insights into call volume trends. For example, did you know March is one of the highest call volume months for our clients? Little tidbits like this can be useful when determining when to plan vacations, launch marketing campaigns, and more!
Ready to dig into the data? First, let’s take a look at the big picture.
Below is chart displaying the annual distribution of calls for 2011, 2013, 2015. Though all three years follow a similar path, there are a few interesting distinctions.
Folks are taking post-holiday recuperation time. In 2011, January topped the year as the most popular month for calls. This trend has since reversed, with January falling to the second lowest call volume month of the year. This is great news for small businesses that may need some extra time preparing for the new year after a crazy holiday season. Data shows you have some runway to get yourselves ready for the February onslaught!
There’s an end of the quarter barrage. With the exception of December, there are noticeable spikes in call activity towards the end of the quarter on a typical fiscal calendar (e.g. March, June and August). Whether it’s the result of urgency associated with goal setting or budgets, it’s useful information if you’re considering launching a marketing campaign or a special deal for customers.
Looking to narrow the data even further? You got it! Let’s see what we can deduce from call distribution over a typical week.
Could Tuesday be the new Monday? In previous years, calls began the week with a bang and gradually reduced each day. Last year, however, Tuesday gave Monday a run for its money as the highest call volume day of the week. We’ll report back next year if this trend becomes more pronounced, but for now it’s worth noting if you often schedule meetings on Tuesdays instead of Mondays.
Friday is best day to focus. Just like December, Friday is still the reigning champ for least amount of calls. Take the downtime the end of the week provides to focus on attention-heavy projects or to schedule longer return calls.
We hope you find these insights useful when laying out your own plans for the year. Of course, Ruby’s got your back no matter how the call volume changes!
Publish Date: January 28, 2016 5:00 AM
Words are powerful. They can create connections or put distance between folks; they can result in appreciation or frustration. At Ruby, we’ve found careful and positive phrasing leads to gratifying interactions that build meaningful relationships with our clients, and in the long term—loyal clients.
If you’re looking to beef up your customer service vocabulary, we’ve got our five favorite phrases for delivering exceptional experiences.
Simply saying, “okay” or “sure,” to a request is bland. Convey enthusiasm and energy by dressing up your affirmations so it’s clear you’re excited to honor your customer’s request! Positive language creates meaningful connections with clients as you demonstrate how deeply you care for them and their needs.
On the flip side, sometimes we find it’s best to say no to a customer request. What if they are asking for something outside of the scope of the service you offer? Perhaps they’re asking to implement something you can do, however, you know from experience it isn’t the best way to go. The above phrase is a great way to reference your experience without discounting their own or making them feel silly about their request. It provides insight into the reasoning behind your no so that clients truly understand why something won’t work well. To really WOW your client, immediately segue into the options that do work so you can collaborate together toward a solution.
Have you ever needed to follow up with one of your clients for extra information? If so, has your client ever said something like, “I’ll let you know when I have it,” with no clear timeframe? The key to making follow ups a breeze is to be upfront about your timeline so expectations are clearly set for everyone. This phrase provides you with a solid date to reach out, and your client knows they can rely on your doing what you say you will if they haven’t quite gotten around to giving you a ring. Everyone is busy—if you can set the stage so your clients feel comfortable relying on you to help them get things done, they’ll surely appreciate it!
Picture it—you’ve answered a call and a current customer dives into their billing questions the moment you greet them. What your customer doesn’t realize is you’re a sales representative and not the company billing specialist. Have no fear! The above phrase allows you to defer to the right person politely—saving your customer time better spent chatting with the person who can help.
You may find yourself offering a customer further assistance at the end of a call or email exchange. To make this offer impactful, be expressive! Warm and welcoming language like the phrases noted above demonstrates your genuine sincerity in wanting to help. You care for your customers, and they’ll be inspired to reach back out to you because they know it.
For even more positive phrasing tips, be sure to check out our YouTube playlist, “Paging Dr. Ruby.” This video series is dedicated to sharing tips on improving communication and making personal connections.
Publish Date: January 26, 2016 5:00 AM
This WOW story begins, as many at Ruby do, with a phone call.
It was a typical Wednesday when receptionist Peggy received a call for Ruby client Pam. Before taking the call, Pam asked Peggy how she was doing today. Excited by the opportunity to chat, Peggy responded enthusiastically with, “I’m great!” A bit taken back by the spark of excitement in her voice, Pam commented on how impressed she was by Peggy’s energy and cheeriness, particularly for a Wednesday. Peggy responded that she wouldn’t have it any other way, especially on Hump Day! They shared a laugh chatted about the popular Geico commercial featuring a camel walking around the office asking people what day it is. (Spoiler alert: It was Hump Day.) As the conversation wrapped up, Pam said, “Well my goodness! I’ll tell you this—you know I’m going to be seeing that camel walking around the office all day long now!” They wished each other well and the conversation ended as Peggy transferred the caller.
