Happy Halloween from Ruby!

Reading time:

We held our annual costume contest today, and as usual, the Ruby® team really outdid themselves! Our virtual receptionists are having a blast answering phones while dressed up as everything from pizza to the undead. Check out all the creative costumes we have this year:

Have a safe and happy Halloween from the Ruby team!

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What are the secrets of the Ruby® trade? Our virtual receptionist team has lots of little routines that help make each call breezy. If you’re seeking a few ways to wow your callers and coworkers, look no further! Here are three fab phone answering tips from the Ruby team:

Take a message even when your caller declines to leave one.

Ruby’s live virtual receptionists call them FYI messages, as in “Maria declined to leave a message. She said she’d call back later. Just an FYI.”

Here’s the funny thing: you know that caller who keeps trying to reach your boss, but says “Oh, I’ll just try back” each time, declining to leave a message? When that caller finally reaches the boss, they’re liable to say “I’ve called several times! Didn’t your receptionist tell you?” Zing! When a caller opts not to leave a message, play it safe and take one anyway.

Don’t make assumptions about solicitations. 

Think you can spot a telemarketer through a thousand miles of phone line? You may be right…most of the time. But one slip-up can cause big problems. Throwing an “I’m sorry, we’re not interested” at your boss’s colleague is sure to cause blowback.

Ruby’s suggestion: When a caller asks for someone by name, offer the call to that person. If a solicitor-y sounding caller asks for “the owner of the company,” or “the director of IT,” or some general appellation, politely probe a bit by asking, “May I ask if this is a solicitation?” If the caller replies with anything but a “Yes,” offer the call to the appropriate person, or at least offer to take a message. And before you do any of this, ask your team how they’d like you to handle solicitation calls — some folks like talking to telemarketers.

One final note: No matter how fishy a caller sounds, be nice. Solicitors are people, too!

Don’t count on your memory — write it down.

It’s embarrassing to go back to a caller and ask “May I have your name again?” and even more embarrassing to say “I have…oh, ummm, I forgot his name…on the line” when offering a call. Start taking notes when a call begins, and don’t break the habit no matter how confident you get. Have a pen and paper handy or keep a word processing document open throughout the day — whatever makes it easiest for you to note details as your callers rattle them off.

What are your standby telephone answering habits? Let us in on your secrets by Tweeting us @callruby!

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Photo by David Wilson

If you have a receptionist, or a stellar virtual receptionist team (ah-hem), you know your callers are taken care of during your business hours. But what about when the office is closed?

If your company uses a general voicemail box outside of your telephone answering hours, here are three helpful things to think about adding to the greeting:

Business hours (and other basic info). 

When you receive a call after hours, chances are your caller wants to know when you’ll be around. If your company has standard business hours, add them to your voicemail greeting. Stating your website address or fax number may be helpful, too. You know your callers best — think about what after-hours callers might want to know, and do them a favor by adding it to your voicemail greeting.

Alternative options.

Sure, your caller can leave a voicemail for your company or for an individual employee, but if there are other ways to get in touch with you and your co-workers that you’d prefer, feel free to point it out: “If you’d prefer to email any member of our staff, our company directory is available on our website at www.abccompany.com.”

Although, if you’re a current Ruby client, keep in mind that all voicemail messages left after-hours are emailed to you immediately as a .wav file; you never have to wonder if you have a voicemail waiting!

An emergency option.

If you want urgent after-hours calls to be handled differently, include that information: “If this is an urgent issue, please call…” At Ruby®, we can set your business up with an after-hours phone tree that gives callers the option to be routed to an outside number in the case of emergencies: “If this is urgent, press 1 to be connected to the attorney.” We can direct those urgent calls wherever you want — your cell phone, your home phone, anywhere!

While you’re mulling over these tips for your after hours voicemail, feel free to check out our previous post, 3 Things to Consider Adding to Your Voicemail Greeting, for suggestions on how to structure your personal greeting and ensure quality messages!

