This Sunday is Halloween, and the Ruby® Receptionists team is celebrating with their usual enthusiasm! Many of our live virtual receptionists (or “undead virtual receptionists,” as the case may be) are answering phones dressed up in creative costumes. To make it even more of a scream, and since we’re currently holding our annual “Rubies for Rubys” incentive campaign, we decided to organize a costume contest! Check out our decked out virtual receptionists answering phones in their colorful getups:

Ruby Receptionists' virtual receptionists take a break from answering phones to celebrate Halloween
From left: Serenity C., Clarice S., Amanda S., Lianne C., Amy W., and Lisa O.
Ruby Receptionists' remote receptionists celebrate Halloween!
From left: Ang Gray, Hilary P., LeAnna N., Kate C. (a “killer bee,” get it?!), and Lauren O.
Ruby Receptionists' live virtual receptionists celebrate Halloween!
From top left: Brooke R. Sara-Lee B., Gabby G., Katy M., Monica P., Katie Wilson (yours truly), Monica D., and Stefani V.

Sara-Lee B.’s fantastic mermaid costume (pictured above) took first place! She made it herself complete, with tail!

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New Hire Tips
Our newest virtual receptionist, Amy T., on her very first day!

I’m proud to say that first days are pretty awesome at Ruby® Receptionists. Our HR, Culture, and Receptionist Services departments work together to support every new live virtual receptionist we hire, and the systems they’ve created ensure fantastic first days. Whether your office is big or small, making a great impression is important on day one. First days are also a crucial time to show that your team is organized, on the ball, and gets things done — and that the same is expected from any new addition. The following three basics are a must when we welcome a new employee to our telephone answering team, and we think they’ll work wonders for your team, too:

  1. Be extra early. If you’re showing a new employee the ropes, be at work well before your newbie is set to arrive. Any eager new employee will show up early — sometimes even very early — so give yourself plenty of time to get settled and prepare for the day. If you’re at all concerned about your ability to get to work early, create a contingency plan with a co-worker so that your new teammate gets a graceful greeting — even if traffic is terrible for you that particular morning.
  2. Emphasize your company’s core values. If your company is anything like our team of virtual receptionists, core values are guideposts for every work-related decision, big or small. Training can be overwhelming for both a trainer and a new employee—no matter what a position entails, there’s always a lot to learn and a lot to teach. Your newbie will forget some details, and will need help after initial training is complete, but teaching a new employee the importance of your core values on day one sets that employee up for success. When new team members let core values guide them, they’re likely to make quality decisions even before grasping all the ins and outs of a new job.
  3. Work! Don’t make day one a “coast day” for your new employee. Prepare work for your newbie to do, even if it’s super basic. A first day is all about setting the tone for your new teammate, and it’s important to show your company’s dedication to work ethic from the get-go. Fun stuff is important, too — make time for introductions and an office tour, and maybe take your new employee out to lunch and give a tour of neighborhood. But once settled, give your new team member the opportunity to accomplish a bit of work.

Now that you’ve heard how we prepare for each new virtual receptionist, what first-day routines does your team stand by? We’d love to hear them!

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Live virtual receptionist Emily B. answering calls
Virtual receptionist Emily B. and my little pup, Ellie, were an unstoppable fundraising team!

Ruby® Receptionists’ virtual receptionists take their telephone answering seriously. It’s what we do each and every day, and we always strive to be the best. So when the opportunity arose to use our virtual receptionist skills for a good cause, we jumped at the chance! The Oregon Humane Society hosts an annual telethon to help raise funds for needy animals, and the phone bank is staffed entirely by volunteers.  A phone bank is like an answering service in that volunteers are taking detailed messages to facilitate donations, so we were clearly made for this job! And we were even able to bring our pets, so it couldn’t get much more perfect (purrfect?)!

Our remote receptionists were thrilled to play a role in helping the Oregon Humane Society surpass their goal and raise $296,000 to help animals in need and find homes for 58 homeless animals!

