At Ruby, we know communicating with clients is a critical part of an attorney’s job, but also one that can take up a great deal of time and energy. Keeping track of that communication can prove even more difficult.
Ruby Receptionists and Clio want to alleviate this burden and streamline attorney and client communication with our new integration. Now Clio users can automatically have Ruby messages and voicemail notifications sent to their Clio account, making it easy to associate these notifications with specific matters and contacts.
For example, if a caller’s contact information matches the contact information of an existing contact within Clio, the Ruby message will automatically be assigned to that existing contact. Clio users can then go in and edit the message, add notes and contacts, or connect the message to a matter by typing in the matter number. Additionally, Clio users can add time to a message for billing purposes.
With Ruby and Clio together at last, attorneys will be able to:
Enjoy peace of mind knowing your calls are handled by a highly skilled and friendly receptionist, while saving you time with all your client’s details in one place!
If you’re a current Ruby and Clio client, download our instructions for integrating your Ruby notifications into your Clio account.
For Clio clients interested in learning more about the Ruby/Clio integration, or how Ruby can help your practice, send us an email at email@example.com.
Publish Date: October 27, 2015 5:00 AM
Ruby’s success as a company is not defined only by our client count and company growth. When Jill Nelson founded the company in 2003, she sought to build a company where employees loved coming to work; a place where they felt supported, empowered, and excited to serve our clients—which is why it is a tremendous honor to be named one of the top five Best Small Workplaces in the U.S for the fourth year in a row!
Every day, we strive to Foster Happiness and Practice WOWism with our own employees so they feel inspired and empowered to turn around and do the same for our clients. From our in-house fitness programs and “Five at Five” sabbaticals, to our WOW Station and professional development programs, we’re always looking for new ways to appreciate our employee’s hard work.
Yet, at the end of the day, it is really our employees who help make Ruby great. I remember the first time I recognized the unique traits Rubys possess, and what we look for when hiring for our team. Several Rubys were standing around at the docks waiting for Dragonboat practice to begin (another wonderful example of the Ruby culture). A gentleman from another team walked by our group and accidentally dropped an expensive-looking pair of sunglasses, which promptly broke. Every Ruby turned towards the man and collectively sighed, “Awwwwwww!” One Ruby even began walking forward with her own sunglasses to offer as a replacement. At that moment, I discovered what makes Ruby employees so special—a genuine desire to help others.
Thank you Rubys for being you and keeping our culture rich, special, and vibrant. We can’t wait to see what innovations you bring to our company in 2016!
Check out pictures from our celebration—a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream bar!
Publish Date: October 22, 2015 5:00 AM
Creating a personal connection with customers is vital to any business’ success, and so much of that connection hinges on the use of warm tone and positive phrasing. A negatively-toned phrase directed at a frustrated customer can quickly escalate a situation, and leave your caller feeling unhappy.
Here are 5 phrases to avoid when interacting with customers—and the friendly replacements we opt for instead!
I don’t know. Nobody wants to hear the answer to their question is flat-out not available, so let’s put a happier spin on this one. Next time you’re tempted to use this frustration inducing phrase, try switching it out with, “What a great question. I’d be happy to find out for you.” Your callers will be delighted!
No problem. This one seems pretty innocuous at first, but the problem (pun intended) with this phrase is in its negativity. With so many alternatives available, why not try something more positive? A good old-fashioned “You’re welcome” or “My pleasure” can go a long way—and of course, our virtual receptionists love using “Gladly!”
You’ll need to… Stop right there! This phrase comes across as demanding and cold. Instead of telling your callers what they need to do, guide them in a more friendly way by saying, “The best way to do that is…”
Hold please. The problem with this phrase may not seem apparent at first—it is, after all, a huge step up from “one minute,” or “just a sec.” But instead of commanding your customer to give you a moment, ask the caller if you may have a moment instead—“May I place you on hold for a moment?” Most importantly, remember to listen for their response before acting—if they say no, find a solution that doesn’t involve pressing the hold button.
I’m just the _______. This one is of particular importance to our team here at Ruby—we don’t think of our virtual receptionists as “just” receptionists. They’re the best receptionists you can find! Instead of diminishing your role with this negative phrase, next time lead with what you can do. For example, a Ruby would say, “As the receptionist, I would be happy to take a message and have him return your call.” Whatever your role, focus on how you can help the customer and not what you can’t do. The customer will appreciate your willingness to do what you can, leading to a more positive interaction overall.
A slight change to your tone and phrasing can make a big difference when it comes to making personal connections with your callers, as well as avoid scaring them away!
