Who you gonna call? Madi and Pennie at Ruby!

Are your customers having a sweet experience when they call your business? Or are callers running away screaming? Beware of these eerie etiquette gaffes:

Boo! A ghost receptionist.

If no one answers after four or five rings, callers start to think nobody’s home. They may wonder whether you’ve momentarily stepped away from your desk or you’re on vacation for two more weeks. Rather than leaving a voicemail, potential clients may hang up and call a competitor.

At Ruby, every daytime call is answered promptly and cheerfully by a highly-trained receptionist. Our virtual receptionists answer 100% of calls live and 99.8% before the fourth ring!

Boo! A ghastly mood.

Your callers are probably contacting you to get some help, so reaching a friendly, professional receptionist will show them they’re in good hands.

Turn that grimace into a grin before you pick up the phone, and you’ll be on your way to making their day!

Boo! Leaving callers in the lurch.

Phrases like “I don’t know” or “I can’t” are a dead end. Instead, have your receptionist focus on what you can do to help:

“Great question! Let me find out for you.”

“While we don’t handle cauldron accidents, l’m happy to refer you to someone who does!”

Whether you use Ruby’s virtual receptionist service, have a in-house receptionist, or use a combination of the two, with a bit of cheer and a heap of professionalism, you can treat callers to a stellar customer experience every day of the year!

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We’ve had the honor of hosting the Beaverton Education Foundation’s Fall Phone-a-thon!

There was an electric buzz in the air as over 300 students filled our beautiful Beaverton, Oregon, office after hours this week. BEF provides financial support for K-12 educational activities such as clubs and summer programs, and these student volunteers dialed away, asking members of the community for donations to help their local schools. A number of Ruby volunteers were also standing by to lend encouragement, coaching opportunities, and their phone expertise to these impressive students.

Problem Solver & Happiness Maker Patti W. and a student volunteer

In their five nights at Ruby, the volunteers raised a whopping $94,000 — the largest phone-a-thon pledges since 2010!

We are so grateful to be able to Create Community in Beaverton, and we can’t wait to do it again next year!

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Ruby’s at MILOfest!

Reading time:

MILOfest 2013

We’re delighted to be exhibiting again this year at MILOfest! Several Ruby clients and friends are speakers, and we’re excited to get to see folks in person — at the (second) happiest place on earth, no less!

If you’re attending, feel welcome to drop by Ruby’s booth and say hello to our General Manager Diana Stepleton!

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Photo by Flickr user Daniel Ramirez

When’s the last time a customer said they wished they had more problems, just to get a chance to interact with you more? A story went viral last week about a customer service representative at Netflix who not only solved a customer’s routine issue, but actually made him glad he had it in the first place.

It all started with a simple chat: “I have a problem to report,” typed the Netflix user. What came next wasn’t a canned reply to say the least: “This is Capt. Mike of the good ship Netflix, which member of the crew am I speaking with today?” The customer, whose online streaming had been interrupted by a technical glitch, was delighted and introduced himself: “Greetings, Captain. Lt. Norm here.”

The conversation went on from there, with the rep cracking jokes and even adding positive comments about the show the customer had been watching (the absurdly funny Parks and Recreation). At the end of their chat, “Captain Mike” asked if there was anything else he could help with; the customer replied, “I almost wish there were.”

Wow. If only every contact we have with businesses could give us that feeling!

Of course, this humorous approach wouldn’t be appropriate in every situation. “Lieutenant Norm” was watching a comedy and obviously in the mood to relax and enjoy some entertainment. Ruby’s virtual receptionists, on the other hand, answer calls for many attorneys whose callers may be going through a tough time in their lives — not an ideal opportunity to make light of the situation.

However, our receptionists know that they can empathize, listen for cues to give them what they don’t even know they want, or simply offer a kind word. People are yearning for a more meaningful connection than a canned script will ever provide.

Learn to see interactions as opportunities to brighten your customers’ days — not just tasks to check off your list. After all, they are probably contacting you because they need help; why not show them you care at the same time?

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Back when I was a Star Service & Receptionist Cultivator (what we call staff managers here at Ruby), Mag was one of my favorite virtual receptionists to listen to while she took calls. She’s always had an incredible ability to empathize, and the way she can pick up on the slightest show of emotion from a caller is really something. For a person to experience empathy, they must either recognize and understand the emotions of another, or meet another person’s mental state with the appropriate emotional response. Mag can easily do both, and callers love her for it.

Virtual receptionist Mag C.
Mag C.’s warmth shines on the phone

Empathy’s beauty is in its ability to facilitate trust, which is essential for maintaining healthy personal relationships, but empathy can also deepen the quality of your professional associations. With a few kind words, Mag is no longer a receptionist to that caller or client, but someone who is on their team rooting for them. You can actually hear a sense of relief in their voice the moment that connection is made.