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Even More Reasons Lawyers Love Ruby!

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Live virtual receptionist LeAnna N.
Cheerful virtual receptionist LeAnna N.

As you may have gathered, our virtual receptionists are true “people people,” and we’re grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in so many people’s days! We’ve told you how our cheerful, friendly virtual receptionists care for callers, so I’d like to take a minute to share how we support our attorney clients.

Take Calls Whenever — and Wherever — Is Convenient. Overall, we give attorneys flexibility and free them from their desks without compromising their professional image. With Ruby®, you can work wherever is convenient for you – we can call you on any number you like and at that point, you can accept or decline each call.

Manage Interruptions. We also give lawyers peace of mind — and peace and quiet. You don’t have to be in court to tell us to hold your calls, just let us know (and if judge’s calls should override, our virtual receptionists will happily oblige!).

Boost Productivity. Our remote receptionists for attorneys don’t just answer calls, they can also help small firms be more productive by making calls to confirm appointments or relay information. Ruby client Attorney Jeff Parker uses this option often, “[turning] what would have been wasted time sitting in a courtroom into productive, and billable, time.”

Enhance Client Records. Another way Ruby makes attorneys’ lives easier: we provide a call log and a .wav (audio) file of every voicemail left. Attorney Parker notes that this can be particularly useful because you can “easily attach [it] to a client’s electronic case file.”

As Ernie the Attorney (Ernest Svenson) pointed out in his blog, “I can’t possibly explain in writing how useful [Ruby’s] service is. You simply have to try it to understand.”

Want more info? Give us a shout @callruby on Twitter! We’re happy to help!

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Why Do Lawyers Love Ruby?

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Friendly virtual receptionist Lauren O.

Ruby® Receptionists’ live virtual receptionists love nothing better than to make someone’s day. We are often delighted by unsolicited compliments from our clients, and we love to hear that the friendly and professional way we handle their calls is making their lives easier.

Our attorney clients in particular have been outspoken about our call answering service, and in fact, several have recently blogged or written articles about us. Here are just a few ways we practice WOWism to support our attorney clients and their callers on a regular basis.

Stay Connected to Clients Even While You’re Out. Attorneys are often called to court, in meetings with clients, or otherwise occupied — and by having a live person answering phones up to 13 hours a day Monday through Friday, Ruby makes their firm sound attentive and professional. A friendly, live voice does wonders for potential client trust. In contrast, routinely letting callers go to voicemail would likely make them wonder whether the lawyer they’re calling is going to be able to make time for them.

Delegate the “Intake” to Ruby. In fact, our remote receptionists can provide even more support for an attorney’s callers and clients. For example, if a potential client calls, we can gather information for a short intake form. Our charming virtual receptionists are great at engaging potential clients, and they help clients feel taken care of. Plus, the attorney gets all the vital details (first and last name, info on the case, how they heard about the firm, email address, or whatever info you’d like) in order to have an informed conversation when they return the call.

Keep Callers Informed of Your Status. Our handy “Whereabouts” feature helps keep callers and clients feel in the loop. Attorneys can let us know when they’re out of the office in court or elsewhere, and our virtual receptionist will inform callers (“She’s in court until 1pm…. May I have her return your call then?”). It’s just like giving instructions to an in-house receptionist as you head out the door — “If Bob Smith calls, give me a call on my cell. Otherwise, I’ll be at lunch for an hour.”

Designate Priority Callers. We also understand how important it is to be responsive to the courts. Many of our attorney clients set up special instructions for us, because though a client may be able to wait an hour for an update on his case, a judge may be a different matter. For example, when transferring a call to you, we may try your office number if it’s a client, but also try a cell number for potentially urgent or time-sensitive calls from fellow attorneys and people from the courts.

We enable every call to be answered with professionalism and charm, regardless of how busy things are in the office. As Ruby client and attorney Stanley Feldman shared with us in an email the other day, “It has been a little hectic lately, but I wanted to take a minute to thank everyone for the great service. No matter what kind of mood I am in from day to day, ‘my’ Ruby is always pleasant to me and my clients or other callers.”