The connection, however, didn’t stop there. Pam’s last comment sparked an idea in Peggy’s head. What if she could actually make Pam’s vision a reality and could somehow get a camel to walk through her office? Then it hit her—a full suit camel costume! Peggy ordered one and shipped it to Ruby right away. She then personalized the gift with a notecard, including a hand-drawn camel, before sending it over to Pam.
A few weeks later, Peggy transferred a call to someone else in Pam’s office. After her initial greeting, “This is Peggy with Ruby, I have a call for you.” The woman asked, “Is this the Peggy that sent Pam the camel costume?” The woman went on to tell her the costume was a hit and how everyone in their office thought the camel costume was hilarious. Thrilled to have made a meaningful connection, Peggy took to her team chat room to share the story with fellow Rubys. She sent them a link to the costume and had her team cracking up.
Envious perhaps of Pam’s cool gift, Ruby purchased a camel costume for each of our two locations not long after Peggy shared her story. Each Wednesday, one person in each location wears the costume and dances around the office, bringing on many smiles, chuckles, and re-energizing our team for the week. The Ruby then selects who wears the costume for the following week.
Peggy took this new Ruby tradition as a chance to show Pam the impact she has made on our office and sent over a video of a fellow Ruby dancing around as the camel. She was sure to tell Pam just how much she, and everyone at Ruby, appreciated Pam taking a moment to share a laugh. It just goes to show never underestimate what may seem a typical call—it can transform into something much more!
Publish Date: January 21, 2016 5:00 AM
Taking the “road less traveled” as an entrepreneur or small business owner doesn’t have to be a lonely venture—particularly when there are others who can offer advice from the lessons they’ve learned on their own journey.
Join Ruby Founder and CEO, Jill Nelson, as she emcees this year’s EO Talks event on Thursday, February 4th. The event will feature presentations from leaders of four of the region’s fastest growing companies—Barre3, Living Room Realty, Pragma Group and BootsnAll.
Thursday, February 4th
7:30am-9:00am (Continental breakfast will be provided)
$30 per ticket
Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) is for entrepreneurs only—it’s a global organization with over 10,000 entrepreneurs in a connected network of dynamic entrepreneurs who support one another professionally and personally. In Portland, there are more than 95 entrepreneurs connecting via peer to peer learning forums and once-in-a-lifetime experiential events. EO Portland is a place where entrepreneurs share the good, the bad, and the ugly in a completely confidential atmosphere.
Jenelle Isaacson | Founder & CEO | Living Room Realty
“Punk Rock Business Strategies: How Life As An Artist and Musician Made Me a Fierce Competitor In Business.”
Bill Nootenboom | Co-Founder & Managing Director | Pragma Group LLC
“Confessions of a (Reluctant) Serial Entrepreneur.”
Sadie Lincoln | Founder | Barre3
“Why Is Health of our Nation Declining While the Fitness Industry is Booming? Lack of Knowledge Is Not the Problem.”
Sean Keener | CEO | BootsnAll
“The Around the World Travel Unschool (and Why You Might Care).”
Publish Date: January 19, 2016 5:00 AM
Life can throw you all sorts of curve balls and, sometimes, you just need someone to remind you it doesn’t have to be so hard. This is what motivated Jenise Harmon to start her business, New Wings Counseling—to help others find a new, happier way of living. As a counselor specializing in treating depression and anxiety, compassion and clear communication are important to her clients. To begin building trust, it’s was critical to Jenise that her clients have a great experience from the very first interaction—which is how her Ruby story began.
Jenise’s business had increased, and she was getting quite a number of phone calls. When she answered the phone, people would ask questions and set up appointments. When the calls went to voicemail, however, most people just hung up. As it was only Jenise in the practice, she didn’t feel the need for a full-time receptionist. That said, she did need a live, caring individual to take calls when she was in session or unable to get to the phone.
People don’t call for counseling when they’re feeling great. Jenise needed someone who communicated kindness and caring, someone her callers felt they could trust. Tone of voice, attention to the caller, ability to hear beyond what the caller was saying—these were the details that truly mattered to her. If a caller was greeted by someone sounding annoyed, intelligible or worst, rude, potential client’s may assume that’s how her business was run. She saw the phone is an extension of her character and, therefore, tone was extremely critical.
