The way your morning goes can have a real impact on your day—and your productivity. These five simple habits will kick start your day:
What’s the saying? “Clean house, clean mind”? Your desk is no different. Make yourself a clean, ergonomic, cheerful environment to spend your days and set yourself up to do your best work. A few minimalist changes I’ve adopted this year:
You’ll find article after article expounding the benefits of skipping the snooze button in the morning. And reluctantly, this post is no different. This has been the hardest part for me; I know going back to sleep resets your sleep cycle, making the morning that much more irksome. However, I love the feeling of waking up, looking at my clock, and getting a momentary sense of glee: I don’t have to get up for ten more minutes! When my real alarm goes off, the sourness of having to be awake is only mitigated by another 30 minutes of a comedic podcast. On the mornings when I get up the first time, not only am I ultimately happier, I actually believe I think better. Take it from me, a die-hard sleep fanatic, the snooze is just not worth a place in your routine.
Whether you like writing out your to-do lists the night before, first thing in the morning, or are in favor of more constant tools like Trello, it’s a good idea to have a game plan to focus your energy. Lacking an approach to managing your tasks? We’ve got an overview of a few of the more common types of task management tools to get you started.
Research suggests it can take more than 20 minutes to get back into a task after an interruption. Arrange with your receptionist (or Ruby if you’re a current client) to take messages during the first few hours of the day so you can harness that time for projects. For a top-notch customer experience, inform callers when they can expect return calls.
Many people like to check email first thing in the morning. But once you start, it’s hard to stop! Before you know it, it’s lunchtime and it feels like you haven’t crossed one thing off your list. Instead, use your morning to begin your biggest projects (Stephen Covey calls these “big rocks”), especially if they require creativity. You’ll gain a sense of accomplishment and responding to emails will feel like a breeze. (And for folks like me who just can’t resist a quick peek…at least set aside the non-urgent emails till later in the day after your big-brain tasks are complete.)
What are your tricks to shaking off the morning slump? Share your secret below!
Image Credit: Alex via Flickr Creative Commons License
Publish Date: January 7, 2016 5:00 AM
We’re all guilty of it. You’re probably doing it right now—skimming your email and stopping to answer an employee’s question—as you attempt to read this post.
MULTITASKING—the great myth of the 21st century.
We’ve been convinced being able to do multiple tasks at once not only saves us time, but is a skill we should cultivate. In reality, multitasking is one of the main reasons why we feel overwhelmed, stressed, and unproductive.
To get to the bottom of this multitasking myth, and how small business owners can avoid the temptation, we chatted with acclaimed author and speaker, Dave Crenshaw. Dave is the master of helping business owners triumph over chaos. His first book, The Myth of Multitasking: How ‘Doing It All’ Gets Nothing Done, has been published in six languages and is a time management best seller. His latest book, The Focused Business: How Entrepreneurs Can Triumph Over Chaos, is also a small business best seller. Through his books, presentations, and one-on-one coaching, Dave has transformed thousands of businesses worldwide.
Where did your interest in multitasking come from?
My career began working with and coaching small business owners to be successful. I was originally working on another book, but realized I had so much material about the myth of multitasking from my experiences from working with business owners. As a group, entrepreneurs and business owners are horrible at multitasking and lose so much time as a result.
Why is multitasking a waste of time?
Simply put, it’s a waste of time because it doesn’t exist. When we think we’re doing multiple things at the same time, we’re really switchtasking. Switchtasking is the act of switching from one attention-requiring task to another. For instance, if I were to try to have this interview at the same time I’m answering emails, or attend a conference call while I’m doing paperwork, I’d be switchtasking. The brain is not able to handle multiple active tasks at the same time, so all it’s really doing is switching rapidly back and forth, and we’re losing lots and lots of time due to that switching cost.
Which groups of people suffer the most from multitasking?
Business owners are at the top because they wear so many hats in terms of positions they fill in their business. Women in particular are affected because, as a group, they feel social pressure to have it all and do it all. Also, women are often told they’re better at multitasking—which is a false statement. Lastly, I’d say people in sales often suffer from this myth, as the sales personality lends itself to switching attention a lot.
Are professions focused on billable hours, like attorneys, more or less susceptible to multitasking?
I don’t see them necessarily being more or less susceptible to multitasking than any other group, no. However, I do see billable-hour professionals putting too much emphasis on just billable time. A principle I discuss in my time management fundamentals course on Lynda.com is determining your most valuable position and what that activity is worth per hour. Professionals who bill their time often only think the time spent billable is valuable, when in fact the time that’s spent being a business owner, being strategic and visionary, is worth far more than what they’re billing per hour.