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Voicemail Tips
Photo by Enokson

The live virtual receptionist team at Ruby® is packed with phone answering and message taking experts. A thoughtfully-worded voicemail greeting can help ensure that your callers leave quality messages even when our skilled virtual receptionists aren’t taking them.

It’s always best to state your name and company name in your voicemail greeting, so callers are sure they’ve been routed to the right voicemail box: “Hi! You’ve reached Diana at Ruby Receptionists.” But what else? Depending on your preferences, adding a bit more to your voicemail greeting can help you get the info you need and keep callers in-the-know.

Here are three things to think about adding to your voicemail greeting:

A time frame, or a request for one.

If you typically return calls within a certain length of time, do your callers a favor and let them know: “I’ll get back to you the following business day.” Or if you work certain hours or days, that may be helpful to share: “I’m in the office Monday through Wednesday, 9-5, and I’ll be happy to return your call as soon as I’m available.” Asking your callers to indicate the best time for a return call may be helpful, too: “If there’s a good time for a return call, just let me know!”

A request for specific information.

Callers will typically leave their names and telephone numbers at the beep. If additional information is helpful to you, let callers know — they’ll likely be happy to oblige:

“Please leave your name, telephone number, and account number, and I’ll return your call as soon as possible.”

“Please leave your name, telephone number, and company name. I’ll be happy to return your call!”

An alternative option.

If you have a voicemail box, it’s understood that you (eventually) listen to your messages and return calls. But is there a faster, more reliable way to reach you? Do you prefer a different form of communication? If you want callers to be able to get in touch with you quickly, let them know if there’s a better option:

“If you need to reach me right away, please call my cell at 866-611-7829.”

“For a faster response, please email me at staff@callruby.com.”

Up next week: Things you might want to add to your company-wide voicemail greeting. Stay tuned!

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Ruby Goes Red for Women!

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Last week, Ruby® was proud to be a sponsor for the American Heart Association’s annual Go Red for Women Luncheon at Portland’s Governor Hotel. Rubys from almost every department including virtual receptionists Whitney M., Rachel R., and Tasia P. joined hundreds to support awareness for heart disease. Cardiovascular disease claims the lives of 1 in 3 women every year — it’s actually the leading cause of death for women in the U.S.!

Our virtual receptionist service is mainly made up of women, and many of us know someone who has been affected by this disease, so we were grateful for the opportunity to give back to this worthy cause. The event also included free health screenings where we got to learn about our individual risks and provided resources for taking charge of our heart health. We were especially touched to hear survivor stories and motivational speaker Donna Hartley‘s inspiring keynot address.

A few more photos from the luncheon and event photobooth:

Go Red for Women 2011

Rubys at the Go Red photobooth
Shout out to Darling Diva photographer Trista Page for snapping this fun photo!

To learn more about the fight against heart disease or to get involved, please visit the American Heart Association or Go Red for Women!

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Quality receptionist etiquette is the name of the game here at Ruby® Receptionists.

Our virtual receptionist team knows how to make a positive impact within moments of picking up the phone. Our exchanges with callers are typically brief, but we’re always on the lookout for ways to connect and spread a little happiness. We’ve found it’s easy to make every telephone experience a great one, and you can do the same!

Whether your next chat is short or long, basic or involved, you can make a great impression on your caller with these five tips:

  1. Check in at the get-go. As soon as you know who you’re talking to, ask a polite question to engage your caller. “How are you?” is a standby, but if you know your caller well, try going for something more specific and open ended (“How’s your new house?”). A little warmth goes a long way!
  2. Slip a “thank you” into every exchange. Look for at least one opportunity to express your gratitude, even if it’s for something small. We recommend a polished “thank you” over a super casual “thanks”.
  3. Use words that pack a punch. The nice kind. You may only have a minute or two to chat, but that doesn’t mean you can’t express a lot. Rather than saying “sure” or “okay,” exhibit your enthusiasm to be helpful with “Absolutely!” or “Certainly!”, “Of course!” or “You bet!”
  4. Balance a negative with a positive. If you can’t do what a caller is asking of you, follow your “no” with something you can do: “Jim is not currently here in the office, but I would be delighted to send a message letting him know you called!”
  5. Sign off with style. Cap your phone call with a friendly statement. You don’t have to talk for long to work in a nice sign-off: “Have a nice day, Dave! I’ll connect you to Terry’s line now.” Use your caller’s name if you can — it shows that you’ve been listening!