Jenise tested out a number of services that were very affordable. Unfortunately, she found paying less often meant a lower quality service. In one instance, she called her own number to make sure everything was working. She was greeted by a nice sounding receptionist, but heard yelling and cursing in the background. She was horrified!
Fortunately, she discovered Ruby through Lawyerist. Right away, she was impressed by our customer support and immediate responses to her questions. Jenise was also thrilled to learn receptionists would be able to answer frequently asked questions, freeing her up to focus on responding to clients. Most importantly, Ruby possessed the tone she was looking for—warm, kind, and expressing a sincere desire to help.
Over the past year, Jenise has seen her business has grow—which she attributes in part to having a live, friendly person answer the phone and take messages. As Jenise says,
Ruby has provided me with peace of mind because I know my calls are answered in a warm, professional manner. Messages are sent quickly and accurately. Most of all, I know how my phone will be answered. I am completely confident Ruby represents my business in exactly the way I need.
Thank you Jenise for sharing your Ruby story! If you’re looking for a professional voice for your company, we’d love to help! Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, give us a call at 866-611-7829 or get started right away by completing our online service agreement!
Publish Date: January 14, 2016 5:00 AM
One of the great ironies of the modern workplace is how much time we spend trying to make our systems work for us rather than against us. So often, the systems meant to help us instead leave us feeling there is more to do than there is time to do it, which can be unsettling, unwelcome and downright stressful.
While discussing this conundrum with a colleague, she recommended productivity guru, David Allen, and his book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. While he does outline specific processes and systems to help you organize your daily workflow, I found the biggest impact came not from the how, but his discussion of the why. After all, understanding where these feelings are coming from is often the first step in conquering them.
Our brains are not as good at organizing incoming information as we think they are. In fact, our memory tends to work against us when it comes to recalling important action items, calendar entries and productivity markers. For example, you may be good at remembering tasks you need to complete, but always at an inconvenient time or place.
This is a result of our memory not working in a logically concrete way. As Allen explains, when you don’t record your tasks in a reliable place, your brain thinks you should be doing that particular task all the time. Multiply this something by the multitude of other somethings that cross your mind each day and it’s no wonder we all tend to feel a bit anxious.
The key to overcoming the faults in your memory is to get these items out of your mind and into your external processes. While Allen provides suggestions on how best to organize your tasks, the important takeaway is to get them out of your brain. By doing so, you free up valuable space for more meaningful information and gain peace of mind knowing everything you need to remember has been recorded.
Once you’re able to put the right system in place (I’ve been trying Allen’s system, but I suggest finding what works best for you), the goal is to be present in the moment. When you’re able to live moment to moment, both in your everyday life and your work life, any anxious feelings begin to melt away. You’re able to focus on the current task without worrying about the 900 other tasks you could be completing.
This all sounds marvelous, but how do you get there? You must feel assured what you’re doing is exactly what you should be doing in that moment. You must also be comfortable with the idea that it is okay to not be doing what you’re not doing in each moment. This idea was incredibly eye opening for me; a concept I wasn’t even aware was important to me until someone else put it into words.
Allen lays out a system for arriving at this state of presence that allows you to prioritize your work in a manner that makes sense to you. It’s important to spend a bit of time defining the work you will be doing so you’re able to be present and productive without feeling overwhelmed.
Of course, all the planning in the world won’t save you from those urgent tasks that are bound to arise every now and then. How do you allow yourself to remain present in those moments?
All the work you do falls in to one of three categories, defined by Allen as:
One and two seem simple enough; after all, once you define your work, it seems natural you would then complete predefined work. As Allen points out, however, it’s number two that most often throws a monkey wrench in the whole system. I, for one, tend to get a bit bent out of shape when I’ve meticulously planned out my day, only to have one too many urgent projects arise that cause all of my plans to go awry.
Use calendars only for date/time specific appointments (a great pro-tip from Allen), and understand your work should be defined by a more general, organizational system that could be done in any given free time. This way, when last minute urgencies arise, those projects are still on the list—waiting for you when you return. As Allen says, “Surprises are just another opportunity to be flexible and creative, and to excel.” Changing this way of thinking, in addition to implementing some of the other tips in Allen’s book, has really helped to turn some of my most stressful moments into positive experiences.
All in all, my big takeaways is it’s possible to be both present and productive without being stressed. Of course, that doesn’t mean you’ll never experience stress again. Life happens and there may be no way to be prepared for what you’re handed. When it comes to your everyday workflow and career, however, putting yourself in charge of your work (rather than your work being in charge of you) is key.
Publish Date: January 12, 2016 5:00 AM