How much time and money is going down the drain as a result of multitasking?
Basex research estimates the cost of interruptions and associated recovery time to the U.S. economy at approximately $1 trillion. That’s a big number and extrapolated a bit, so I like to bring it closer to home…your personal cost.
If you have employees, one-quarter of your payroll is wasted time; you’re essentially paying your employees one week out of every month to do nothing. And that’s not them wasting time watching videos on YouTube; it’s time lost in the seams due to the switches and interruptions taking place in their day.
On a personal level, if you took the amount of money you’re worth per hour, multiplied that by the number of hours you work per week, then multiply that number by 28 percent, you’ll get the actual lost value due to switching tasks. For most business owners, it’s in the neighborhood of $1,000-$2,000 of lost potential every single week due to multitasking—which is why getting control of time is the first place I start when I work with my business coaching clients.
Do you think technology is adding to the problem or providing a solution?
Technology is neither the problem, nor the solution—it’s our use of technology that’s the problem. The basic example I use is receiving email notifications on your phone. If you’re being notified every single time an email comes in, you’re creating dozens, if not hundreds, of switches in your day. Turning off those notifications and having a set time to check emails will radically reduce the number of switches your brain must make. Getting a new app doesn’t solve this problem; it starts with the decision a person makes to not be constantly interrupted, checking email rather than email checking them.
Does multitasking ever work?
As I mentioned previously, switchtasking is attempting to perform multiple activities that require attention at the same time. It’s usually what people mean when they say they’re “multitasking.” Background tasking is where something mindless, mundane or automatic is occurring in the background. A basic example would be starting the printer on a huge print job while I answer email. Another example would be delegating tasks to another employee while I work on my most valuable activity. Unlike multitasking, background tasking can be extremely effective and efficient.
How can you create a more focused culture within your company?
I talk a lot about the importance of moving from a culture of now to a culture of when. In a culture of now, an employee with a question will walk in and interrupt you right at that moment. If you don’t respond right then, they’ll send you a text message and an email and the cycle repeats forever. Instead, we want to switch a culture of when—I am going to respond to every question and email and so on, and this is when I’m going to do it. For example, having a set time in your schedule to respond to the quick questions of employees and encouraging them to hold those questions until the scheduled time. Setting those expectations greatly reduces the number of interruptions that take place during the day.
What are some of your other tips for overcoming the temptation to multitask, particularly for small business owners?
I recommend business owners have a “gatekeeper”—someone that stands between you and all of the interruptions coming at you throughout the day. This is where a service like Ruby is useful—they field the calls and determine the priority of what you pay attention to, based upon instructions you’ve previously provided them. Consider the number of solicitation calls you receive; there’s a switching cost associated with each of those calls. Perhaps the cost is 5 minutes per interruption. If you’re getting interrupted 10 times per day, we’re talking almost an hour every single day lost by not having a gatekeeper. Having something like Ruby will dramatically reduce the number of switches that take place in your day.
The reality is it doesn’t matter whether you’re a man or a woman, 16 or 60, or where you’re born in the world—we all pay switching costs. When you attempt switchtasking (a.k.a. multitasking):
Does multitasking hurt us in ways other than productivity?
Yes, there’s also a fourth effect of switchtasking. When you switchtask on a human being, you’re communicating to them they’re less important than anything else you could be doing. None of us would pick up the phone and say, “Thanks for calling XYZ company, where you’re unimportant. How can I help you?” Yet, when we switchtask on people, friends, and customers, that’s exactly what we’re saying—and that damages relationships.
The good news is that if we don’t switchtask, we stand apart in a world addicted to the myth by communicating to others they are important and we do care about them. That has huge benefit not just to the business and your customers, but also to your personal life. It is far more effective to focus on one task at a time then it is to try to switch tasks and pay that switching cost.
Ready to kick your multitasking habit? You’re in luck! Now through February 14, receive 30 days free access to Lynda.com and Dave’s entire course library—including his Time Management Fundamentals course. Simply visit davecrenshaw.com/freetime to learn more!
Publish Date: January 5, 2016 5:00 AM
Winter can be a tough time of year for employee morale. The days are shorter, mornings are darker, and the weather outside is anything but cheery. It is the perfect time to kick your employee engagement efforts into high gear and excite your team for the new year. At Ruby, this means launching into our year-end incentive campaign, Rubyland.
