Collection of old vintage rotary dial up telephone instruments in white and black viewed from overhead on a dark grey background

Our virtual receptionist crew knows that whether you’re just starting out or are thinking of switching to a new phone system, the wide world of telephony can be a confusing place. The folks in the Ruby® Sales and Client Services departments are always happy to help clients with their phone services (and even hop on conference calls from time to time, just to make sure things are hunky-dory). With today’s technology, there’s a veritable crush of phone services available, so we thought we’d start you off with a little info on a few of the options out there (all of which work with our professional virtual receptionist service):

  • Landlines. This is usually what people think of first; examples include AT&T, Verizon, and your local telephone company. Landlines are generally great in terms of sound quality and reliability; however, they may not be as feature rich as alternatives.
  • Voice over Internet Protocol (aka VoIP). Skype, Vonage, and other VoIP systems are often very flexible and are usually much less expensive than traditional landlines. Unlike most landlines, though, service quality varies by location, so you may want to ask around for the best service in your area.
  • Number hosting services. These services will host your phone number for a small monthly or annual fee. Providers like Grasshopper will either give you a new phone number or you can port your existing number to them; your calls will then forward to wherever you like.
  • And then there’s always mobile phones. Although we recommend not publishing your cell as your business number, a business cell phone can certainly be an asset. If you’d rather skip getting any of the above options, and you use our virtual receptionist service, you are welcome to give out your Ruby toll-free number and we would be happy to seamlessly transfer calls to your cell phone live if you’re available. This could come in especially handy for those in the tech field or service industry and are frequently out of the office.

Have additional questions? Post a comment or give us a call at 866-611-7829! We’d be delighted to help!

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Phone Tips: Overcoming Roadblocks
Photo by Brian M. Forbes

Every call our live virtual receptionists field is a treat, and although some are trickier than others, we view bumps in the road as a chance to impress. The telephone answering mavens at Ruby® know that an upbeat tone and polite, respectful words help any conversation flow flawlessly. Is phone answering part of your job? Our remote receptionists are here to help! Here are three common telephone roadblocks, and how to breeze by them with ease:

  • When you didn’t catch what a caller said, avoid blame. Stay away from aggressive statements like “I can’t hear you,” or “Your phone’s cutting out,” or “Slow down.” If you lay the blame on anyone, make it yourself, and be sure to keep your tone of voice in top form: “It seems we have a poor connection. I’m having trouble hearing you. Would you mind repeating that?
  • When a caller mishears you, correct ’em kindly. Correcting your caller might feel rude, but not doing so may make the caller feel foolish in the future. You’d feel silly if you found out the person you’ve been addressing as Terry for three months is named Kerry, right? Discerning between similar sounds can be tough, especially over the phone. If callers mishear you, politely correct them in your friendliest tone, then move on: “Actually it’s Kerry with a K, but I get that a lot. It’s a tricky name to hear over the phone! Let me try Dave’s line for you.” No biggie!
  • When a caller hesitates to give info, explain the “why.” If you give your caller a good reason for collecting information, hesitation typically melts away: “Would you mind if I take down your number, so she has it handy when she gets this message?” You can even head hesitation off at the pass by explaining the “why” in your initial query: “May I take down your account number, so we can access your information as quickly as possible?

Got any tips for handling calls gracefully? Share your thoughts on Twitter @callruby!

