We’re thrilled that we’ve made Oregon Business magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon” for 2012!  Since one of our Core Values is Fostering Happiness and the ranking is dependent on employee surveys, this is a particularly meaningful award for us.

This is our third year to have made the list, and last year we were overjoyed to be named the #2 “Best Company to Work For” in the medium-sized business category. In fact, almost forty Rubys attended, and we gave a raucous roar when our name was announced; our virtual receptionists may have soft, friendly voices when answering phones but we also know how to cheer with the best of them!

100 Best Companies to Work For 2011We were also named #1 in Performance Management, #2 in Career Development and Training, and #3 in Benefits and Compensation among medium-sized businesses. Our Star Service & Receptionist Cultivators are extremely committed to their receptionist teams (appropriately named the “Riveting,” “Radiant,” and most recently the “Gems”), and it felt great to recognize all their hard work.

Feel free to check out our Facebook album for pictures from last year’s awards dinner. We can’t wait to attend Oregon Business’s annual event in March and find out where we rank for 2012!

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Ruby is proud to announce two new additions to our Leadership Team: Kevin Gillam, Director of Marketing, and Paddy McCaffrey-Allen, Director of Human Resources. Kevin was previously our Business Development Ambassador in charge of fostering partnerships, and he brings more than 20 years of sales and marketing experience to his new role as Director of Marketing. Paddy was one of Ruby’s first employees and has thrived in various roles in the human resources field for over a decade, including Director of Human Resources at a Portland-based creative agency. We’re excited to welcome them to Ruby’s Leadership Team!

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Our virtual receptionists celebrated the holidays this week with a secret snowflake gift exchange. Not only was it a great chance to Foster Happiness and Create Community (two of our Core Values) but it was lovely to see some Ruby talents shine through! Rachel S. made a beautifully knit hat for Pennie, Clarice baked some fruit loop cupcakes for Kendra (to honor her love of all things cereal), Kendra and Holly both made some dazzling earrings for their giftees, and there were lots of homemade sugary treats flowing in the office! Others handpicked some amazing and thoughtful gifts that definitely made their coworker’s days a little brighter.

Here are a few photos from the festivities:

Ruby's pink tree with a bounty of gifts!
Ruby’s pink tree with a bounty of gifts!

Desi was so excited that Pat was her secret snowflake!

Ang was almost moved to tears by her scrapbook kit!

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Receptionist
Photo by Jamie

The holidays are here, and that means a lot of things: family gatherings, delicious food, and vacation time, to name a few. If those vacation requests have left your office without a steadfast receptionist, don’t fret. The virtual receptionist team at Ruby® is ready to share our tips for being an excellent receptionist, regardless of your prior experience. Here are three must-haves for a stellar receptionist:

1. A Helpful Greeting.

“Hello” is nice, but on its own, it falls flat. Try treating your callers to an informative, friendly greeting instead. Our ry treating your callers to an informative, friendly greeting instead. Our

Try treating your callers to an informative, friendly greeting instead. Our ry treating your callers to an informative, friendly greeting instead. Our live virtual receptionists recommend starting with something nice like, “Thank you for calling,” and ending with an offer of assistance like, “How may I help you?” Be sure to slip your company name in there, too.

2. Courteousness.

You may be unsure of yourself from time to time, but if you’re nice, no one will notice. When you need to collect information from your callers, the it’s best to politely ask for it rather than demanding it. The Ruby team suggests these friendly queries: “May I say who is calling?” and, “May I have your name?” We’ve found that a “May I?” is a great way to start any question. Throw “please” and “thank you” in there as much as possible. Everyone loves to be treated with respect, and the happier your callers are, the happier you’ll be.

3. A good response.

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 superb responses. “I don’t know” is not.

4. A plan B.

When you’re not able to reach the person your caller is seeking, you can stay in control of a call by offering the next logical step to your caller. In this case, that means offering to take a message or transfer your caller to voicemail. It’s just this easy: “Tim’s in a meeting at the moment. May I take a message or transfer you to his voicemail?”

Fielding phone calls isn’t always easy, but with a bit of savvy, it can be fun and rewarding. We hope all of our fellow phone answering pros have a fantastic holiday season! And if you need a bit of help, just call on the Ruby team!

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Tips for Gathering Customer Feedback

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Jason Lander - Founder & CEO of Hively
Jason Lander – Founder & CEO of Hively

Guest blogger Jason Lander is the Founder and CEO of Hively. Hively lets your customers give you real-time feedback with 1 click, at their convenience. Ruby® will soon be incorporating Hively’s interface into our Problem Solver & Happiness Makers’ email signatures to get real-time feedback on how we’re doing. We asked Jason for his advice on what other small businesses can do to get stellar feedback.

How many times a week do you get this email? “Will you please take a few minutes to fill out our survey?” My personal email inbox currently holds requests for survey feedback from more than 10 companies. Apple’s in there, a hotel, two retailers, a car company, etc.