For several years, “Rubies for Rubys” was our end-of-year tradition. Rubys were given plastic rubies for completing tasks focused on building skills, client relationships, and relationships with fellow Rubys. At the end of the campaign, Rubys could shop for fun prizes using the jewels they earned as currency. When we added a second office in 2013, however, it became too difficult to handle so many plastic gems. With “Rubies for Rubys” due for a revamp, we set out to create an all-new campaign that would be easily managed across locations, as well as incorporate and highlight each of our Core Values—Foster Happiness, Innovate, Create Community, Practice WOWism and Grow. The result— Rubyland!
Based loosely on the popular children’s game, Rubyland challenges team members to complete 100 tasks derived from our Core Values. Each employee gets a task booklet and a game board.
The booklet contains 20 tasks per Core Value. Examples include:
Every space on the board represents a task, each color representing a different Core Value. Before a Ruby can mark off two spaces of the same color, they must first complete four tasks belonging to the other Core Values and mark off each space in between. For each task completed and space marked off in order, Rubys earn one ticket to be redeemed for prizes. Those who complete all 100 tasks achieve “Ruby Rockstar” status and have their name etched onto a special plaque.
Rubyland encourages Rubys to be the best they can be, both personally and professionally, along with building team camaraderie. It gives team members something to look forward to, as well as reconnects them with our Core Values right before our busiest time of year.
Publish Date: December 23, 2015 5:00 AM
The holiday season is well upon us! Doesn’t it always seem like it sneaks up out of nowhere? This time of year brings equal measure joy and stress, so with that in mind we’ve compiled a handful of tips to help you foster happiness and create community through the New Year!
How we celebrate the holidays changes over time and each year presents an opportunity to forge fun new traditions. Whether arranging a game night or screening a favorite holiday film, the possibilities are endless. Years ago, my friends and I began telling our favorite stories from the past year on New Year’s Eve. Now, regardless of where we are in the world, we always make sure to pass along our stories to one another. It’s such a lovely, simple way to stay connected and to continue to build our relationships.
Learn a magic trick, or a riddle, or how to draw a cartoon animal! Holiday parties can be stressful and the power of a good, simple party trick may be all you need to create a WOW moment. I recall attending a holiday celebration a few years ago. After hours of turkey and mashed potatoes, the energy of the gathering had ground to a halt. Someone had the good sense to perform a card trick and the room was suddenly alive again with laughter and relief. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but having a go-to conversation starter in your back pocket or a fun group game has the power to foster happiness and make you a “Holiday Hero.”
Celebrations can often mean sensory overload. The temptation to zone out when we’re feeling overwhelmed by environmental distractions can be strong. When these moments arise, try taking a deep breath and refocusing on the one thing that is most immediate to you; the conversation with your relative, the cranberry sauce you’re stirring, it could be anything! Little moments like these are what create the texture of the holidays so enjoy them as they’re happening to foster internal happiness!
The holidays are, after all, about giving thanks, but how often do we think our gratitude without speaking it aloud? Having a sense of gratitude internally is so important, and this is the time of year to let it out! Tell your friend how much her support has always meant to you. Thank your barista for being so friendly and efficient. Call your family and remind them you love them. It is in these gestures that the joy of the season really blossoms and you build those important personal connections.
On behalf of everyone at Ruby, thank you for being you! Here’s to enjoying the bounty of the season and creating community.
Publish Date: December 17, 2015 5:00 AM
When we began answering calls for Red Carpet Learning Systems in 2010, we didn’t know we had found a kindred spirit in Founder and CEO, Donna Cutting. Like Ruby, Donna has a passion for customer service, and has committed her professional life to helping others deliver exceptional experiences.
Tell us about Red-Carpet Learning Systems.
We like to say Red Carpet Learning Systems is your one-stop shop for inspiration, information, and implementation when it comes to delivering world class customer service. As a keynote speaker and author, I try to provide people with the inspiration to get excited about rolling out the red carpet for customers. Our website, blog, and books provide people with the information they need to create a service culture. If they’re ready to implement, our team of customer service experts can provide the training and tools to help them do so! Our goal is to help you turn prospects into customers and customers (both internal and external) into raving fans!
Why do you think delivering exceptional customer service is important?
