Telephones
Photo by Jeffrey Goonberg

“Hi, I have Jim Smith on the line for you.”

“Jim Smith? Oh, great. (Sigh.)”

Ah, the call you’d rather avoid — we all have them, and we all dread them. But with the aid of an awesome receptionist (or virtual receptionist!), fielding an unwanted call is just one of many options. If you sense hesitation when offering a call, turn apprehension into relief by making suggestions. It’s a great way to be helpful and show how resourceful you are! Here are some go-to suggestions from our attentive virtual receptionists:

Would you like me to take a message?

Would you like me to relay a message to him?

Would you like me to gather more information?

Would you like me to ask him to call back at a different time?

Would you like me to tell him you’ll return his call?

Not every call needs to be attended to immediately, but it can be easy to forget that. Remind your team of the many options you can provide by prompting them with suggestions. Your indispensability to the team will shine through when you do!

Do you have phone answering tips to share? Please comment below—we’d love to hear your take on what makes a superb receptionist!

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Don't answer your own phoneSo you’ve got a great office, an unbeatable business plan, and the phone’s ringing. All set for success, right? Just one more thing: Who’s answering that phone? If you’re a business owner, you might want to think twice before picking up the receiver. Whether it means hiring an in-house receptionist, using an answering service, or having Ruby’s crackerjack virtual receptionist staff field your calls, here are three reasons you may not want to do your own phone answering:

  1. Answering your own phone can make you seem unprofessional. “Hello, Bob’s Financial Planning, this is Bob.” The greeting doesn’t exactly make Bob seem like the guy you want to trust with your retirement, right? It’s not often that the owner of a successful business has time to be on the front lines, phone-wise. No matter how big or small your company, answering your own phones can cause callers to second-guess your reputability.
  2. Answering your own phone can be off-putting to a caller. So you’re the gal or guy in charge — you’d think callers would be thrilled to speak with you right off the bat! But that’s not always the case. Callers may be startled or nervous when greeted by the head honcho. Ruby client Ernest Svenson wrote about the issue in this post for his blog, Ernie the Attorney: “I have found that clients feel much more comfortable engaging me if they’ve spoken to a receptionist than if I answered my phone myself.  It may not make sense, but that’s the way it is.”
  3. Answering your own phone takes up precious time. Sure, you want to stay in touch with your clients, and answering the phone may seem like a great way to do that. But answering phone calls can be disruptive, and not every call needs your immediate attention. Ask yourself this: What do your clients need most from you? Do they need you to be at-the-ready any time they call? Or do they need you to have the time, space, and creative freedom to make quality decisions? If the answer is the latter, then give yourself a break from picking up the phone, at least when you need to focus.

Do you answer your own phone? We’d love to hear your feedback — please comment!

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email-257x300.jpg

You’ve read it, re-read it, and confidently sent it, but a scan of your “Sent” folder reveals the dreaded blemish: a goofy little typing error. Argh! Even the best proofreader is probably guilty of sending a letter or email with a silly mistake now and then. Editing your writing isn’t easy, but each virtual receptionist at Ruby® aims to be a proofreading pro. Before sending your next important email, try these three tips from our phone answering team:

  1. Isolate individual words. Sure, you want to proofread for tone and cohesiveness, but it’s important to read your text word-by-word before putting your red editing pen away. Many errors slip through the cracks because we simply scan over them, so do something that will jar you out of your typical reading routine. Try reading your text aloud, for example. Better yet, read it backwards, so you’re sure to focus on individual words rather than overall content. It’s a surefire way to find missing or duplicate words.
  2. Check your spellcheck. If you’re anything like me, spellcheck is a lifesaver. But using it effectively requires a bit of savvy at times. When spellcheck says you’ve mistyped a word, be careful to select the correct alternative spelling option. Your computer is smart, but you’re smarter. Let spellcheck narrow down your choices, but take care to select the right choice.
  3. Scour for sound-alikes. Ever written “their” instead of “there”? Ugh! Embarrassing. We all learned the difference between common homonyms in elementary school, but that doesn’t mean our fingers always type them correctly. Be on red alert for its and it’s, the theres, and other words that sound alike when proofreading.

