Photo by Windell Oskay
Photo by Windell Oskay

Email templates are a great way to strengthen rapport and WOW prospects with your speedy and consistent follow-up. However, there’s a fine balance; if they are too generic, templates can seem impersonal and ruin the relationship-building you’ve done so far.

First, save email templates with information that you find yourself typing frequently.

Do you often send potential clients (or current clients) similar summaries of features or products? Instead of typing it out from scratch each time, fine-tune it once and save a template. (Or, for short phrases, try adding a handy ShortKey instead!)

Tailor your template to each person based on your conversation.

Did you just speak with them on the phone two minutes ago? An email template starting out with “Hope you are doing well!” will make it seem like you weren’t paying attention. Simply modifying it to “It was great speaking with you!” is an easy way to personalize your email. No email is one-size-fits-all, so add additional info that they may need or take out superfluous topics as needed. Be sure to also reiterate scheduled follow-ups or time-sensitive subjects at the end of your email; “I look forward to speaking with you next Friday!” or “Have a fantastic vacation in Figi!” adds a thoughtful touch.

Go over your grammar with a fine-tooth comb.

You’ll probably be using these templates frequently, and nothing feels worse than finding a grammatical error weeks later, knowing you’ve sent it to dozens of people. Egg + face = you. Spotless grammar will make your speedy reply even more impressive!

When you use email templates as a jumping off point, your prospect will be stunned by how quickly you were able to write such an eloquent response!

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Photo by Jurgen Tesch
Wherefore art thou Jim?

You’ve heard it before, and you probably know it to be true from personal experience: People love hearing their names. As a businessperson, using your customers’ names is a not-to-be-missed opportunity—it’s an incredibly easy way to show you care.

Here are three ways to use a customer’s name to create a connection:

  • Say it! Ask your receptionist to screen and announce calls when transferring them to you, so you’re able to greet current clients with exuberance (“Hello, Mary! It’s so wonderful to hear from you! How have you been?”) and wow potential clients from the get-go (“Hi, Tom! Thank you for calling! My name is Phoebe. How may I help you today?“). When you’re expecting a client in the office, let your team know, and encourage them to address your guest by name. The staff at my dentist’s office is great at this — any time I stop by for an appointment, I’m greeted with a friendly “Hi, Phoebe!” by everyone I interact with. This simple show of warmth and friendliness makes me feel great, even when I know I’m about to get a filling. That says a lot!
  • Write it. Sending a client a handwritten, hand-addressed notecard is an easy but powerful way to show you care. Always begin emails with a greeting that includes your client’s name, and skip generic greetings like “Dear Customer.” Be sure to triple-check your spelling when writing a customer’s name, as a misspelled name is likely to cause offense.
  • Search for it. Is your customer a business owner? Use the Internet to search for the business by name. You might find a website or Facebook page for the business, both of which can help you get to know your customer better. Or perhaps an Internet search will reveal that the business has received recent press for an achievement  — what a great opportunity to send a congratulatory card or gift! Maybe your client has a web presence of her own — let’s say she’s a food blogger in her spare time. Read her recent posts before your next meeting, and make a point of chatting about them with her. Sure, you don’t want to drudge up embarrassing old yearbook photos, but doing a bit of Internet investigation about a client’s company or interests can help you find excellent opportunities to connect.

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Make Your Business Legendary

Reading time:

Creating Business Legends

Everyone knows the story of Nordstrom returning a set of tires — even though they don’t sell tires — for the sake of customer service. We’ve heard how Morton’s Steakhouse met someone at the airport, piping hot porterhouse in hand, simply because they jokingly tweeted how nice it would be. These are WOW moments. Or, in the parlance of Barney Stinson, these stories are legen — wait for it — dary.

Why? These stories get shared. Your customers can’t believe it. They can’t stop talking about it and want all their friends to know. Even better, your employees are WOWed, too, spurring imitators and encouraging increasingly creative WOW-worthy moments.

How can you motivate employees and create legends at your business?