There is a definitely link between service and sales. This is especially true today when customers are more vocal and have more choices than ever before. The organizations we study (including Ruby Receptionists) have experienced substantial growth due to their focus on improving the customer experience. Beyond that, creating a service culture gives your employees something to believe in that’s bigger than themselves. The people I talk to in companies known for delivering great service are falling all over themselves telling me about all they do for their customers. There’s an excitement and an engagement I don’t hear from other, less service-oriented companies. You might say it’s the thrill of the red carpet – where your customer matters, your work matters—you matter.
What inspired you to make training and consulting your career?
My favorite space is the keynote stage. I’m also an actress and it’s so much fun to combine my theatrical abilities with my passion for service. The first name for my business was “Donna Cutting Presents” and primarily focused on speaking. Then I wrote my first book, The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red Carpet Customer Service, in 2008, and our clients asked for help with implementation. That’s when Red Carpet Learning Systems, Inc. was born. I’ve been blessed to be able to bring on phenomenal people who can help our customers increase employee engagement, improve internal communication, and create a service culture.
How has having Ruby’s virtual receptionist service affected your business day-to-day?
It’s simple. We can’t call ourselves the Red Carpet Customer Service experts and let voicemail pick up our phone. The best service starts with personal touch and Ruby Receptionists provides that for us while my team is spread out throughout the country and often on the road. The best part is that I’m 100% confident my phone is being answered by an upbeat professional. The system works so great that I never miss a phone call no matter where I am in the world! I’ve been so impressed with the “Ruby Experience” that you are a featured company in my forthcoming book, 501 Ways to Roll out the Red Carpet for Your Customers: Easy-to-Implement Ideas to Inspire Loyalty, Get New Customers, and Leave a Lasting Impression.
What do callers think of your receptionist?
They think I have amazing people working for me, making red carpet first impressions on my customers. Of course, I do have amazing people working directly for me – but the receptionists are all Rubys! I wish I could keep the secret but, the truth is, I brag about you everywhere. I love my Ruby Receptionists!
A big thank you to Donna for taking the time to chat with us! Her newest book, 501 Ways to Roll out the Red Carpet for Your Customers: Easy-to-Implement Ideas to Inspire Loyalty, Get New Customers, and Leave a Lasting Impression will be released by Career Press on December 21, 2015.
Publish Date: December 15, 2015 5:00 AM
At Ruby, our virtual receptionists strive to make meaningful connections over the phone every day, but it’s not often we get the opportunity to meet our clients face-to-face. Naturally, we jump at the chance to visit clients in-person—which brings us to our special WOW story of the month.
When receptionist Donella M. received a call for Funnelbox, a video production company located just 30 minutes from Ruby’s Portland office, she took the opportunity to make a connection. While chatting, Donella mentioned how she frequently walks her dogs past the Funnelbox office. Upon hearing this, Funnelbox informed Donella they were currently setting up for their company’s 16th birthday party and extended an invitation for Donella to stop by. Taking the rare opportunity to WOW a client in person, Donella put together a Funnelbox gift pack full of swag and notes from Rubys to bring to the celebration.
When she arrived, Donella was given a tour of their office and saw firsthand how much Funnelbox values their employees and places their own core values at the forefront of everything they do—just like Ruby! For example, Funnelbox creates community and fosters happiness in their office with unique events like Bacon Fridays!
The Funnelbox employees were surprised and touched Donella took the time to stop by. At the end of the evening, Funnelbox CEO Rob awarded Donella the KAP award, which stands for “Kickass Performer”. The Funnelbox staff even wrote in to Ruby to express their gratitude:
I wanted to quickly thank Ruby for the amazing service we receive.
I also want to thank Receptionist Donella for joining in our celebration here at Funnelbox last night. I received a call late in the day yesterday, Donella was the receptionist handling the call. We chatted quickly and I invited her to stop by our Sweet 16 birthday celebration. Not only did she come, but she came bearing gifts. Our team had a great time meeting a member of the Ruby team and we truly thank you all!
Robb Crocker, our Founder/CEO, awarded Donella our KAP (Kickass Performer) award for going above and beyond and for being a ROCKSTAR. Thank you Donella and thank you Ruby.
This connection truly is what we’re all about here at Ruby; after all, what better way to preserve and perpetuate real, meaningful connections in an increasingly technology-focused, virtual world than by personally sharing in a client’s celebration and joy? I think Donella says it best, “This is why I love being part of Ruby—to spread all the love and sunshine around!”