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Virtual Receptionists for Tech Companies
Thankfully, our receptionists send messages in plain old English, not binary

Ruby® gets technology. Our virtual receptionist service uses advanced, customized software coupled with old-fashioned smarts and friendliness. Our cheerful virtual receptionists answer phones for many companies in the technology field, from software developers to IT consultants to computer repair technicians. There are many reasons technology companies have found a home with Ruby; here are five ways we can help your business:

  • Appear bigger and more professional. Whether you’re solo or have a dozen employees, having a live, friendly person answer your phones can be a boon to your company. Our virtual receptionists are all bright, articulate “people” people who will impress your potential clients and keep current clients happy.
  • Connect remote employees. Many technology companies contract employees who work from home — or are even spread across the nation. No need for everyone to give out their personal cell phone numbers; a virtual receptionist service like Ruby can provide a central number and a unifying image.
  • Look good even when you’re not available. Are you out in the field frequently? Or are you often working on projects that require a high level of concentration? By updating us as to your whereabouts on your mobile phone or by email, our virtual receptionists can track you down on your cell or take a message so that you can get some peace and quiet. Feel free to take a Java break without having to worry about the phone!
  • Have messages relayed in a flash. No more dialing into your voicemail box and wading through old messages. No more coming into the office to pick up your written messages. Virtual receptionist services have come a long way from when you had to call into your answering service for your messages. With Ruby, your messages will be delivered by email and/or text message, and your voicemails can even be sent via a .wav file!
  • Track your usage in real-time. With our mobile-friendly Member Services Area, you can monitor your usage at a glance — not to mention search through old messages, view Caller ID information, export your call reports to Excel, and save contacts straight to your phone or email client.

Perhaps the greatest advantage of Ruby is having your phones answered by a live, friendly person who sounds like she’s in your office, at a fraction of the cost of an in-house receptionist. As Brian O’Neill, owner of Link Systems, told us:

“I get consistent compliments about how ‘nice and pleasant’ our receptionist is on the phone. The vast majority of callers have no idea the Ruby staff isn’t sitting in our front office. Other business associates are amazed at how well your staff does their job of not sounding like an ‘answering service.'”

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Polite telephone answering
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When it comes to politeness, the virtual receptionist team at Ruby® knows a thing or two; friendliness and professionalism are our forte! However, we’ve found that terms like Sir, Ma’am, Mr. and Ms. aren’t always the best path to politeness over the phone. Where names are concerned, we recommend following a caller’s lead — if your caller introduces herself as Mrs. Henderson, address her as Mrs. Henderson. If a caller doesn’t offer a title, our telephone answering experts suggest skipping formality. Here are three reasons why:

1. You might make the wrong guess.

Using a respectful title is great, as long as you choose the right one. But what if the caller you address as Ms. Smith goes by Dr. Smith? Worse yet, maybe Ms. Smith is Mister Smith. Don’t assume you can guess a caller’s gender by tone of voice or first name!

2. Your attempt at politeness may backfire. 

Sir and Ma’am are not only old-fashioned terms, but using them may make your callers feel old. I know I always cringe when I’m called Ma’am — I’ve never been a fan of Miss, but have I transitioned from a Miss to a Ma’am already? Moreover, terms like Sir and Ma’am are often used in a commanding way, as in “Sir, you’ll have to take these items to the customer service desk.” Even when uttered with the utmost tact and respect, Sir and Ma’am might conjure negative feelings in callers, and that’s something every phone answering pro wants to avoid.

3. What’s in a name? Plenty!

People love hearing their names, and addressing callers by name is a great way to show them you’re listening. Want to know how to address your caller? Just ask! A simple “May I ask who is calling?” is a great way to go. For added friendliness, try introducing yourself first: “I’ll be happy to help you today! My name is Jane. May I have your name?” Once your caller gives a name, repeat it back with a thank you.

  • Great! Thank you, Jim!
  • Wonderful. Thank you, Mrs. Henderson!
  • Thank you, Linda!

How do you keep your communication polite and friendly? Share your suggestions with our remote receptionists by Tweeting us @callruby!

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Ruby’s Virtual Receptionists Set Sail!