Now that you have an idea of how Ruby’s friendly virtual receptionists care for our attorney clients’ callers, check back tomorrow for a look at how our we support the lawyers themselves!

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Welcoming new employees

At Ruby® Receptionists, we understand the importance of making a great first impression. Our clients count on us to do just that, and our remote receptionists deliver stellar first impressions with every call they answer. But our dedication to great first impressions isn’t limited to telephone answering—we aim to ensure that every new employee receives the best introduction possible. Where first days are concerned, we’ve found that a little planning goes a long way. Try these three preparation tips to ensure that first days are fantastic at your office:

Create a game plan.

Who will greet the new employee? Who will give the employee a tour? Who will train the employee, and what materials are needed? It may seem excessive, but a first-day game plan is invaluable. Sketch out a schedule, and prepare any training materials beforehand. And get started on the game plan early–as soon as you know you’re hiring someone new, ideally. If you feel unprepared, your employee will most certainly sense your apprehension, and that does not make for a good impression. A new employee should know that your team is hardworking, organized, and efficient from the moment they walk in the door, and there’s no better way to send that message than by treating your employee to smooth, thorough first day.

Make a shipshape workspace.

Is the new employee’s keyboard a little dusty? Get to dust-busting! Nothing makes a poor impression like an unclean office. Make your new employee’s workspace is spic-and-span, and while you’re at it, stock your employee’s desk with supplies. Test your employee’s telephone, headset, computer, and any other equipment, and make sure all necessary software is installed and working properly. Set your newbie up for success!

Add a personal touch.

At Ruby, we place a welcome gift on each new employee’s desk, along with a handwritten notecard from the employee’s manger. These touches serve to make a new employee feel like part of the team from the get-go. You may not have room for a gift in your budget, but be sure to place a welcome note on any new employee’s desk. A heartfelt hello does wonders without costing a penny!

If you have any first-day tips to share, please comment–we’d love to learn how you welcome new employees to your team!

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Virtual reception service Ruby Receptionists sponsored a table at the Go Red for Women event

Yesterday, several members of our live phone answering crew attended the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Luncheon at the Oregon Convention Center. For those not familiar with the Go Red for Women campaign, it is a national movement to promote heart-healthy education and heart disease prevention. Ruby® Receptionists founder/CEO Jill Nelson, Director of Client Services Ashley Hampton, and virtual receptionist Sara-Lee B., and other supporters of the cause donned red dresses in order to raise awareness of heart disease, the leading cause of death for women in the United States.

Ruby® Receptionists was an official sponsor of the highly attended gathering with proceeds going to supporting awareness, research, education, and community programs to fight heart disease. Here are a few pictures from the worthwhile event:

 One of the highlights of the event was keynote speaker Graham Kerr, also known as the Galloping Gourmet. A chef famous for his sumptuous cooking, he and his wife made lifestyle changes after her heart disease scare. You can learn more and find some of his now heart-healthy, but still delicious recipes on his website. We’re sharing what we learned with the rest of our virtual receptionist team. If you’d like to learn more about heart disease prevention for yourself or your team or if you’d like to make a donation, please visit the American Heart Association’s website.

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Pat S., one of our charming live virtual receptionists here at Ruby Receptionists
Pat S., one of our charming virtual receptionists

We’re excited to share a special blog post request from red-carpet customer service expert and current Ruby® Receptionists client Donna Cutting.

A while back, we had a lovely conversation via the Ruby Receptionists Twitter page, and she suggested that we do a blog post on our hiring techniques. Actually, her exact words were: “What are the hiring practices you use to ensure you hire such phenomenal people?” We take great care in finding our dazzling virtual receptionists, so it’s a fabulous idea to be able to share our secrets with the rest of the small (or medium or large) businesses out there.

