Ruby Receptionists has made the “100 Fastest-Growing Private 100 Companies” list for five consecutive years, earning us the prestigious Portland Business Journal Lighthouse Award! This was one of the toughest years since 2007 for companies to earn their spot on the list, and we not only made it, but cracked the top 50 fastest growing for our fifth straight year, coming in at #43. We’re extremely proud and grateful for this award, and it’s truly a testament to what an impact spreading happiness can make and how much people hunger for real, meaningful connections in an increasingly virtual world!

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Making personal connections

How to make connections and make them count.

How many of your clients chose your business because their friend raved about you?

Or perhaps they saw a five-star review online?

Often an underestimated tool, word-of-mouth is still the most effective (and inexpensive) form of marketing for every industry.

As a business owner, you’ve likely experienced the power of the referral, but are you getting as many as you would hope for? What are you doing to give someone an experience worth writing home about?

The secret lies in creating real, meaningful connections with your customers. A quality customer service experience paired with a reliable product/service is a great place to start, but how you make your customers feel is what really drives brand loyalty.

And ultimately, your bottom line.

In taking the time to get to know your customers, you stand to gain valuable insight into what your customers want, and how to best serve them. Plus, work starts to feel a lot less like work when you’re making people happy.

But what exactly does this look like when you’re talking to a customer? How can you get the ball rolling?

Believe it or not, this can all happen pretty organically. We’ve put together five simple, actionable ways you can connect with your customers in a personal, authentic way:

1. Ask how their day is going.

Start small. “How are you?” is a great question, but “How is your day going?” or “How are you enjoying this sunshine?” are more unusual queries and less likely to get knee-jerk responses (“Fine, and you?”). Even if your customer responds generally, use enthusiastic words like “Fantastic” and “Wonderful” and share a little about yourself to spark a conversation.

2. Follow up after your phone call.

A follow-up email after saying goodbye on the phone can add another touch of thoughtfulness to the exchange. Sometimes it can be practical to make personal connections— send a customer a summary of what you discussed or even a simple, “It was great speaking with you!” Each customer experience is a chance to make your mark!

ROI of personal connections.

Discover the power of real, meaningful relationships on your bottom line in our free guide!

GET THE GUIDE

3. Try a compliment!

Who doesn’t love a verbal pick-me-up? A compliment can instantly make you smile and turn your day around. “What a lovely name; my niece is also a Kaden!” or remarking on their order instantly shows you’re paying attention and that you care— a surefire way to make personal connections!

4. Listen.

Listening well is an art form and a rarity in business these days. Let your customers know you care by offering them your full attention. Take note of their tone and, when appropriate, match it. A light-hearted example of this might be if a caller stumbles when giving you their phone number and becomes embarrassed, share a laugh with them: “That’s ok! I get tripped up too sometimes!” Find ways to relate to your customers and you’ll be surprised by how much easier it is to anticipate (and fulfill!) their needs.  

5. Send a notecard.

Whether it’s for a big life event like a birthday or a wedding or is “just because,” a handwritten notecard is an unexpected gesture that harkens back to a time when life was a little less automated and a bit more human. Show your customers you’re thinking about them with a personalized note to add a little wow-factor.

Why make personal connections?

Through space and time and telephone wire, there is always room for meaningful connections. In addition to elevating your brand and earning your customer’s loyalty, you’re also improving moral for you and your team. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Looking for more ways to turn your callers into clients? We’ve put together a free ebook that will help you do just that.

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Whether you share a receptionist with your virtual office, have a dedicated receptionist, or use a virtual receptionist service, having them introduce calls that come in to your business can help you look more professional.

Instead of callers being transferred to a ringing line, wondering whether someone will pick up, in a “warm transfer,” the receptionist does all the legwork. 

If the other party answers, she’ll introduce the call with a simple, 

“Hi! I have Ms. Smith on the line for you. Would you like the call?”

if there’s no answer or they decline, she’ll go back to the caller and politely offer to take a message. Much more reassuring, don’t you think?

What is ‘warm transferring a caller’?

A warm transfer is a technique for receiving a call from a customer and passing that call to another employee – the goal of warm transferring is to improve the caller experience by appearing helpful and responsive.

Why do Warm Transfers Help?

There are a number of reasons using warm transfers with callers can make a world of difference to your business:

Warm transferring allows for great greetings.

When you know who you’re about to speak with, you can craft a super-friendly greeting for each caller, making every conversation excellent from the get-go. What sounds better: a plain Hello? or a personalized greeting (Denise! It’s so wonderful to hear from you! How have you been?)? Warm transfers make those personalized greetings possible!

Warm transferring callers gives you time to know your customers.

Knowing who you’re about to speak with can be a boon to your business. Before having your receptionist patch a call through, you can take a moment to access a caller’s account, glance at a client’s file, or gather any information you might need.