Publish Date: October 20, 2015 5:00 AM
Birthdays and holidays are wonderful reasons to send a handwritten note to a client. But if you’re aiming to create connections, don’t wait for these annual events to roll around—any time is a great time to send a notecard! Here are ten reasons to drop a notecard in the mail:
1. Sports team connection. Whether you’re fans of the same team or rooting for rivals, a shared love of sports opens the door to all sorts of great notecard opportunities.
2. Local news. Noteworthy events in your client’s town are ideal notecard topics:
Looks like the weather in Pittsburgh is wild lately. How are you and your team holding up in the snow? We’re sending you warm wishes!
3. Encouragement or follow-up. Friendly chitchat with a client can reveal all sorts of opportunities to reach out and show support. Maybe your client mentioned she’s preparing for a big presentation during a recent conversation, or revealed her anxiousness about running a marathon. A notecard is a great conversational follow-up, and the perfect way to show you care:
The last time we chatted, you mentioned you were preparing for a big presentation. How did it go? I am sure you knocked ’em dead!
I’m so impressed that you’re challenging yourself to run your first marathon. You’re going to feel so great when you finish! Best of luck—we’re all rooting for you!
4. “You might like this.” Did you come across a book, movie, or article you think your client might dig? Send a notecard with the details!
5. “I thought of you the other day.” When something reminds you of a client, take it as a gentle nudge from the universe to reach out:
I saw a cute old Volkswagen Beetle the other day and thought of you. Are you still fixing up the one you bought? I hope you’ve had a chance to take it for a spin!
6. Get well soon. This old standard never loses its charm! When you learn a client is under the weather, send your well wishes.
7. New address. When a client moves to a new office space, be sure to send a congratulatory card.
8. Shared hobbies. If you share an interest with your client, you’ll likely find all sorts of reasons to send a note:
Our local convention center is hosting a knitting expo next month. Sounds like the perfect opportunity for you to visit Portland—our team would love to meet you in person!
9. After a great conversation. When you’ve had a good exchange with a client, take a moment to pen a note. No complicated message required—a simple expression of gratitude is sure to wow:
Thanks so much for calling today. I had a wonderful time chatting with you! Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need anything.
10. Just because. Don’t have a specific reason to send a notecard? Don’t sweat it—just grab a pen and card, and jot down something from the heart. Sometimes the greatest connections are sparked with the simplest of gestures!
Publish Date: October 15, 2015 5:00 AM
Have you ever called a service provider with a complaint? Most of us have, and most of us can recall an unpleasant experience or two. Whether the customer service folks on the other end seemed disingenuous, or the company did not do something they said they would, we can all relate to the frustration of feeling dissatisfied. As business owners, this is the exact feeling we aim to avoid. How can we abolish the stereotype of cold and unfriendly business? By practicing the art of the “Fess Up.”
The first step in rectifying an error is to acknowledge it, and that your customer is right in bringing it up to you. Acknowledging the error helps demonstrate the care and concern you have for your clients, and goes a long way in keeping their trust. It shows you and your company are taking responsibility. Saying something like, “Gosh, you are absolutely right! It looks like we did make a mistake here,” is validating to clients and helps them feel heard. Of course, if you’d like to apologize as well, this is the perfect time to do so! Just be sure you are genuine when you do say sorry. An insincere apology can be worse than none at all.
It’s best to be clear about what you are going to do to fix the error—clients appreciate being kept in the loop. It’s also helpful to explain your next steps so the customer is confident the situation will be resolved. Be sure to set clear and realistic expectations about what you can and cannot do. Creating a partnership with a client is exactly what you’re aiming for here, and that is best done on a foundation of honesty.
The follow-up call is an excellent way to go above and beyond in showing your dedication to client happiness. Set a reminder to give your customer a ring after your intreaction to see how things are going. While you’re at it, use this follow-up as an opportunity to offer additional assistance, even if it’s unrelated to the original complaint. Clients are often surprised and delighted you’ve remembered their woes, and are grateful to have the opportunity to provide more feedback.
Armed with this problem solving method, you’ll surely build loyalty and recognition among your client base. Your clients are human beings, and like most humans, they yearn to feel heard and supported. After all, improving customer experience is a win-win!
Publish Date: October 13, 2015 5:00 AM
As we enter the age of the customer, companies of all sizes and industries are working fervidly to create processes that improve service. Yet, great customer experiences are not something you can program or proceduralize—they come from compassionate employees who feel empowered to go above-and-beyond for their customers. Here are five of our favorite service stories (in no particular order) from the past year that illustrate the importance of trusting your employees and giving them the power to do what’s best for the customer. Have your tissues ready!