Over the years, we’ve developed an exceptional system for interviews. In fact, we don’t even call them “interviews”; we call them “sit-withs,” denoting a more two-sided conversation. We divide sit-withs into three parts, each of which is lead by a different Ruby team member. That way, we are able to get a whole picture of who the candidate is and how she might fit into our unique culture:

The tour.

Sarah Sackett, Ruby’s Director of Culture (and regular blog contributor), begins the experience by showing them around the office. Sarah focuses on our culture and Core Values since they are such a big part of who we are. She looks to see if the candidate is excited about what we believe in, since it is so different from what drives a lot of other companies out there. Ultimately, we look for people who get as excited about Fostering Happiness and Creating Community as they are about the perks of the job.

The “formal” interview.

After the tour, the Ruby candidate sits down with one of our talented Staff Managers. Hopefully, the friendly office tour with Sarah will have calmed her nerves so that we get to see who she is and what she’s passionate about. Our managers keep a keen eye out for non-verbal cues to see what she gets excited about; if she perks up when talking about meeting lots of different kinds of people, for example, Ruby may just be the place for her! We also watch out for a certain confidence in manner and speech. Our remote receptionists answer a fair number of calls a day from a range of different industries, and it’s important that they be able to think on their feet and maintain a professional demeanor. We also like to switch up the topics for the same reason – our virtual receptionists need to be able to talk about both fun and serious issues at a moment’s notice; one moment they may be speaking with a party planner’s client, and the next they may be taking a brief intake form for a divorce attorney’s new client. We get to see how they might handle this by having them chat with Sarah about the more lighthearted aspects of the job and then having them talk to one of their potential managers about something more serious like the mechanics of the job.

The job first-hand.

Our sit-with ends with an opportunity for the interviewee to see the job in action. We have the prospective Ruby sit with one of our veteran virtual receptionists to get a feel for the special way we answer phones. At the same time, we get to see how she interacts with someone who would be her peer. Does she ask a lot of questions? Is she interested in why we do the things we do? Does she make an effort to get to know her potential coworker?

As you can see, we like to get to know our candidates through more than just a piece of paper and a few questions. Through our three-part “sit-with” system, Rubys at different levels of the company are able to meet prospective employees and consider whether they’re going to be a good fit. People interact very differently with their peers as with their potential managers, and if across the board she’s well-spoken, professional, charming, and enthusiastic, then we may have found yet another Ruby!

What do you look for in a potential employee? Or do you have another topic you’d like us to cover on the Ruby blog? We’d be delighted to hear your suggestions. Please feel free to post your tips and topics in the comments below.

Last but not least, special thanks to Donna Cutting for suggesting this post idea!

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Wondering how to ask who is calling professionally? Transfer a call with style? Hoping to impress every caller? We can help.

Here at Ruby, we’re all about growth. From how we greet callers to elevating employee experience, finding new ways to improve the way we do things is a part of our culture.

Over the years, and through thousands upon thousands of phone calls, our live virtual receptionists have discovered some “do’s” and “do not’s” in the way of telephone etiquette. We’ve assembled a call-handling guide to help you “Ruby-fy” your phone skills and show callers you care:

Don’t say what.

Your tone is just as important as your content during a conversation, if not more so.  A short question like “What?” can sound brusque to a caller, even when delivered delicately.  If you need to clarify what your caller said, add some padding to your query.  Try “Would you mind repeating that?” instead of a simple “What?”

Put some may in your day.

Again, padding a question can help it feel friendlier.  Rather than asking “What is your name?” or “Who is this?” opt for this standby: “May I ask who is calling?”  In fact, beginning with “May I” is a surefire way to soften just about any question well. 

Try these on for size:

“May I have your telephone number?”

“May I ask what company you’re with?”

“May I offer you his voicemail?”

“May I take a message?”

Pretty classy, right?

Preface your pause politely.