You’ve seen how our virtual receptionists edit their email messages; how do you make sure your writing is error-free? Spill the beans on your proofreading secrets and Tweet us @callruby!

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Alternatives to

What to do when you can’t hear the other person on the phone, other than saying “I can’t hear you.”

We’ve all encountered a crackly line or faint caller before— a poor phone connection can be a real drag! Each virtual receptionist at Ruby® is skilled at handling all sorts of telephone calls gracefully, even those that are tough to hear. If answering phones is part of your job, try these three tips the next time you’re on a fuzzy line. It’ll pay off in a great customer experience— callers will appreciate your commitment!

1. Keep your cool.

A poor phone connection can be frustrating, but don’t let your caller see you sweat — keep your tone ultra polite. Skip “What?” and “I can’t hear you,” and go with “Would you mind repeating that?

Don’t blame your caller, either. Rather than saying “Your phone is cutting out,” try “It seems we have a poor phone connection.” A tough-to-hear call is a frustrating situation is just as aggravating for your caller as it is for you, so remember to stay patient and kind.

2. Mind your pitch.

You may have heard of The Mosquito, an anti-loitering device that emits a high-pitched sound people older than 25 typically can’t hear. This is because as we age, we lose the ability to hear certain frequencies, and high-pitched sounds are the first to go. Don’t let a poor connection become painful! When you speak up, try doing so without elevating your pitch. Speaking a little louder may make your voice easier to hear, but maintain (or lower) your pitch as you pump up the volume.

3. Consider Plan B.

Sometimes, there’s no saving a phone call. When you’re ready to throw in the towel on a difficult-to-hear conversation, suggest an alternative to the poor phone connection before hanging up your receiver. Perhaps you can email your caller, or communicate through text messaging. Of course, you can always hang up and try the call again, but be sure to let your caller know before you end the call (or give it your best shot). Customer experience is key— better yet, don’t end the call— let your caller decide when to call it quits.

Remember: A poor phone connection is not the last straw!

Get all our insights into call-handling best practices, tips, tricks, and what not to do in our comprehensive guide to call handling!

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If you checked out last Thursday’s blog post, you already know that Ruby® Receptionists loves Microsoft SharePoint. When they’re not answering phones, our brilliant virtual receptionists look to SharePoint for training and socialization. In fact, our entire staff relies on SharePoint to share information and ideas, and we’ve found it to be an indispensable tool. SharePoint has all sorts of amazing features that can make office life a whole lot easier — just do a quick Internet search for “SharePoint” and you’ll see what I mean. Here are just three of the awesome ways SharePoint can make meetings more efficient:

1. Before you meet. Say goodbye to that “What did I want to talk about?” business — a SharePoint list is a great way for you and your teammates to keep track of the topics you want to discuss during your next meeting. When genius strikes, just make a quick addition to the list!

2. While you meet. Review your topic list during the meeting and presto! Instant meeting agenda! Open topic suggestions, and from there, you can make notes about your discussion, assign tasks to various team members, set a date for a follow-up, and close issues if resolved. When you need to refresh your memory about the details of a meeting, it’s as easy as navigating to that list again. See, I told you SharePoint is great!

Sharepoint discussion board
Here’s a screenshot from one of our SharePoint discussion boards

3. Instead of meeting. When you can’t cram the necessary collaboration into a meeting, a SharePoint discussion board is a great way to continue a conversation off-line. Discussion boards allow you to come and go from a virtual meeting, devoting a few minutes to the conversation here and there and returning with fresh eyes each time. No more pressure to reveal all your great ideas during an hour-long span!

Do you use SharePoint? We’d love to learn how your team uses this fantastic tool. Tweet us @callruby and share your experience!

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5 Easy Steps to Flawless Phone Answering

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Office phone answering procedures

How to answer the phone professionally, sound like a receptionist, and impress your callers—every time!

Picture this: The flu’s hit the office, and most of the crew’s home sick, including the receptionist.