The world can be a scary place as a child, especially without the comfort of your favorite stuffed animal. Fortunately for 6-year-old Owen, the employees at Tampa Bay International Airport understand the value of a furry friend. When Owen left behind his stuffed tiger (Hobbes), the employees not only held the tiger for Owen, but sent Hobbes on a special journey. The employees took pictures of Hobbes at various locations at the airport and then made a book for Owen chronicling the tiger’s adventures. In tears, Owen’s mother thanked the employees for the tremendous gesture.
“We already told him over and over that Hobbes was on an adventure so it was nice to get back and show him that Hobbes really had been on an adventure.”
An older gentleman in a wheelchair approached the order counter at a downtown Chicago McDonald’s during the dinner rush. It took a few moments to decipher what the man wanted, but after a few tries the employee at the counter discovered the man needed help cutting and eating his meal. Customers looked on as the employee shut down his register, washed his hands, and proceed to cut the man’s meal and help him eat. The act moved a fellow diner, whose own uncle is paraplegic, to post a picture of the moment to her Facebook (which quickly went viral).
Ruby receptionist Amber R. was going about her day when she answered a call from a gentleman at a feed store who was calling to inform a Ruby client his chickens (yes, chickens) were ready to be picked up. Amber took down the information to pass along to the client, but also saw an opportunity to make a unique connection. She decided to send the client some chicken treats, along with a feeder and water base, for the new additions to his pet family. The client was surprised and delighted when he received this unexpected care package from Amber and Ruby, stating the following in his thank you letter to Ruby:
“I spend the majority of my time alone at my desk in the original old jail in Ashland, Virginia that now serves as my office. When I opened your thoughtful gift, it made me feel that y’all are more than just providers of a service—you are part of my team. That feeling that I’m not doing this alone truly does help me do the work I need to do for the people who have come to me for help.”
When a Target shopper caught a candid photograph of employees assisting a young man, the employees weren’t aware the story of their exceptional service would go viral. The teen, who was preparing for an interview at the local Chick Fil-A, had asked an employee to help him find a clip-on (which the store did not carry). These compassionate employees not only helped the young man correctly tie a real tie he purchased, but also sought to boost his confidence. The employees provided interview tips, encouraging the teen to look the interviewer in the eye, give a firm handshake, and helped him adjust his clothing to look his best. The Target staffers even stopped by the Chick fil-A to recommend the teen to the manager.
Heather Hogeboon wears pink, a lot. Diagnosed with the breast cancer more than nine years ago, the spunky Zumba dancer wears pink to maintain a positive attitude and doesn’t let her disease get her down. In fact, while out on the town one night, Heather and her friends made an impromptu stop to a local Spencer’s Gift store to have a bit of fun perusing gag gifts. While goofing around, the store manager came over and said an employee had asked to buy Heather a pink bandana. Heather said he could and went over to meet the young employee, Austin. She thanked him for the gift and then she and her friends left the store. It wasn’t until she got home a note dropped from the folded bandana:
“Keep fighting the good fight. You’re an inspiration.”
None of these wonderful stories were the result of a grand gesture or marketing campaign. They all were the result of employees being able to act on their humanity when the opportunity presented itself. When employees feel empowered to help others, those stories leave an impression on not only the customer directly involved, but on the thousands of potential customers with whom they share their story.
Publish Date: October 7, 2015 5:00 AM
When you’re evaluating a service that will impact your entire family, it’s a good bet you want that company to be warm, personable and available when you need them. Brian Greenberg understands the importance of having a real, caring person answer customer calls—which is why his company, True Blue Life Insurance, signed up for Ruby.
1. Tell us a little about True Blue Life Insurance.
True Blue Life Insurance is a direct-to-consumer life insurance agency. We quote life insurance rates on our website and then act as the customer’s broker in getting a policy. We sell life insurance in all 50 U.S. states and currently sell more than 1,000 policies a year.
2. Why did you choose to work in the insurance industry?
I started working for MetLife Insurance Company back in 2002 as an insurance agent. I liked the idea of starting my own business with unlimited earning potential. I quickly found selling life insurance to people without families is a very hard sale to make. I needed some way to get the customers to come to me, which is when I decided to quote and sell insurance online.
3. What is your favorite part of your job?
I enjoy helping families get the life insurance they need to protect their loved ones. I ask every client for feedback on our service and nothing makes me happier than a satisfied customer. I spend most of my time working on the quote engine I have built for the website. My goal with the engine is to answer every question a customer may have so when they contact me, they already know exactly what they want to purchase.