  • Display a Digital Frame full of WOW. When you first walk into the Ruby office you’ll be greeted, offered a seat, and treated to coffee or water. While you wait, a digital frame circulates our best WOW stories, highlighting our virtual receptionists for jobs exceedingly well done. Ruby employees get to see these stories every day when they walk in the office or while they answer phones and greet visitors in the front lobby. A slideshow is a great reminder of all the ways they can WOW and provides some very public recognition!
  • Core Values in Action Awards. Each quarter, after the last call of the night, the Ruby team gathers for a staff meeting to create community, geek out over KPIs, learn, and launch new incentive campaigns. Our Director of Culture, Sarah Sackett, kicks things off with our Core Values in Action Awards (or CViA for short). All quarter long, Rubys can nominate their peers (or themselves!) for exemplifying our Core Values, and Sarah recognizes the very best with a CViA amidst loud cheering from the rest of the staff. One stand-out story gets the prestigious honor of “WOW Story of the Quarter” and a crisp $100 bill!
  • WOW Station. Inspired by a suggestion from one of our virtual receptionists, we created a “WOW Station” to give Rubys inspiration and tools to make even more connections with our clients. Rather than tucking it away in a corner or supply room, this station stands in the middle of our break room for all to see. Its drawers are stocked with bright orange and pink tissue paper, blank notecards, and gift ideas. Stories of past gifts and compliments and handwritten thank you cards from clients decorate the space, sparking creativity and creating even more legends!

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How to Hire Great Employees
You want employees who are going to care for your customers, go above and beyond, and who are in it for the long haul. But how will you know if you’ve found your next all-star?

Get to know prospective employees as people.

When we’re looking for a new virtual receptionist, candidates don’t go through an “interview”; they have a “sit-with.” Meeting with several different people, at various levels of the company, lets prospective employees loosen up and feel more comfortable showing their personalities — which is exactly what we’re looking for. How can you make candidates feel more comfortable and get to know them better?

Hire based on your company Core Values.

At Ruby, we hire “people people.” Do they delight in making someone’s day? Do they love learning new things? Are they always looking for ways to do things better? When chatting with their potential coworkers, do they try to get to know them better? Are they excited when they hear our Core Values? Different companies will have different characteristics they look for new employees (Nike might value a passion for athletics, for example).

What qualities correspond to your Core Values?

Train, train, train!

You may need to sacrifice experience for the right culture fit, so give new employees the tools to succeed through stellar training. Almost everyone at Ruby started out as a virtual receptionist, and it’s thanks to fantastic training (written by fellow blogger Phoebe Osborn!) that new hires are well-equipped and our internal promotions are smooth sailing. Are you prepared with solid training for your new employees?

For more on how to hire the right people and create a culture of exceptional customer experiences, watch Ruby CEO Jill Nelson’s presentation on “Practicing WOWism” on YouTube!

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Old-fashioned telephone exchange
Photo by PhotoAtelier (Glen)

Treating your customers with respect is a no-brainer, but do generic titles fit that picture? Addressing customers with titles like Sir, Ma’am, Mister and Miss used to be considered polite, but these days, such titles are likely to cause trouble for your business. Here are a few reasons to skip them:

A title might alienate your customer.

When’s the last time you heard this: “The grocery store clerk called me ‘Ma’am.’ Isn’t that nice?” It’s much more likely that “Ma’am” is viewed as a synonym for “old woman,” or worse, “old, annoying woman,” and that is an impression that you definitely don’t want to make on a potential client. “Sir” can have a similar Hey, old guy! ring to it, while “Miss” can come off as condescending. Bottom line: Generic titles can lead to very negative reactions.

You might pick the wrong title.

Say you’re chatting on the phone with a potential client, Terry Lennox. Terry’s very interested in your business, and seems like an ideal client. Terry’s voice also happens to be a bit high pitched. Your closing comment, “I look forward to working with you, Ms. Lennox!” is a deal-breaker — “It’s Mister Lennox.” Ouch! Making the wrong assumption about someone’s gender is very difficult gaffe to overcome. It’s best not to guess at all. Maybe Terry Lennox goes by Dr. Lennox or Professor Lennox or Rapmaster Lennox —  you may never find out. But one thing you do know is Terry’s first name. Stick with that!

What’s in a name? Plenty!

People love hearing their names, and addressing a potential client by name is a great way to connect and show you’re listening. Always follow your customer’s lead, and refer to customers as they refer to themselves. Once you know a customer’s name, look for an opportunity to say it. Try repeating it back and showing your appreciation right away: “Thank you, Dave!” And always introduce yourself  — it encourages customers to share their names, and helps them feel more connected to you and your company.

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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.