The key to success for any business is to keep your customers happy. Yet, measuring customer happiness can be a challenge. For over a decade I’ve worked with various methods for measuring customer happiness including surveys, public support forums, phone calls, the Net Promoter Score, etc. Over time, I watched my customer engagement rates decrease dramatically and the feedback become less and less relevant.

They main issue I’ve discovered is that customer satisfaction surveys rarely provide you the data you need to improve your business. Surveys are time consuming to administer and time consuming for customers to complete. Furthermore, the data gathered isn’t actionable because it’s often aggregated and the responses come in too far after the touch point with the customer.

So what’s a company to do? Our suggestion? Ask the right question at the right time. Here are some tips for effectively gathering customer feedback.

The first tip – ask one question and one question only. It’s always tempting to ask more, but why ask more when one will do? Ask one question with a simple answer choice and allow your customers to leave additional details if they want.

Tip number two – ask specific questions about a person or a product, not a general “how do you like our company?” General questions are too vague and are better suited for things like the Facebook ‘Like’ button. Asking specific questions about how one of your employees did resolving an issue or how your new product performed, provide you with much better feedback.

Our third tip – ask the question at the right time. There are several touch points you have with your customers that offer excellent opportunities to ask for feedback. For example:

  • After a product demo or training. It’s always good to get feedback after a demo or training to make sure your audience understood the information presented.
  • After initial set up. Once a new customer is up and running with your product or service, it’s an excellent time to ask for feedback. Talking to a new customer here can help overcome any initial frustration that might naturally exist when getting started with something new.
  • After the first 30 days. After your customers have been using your product or service for 30 days they should be in full swing. This is a great time to get initial impressions. If there are any issues, you’ll be able to address them quickly without the risk of losing a new customer.
  • After any phone call. Any time you speak with a customer on the phone, especially if they’re asking a question or reporting an issue, it’s always a good idea to send them a follow-up email. In this email, give them assurance you’ve understood them be summarizing your discussion and take this opportunity to ask for feedback.
  • After cancellation. Losing customers is not something anyone wants to talk about. But let’s be honest – it happens. When it does, don’t run from it. Instead, take it as another opportunity to improve by asking for some final feedback. Who knows, you might just win them back!

Our final tip – provide your customers with a way to provide you real time feedback at their convenience. If you’re just asking customers for feedback when it’s convenient for you you’re missing a lot of opportunities. Be sure the mechanism you’re providing delivers customer feedback to you in real time and that you follow up in a timely manner. This helps your customers know you take their issues seriously.

Asking the right question at the right time gains you invaluable insight into your customer happiness. You’ll learn things about your customers, products and services that have a major impact on your business as a whole. So start asking your customers for more feedback, at the right times and start improving your customer happiness.

Learn more about Hively at http://teamhively.com/. Readers of this blog also get a chance to try Hively free for 60 days with any subscription plan by entering the code ‘CALLRUBY‘ (without quotes) during the payment process.

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On Saturday, our virtual receptionist team gathered together at our annual holiday gala to celebrate 2011 and Create Community with each other outside of the office. 2011 was a big year for Ruby®, and as our Founder/CEO Jill Nelson put it: We found out what we’re made of. In the first half of the year, we launched a brand new, completely customized communications platform, adding several new features and making our virtual receptionist service even better. We also were named one of Oregon’s Fastest Growing Companies and moved into larger quarters in the LEED-certified Lovejoy Building. And then there was our crowning achievement: nabbing the title of #2 Best Medium-Sized Company to Work For in Oregon.

We are incredibly grateful for all of our employees, clients, and vendors for your support during this epic year and for making Ruby such a wonderful place to come to work! We can’t wait to see what 2012 brings!

Here are a few photos from the night, with even more to come on the Ruby Facebook and Google + pages!

Marie, Jill, Keith, Kristen

Kaci and Dallas

Special thanks to the folks at Holocene — everyone was so nice and helpful and the space was perfect! Also, a huge shout out to our Director of Culture, Sarah Sackett for organizing this faulous bash!

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Ruby® Receptionists’ Core Values of Innovation and Fostering Happiness are coming together with help from Hively’s real-time feedback tool! In the coming weeks, you may see a few new faces when you receive an email from our Problem Solvers & Happiness Makers; these little guys will be included in the signature of every email our Client Services team sends:

Hively Customer Feedback Tool

Hively’s super simple rating tool will help us gather feedback and measure our clients’ happiness, so we’ll be able to make our virtual receptionist service even better!

We’re really excited to work with Hively. They’re an energetic and fun bunch, and their goal is to make customer feedback fun and easy and ultimately make people happy – what’s not to love?

We’ll keep you posted on what we find out, and in the meantime, if there’s anything more we can do to help, feel free to write us at staff@callruby.com or call us at 866-611-7829. We’d love to hear from you!

Learn more about Hively at http://www.teamhively.com. Readers of this blog also get a chance to try Hively free for 60 days with any subscription plan by entering the code ‘CALLRUBY’ (without quotes) during the payment process.

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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 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.