Publish Date: December 8, 2015 5:00 AM
At Ruby, we believe in delivering world-class customer service. When we interact with our callers and clients over the phone we’re determined not only to help, but to create a positive experience for who we’re helping. How do we accomplish this? Largely by tone and phrasing! Here are a few tips for taking your conversational skill to the next level.
As you can see from the image, responding in a different tone can be awfully confusing! Tone of voice is one of the most pivotal parts of conversation—it immediately tells a caller how sincere and empathetic we are. While a friendly and warm tone is almost always the best choice, there are times where adjusting tone to match your caller is better. If a caller is excited and happy, matching their gleeful tone is perfect. If they’re complaining or having a tough day, a more serious approach will help them feel understood and validated. If someone speaks at a slower pace, slowing your pace will help them feel more at ease.
When offering a caller assistance, it’s important to only offer help you can actually deliver. Your offer should be sincere with no strings attached! You’ll want to express not only that you can help, but you’re delighted to be of service. Here are some examples of more polished offers of assistance than the one illustrated above:
When chatting with a client, you may come across a request you have to say no to. When doing so, it’s important to set clear expectations about what you can do for them and what you can’t—and be polite while doing so. While this sounds intimidating, it doesn’t have to be! Using more polished phrasing can quell a caller’s frustration and show you really are on their side.
Think about the way you begin saying no. Are you inadvertently criticizing the caller’s request? Swapping a phrase like, “It’s not a good idea to…” for a phrase like, “In my experience…” is far less judgmental. Saying a phrase like, “I wish I could, but…” isn’t very helpful either. It may seem like a way to show empathy for your client, however, it only reinforces the image of your being powerless to help—and that’s not the case! It simply may be your way of helping is bit different than your client originally envisioned.
The most important aspect of any apology is its sincerity. A disingenuous apology is worse than none at all, so skip saying “I’m sorry” if you don’t mean it. Alternatively, you may find you really are sorry for an error you’ve made, and let your client know multiple times. Over-apologizing can undermine your client’s confidence in you as they begin to doubt how competent you are. Saying a phrase like, “I’m sorry, but…” can also weaken an apology. The word “but” negates everything in front of it! Try swapping to, “I’m sorry and…” if you have more to say. The key is to keep it simple, acknowledge your client’s feelings, and say sorry once—and mean it.
If you’re receiving a compliment from your client, avoid shirking it off. False modesty does the opposite of what we intend—it can be dismissive and stand in the way of opportunities you truly deserve. Using phrases like, “It wasn’t a big deal,” and “Stop! It was nothing!” invalidate the very statement someone has made to you. Responding with an insincere compliment right back can also backfire, as you run the risk of your client feeling as though they’re being lied to. Simply saying, “thank you” is the way to go—accept the compliment and get back to building connections!
The path to positive customer communication doesn’t require a complete language overhaul—just a little makeover! Swapping out a the phrases we’ve highlighted above will ensure your customer’s feel heard, understood and appreciated.
Publish Date: December 3, 2015 5:00 AM
“Have you heard from Ruby?”
“Ruby will take care of that.”
These are common phrases around Wall Street Greetings this time of year, as Ruby is a friend and teammate as we barrel through our busy holiday season.
Our office has a relationship with Ruby, and we’re confident she extends that relationship to our customers.
During the holiday season, more than ever, reaching out to customers and clients to build relationships is important. So right now, you’re probably wondering how to appropriately express your appreciation to your clients.
Like Ruby, Wall Street Greetings specializes in helping companies build and maintain effective relationships with their customers. We know how effective a simple message delivered at the right time can serve in strengthening relationships and making your business stronger.
Here are some of our tips for using cards to build more effective relationships with your clients and your employees.
Order now for the holidays. Don’t wait until the last minute. Order your cards early to ensure a great selection and to leave plenty of time to get your cards ready to mail early in the holiday season. Ideally, your cards should be in the mail no later than mid-December to ensure delivery before the holidays.
Choose a card that reflects your company’s image. Imprint your company’s logo inside the card and on the envelope. Adding a pre-printed personal message is also a great touch, but don’t underestimate the power of a brief hand-written note. Knowing that you took the time to add a personal note will impress your clients—especially during the busy holidays.
Be personable, not pushy. Don’t turn your holiday cards into a marketing opportunity. Keep your message simple, sincere and focused on your customer.
Remember your team. Every year, we see more smart companies using cards as part of their employee engagement plan. Remember your employees at the holidays, their birthday, or their company anniversary—or just drop them a note for a job well done.