Have any telephone tips of your own? Share them by Tweeting us @callruby!

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Ruby's virtual receptionists taking calls
There’s our team, always answering with a smile!

Our team of virtual receptionists is great at cheerful, professional phone answering and many of us also have a soft spot for animals (as you might have noticed when we walked in the Doggie Dash benefit!), so we were delighted to be able to lend our skills to help the Oregon Humane Society with their annual telethon this year! On Sunday, eight of Ruby® Receptionists’ finest (and two honorary Ruby pooches, Ellie and Bernie) volunteered to take calls at the OHS phone bank.

This year, our phone answering skills helped the Oregon Humane Society take donations of over $328,000 — $8,000 over the goal! Those donations will help OHS provide financial support for rescuing abused and neglected animals, finding homes for abandoned pets, and preventing animal cruelty through education and advocacy. The telethon was also instrumental in inspiring over 70 adoptions at the shelter!

Rubys at OHS
Suzi, Eve, Katie, Stephanie C, Jewel, and I are proud to support OHS!
My dog, Ellie, approves of our volunteering!
My dog, Ellie, approves of our volunteering!

We were extremely proud to be involved and help this worthy cause! To learn more about the Humane Society, please visit their website!

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Marc Snyder
Attorney Marc Snyder

The Law Office of Marc Snyder has been using Ruby®‘s virtual receptionist service for almost three years now, and we’ve enjoyed getting to know each person in the practice. We thought Marc would be perfect for our Client Spotlight series where we feature current Ruby clients. Continuing our series, I asked Marc about his experience managing a small law firm and what advice he would give to other lawyers just starting out.

Tell us about your firm

I became a lawyer almost 15 years ago, most of which I worked for my father’s firm handling serious injury claims. For anyone who’s ever worked for a parent before, you can already relate to how difficult this can be. About 4 years ago, I decided that I was finished with it and decided to go out on my own. Since then I’ve hired one full-time staff member, and have two part-time employees, and Ruby, of course.

You and Joe Bowers recently came out with a book entitled Buying Automobile Insurance in Maryland. What inspired you to write it?

We handle a lot of Maryland auto accidents, and over the past few years have seen too many clients “underpaid” in their claims because of the at-fault driver and themselves having inadequate insurance. Between this and feeling that most people don’t know what they’re buying when they shop for auto insurance, we thought we could help out a broad audience with this guide. We’ve had a lot of requests for it since putting it out there, so we’d like to think we’re right!

If you could give one piece of advice to other attorneys just starting out, what would it be?

Have a live person answering the phone. I’m not just saying this because I’m writing this for Ruby, but we’ve handled a handful of million and multi-million dollar claims, and even more that were only worth a few thousand dollars. When the phone rings the first time they both sound exactly the same! My experience has shown me that when you don’t talk to someone right away, you call the next law office.

What do you think the key is to a good work/life balance?

Being able to turn off the phone and step away every so often. I know this is somewhat contradictory to the answer to the last question, but if you don’t take a step away and “disappear” every so often, you’ll lose your mind.

What’s your favorite productivity tool in your office?

Our practice management software, Clio. It’s entirely web driven, so when I’m at the beach or my case manager is in Las Vegas or New Hampshire or wherever he is this week, he can check in and access anything.

How has having Ruby’s virtual receptionist service affected your business day-to-day?

Over the past year I’ve built up a tremendous volume of criminal clients. Being a criminal lawyer in Baltimore puts me in court A LOT, and with one full-time staff member, I think it’s saved his sanity as much as it’s saved mine. The ability to have all my calls handled by a live person, treated politely and filed accordingly (to voicemail/message/etc.) while my staff can continue to actually work on cases and bring in money is great.

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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.