4. Why do first impressions matter in your business?
With an online business first impressions are everything. The look and functionality of my website is pivotal. Second to that, it’s important to make a great impression when a customer calls my company. I need to make sure my customers are greeted with a happy and knowledgeable person. It’s also important to make sure someone is available to answer a customer call. When a sales call is not picked up by a real person, the chances are we will lose that customer to a competitor.
5. What is the biggest change you’ve seen in your business since hiring Ruby?
The first thing I noticed was increased sales from incoming phone calls! We had been missing out on thousands of dollars a month because our staff was too busy to answer the phones. The second thing I noticed was how happy our agents were. When a customer was transferred to us they were in a good mood and ready to buy. The reps at Ruby do such a good job that by the time the calls are transferred to an agent, a level of trust is already established.
6. What do you like best about working with Ruby?
Every time I get a transfer from a Ruby employee I am greeted by a happy and friendly person. This is so important to a business in any market, to have the frontline person on the phones to be friendly and knowledgeable. The customer support is amazing and choosing Ruby Receptionists has been one of the best decisions I have made for my business.
Thank you Brian for sharing your Ruby story! Are you a current Ruby client interested in writing about your Ruby experience? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publish Date: October 1, 2015 5:00 AM
I’ll be the first to admit I’m a bit of a miser. From hoarding my Monopoly money as a child to receiving my haircuts from beauty students well into adulthood, I’ve always preferred to sacrifice in order to save a buck. It took meeting my husband to finally convince me of the virtues of spending a bit more to ensure a better experience—that and an asymmetrical haircut. Under his tutelage, I have tried to evaluate products and services based on value instead of price.
Unfortunately, old habits die hard and I’m particularly stubborn when it comes to purchasing plane tickets. After all, isn’t flying any airline a chore these days? Therefore, when I recently had to purchase a ticket to a friend’s wedding, I turned to Orbitz. For those of you who haven’t used Orbitz, it is price comparison site for travel. It’s an enabler for penny-pinchers, like myself.
Upon entering my flight details, I was thrilled to discover a ticket nearly $100 less than the other airlines. The reward section of my brain lit up and I purchased the ticket without hesitation, patting myself on the back for my cleverness. As I would soon discover, the difference in price should have set off alarm bells, instead of prompting a happy dance.
I soon found this airline prides itself on its minimal approach to travel. Instead of a flat ticket price that includes all basic services one comes to expect from airlines, everything was a line item fee: printing your ticket at the airport, checking OR carrying on luggage, even a glass of water on the plane. With all the additional fees, I ended up spending more than I saved, and was left with a horrible memory.
My experience with this particular airline was a big wake-up call for me. As an employee of a company that prides itself on providing excellent customer experiences, I was surprised at how willing I was to give that up to save a few bucks (which I didn’t even save in the end). Price speaks to the instant gratification part of our brains, often to the detriment of our long-term, overall happiness. Consider the benefits of evaluating products and services on value over price using my airline experience as an example:
I was familiar with nearly all the airlines Orbitz listed when I performed my search—some from first-hand experience, others by reputation. By choosing to go with the unfamiliar, newer airline merely on price, I ended up taking a big risk. When reviewing products or service, it’s important to consider reputation and level of risk as part of a company’s overall value. Take a look at reviews, request references and read through customer case studies to determine if a company is the right fit for your expectations. Then, you won’t be left in the lurch if a company suddenly disappears or a product isn’t delivered as advertised.
At times, the airline came across as very unprofessional—unclear departures times, miscommunication about luggage identification, etc. Along with reputation, knowing you are in good hands adds a lot of value to the customer experience. While reviews and references can indicate a company’s expertise, it’s also a good idea to read through their blog, search for contributed articles to external sites, or browse through their leadership bios. Being a thought leader in your industry or field is a sign you’ll contribute more value to a customer through knowledge and experience.
A Better Overall Experience
A dramatically lower price is a good indicator corners were cut elsewhere—in the case of my discount flight, comfort, customer service and convenience. There’s so much to do and so little time—do we really want to spend it annoyed and frustrated with poor service? If I had purchased the best value instead of the lowest price, I would have saved myself the time spent being stressed and anxious over hidden fees and unclear departure times. Spending a little bit more upfront on a company with an established reputation and expertise will save you not only from hidden fees, but save your energy so you can focus on what matters.
Publish Date: September 29, 2015 5:00 AM
We’re often asked how our company has been able to grow without losing the unique culture that allows us to provide such exceptional service. The answer? Keeping ourselves grounded in our core values and focused on the Ruby Service Pyramid.