Reading time:

On Saturday, our team of top-notch virtual receptionists celebrated the summer in true Ruby® style and set sail for nautical party down Portland’s Willamette River. Our team commits each day to the Ruby mission of making people’s days brighter, and this was our chance to give back to them and celebrate those efforts! We had a fabulous evening full of smiles, laughter, and beautiful views of our beloved city. Check out the photos:

The Crystal Dolphin, our seaworthy vessel
The Crystal Dolphin, our seaworthy vessel

Virtual receptionist Monica D. and our captain
Monica D. and our captain

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Rose-themed Fashion Friday -- Picasa in Action
Rose-themed “Fashion Friday” & Picasa’s photo editor in action

Since Ruby® Receptionists is a virtual receptionist service, serving clients across the country, we don’t always have the opportunity to meet our clients face to face. However, we enjoy getting to know our clients and Creating Community with everyone we chat with over the phone. So how do we connect with our clients? Besides dropping handwritten notecards in the mail and other personal touches, we love to build relationships with our clients, vendors, and friends on Twitter, Facebook, and our blog.

To help us manage our various social media channels, we’ve found Hootsuite, bitly, and Picasa immensely helpful — and best of all, they’re free! Here’s how these tools may boost your small business’ social media efforts, too:

  • Hootsuite. You can connect your Twitter and Facebook feeds to this handy tool to keep track of your feeds in one place. Create Twitter “lists” (which can be public or private) to keep track of all your followers. You can even schedule tweets and posts in advance!
  • bitly. A link shortener is great for sharing content with your followers and most have built-in metrics. Though Hootsuite has its own link shorteners (ow.ly and ht.ly), bitly is Twitter’s default shortener and I find its metrics easier to digest. You can view your link history, how many clicks each received, and archive old links. Bonus: every link comes with its own QR code!
  • Picasa. Many of our virtual receptionists and staff members (myself included) look forward to our “Fashion Fridays” here at Ruby. Each week, virtual receptionists Sara-Lee and Mercedes pick a theme for a dressed up Friday, and we share photos with our Facebook fans. We love seeing our coworkers’ creativity in the festive wear, and our clients enjoy seeing who’s answering their calls. Picasa helps me edit these photos like a pro. Cropping, red eye reduction, and basic color changes are all included and help me show my fellow Rubys in the best light possible. If you share a lot of photos with your fans, Picasa is an easy, inexpensive alternative to Photoshop.

What’s your secret to social media magic? Share with us via Twitter or Facebook! We would love to connect with you!

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Next Thursday, Ruby® Receptionists is proud to be sponsoring a special screening of Academy Award® nominated director Roko Belic’s new film HAPPY and you’re invited! Quite a few Rubys will be in attendance, and if you’re in the Portland area, we would love for you to come with us, on the house!

As you may have guessed, the film focuses on one of our favorite Core Values — happiness!

The free screening will be at the Clinton Street Theater – 2522 SE Clinton St – next Thursday, August 11th, at 7:00pm. In order to get on the list, simply email rsvp@callruby.com and tell us how many people will be attending with you. Space is limited, so claim your seat soon!

Our virtual receptionist team is looking forward to connecting with our clients, coworkers, vendors, and friends, and sharing this inspiring movie with you. Hope to see you there!

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Verifying names on the phone can be a tricky!

…especially if customers call expecting you to be familiar with them. The talented virtual receptionist team at Ruby® finds verification to typically be non-essential, but there are some instances where checking the correct spelling is imperative. Perhaps you’re sending an email to follow up with a potential client after a call. In this situation, addressing Cathy as Kathy just wouldn’t do! Our remote receptionists are adept at gathering information gracefully in any situation. If verifying names is part of your job, check out these three tricks of the telephone answering trade:

Take a guess

Are you familiar with the caller’s name? Take a crack at spelling it.

“Smith, that’s S-M-I-T-H, correct?”

If you’re right, you’ve saved the caller a bit of trouble. And even if you’re off by a few letters, you offer a jumping-off point.

“Actually, it’s S-M-Y-T-H.”

“Great! Thank you.”

