What is SharePoint? Well, it’s a lot of things: it’s a program that makes web page building a snap for folks familiar with Microsoft products, it’s a great way to share documents and information, it’s a social networking site, it’s an amazing way to communicate, and the list goes on and on.

This fantastic interactive tool replaced our office intranet years ago, and we couldn’t be happier. I’m no SharePoint expert, so I’ll leave the how-to explanations to the pros (a quick Internet search of “SharePoint” yields tons of great results!), but in this post, I’ll give you a snapshot of one of the many ways we use SharePoint. And trust me, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Creating Community is one of the Ruby Receptionist Core Values, and we use SharePoint to help us do just that. As you can probably guess, all our phone answering keeps us pretty busy. Because we don’t always have time to chat face-to-face, our Director of Culture Sarah Sackett created a social website on SharePoint. It’s sub-site of our main SharePoint page, and it’s dedicated strictly to fun stuff. Here are three cool things our social site allows us to do:

1. Share photos. We love to host events and snap photos of the Ruby revelry. The SharePoint picture library feature makes sharing photos a breeze! The best part? All it takes is a minute of photo viewing to put smiles on our faces. Ah, memories!

2. Share recommendations. Looking for a good restaurant, a new doctor, or something fun to do this weekend? Never fear, the social site is here! We’ve got discussion boards for all sorts of intriguing topics. When we want feedback, we know where to turn!

3. Know what’s up. Our Event Planning Committee creates all sorts of opportunities for our teambuilding — kickball, bowling, and volunteering, to name a few. So when does all this fun stuff go down? Just check the event calendar on the social site to find out!

If your team uses SharePoint, consider creating a space for socialization. We think you’ll like the results! And if you already use SharePoint for a social site, please share your tips below.

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Happy Soup Day!

Reading time:

Soup Day!Today, our hardworking virtual receptionists are celebrating our third annual Soup Day! Soup Day is a Ruby® Receptionists tradition of sorts. Three years ago, on a particularly rainy January day, a few generous team members decided to foster a little happiness in our office by bringing in a few crockpots of soup to share…little did they know, that little generosity would spark an office tradition. The first improptu Soup Day was such a hit, we have made it an annual tradition that our team of virtual receptionists look forward to all year!

Our administrative, management, and support staff picks a day in January to surprise our phone answering pros with a buffet of soups to warm their days. It’s a fabulously easy event to plan, and costs next to nothing for the company, but the impact is huge! Try it in your office — I promise it will put a smile on your employees’ faces! To get you started, here is Ruby’s Receptionist Services Director Jewel Miller’s recipe for a delicious vegan butternut squash soup (click for a larger view):

Jewel's Vegan Butternut Squash Soup!

What’s your favorite soup to brighten a chilly winter day? Share your fave — or even a recipe — below!

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Time management tips

When you work in a busy office, it can seem like a minefield of distractions. The phone’s ringing, you have a pile of work to do, and each passerby may want to stop and chat. Whether your coworker has a business question or just wants to share a funny story, it may not be the best time for you.

For my third and final installment of time management strategies, I’m covering three ways you can minimize interruptions to make the most out of your day:

  • Don a pair of headphones. As a Client Services Associate, I have to be ready for any questions from clients, sales associates, or any of our virtual receptionists at a moment’s notice. While I simply can’t say no to anyone who asks, “Do you have a minute?” wearing headphones is a sign that you’re focusing, and it’s not a good time. For me, even music without lyrics is distracting, so I use nature sounds from SoundSleeping.com. Recently I’ve had a soft flute, a crackling fire, and the faint chirp of crickets at my desk.
  • Do you have a minute? I might not be in a position to say no to this question, but I can ask, “How about in half an hour?” or, “Can I stop by your desk in fifteen minutes?” Giving a time frame does two things: it’s nicer (who’s just going to say “No” and stare at the enquirer blankly?), and it puts that person on your schedule for the day. Now you you can plan to be interrupted.
  • You can’t make more hours in the day, but you can manage your stress levels. Try this: take four yoga breaths. It’s proven to reduce the stress hormone Cortisol instantly. Sit up straight and put your hand on your stomach. Breathe in through your nose slowly, puffing out your stomach like a balloon. Push out your hand with your stomach as far as it will go. Then breathe out through your mouth (again, slowly), and enjoy the relief. It will take you under a minute, but the benefits last much longer, even extending your life expectancy!

These techniques help me make our receptionist service unlike any other answering service. We’re all busy, but for us at Ruby, the most important thing is making sure all of our virtual receptionists are supported by organized, helpful people so that they can answer phones happily and stress-free!