Combined with our core values, we consider the Ruby Service Pyramid the roadmap for success in all that we do. When you think about a pyramid, a solid foundation is absolutely necessary to its overall structural integrity, so let’s take a closer look at the base level of the Ruby Service Pyramid: Be Prepared with the Right Infrastructure.
It sounds pretty straightforward, but how do you know what constitutes the right tools? What is the true base of the pyramid, the foundation upon which the entire structure relies? We could talk all day about software, CRMs, and TPS reports, but the truth is, those solutions will be different for each business. There is only one factor that comes into play across virtually all business models, and that is its people.
The people we hire are the driving force behind everything that we do, so it makes sense we’d look at “people” as our most critical piece of infrastructure. To keep this foundation strong, we take pains to carefully craft each part of the employee journey.
We figured out early on hiring only the best and the brightest was one of the main elements of success. We carefully screen all prospective employees to ensure, above all else, they’re naturally friendly and delightful. We don’t hire for typing speed and software skills; we look for cheerful, bright, charming individuals who have a desire to serve. We seek these traits out during the hiring process to ensure all new team members are natural cultural fits for our company. Plus, we altered our pay structure to better align with our values and to attract the best possible candidates (and keep them).
Once we’ve welcomed all of those fabulous folks we’ve hired, it’s time to reap the benefits: wow-worthy customer service! We incent, inspire, and empower our people to make connections, and the result is a true culture of service across every department. We share stories and celebrate successes in order to inspire our team, and we focus on empowerment at every opportunity.
Taking steps to ensure your leadership team is aligned on the important issues is critical to the success of a company’s culture, particularly during stages of fast growth. Maintaining our fantastic company culture is priority #1 for us, and as we grow, it’s important to make sure we’re all on the same page. Everyone in a leadership position or who otherwise has a “big voice” within our company attends a quarterly alignment meeting, during which we discuss company culture and employee morale.
What do you consider the “base” of your “pyramid”? How do you ensure that you’re focusing enough energy on company culture? Share your stories in the comments!
Publish Date: September 23, 2015 5:00 AM
Whether you’re a new business starting out, or a company with years of history, here are five statistics about customer service you should consider when creating your company’s strategy for the new year.
Over the past decade, customers have begun to recognize competing on price is a race to the bottom. Anyone can go online and find a great deal, but the experience is impersonal and often fraught with customer service issues. Studies have shown customers are willing to pay more to ensure a great brand experience, making customer service the new name of the game.
In the age of the customer, service and support representatives are the face of your company. Hire employees who innately enjoy helping others and possess a desire to go above and beyond. Empower them to do what’s best for the customer and you’ll find you create not only happier customers, but happy employees.
To make matters worse, those 4% are more likely to post feedback in the form of a negative Yelp review instead of speaking directly to you. Companies have a limited window in which to resolve a customer complaint, but only if they know about it. Proactively reach out for customer feedback whenever possible and ensure your customers know how they can escalate issues. Giving them options, even before there’s a problem, will catch more unhappy customers before they move onto a competitor.
Great companies build relationships with their customers. This means periodically checking in to see how they’re doing, passing along resources to help them make the most of their purchase, as well as inviting them to join a community. Loyal customers are worth 10 times the value of their original purchase, so make sure they know how much you appreciate their business.
With all the focus on optimizing your website and social media channels, the phone is often forgotten as a key customer communication channel. Yet, the majority of customers still prefer to speak with a real person before purchasing. Auto-attendants or being sent straight to voicemail may leave a caller frustrated and ready to move onto the next name on the list. Consider investing in a virtual receptionist service, like Ruby, to ensure every call is answered live in a friendly and professional manner.
Consumer views on customer service interactions may have changed, but their collective perception of small business has not. 80% of Americans believe small businesses place a greater emphasis on customer service, so use this to your advantage:
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Publish Date: September 18, 2015 5:00 AM
Have you ever called a company’s support line looking for help, only to hear the same lines you’ve heard a million times before? How did that make you feel?
Great customers experiences are driven by personal connections and the willingness to go above and beyond. This can rarely be achieved with dictated responses. At Ruby, we’ve found eliminating scripts empowers our receptionists to focus on creating a great experience. Rather than provide our receptionists with verbatim wording, we arm them with tone and phrasing to help during even the toughest of calls.
When you throw out the script, here’s what you can expect:
A better caller experience. Humans want to feel heard and understood by nature, even when making a phone call. When scripted, a receptionist might sound robotic and stiff—after all, none of their words are really their own! A receptionist trained to conduct their calls in a more conversational way can relay their sincere desire to help. They create connections through individualized conversations and relating to callers. As a result, your caller won’t feel like just another face in the crowd.