  • “Hi! This is Heather from Ruby. I have Kim with Taylor Consulting on the line.”
  • “Great! Let me bring up her account… Okay, I’m ready! Please put Kim through.”

Warm transfers let you relay information when you don’t have time to chat.

Say you get a call when you’re about to step into a meeting. It may not be an ideal time for a conversation, but when you know a friendly receptionist is on the other end of the line, there’s no reason not to pick up the phone. Your receptionist can easily relay messages to callers, keeping them up-to-date when you don’t have time to update them yourself.

  • Hi! This is Kelly from Ruby. I have Larry on the line for you.”
  • “Great! Please tell Larry I’ll meet him at 5:00 as planned, and I’ll give him a call around 2:00 after my meeting.”

Warm transfers allow you to get more information when you need it.

Not sure who you’re about to talk to? No worries! It’s a snap for the receptionist to bounce back to callers and ask additional questions. Maybe your caller has introduced himself simply as Michael, and you’re looking forward to a call from Michael at ABC Company, but aren’t ready to chat with Michael from XYZ Company. Thanks to your choice of a warm transfer, your receptionist can easily clarify who is on the line.

  • “Hi Michael! Thank you for your patience. May I ask what company you’re with?”
  • “Sure! I’m calling from ABC Company.”
  • “Thanks so much! One moment, please”.

Warm transferring callers lets you reschedule important conversations.

With warm transfers, you won’t get stuck in a conversation you’d rather put off.

The true beauty of a warm transfer is the option to not take a call. When you know your bright, friendly receptionist will make every caller feel taken care of regardless of whether they’re connected to you, you can rest easy when you’re not in the mood to chat.

  • “Good morning! This is Ashley from Ruby. I have Lily Peterson on the line for you.”
  • “Hmmm…will you take a message?”
  • “Absolutely! Have a wonderful day.”
  • “Thank you for your patience, Lily! Janet is away from the phone at the moment, but I’ll be happy to take a message for you. What’s the best telephone number for a return call?”

Warm Transferring with Ruby

See what a difference a warm transfer can make?! If your receptionist is patching calls through to you without introducing them first, try making this little change. We think you’ll notice a big difference as a result! With Ruby, we focus on training our receptionists in the techniques necessary to building quality relationships with customers.

Want to learn more?

Discover everything a virtual receptionist service has to offer after (and before) the transfer in our Ultimat…

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In our third feature on KGW in as many years, Founder and CEO Jill Nelson shared with fellow Entrepreneurs’ Organization members Ruby Receptionists’s success story. “Practicing WOWism” — spreading happiness and connecting with clients on a meaningful, personal level — isn’t just good for the soul, it’s good business.

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Photo by Sarah Reido

We’re all about positivity at Ruby, and it’s not just because of our naturally friendly, upbeat staff we’ve learned that having happy receptionists leads to happy customers, and that’s just all-around good business! Our virtual receptionist team knows how important it is to skip negative phrases. A few little words can turn a good conversation into a great one, and replacing negative words with positive ones might be easier than you realize. Before you chat with your next customer or potential client, scrap these three phrases:

I don’t know. You may not have the answer to your customer’s question, but saying “I don’t know” gets you nowhere. Bypass “I don’t know” and move on to the next part: finding the answer, or putting your customer in touch with someone who does know.

“Great question! Diana in our Sales Department would be happy to answer it. Let me put you in touch with her.”

“That’s a good question! I’ll find the best person to answer it!”

I can’t (or we can’t). Okay, if someone asks you to bench press 500 pounds, “I can’t” may be a reasonable reply. But when it comes to customer service, these are two words to avoid. Maybe “I can’t” is the short answer to your customer’s question, but it’s far from a confidence booster. What can you do? Talk about that instead. If customer service is important to you, there’s always something you can do. Check this out:

“Can I pick up my computer tomorrow?”

“We’d like to keep it one more day to make sure it’s tip-top. We can have it ready for pickup first thing Wednesday morning, or we’d be happy to deliver it to you then!”

You’ll have to (or you need to). If you eliminate any three words from your conversational repertoire today, make them “You’ll have to.” This bossy phrase is a big customer service no-no. When you want to guide your customer in a different direction, trade “You’ll have to” in for softer reply-starters like “You might want to…” or “May I suggest…” or “It might be best to….” Better yet, offer to do the legwork for your customer, or at least lend a hand:

“It might be best to talk to your phone provider about the options available to you. I’d be happy to conference you in so we can call them together!”

Now that’s customer service!

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Let’s face it: most businesses could stand to improve how they handle client experience. 

Some companies disregard it, assuming clients only care about the price, speed, and quality of a service or product. Other companies overthink it, spending upwards of five or six figures on complicated CX tools and flashy brand displays that prove to be extraneous and ineffectual. 