Think beyond the holidays. Clients also appreciate being remembered on their birthday and other personal milestones. Keep a supply of high-quality birthday cards, thank you cards and notecards in your office. That makes it easy to reach out. Encourage other members of your team to do the same.
Using greeting cards is a simple, cost-effective way to build a customer-focused company culture. Try it! We know you’ll see the payoff in happy customers, engaged employees and higher profit margins!
Mary Ellen Harden has an expansive collection of recognized greeting card art. In 2009, she attended the industry acclaimed Louie Awards in New York City as one of three finalists in the holiday greeting card category. Harden has also been recognized as a Trendy Finalist at the National Stationery Show. As president of corporate greeting card company, Wall Street Greetings, she works in branding, concept management, design and marketing, creating cards for some of the nation’s most prestigious Fortune 100 firms.
Publish Date: December 1, 2015 5:00 AM
Set the tone for a cheery conversation and have callers exclaiming “It’s A Wonderful Life!”, by adding our free holiday hold music to your account today! When our cheerful virtual receptionists are trying your line, your callers will hear a fantastic collection of holiday classics (Certified “Grinch-” and “Scrooge-” free).
To update your default hold music to our seasonal tune, simply contact our Client Happiness team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 866-611-7829.
Want to customize your hold music for the rest of the year? Ruby has you covered! Choose from our six free music options, available year-round. We’re also happy to use your own custom music or message as well, for a small hosting fee—just say the word!
Click here to check out all of our complimentary hold music options. Whether it’s holiday music or modern rock, our custom hold music is a great way to showcase your company’s personality and create connections with your callers.
Publish Date: November 24, 2015 5:00 AM
The snow is falling, the bird is in the oven, and your tickets are booked. Yes, the holidays are here and while you may be taking a break, your business doesn’t have to. No matter what your plans, Ruby can help keep things running smoothly in a number of ways.
Change things up this holiday season with a custom greeting! Delight your callers with a “Season’s Greetings!” or “Happy New Year” in place of your usual greeting. You can also get your callers in the holiday spirit while they wait by replacing your standard hold music with custom holiday music. We have a selection of tracks to choose from, or you can provide us with the music of your choice.
To update your greeting or hold music, simply email email@example.com with your desired change—we’ll be happy to help.
Heading over the river and through the woods for the holidays? Instead of having your callers reach your standard voicemail greeting and wondering when you’ll call back, provide a personalized greeting just for the occasion! Update your voicemail with specifics like the duration of your absence or changes to regular business hours. You can update your greeting through our Member Services site, or we’d be happy to record a new voicemail greeting for you in our famous Ruby tone.
One of the most useful tools for this time of year is our status feature. Status tells our receptionists how to handle calls for a specific duration of time.
Perhaps you’re visiting with family and would like all callers to be offered voicemail or to leave message. If the judge on your big case calls, however, you want to make sure we transfer him to your cell phone immediately. Don’t worry—Ruby’s got your back! Or maybe you’d like all potential new clients who call in to go to Keith instead of Annie for the next week while he’s out on vacation. Update your current status or schedule one for the future through our mobile app, or let firstname.lastname@example.org know what you’d like to change and the duration of time you’d like the instructions followed, and we’ll take care of the rest!
Busy gift shopping and don’t have to time to call your dentist back to confirm your cleaning appointment? Our aptly named Happiness Concierges can make outbound calls on your behalf, known as Assists. We can make calls informing your clients you will be out of town, to reschedule appointments, or even confirm appointments and dinner reservations! Simply email our Happiness Concierges at staff@callruby with the details of your call request (name, phone number, etc.), and we will make the call for you.
With all these features at your fingertips, you can breathe easy and enjoy your time with family and friends knowing we’ve got your business covered.
Publish Date: November 19, 2015 5:00 AM
The holiday season is upon us and you know what that means—mingling and making new connections at holiday parties! Of course, creating connections can be tough if you’re an introvert or struggle with small talk; but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We’ve made personal connections an integral part of what we do here at Ruby every day, so we’ve put together a simple three-step process you can follow to up your conversation game. Let’s get started and make some meaningful connections!
We’ve all done it to ourselves before: the lackluster introduction. “Hello, I’m Jan from accounting.” Right off the bat, we’re talking about work. That’s great if you’re in a job interview, but in a social setting, it’s much more meaningful to talk about who you are as a person. After all, you never get a second chance to make a first impression!