For more advice, please check out parts one and two of my time management series.

Do you have a great tip that I’ve missed? Please post what works for you (or what doesn’t) in the comment section below!

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Ruby® Receptionists is partnering with software providers Interactive Intelligence and KRP Communications Inc. to develop a new software platform to support its team of virtual receptionists. This new software will allow for many additional features that will further customize our friendly, professional service to meet each client’s unique needs. Our steadfast belief in innovation and wow-ing every client sets Ruby apart from your average answering service, and we’re excited to see how KRP and Interactive Intelligence’s cutting-edge new software will enhance the personal way we answer phones. Read more about this innovative new project in Interactive Intelligence’s press release.

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Start stop continue feedback examples

Ever wonder how to elicit feedback and suggestions from your staff? We understand the importance of feedback at Ruby® Receptionists. Our amazing team of virtual receptionists wouldn’t be what it is today without the improvements that resulted from quality feedback over the years. What’s our secret? Three little words: Start, Stop, Continue.

The “Start, Stop, Continue” system is a popular method for gathering specific, helpful feedback, and the name explains it all. When giving feedback, note something you think a team member or department should start doing, stop doing, and continue doing.

Our telephone answering champs use the “Start, Stop, Continue” system to submit anonymous feedback whenever they feel so inclined. We keep a drop-box and plenty of “Start, Stop, Continue” forms in our office.

When a “Stop, Start, Continue” form is received, our Director of Receptionist Services emails the anonymous feedback to our team. She addresses each idea with feedback of her own, describing how a suggestion will be implemented or why it won’t be implemented. From there, changes are made, systems improved, and our workplace is bettered. It’s pretty amazing! And it’s easy. Thanks to thoughtful suggestions from our team, we’ve reduced office waste, begun using new software, and effected lots of procedural changes that have made a positive impact on our daily lives.

The “Start, Stop, Continue” system takes the guesswork out of giving helpful feedback. There may be something you’d like a co-worker to stop doing, but there’s probably also something you think that co-worker does very well. Why not acknowledge both? Giving feedback doesn’t always have to be about seeking change—it can be a great opportunity to celebrate successes, too.

The next time you’re reviewing a peer, department, or your company as a whole, don’t fret. Take a cue from our live virtual receptionists and try using the “Start, Stop, Continue” model. We think you’ll find it’s an excellent way to express your thoughts clearly, quickly, and effectively, without breaking a sweat.

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We’re big fans of innovation here at Ruby® Receptionists; in fact, our virtual receptionists use advanced technology to answer phones for a variety of different businesses every day. And when we find out about a particularly helpful tech tool, we jump at the chance to share it with other business owners. Here are three more free tools that we use to help us communicate and share:

  • Spark – Ruby’s virtual receptionists are constantly answering phones and routing calls. That doesn’t leave room for a lot of communication between coworkers – something essential to our Core Value of Creating Community. We found our solution in Spark, a free open source instant messaging platform. Our receptionists can relay info, ask questions, and chat all over a secure internal network.
  • Google Docs – Named one of the 10 Best Productivity Apps of 2010, when you need to share and edit a document with multiple people, Google Docs is a great (and free!) way to accomplish it. For example, the Ruby social media team uses this tool to host our editorial calendar. It keeps us on track so we can post consistently and keep our content diverse.
  • Gravatar – Have you seen the little photo icon that appears next to my name when I add a comment to one of our Watercooler posts? Yep, that’s me! I uploaded a picture for free on Gravatar, and the photo follows me (by the email address I use) to whatever blog I’m posting on. It’s a great way to add a personal touch to any comment!

Feel free to test out Gravatar by posting a comment below! Say hi, and watch your photo appear!

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Top Time Management Techniques

To kick off the New Year, I shared a few of my favorite time-saving tips to help manage your schedule. This week, I’d like to continue with a few more suggestions on how to make the most of your time:

  • Don’t be a perfectionist. As a Client Services Associate here at Ruby® Receptionists, I write a lot of emails to clients regarding anything from their account to phone answering advice. Occasionally, I’ll find myself working on an email for 45 minutes. While it might be important, I’m probably not getting nearly as much return on my investment for the last 20 minutes as opposed to the first 20. At some point, the email is just not going to get any better. Think about opportunity cost; would those last 20 minutes be better spent completing another task on your list?
  • Work to your strengths. I know that I work best on things that take a high level of concentration in the first three hours of my morning. That’s why I focus first thing on quality checking to make sure new accounts are in tip-top shape and composing my Pulitzer-worthy (!) blog posts. It gives me momentum for my day, so I can move on to my all-time favorite parts of the job: working with my fellow Rubys and following up with clients about how to improve our phone answering even more to set Ruby apart from traditional answering services.
  • Don’t stop at a good stopping point. We’re told in school to break projects up into pieces, but don’t let that limit you. Instead of stopping between two parts of a project, stop in the middle of something. Don’t write the end of that sentence; just stop in the middle! Making a quick bullet list of key words below your not finished sentence will help you out when you come back to it. It sounds counter-intuitive, but if I come back to an email that I left hanging in the middle of a sentence, I get back to work much more quickly than if I come back to an email draft and have to start a new paragraph.

Well, that seems like a “good stopping point” for today. Check back soon for Part Three of my time management series, where I share additional tips on how to maximize your time. In the “meantime,” what are your favorite time management tips? Tweet us @callruby to share!

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Welcome visitors to your office

Ruby team members are masters of the first impression so it makes sense that we know how to welcome a guest, greet visitors, and impress clients on the phone and in the office!

At Ruby, we aim to wow everyone we interact with, be it in person or when we’re answering phones. Although we’re an office full of live virtual receptionists, we don’t have a specific in-office receptionist tasked with greeting guests. Instead, we empower our entire team to welcome visitors. Making a great first impression on visitors isn’t any one person’s job at Ruby — it’s everyone’s job.

All Ruby team members know the Ruby procedure of welcoming guests to the office. They know it’s time to greet, seat, and treat.

  • Greet – As soon as a guest enters the office, approach them and — you guessed it — greet ‘em! Follow that greeting with a friendly “How may I help you?”
  • Seat – Offer the guest a seat in the reception area.
  • Treat – Offer the guest coffee, tea, or water, and if they accept, bring their beverage to them. After greeting, seating, and treating, let the appropriate team member know their guest has arrived. Check in with the visitor if he or she is waiting for more than a few minutes.
How to receive and treat visitors
Rubys Kate C. and Amanda S. show us how it’s done!

Pretty basic stuff, right?  It’s true — our greet, seat, and treat routine is nothing revolutionary. But it is important because when everyone on staff feels comfortable welcoming guests, we limit the risk of awkward first impressions. And especially at Ruby, face-to-face encounters are a fun complement to our phone answering routine. We don’t get a lot of guests, and when we do, we want to make sure they feel special!

Don’t miss an opportunity to wow visitors at your office. Even if your office has a dedicated receptionist, try developing a simple greeting routine with your entire staff. That way, guests are sure to be greeted appropriately when your receptionist is away from the front desk or otherwise tied up. By encouraging everyone on your team to play a part in making visitors feel welcome, you’re sure to impress your guests every time!

We’re dedicated to the meet, seat, and treat because we know the ROI of personal connections!

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Ruby Gems: January Anniversaries!

Reading time:

Katy M.
Katy M.

What a great way to start out the year! We’re celebrating two fabulous virtual receptionists’ anniversaries this month: Katy M. and Tasia P. Never missing a beat whether she’s answering phones or playing in her bands, mellifluous Tasia’s been with Ruby® Receptionists for three years. We’re also delighted that kitsch-loving Katy found her way to Ruby one year ago this week!

Here’s more about these hip gals:

What’s your favorite part about working at Ruby?

Katy M.: Definitely the incredible amount of kindness and positivity that I get to experience on a daily basis. It’s hard to not be happy working at Ruby!

Tasia P.: We are treated with respect and dignity by management. Everyone is genuinely nice and supportive, it’s like a family…a happy, non-dysfunctional one!

What’s your favorite part about living in Portland?

Katy M.: There is an abundance of second-hand stores and antique shops all over town, and shopping for vintage treasures is one of my favorite things in the world.

Tasia P.'s cat Grizzy
Tasia P.’s cat Grizzy

Tasia P.: I like that it’s not too hot in the summer and not too cold in the winter — a more milder climate than where I grew up in Denver, Colorado. Also, there is a really great music scene here, Stumptown Coffee, and LOTS OF BIKES!

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not answering phones at Ruby?

Katy M.: Besides exploring second hand stores, I love spending time in my garden and crafting

Tasia P.: Playing music in my two bands (Bryan Minus & The Disconnect and Better Beings), reading, baking, and playing with my cat Grizzy.

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Sales Support
Legal_Final

The Secret to Successful Law Firms

The inside scoop on Clio’s latest legal trends report.

Already a Ruby customer?

Let’s get started.

Ready to turn more callers into customers?

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.