If you’re unfamiliar with the caller’s name and not comfortable taking a guess, start with a polite question like “Would you mind spelling that for me?” Then, spell the name back to the caller for confirmation. Lots of letters sound alike, so when confirming spelling, use words to clarify letters (“Is that T as in Terrific?”). Our phone answering pros keep a spelling alphabet handy for just this reason.

Wondering why it matters?

Discover the ROI of personal connections in our free guide!

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Use Caller ID

Caller ID may be helpful when verifying names. If the caller’s name matches the name shown on caller ID, try prompting the caller with the name spelling shown there. Caller ID isn’t always correct — don’t use it as a replacement for verification — but it can be a great tool for verifying spelling.

Verify with Verity

When a caller hesitates to verify information, try politely explaining that you’ve been asked to verify names with the information you collect. Explain that you’d hate to pass along incorrect or incomplete information. Then, ask for the information again.

“I’ve been asked to verify spelling before transferring calls, and I’d hate to pass along your information incorrectly. Would you mind spelling your last name for me?”

Sounds pretty sweet, right? A little politeness goes a long way over the telephone.

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FAQs

Recently, we took a peek into how Ruby®‘s virtual receptionists in Portland, Oregon are able to sound like their sitting in an office miles away. Specifically, we looked at the advanced software that our virtual receptionist service uses to sound so seamless. But that’s not to whole story. Our virtual receptionists have a myriad of tools at their disposal (including good ole fashioned smarts). Another way that they sound so great: FAQs.

Virtual Receptionist Emily B.
Virtual receptionist Emily B. is an FAQ answering pro

Some key information is included in every client’s account when they sign up. This info is in the same spot in every account, so that the receptionist can glance at it to quickly answer any basic question. Your business’ address, published phone number, fax number, website, and hours of operation are all included for quick reference.

But what about more specific questions? Ruby clients can absolutely give us a few frequently asked questions to include as well. A few popular topics:

  • Your Services. If you tend to receive a lot of clarifying questions around your services, feel free to provide us with a little extra info. In fact, if there’s anything that you don’t do (say, you’re an estate planning attorney and don’t handle criminal cases), we can make a note of it and communicate that to callers, too! Callers are educated and you take only the most relevant calls.
  • Pricing/Rates. Do you offer free consultations? Have a set rate for your services? Our virtual receptionists can easily let callers know. If you would prefer to discuss your rates with potential clients, we will politely relay that to callers and see if you’re available.
  • Employment Inquiries. Do you prefer that applicants email you? We’re happy to inform job candidates of your preferred method of contact and to whom to address inquiries.

If you’d like Ruby to answer additional FAQs, let our Client Happiness team by calling 866-611-7829 or emailing staff@callruby.com. We’d be happy to discuss the best way to handle frequent questions. Have additional questions about how we answer phones? Feel free to check out Ruby’s own FAQ section or post your query in the comment section below!

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Small Business Tips

Why you should be texting from your business number—and how to get started

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Customer Feature

Ruby customer feature: Craig Rashkis, Falwell Rashkis LLP

What you can do to support Hispanic and Latinx-owned businesses

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Using virtual receptionists for full-time answering

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Receptionist Tips

How to end a phone call

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Virtual receptionist pricing 101

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Legal Practice Tips

What Google’s Core Web Vitals mean for your law firm’s website

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Does your business need an answering service?

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How to use YouTube Live to engage your clients & audience

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Small Business Tips

3 ways virtual receptionists elevate customer experience (while making your life easier)

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A conversation with Ruby’s Chief Revenue Officer, Rebecca Grimes

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Small Business Tips

Happy customers, efficient businesses: How to supercharge growth with virtual receptionists 

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Small Business Tips

Using online presence platforms for recruitment

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Small Business Tips

How to communicate with employees during times of tension

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The Secret to Successful Law Firms

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

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10 Questions to Ask a Virtual Reception Provider

Ask the right questions and rate virtual reception services with our handy guide and scorecard!

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*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.