Instead of introducing yourself with your job title, share an interesting detail about yourself. Are you an avid viola player? Perhaps you train hamsters on agility courses on the weekends. Have you traveled abroad? Share a fact that says something about who you are, not what you do for a living.
For extra pizzazz, follow that up with an immediate conversation starter—and don’t be afraid to throw in a little humor. The great thing about an introduction like this is it enables you to move right into interesting topics without any awkward lulls.
Let’s take a look at some dazzling introductions:
Once you get past the intro, it’s time to really work your magic. Keep your conversation alive by keeping the topics interesting, relevant, and appropriate.
If conversations with strangers are intimidating for you, create a list of questions or topics ahead of time, and keep them top of mind in case you need to re-energize a conversation.
Here are some of our favorite conversation starters:
Here comes the most important part: listen! It’s easy to move from “listening” to “thinking about the next thing I’m going to say” without realizing it. Pay attention to your inner monologue, and when you notice that happening, consider asking a non-autobiographical question instead. Don’t worry that you won’t have the opportunity to speak your piece or tell your stories—a good conversation has a natural ebb and flow to it, and you’ll get back to being the main storyteller before you know it.
Here are some of our go-to questions for practicing active listening:
Now that you’ve got the basic steps for having a fantastic conversation, get out there, enjoy those holiday parties and create some connections!
Publish Date: November 17, 2015 5:00 AM
At Ruby, we pride ourselves in being an integral part of our clients’ team. Any opportunity to make their lives easier and better genuinely delights us! We are thrilled to retain many long-term clients and have been overjoyed to watch their businesses flourish over time. This week, we sat down with our Client Loyalty Associate, Casey Spurgeon, to discuss how Ruby builds lasting client relationships.
What is your role at Ruby?
I am the Client Loyalty Associate. My job is to check in with our clients regarding our Ruby service. I see how everything is going, and help with any questions or account updates they might have at that time. Also, I offer suggestions and tips on how to make the most out of our service for their company.
Why is focusing on client loyalty important for any business?
Every business wants happy customers, and paying customers deserve to be provided with great customer service. To me, client loyalty is important because you want your customers to know you’re there for them, and want to help with anything and everything. When they call and immediately get someone on the line that will listen, it builds a relationship so your customers know they can reach out at any time.
What is your favorite part about your role?
Chatting with clients! I receive some really great feedback about our service and get to know a lot of really awesome people along the way.
How does Ruby do things differently, with regard to building client loyalty?
Ruby is different because everyone at Ruby really cares about our clients and possesses a genuine desire to help them build their business and flourish as much as possible. As employees, we are given endless amounts of tools, as well as use our own creative ways to build a long lasting relationships with the people we interact with each day.
Do you have one favorite tip for building client loyalty?
Get to know who you’re talking to! I enjoy learning something new about someone or sharing a laugh over something we have in common. There’s no better feeling then make a connection with someone AND assisting them in making the most out of their service.
What do you think is the most important factor in keeping a customer’s business?
I think the key is to be genuine with each person you interact with, respect their business, and really listen to what they have to say. My goal is when I get off the phone, the person on the other end is informed as well as happy!
Big thanks to Casey for giving us a glimpse of how Ruby builds long-lasting relationships with clients. Ruby loves to support, surprise, and delight our clients every day. In a month all about celebrating gratitude, we are particularly mindful of how fortunate we are to be a partner to so many exceptional people and businesses. We consider ourselves privileged to contribute in a positive way to the lives of our clients (and their clients, too!)
Publish Date: November 12, 2015 5:00 AM
Here’s an interesting factoid for all you service sticklers out there: 67% of customers have hung up the phone out of frustration if they could not talk to a real person, according to a Consumer Reports survey. 67 percent!
That’s a lot of missed opportunities to serve customers when they need it most, and not to mention the lost sales and chances to connect with potential new customers.
At Ruby, our clients trust us to make a great impression with every caller, and in return we promise that 100% of calls that arrive during our business hours are promptly answered by a smart, friendly receptionist who is ready to help.
That’s not always the case with other call handling options. Auto-attendants are confusing, time consuming, and leave callers wanting nothing more than to speak with someone (we’ve all been there!), while many answering services greet callers with the generic recording, all agents are currently busy, during times of high call volume. Even an in-house receptionist needs to step away for lunch breaks, sick days, and the occasional vacation. Ruby, on the other hand, never takes a day off and won’t leave your phones unattended for a coffee break. In fact, we constantly watch call trends to ensure we have enough people to greet every single caller with a real live person, even if it is lunchtime!