There’s a middle ground between these two extremes that’s all too often overlooked. No, you shouldn’t do nothing to improve client experience, but you also don’t need to overhaul your company, map out a 171-step customer journey, and hire a team of behavioral psychologists and data analysts.

Instead, start with the simple stuff.

Want to improve your client experience? Start by looking around your office.

How do guests feel when they enter your business?

What’s the first thing they see?

Is there a comfortable place to sit?

These sorts of questions may sound rudimentary, but they point to elements that separate extraordinary businesses from the rest. Nailing the in-person fundamentals can be the difference between providing exceptional client experiences and scaring people away.

The way your location looks, sounds, smells, and feels should serve to welcome and charm your guests, not send them running to the door. If they don’t feel safe and relaxed in your space, they probably won’t want to return—unless they really have to.

Seven ways to create better client experiences in your office.

Here are a few quick, easy, and cost-effective ideas to liven up your space and improve your client experience:

1. Change your lighting. Most businesses are lit poorly. Believe it or not, the problem is usually over-illumination—the lights are too bright. Ditch the harsh overhead bulbs for lamps and ambient lighting solutions. Natural light is best—look for ways (windows, skylights, reflective surfaces, bright paints) to maximize it.

2. Add plant life. Office plants not only look nice, but are proven to reduce stress, boost creativity, and improve air quality.

3. Throw art on the walls. Paintings, prints, photographs, sketches—any form of artistic expression can pique your visitors’ interest, set a mood, or tell a story. Stay away from bland, corporate art if you can. Instead, choose works that reflect your community and your employees. Better yet, support your local artists.

4. Prioritize comfort. Have plenty of seats available. Coziness is more important than elegance. A comfy couch is probably better (and cheaper, especially if bought used) than a set of harsh, angular, minimalist chairs.

5. Consider different visitors’ needs. Do your guests have ample space to sit and talk? Are there more secluded areas for people who want more privacy? Think like a restaurant or bar and offer more than one kind of seating arrangement available.

6. Offer drinks (and maybe even snacks). Everybody loves treats. A cup of water, a mug of tea or coffee, or a miniature bottle of sparkling water or soda can make someone feel at home. A piece of candy, cookie, or granola can make their day—and cement your business as a positive experience in their memory. They might come back just for the drinks and snacks.

7. Keep it clean and organized. Make sure to sweep up those crumbs after your guests are done snacking. And keep clutter under control—a little creative chaos can be charming, but piles upon piles send the wrong message.

Learn more business tips for improving client experiences.

The Ruby method: “greet, seat, treat.”

At Ruby, we follow a simple, three-step formula to create connections with our guests:

1. Greet. A warm greeting is much more than a mere formality. When a visitor comes through the door, you have an opportunity to turn someone’s day around with your kindness. There’s no easier way to establish a real, human connection than through eye contact and a smile. If you’re on a phone call when a guest arrives, politely indicate that you’ll be with the guest in just a moment (a friendly wave does the job nicely). If you’re not on a call, give your guest a warm greeting such as “Good afternoon! How may I help you today?”

2. Seat. This one’s dead simple. Offer a guest a seat in your lobby: “Please make yourself comfortable! I’ll let Ms. Smith know you’re here.”

3. Treat. Offering drinks and snacks is not only a courtesy, but a form of anticipating clients’ needs—a core component of WOWism. At the very least, always offer your guest something to drink. If you don’t have a watercooler handy, keep a pitcher and glasses stocked at your desk. 

The key to client experience is connection.

These are just a few ways to improve client experience and build relationships with the people you serve. You may not have the time, money, or space to try every idea here—and that’s okay. 

Any growing business can stand out and boost client satisfaction and retention, no matter how limited the organization’s resources may be. The key lies in personal connections.

Learn more in our free ebook: The ROI of Personal Connections.

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Ruby's 9th Birthday!Today, we celebrated our ninth year in business in true Ruby style — with a birthday party! We know how important it is to take time out to really celebrate the road that led us here. To mark the occasion, we hosted our second annual Ruby Bake-Off and birthday gift exchange! Lauren O. won the bake-off with some amazing Oreo truffles and walked away with a shopping spree to Sur La Table! The office has been buzzing with smiles and celebration (and a little sugar high from all the amazing baked goods!). For more photos of the festivities, check out the Ruby Facebook page!

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Our green virtual receptionist service has once again made Oregon Business’s top “100 Best Green Companies to Work for in Oregon!” Our third time on the list in three years, Ruby came in at #79 out of more 431 companies and nonprofits across the state. We’re especially thankful to Ruby’s Green Team for being our eco-conscience and spearheading sustainable initiatives like reusing paper to make DIY notepads, recycling, and clothing swaps and donations. We can’t wait to see where what other green practices we put in place in the coming year!

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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.