You and your healthy teammates are facing double the usual workload, and although you’re up for the challenge, one question looms:

“Who’s going to answer the phone?”

You find yourself wondering… how does a receptionist answer the phone anyway? What does it take?

As the boss mutters something about signing up for that phone answering service, it happens — the phone rings, and by chance, you’re standing closest to it.

All eyes are on you. Do you have what it takes?

Fear not! Our live virtual receptionists have your back. If you’re the office pinch-hitter, follow these five steps to flawless phone answering success:

1. Greet your caller graciously.

“Hello” doesn’t cut it. Begin with something nice like “Thank you for calling,” end with a “How may I help you?” and be sure to slip your company name in the middle. Above all, you want to leave your callers with a positive impression! Our greeting guidelines make it simple.

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2. Mind your manners.

You may be new to the receptionist game, but if you’re nice, no one will notice. Ask for information rather than demanding it, as in “May I say who is calling?” and “May I have your name?” Throw “please” and “thank you” in there as much as possible. Remember, everyone loves to be treated with respect and the happier your callers are, the happier you’ll be!

3. Deflect with style.

Here’s a little secret every great receptionist knows: it’s not about having the answer to every question, it’s about knowing what to say when you don’t know. “Let me find out for you” and “Let me connect you with the best person to help you” are excellent responses, whereas “I don’t know” is not so much.

4. Avoid dead ends.

When you’re not able to reach the person your caller is seeking, always offer to take a message or transfer the caller to voicemail. Similarly, never make your caller ask to leave a message — it’s awkward and off-putting. It’s as easy as this: “Tim’s in a meeting. May I take a message?” There’s always a way to work in a positive spin!

5. Keep calm and carry on.

Mistakes — we’ve all made them. Our expert virtual receptionists have learned that nearly any flub can be remedied with friendliness. Being a receptionist isn’t an easy job by any means, but at the end of the day, you’re a person communicating with another person. The key to answering the phone flawlessly is a personal touch! Be kind, be courteous, and be yourself, and you’re sure to hit any curve ball out of the park.

Want more tips?

Get our comprehensive walkthrough for top-notch, completely unbeatable call handling!

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Ruby Gems: February Anniversaries!

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We have three Rubys celebrating anniversaries this month! First, we are grateful that dynamic virtual receptionist Jami R. came to Ruby® one year ago. In the Client Services Department, Kendra Neal — who is also one of our fabulous blog writers, I might add — has been with us for three years. And Client Services Director, Ashley Hampton is beginning her sixth — that’s right, sixth! — year at Ruby! Congrats all around! Here is a bit more about the faces behind the headsets:

What’s your favorite part about working at Ruby?

Ashley: In addition to the wonderful virtual receptionists I have the pleasure of working with, I love Ruby because we’re encouraged to learn and grow professionally and personally, and we’re given the tools and support to do both!

Kendra: When I tell people about working at a virtual receptionist service, I say that I get paid to make people happy. Now that I’m in Client Services, that’s even more true! We have some really amazing clients, and it’s so much fun to get to know the people we’re answering phones for.

Jami: The sense of morale here; from the people to our Core Values, everyone truly embodies what it means to be a Ruby.

What’s your favorite part about living in Portland?

Ashley: Everything! But most of all, that you can be in the city, then go to the mountains, and then to the beach, all in one day.

Kendra: The views! I love vistas, and Portland has a lot of them. The fantastic transportation system, TriMet, has to be my second-favorite thing.

Jami: First let me say, “I LOVE THE RAIN!” Only here can you wear a sweatshirt, jeans…and flip flops in the pouring rain! Secondly, the diversity; we have so many people from different walks of life here in Portland!

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

Ashley: I live a few short blocks from the river, so I love to take walks along the Willamette. I love to read, listen to music, explore the city and surrounding areas, and spend lots of time with my family and friends.

Kendra: Working in my jewelry shop. I make sterling silver jewelry, mostly chain making.

Jami: Spending time with my family and amazing children, Jordan (13), Dominic (10), and Brooklynn Rae (2)!

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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 canceled 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. Some restrictions may apply.