Increased accuracy. With lengthy scripts come higher chances of inaccuracy. If a receptionist is reading through lines and lines of wording, they may misread or even skip a line. What if they miss another important instruction, like who the caller should be directed to? Going scriptless means a receptionist will innately learn the best responses to caller’s questions, even if it is simply deferring to the best person to speak with. Your callers will be happy they’ve reached someone who can point them in the right direction!
Empowered receptionists. Providing receptionists the tools and confidence to handle calls without scripts creates a culture of empowerment. If a true emergency call came in, would you prefer your receptionist to try and reach you, even if it meant going outside of your standard instructions? Or would you rather the receptionist deliver an unhelpful scripted response to your caller? Allowing receptionists to think on their feet means they’re enabled to do what’s right for your caller, and by extension, your business.
So throw out the script and focus on providing the necessary information for your team to deliver great experiences. For Ruby, that includes:
Our expert receptionists will take it from there!
Publish Date: September 16, 2015 5:00 AM
Forwarding your phone for the first time can be a tricky business. There’s a good chance you’ll find yourself having some confusing conversations with some less-than-helpful service representatives. When you’re shopping for an answering or virtual reception service, it’s useful to be prepared with some basic information ahead of time.
Luckily, our Client Happiness team makes it their mission to be fully informed and knowledgeable about telephony. We see ourselves as a member of your team and will work with you and your telephone provider to create the best experience. To be prepared to forward your phone, we’ve created a glossary of some common industry terms you may find useful during your provider search.
Ah, the good old fashioned way! To manually forward your phone, you typically dial a 3-digit code, followed by the phone number to which you’d like your calls forwarded. The 3-digit code varies based on service provider and region, but it’s often *72. In order to forward this way, you must dial the 3-digit code from the phone line you are attempting to forward.
If you’re forwarding a smartphone, this process is even simple; there’s typically a “Call Forwarding” option in the settings menu. Easy as pie!
Remote call-forwarding is another version of manual forwarding, with one nifty difference— you can forward your phone from anywhere. With remote call-forwarding, your telephone service provider supplies you with a toll-free number, which you can then dial from any phone and, after following a few prompts, forward your existing phone line to any phone number you’d like! This feature is not available through all telephone service providers, so check with yours to find out if it’s offered in your area.
A favorite of many of our clients, delayed call-forwarding allows every call to ring in your office (for a pre-determined number of rings) before it is forwarded. This is a great option if you tend to come and go frequently and like to have the option of handling your own calls. This feature is available through most telephone service providers, and can typically be activated by contacting a service representative.
This feature allows you to create a forwarding schedule so calls can be routed to different numbers throughout the day. This is a particularly helpful option if you’re using a virtual receptionist service during the day, but would prefer that afterhours calls be directed to your established voicemail system. Not all service providers offer this feature, but it’s somewhat common, particularly amongst VoIP service providers.
While forwarding terms are helpful, what if you don’t want to forward? If you use a virtual receptionist service, you may be in luck! Many virtual receptionists, including Ruby, will allow you to port your toll-free number into their ownership. All of the routing and forwarding would then be handled by the service itself, making it completely painless!
Of course with a receptionist service like Ruby Receptionists, you’ll be assigned your very own toll-free number for forwarding, and you’re also welcome to publish that number. This completely circumvents the need for forwarding, and as an added bonus, the toll-free number can be ported into your ownership if you ever cancel your service.
Knowing exactly what you should ask for when reaching out to a telephone service provider representative or evaluating a virtual reception service can save you quite the headache. Of course, our knowledgeable and friendly team at Ruby is here to assist in any conversation with your telephone provider. We assisted thousands of small businesses across the U.S. in setting up their service, and we’re here to help you have the best experience!
Publish Date: September 10, 2015 5:00 AM
Everyone has bad days now and then, and that includes your callers. So we weren’t surprised when we received this question from Ruby fan, Michael:
“As the owner of a small company, there’s nowhere else for customer complaints to go, so I’m often the one having to deal with them. What magic does Ruby use to turn these types of callers into positive experiences?”
We’re so glad you asked Michael. Our clients look to us to make a great impression, so it’s critical our receptionists maintain a positive attitude and address the callers concerns as best they can. Talking with the occasional frustrated caller can be intimidating and stressful—as it sounds like Michael has experienced. But with the right skills, (no magic required), a difficult call can be turned around.
First, never go into a phone call thinking “This person is angry and nothing I say will change that.” If you do, you’re nearly assured to be right! Start by approaching every caller as a unique human being.