When you need a short conversational break to research a caller’s question,  it’s best to introduce the upcoming pause.  Skip “Just a second” and “Just a sec,” even if a few seconds of silence is all you need. Instead, keep it professional and polite with a phrase like “One moment, please.” If you need more than a few seconds, though, always be sure to follow the next guideline…

Ask before pressing the hold key.

Even the magic word can’t make a statement like “Hold, please” sound warm. But how do you ask someone to hold the phone?

Before treating your caller to a bit of hold music, ask permission.  “May I place you on hold for a moment?” is the Ruby standard. It’s that simple!

Another tip from our live virtual receptionist crew is to thank the caller when resuming your conversation.  “Thank you so much for your patience” is a great way to get back into the flow of a call.

A final Ruby must: If your caller declines to be placed on hold, don’t place the call on hold. Instead, stay on the line as you do what you need to do.

Missed calls are missed opportunities.

Discover what a virtual receptionist is, and how we can help you boost your bottom line in our free ebook!

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As I began to describe in part one of this series, Ruby® Receptionists is not your typical answering service – in fact, we’re so different, it all couldn’t fit in just one post! Whether it’s the way our live virtual receptionists connect you to callers or just their overall delightful and professional demeanor, we strive to take customer service to a whole new level. While our remote receptionists are the heart of what sets us apart, our use of advanced technology also makes a big difference. Here are a few more reasons we’re unique:

90% of calls are answered on the first or second ring. At Ruby®, promptness is a virtue we cultivate. It is Ruby® Receptionists policy to never have a caller hear more than 10 seconds of ringing, and every call is answered by a live person during business hours.

We’re able to track your “whereabouts.” You may update us as to your status (at lunch, on your cell, working from home, etc.) at any time, and our offsite receptionists can relay info to your callers right away (“He’s in a meeting at the moment, may I take a message?” or “Sheila’s on a conference call, but I’d be happy to offer you her voicemail.”). Your callers will think we’re right in the other room! You can update your whereabouts by email or by calling us — or by using our convenient iPhone app.

Ruby Receptionists Mobile App

We send your messages immediately via email or text — or both! Some answering services ask you to call in for your messages, or they “batch” messages and send them to you at the end of the day. We send all your messages immediately, so you’ll be able to prioritize callbacks and keep your clients happy — while saving your own valuable time.

We’re able to customize to whom messages are sent. And we can distribute messages to multiple people simultaneously. For example, we can send messages from potential new clients to your sales team or customer service messages to your support team. Or maybe you’d just like us to copy your assistant on every message, because we can do that, too!

We email recordings of your voicemails. With every voicemail left, you’ll receive two emails. The first is from the receptionist letting you know who called. Then, the voicemail system itself sends you a .wav file (or sound file) that you can listen to on your computer or smartphone. With Ruby, you’ll never have to wonder whether you have a voicemail waiting for you, and you’ll never even have to dial in — unless, of course, you want to!

Ruby only charges for the receptionist time involved. Some traditional answering services have additional fees for transferring calls live, if they can do it at all. Or, they might charge you for each message taken or for the time that you talk to your callers. Not Ruby! We keep it simple and charge only for “receptionist minutes,” a.k.a. only for the time that our virtual receptionists are involved in the calls.

We combine friendly, professional service with advanced technology to ensure that your day goes smoothly, because, above all, we’re here to make your life easier.

These are just a few of the factors to consider when exploring answering services versus virtual reception services such as Ruby Receptionists. Have any other questions? Please give us a call! We’d love to hear from you!

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Missed connections translate to lost revenue. With Ruby, you have a partner in gaining and retaining customers. Plus, we’re so confident you’ll love our service, we offer a 21 day money-back guarantee*.

*Ruby is delighted to offer a money-back guarantee to first time users of both our virtual receptionist service and our chat service. To cancel your service and obtain a full refund for the cancelled service (less any multi-service discount), please notify us of the service you wish to cancel either within 21 days of your purchase of that service or before your usage exceeds 500 receptionist minutes/50 billable chats, as applicable, whichever occurs sooner.