Consider the perspective of a potential new customer. When seeking a new product or service, they’ll set aside only a few minutes from their busy day to make a phone call and cross this item off their to-do list. If nobody answers, odds are that customer will reach out to other businesses until someone can help while they still have the time. In fact, callers constantly tell us how glad they are to speak with a real person after trying unsuccessfully to reach other companies, and we hear from our own clients that new business has been booming since they gave up the ol’ robot voice for a Ruby receptionist.
We love these success stories! After all, there’s no telling which callers will take your business to the next level, and with Ruby’s live answering, our friendly and helpful receptionists will make sure not-a-one slips through the cracks.
Publish Date: November 10, 2015 5:00 AM
Ruby has been delighted to answer phones for Marquam Group, a company focused on building business driven technology solutions, for almost two years now. We had the pleasure of chatting with Chad Layman, CEO of Marquam Group, for today’s Client Spotlight!
Tell us a little about Marquam Group.
We create customized Microsoft productivity solutions that help businesses improve the way they work. Wherever you see employees struggling with complex or poorly defined business processes, we are there to help streamline those workflows. Marquam Group is one of the premiere Microsoft partners in the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain regions. We serve clients in numerous markets with employees spread across four western states and Mexico.
What most excites you when working with your clients?
Our motivating purpose is to power business evolution. Each client we engage with has a unique set of challenges that stand between where they are and where they want to go. It’s incredibly rewarding to analyze a problem, develop a strategic plan of attack, and deliver the best solution possible. It’s exciting to be a part of that journey and to see the evolution fueling our clients’ successes.
How did you handle your calls before hiring Ruby?
When we first started out we had a simple approach—everyone answered the phones without letting it ring more than 3 times. It’s important our clients reach an actual person so we can provide a high level of client service. Eventually, we assigned the phones to a single person, but it was only one of their responsibilities. As we continued to grow and call volume increased, it became harder to deliver the communication experience we wanted. When clients began to notice, we knew we had to find a better solution.
How has having Ruby’s virtual receptionist service affected your business day-to-day?
Ruby has powered some business evolution of our own, and I love that! Because Ruby is so good at what they do, they enable us to focus on our core strengths. Clients get to the right people quickly and unwanted solicitations are filtered out before they reach us. It’s a win for both Marquam Group and our clients.
What do you like best about working with Ruby?
Every single receptionist we have engaged with has been intelligent, personable, and professional. The email notifications are pretty swell too!
A big thank you to Chad for taking the time to chat with us!
Publish Date: November 3, 2015 5:00 AM
Ruby has a reputation for employing friendly receptionists who are experts in delighting callers. Our clients enjoy how our upbeat attitude puts callers in a positive mood and often ask how they can improve their own communication to match. For example, here’s one such question we recently received from Ruby client, Frederick:
“Ruby has some of the friendliest people I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with. Your positive phrasing always leaves a smile on my face. Do you have any “go-to” phrases you recommend I use when talking to clients?”
Thanks Frederick for your question! We’re so excited to hear that we’ve had a positive impact on your daily routine! Suppose we keep the good times rolling with a few tips for our Dr. Ruby viewers.
As exchanges are often brief, it’s important to make every word count. To create a positive experience, use positive words. Say “please” and “thank you” at every opportunity and never leave a ‘thank you’ from a caller hanging.
To up the WOW factor with your clients even further, dress up your “Yes!” Rather than a drab “okay” or “all right,” add some oomph with:
Also, consider sprinkling in words like “Great,” “Fantastic,” “Perfect,” and “Wonderful!”
Run into a tricky situation where you don’t have the information to answer the question at hand? You can still handle these interactions in a positive way. Avoid saying “I can’t” or “I don’t know.” Instead, focus on what you can do, like this:
“Great question! I’ll gladly look into that matter this afternoon and touch base with you by the end of the day.”
“Thanks, Mark! Let me find the best person to assist you”
Positive phrasing can really help build those critical connections with callers, but only if it’s genuine. The foundation of positive phrasing is speaking with a smile, even if you’re feeling a bit rushed or frantic. Smiling on the phone keeps the call positive, and those positive connections have a tremendous impact on your mood.
Looks like Dr. Ruby is all done here! Prognosis—absolutely marvelous; terrifically exceptional! Huge thanks to Frederick for his wonderful question.
If you’re looking for communication advice, 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!
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Publish Date: October 29, 2015 5:00 AM