Next, allow the caller some venting room. One nice thing about frustrated callers is they’ll let you know what’s wrong. Give callers the room to complain and explain. Don’t interrupt, and when it’s your turn to speak, begin by acknowledging the caller’s frustration, like this:
“Hello, thank you for calling the Law Office. How may I help you?”
“I don’t know if you can help me. I was injured on the job and I’ve been getting medical treatments, so I can’t work. But now the company is claiming that I don’t qualify for workman’s comp and is refusing to pay. I don’t know what to do and I’m just calling around to see if there’s anyone who can help.”
“Oh dear! I can certainly understand why you’re upset! I’m going to do everything I can to get you some help.”
A little empathy goes a long way. But don’t fake it—frustrated callers are like bloodhounds when it comes to sniffing out insincerity, and a lackluster “I understand” might make your caller even more upset. If truly you’re empathetic to a caller’s strife, make sure they hear it!
Empathy is a great way to diffuse a caller’s frustration, however, they can quickly become upset again if they don’t feel they’re being heard. An upset caller demands your full attention, so it’s time to put your listening skills into high gear. A great way to let callers know you’ve heard their concerns is by paraphrasing them back, like this:
“Back on June 21st, I ordered a present for my wife’s birthday—two months ahead of time. I wasn’t notified it was on back order until this week, two days before her birthday. I’ve been a long time customer and I’m disappointed you failed to notify me in time. I’d like a full-refund.”
“My goodness, I understand why that would be frustrating. I want to make sure I have your information correct. The very special item order was placed on June 21st, but you weren’t notified it was on back order until this week, around August 19th, correct?”
Being transparent is also helpful. If you need to try multiple lines, always go back to the caller and let them know you’re still with them, like this:
“Thank you so much for holding. Beth Smith was away from her line. I’m going to try another line for you. One more moment, please.”
By keeping the caller in the loop, you reassure them they haven’t been lost on hold.
Of course, sometimes callers are frustrated because they’re not able to connect with the person they’re seeking. If you’re not the expert they’re looking for, framing your role can be a big help. Explain what you do, and assure the caller you’ll do everything in your power to help. You may not be able to offer exactly what your caller wants in the moment, but your dedication to customer service will still shine through, like this:
“I can certainly understand why you’re upset! As the receptionist, I will alert everyone on our tech support team to your issue, and ask that they return your call to set up a repair appointment as soon as possible. I’m going to do everything I can to help get this resolved!”
Most importantly, when handling frustrated callers keep calm and kind. This is the biggie. If you keep your cool, remain professional and friendly, and show your understanding and appreciation, you’re likely to improve even the most upset caller’s mood, even if you aren’t able to solve their issue right away.
Bad days happen. Cars break down, projects get delayed—a number of factors unrelated to your call can result in a caller blowing off steam. Instead of concentrating on the behavior, focus on the person at the other end of the line. While on the call, empathize with the customer and lend a listening ear. For most callers, this is enough to turn them around. If they’re still frustrated upon hanging up, however, you’ll know did your best.
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Publish Date: September 8, 2015 5:00 AM
You end up wearing many hats when you strike out on your own, handling everything from customer service and billing, to ordering supplies and answering the phone. All those distractions can add up and keep you from doing what you do best. For this month’s spotlight, we asked returning client Sheila Rambeck, of RambeckLaw PC, to share how Ruby helps her stay focused and efficient.
What type of law do you specialize in?
I do estate planning, such as wills, powers of attorney, guardianships, conservatorships, and probate. I also do bankruptcy. Variety is the spice of life!
Why did you choose to work in the legal profession?
I didn’t go to college until later in my life (43) and was taking marketing classes. I love marketing! When I was near the completion of my bachelor’s degree, I realized I’d always thought about becoming an attorney, but didn’t have the drive earlier in life. I applied to Georgia State University College of Law (the only school to which I applied) and was accepted. So I went!
What is your favorite part of your job?
Meeting new clients. I love the interaction, hearing them tell their story of why they wound up in my office, and being able to tell them, “I can help you with that.”
Why do first impressions matter in your industry?
If you don’t click with a client right away, they will go find another attorney to whom they can relate. First impressions on the phone are important, too, which is why I use Ruby. You answer the phone much better than I!
You’re a returning client to Ruby. What brought you back to our service?
I missed you! Finances were a bit tight when I had to cancelled my service; since then, they’ve improved. I truly don’t think I could live without Ruby and the service is a priority in my budget. Ruby makes life easier for me and the clients don’t know you aren’t sitting out in the reception area for my building.
What is the biggest change you’ve seen in your business since hiring Ruby?
More time for me to do my work undistracted. When I answered the phone myself, I would be distracted with the call and doing whatever needed doing after the call. Now, you answer and I pull up my messages twice a day and take care of things then. If I have more free time, I’ll check more often, but twice a day works best for me to work undistracted.
What do you like best about working with Ruby?
Ruby is so professional and everyone sounds great on the phone. You answer the phone (which is a part of my job I like very little) and send me an e-mail; I can talk to clients when I’m not doing something that requires all my concentration and when I’m ready for them. I can get their file out and review their case status before I talk to them, instead of having to put them on hold while I do that. My clients are happy I’m informed about their case before I talk with them. Y’all rock!
Thank you Sheila for sharing your Ruby story! Are you a current Ruby client and would like to be featured on our blog? Send us an email or respond in the comments below!
Publish Date: September 1, 2015 5:00 AM
As children, creativity was not only encouraged—it was embedded in our day. Between recess, art projects, band practice and after-school activities, our creative minds had plenty of opportunities to run wild.
As adults, however, we’re often responsible for making our own time to flex our creative muscles, despite its importance to our productivity. A study on the Global Creativity Gap conducted by Adobe found 80% of employees believe creativity is critical to economic growth, yet nearly the same percentage said they feel pressured to be more productive than creative at work. Research has shown not having the time to spend on creative projects slows down problem-solving skills, innovative thinking, and results in an overall feeling of disengagement.
Creativity is a muscle with a fickle memory. Without being exercised often, it can forget how to complete a task that requires that kind of cognitive process. Whether you’re the owner of a business or an employee, it’s critical you take a proactive approach in order to maintain your creative edge.
Consider how you spend your time.
Status updates, tweets, and Internet rabbit holes will take hours out of your week. If you’re confident incoming text messages or phone calls can wait, turn off your phone. While it’s satisfying to see those real-time notifications, they’re working against you. Multitasking not only takes a toll on your energy, it increased the likelihood you’ll make a mistake. Not convinced? Try this simple exercise from Psychology Today to see the impact multitasking has on your time.
Instead of spending any downtime checking your notifications, dedicate that time to activities that will get the gears turning. Indulge in an art blog or personal essay, listen to music that inspires you, or simply allow yourself to brainstorm and daydream. If you’re the boss, consider building this time into your employee’s work day. For example, Google attributes many of their innovative projects to their 20 percent time policy, which encourages employees to spend a certain amount of their time at week working on outside projects.
A fear of failure keeps you from trying something new, like attacking a task from a different angle. The trick is to acknowledge failure is a possibility—and accept that’s okay. Then, use your resources to set yourself up for the best results. Collaborate with colleagues whose feedback you trust, and share your progress with them. Challenge your ideas by seeking out varying perspectives. You’ll either feel more confident about your path, or spot red flags while there’s still time to change direction.
Don’t dismiss your curiosity.
Instead of shrugging off something you that sparks your interest because you’re worried about time or relevance, give yourself time to investigate. A little obsession here and there can be an excellent source of inspiration—so get as much out of it as you can! Seeking out creative stimuli, even if it’s not relevant to your current projects, will change the way your brain processes information.
If the muses call, answer!
You may not have time to drop everything and create a modern masterpiece, but jotting down a few notes to refer back to will help you preserve the spark. Prepare yourself for any possible light bulb moments—save notes and voice recordings on your phone and always have a backup notebook handy. Whenever you have some time to delve further into your idea, follow through. It may take some patience and discipline to work your way back into that head space, but the longer you wait, the less likely it will be that you revisit the idea.
Breaking down deadlines into smaller goals.
Working on a project that relies heavily on your inspiration and creativity can really put on the pressure. Setting an expectation each day that is reasonable will diffuse any creativity-killing stress. Start by making a list of all of the individual tasks that are required to finish a project, then put those in the order you would normally complete them. Think about how much time each of those things take using past projects for reference, but also be generous with your estimation. Finally, map out your timeline in a way that will keep you on track. Outlook reminders, checklists, or actual timeline diagrams are all great tools to use for this purpose.
Remind yourself of your successes.
Keep a log of all of the creative projects you’ve completed, no matter how small. Add notes you think will be helpful in the future, such as sharing any struggles, your process, the timeline you used, etc. This can be especially helpful when you hit a slump. Use it to squelch your inner naysayer!
A structured work environment combined with a repetitive work load can do a number on your creative spirit, so it’s up to you to keep it alive. Manipulating your time and your environment is key to making it happen. Now close your browser and let your imagination run wild!
Publish Date: August 27, 2015 5:00 AM