Showing empathy can be particularly comforting to a frustrated customer, or even someone having a tough day. Letting them know that you want their issue resolved just as much as they do will often turn a concerned or upset person into a happy one.  When speaking with a frustrated caller, try acknowledging their feelings. An understanding tone and the right words can make all the difference in the world to someone who’s having a less than ideal day. You might say,

I’m sorry to hear that! I can see how this would be frustrating. Let me see what I can do for you.

On the other hand, if your customer is in a great mood or if they have cause to celebrate, celebrate with them! Let’s say a new client is starting a business and they need your law firm’s help with the legal details. If they seem excited, you might say,

That’s wonderful! Congrats! Opening a new business is a big move, and you’ve come to just the right place.

It might be tempting to brush off opportunities to empathize for the sake of buttoned-up professionalism or time, but doesn’t it feel great when another person seems to really get where you’re coming from? Empathy, understanding, and compassion come naturally to most people on some level, so next time you feel a calling to empathize, reach out. Customers will remember your connection the next time they (or their friends) are in the market for your services!

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Star Wars Day at Ruby Receptionists
Darth Vader battles Ruby’s Software Jedi

Your phone calls might only last a few minutes, but your etiquette may mean the difference between winning a new client or them thinking you’re a scruffy-sounding nerf herder.

Have you mastered every caller touchpoint? Give yourself a mini-audit by considering the following ten opportunities to impress callers:

1. Pick a (helpful) number.

Anticipate your customers’ needs before they even think about picking up the phone. Is your telephone number easy to find or even easy to remember (like a vanity number)? If your customers are web-savvy, add it to each page of your website and your email signature for one-touch dialing.

2. Who answers your phone?

Will your customers reach an impersonal voicemail box, a confusing phone tree, or a live person? A cheerful receptionist, ready to help, will leave a fantastic impression on your callers.

3. Make your greeting out of this world.

These are the first words some of your customers will ever hear from your business — make them count! Adding these three elements will make your greeting pop.

4. Choose your words wisely.

A powerful impact on your caller, your words can have. Try sprinkling your conversation with enthusiastic phrases like “Absolutely!” and “I’ll be happy to!” Sure beats “Sure” any day of the week!

5. How you say it matters, too.

The wrong intonation can sound uncertain, sarcastic, or even like your caller is a bother. A sincere smile can work wonders in warming up your tone of voice, and speaking slowly with a deeper pitch is likely to boost caller confidence (as well as your own!).

6. “Your call is important to us.”

We’ve all heard that as part of a company’s on-hold messaging. In fact, you probably heard it more than once on the same call, each time doubting the words a bit more. If you’re not sure what your hold music sounds like, call in and take a listen. Does it match your brand identity? Ruby clients can choose between six different music options or provide their own so that they can give callers the most personalized experience.

7. Verify spelling with style.

Many letters sound alike over the phone, so a phonetic alphabet is a must-have. But which one should you use? The “A as in Alpha, B as in Bravo” NATO phonetic alphabet was designed for the military, and though effective, it might not give your callers the best experience. Ruby custom-designed our own cheerful spelling alphabet; feel free to give it a whirl or create your own!

8. Up the friendliness factor of your voicemail.

A top-notch voicemail greeting includes an enthusiastic salutation, your name and company name, and any specific information you’d like your caller to leave. Wrap it up with a time frame to get back to callers: “Hi! You have reached Yoda at Degobah Systems. Please leave your name, number, and your support issue at the tone. I look forward to returning your call within 24 hours!”

9. Give them what they don’t even know they want.

No Jedi mind tricks necessary! This invisible touchpoint is all about surprising, delighting, and WOWing your callers. Hear a hesitation in their voice? That could mean that they’re reluctant, confused, or scared. A simple act of reassurance might be all they need to trust you and your company.

10. Perfect your follow up.

Once you’ve wrapped up your conversation, send an email following your call or simply set yourself a reminder to call again and check in. Your customers will appreciate your thoroughness as well as your thoughtfulness!

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Ruby at the Dress for Success Oregon Empowerment Breakfast

This morning, several Rubys and I were honored to attend Dress for Success Oregon’s first ever Empowerment Breakfast! We heard from several inspirational speakers, including the First Lady of Oregon, Cylvia Hayes, and altogether, the event raised over $40,000 for expanding their career center and job retention resources!

As a primarily female company that encourages personal and professional growth, Dress for Success is an organization near and dear to our hearts. Their programs touch the lives of disadvantaged women by providing mentors, professional attire, job skills, and scholarship opportunities. We’ve been honored to support their cause for the last three years, and our CEO Jill Nelson has even spoken at their “Going Places Network” series and strutted the runway at their largest fundraising event, the Celebrate Success fashion show.

Learn more about this worthy organization here!

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Email etiquette tips

Customer service etiquette: your top growth strategy.

Email isn’t just a resource for communication—strong client email etiquette is a tool to make great impressions on those you do business with.

After all, every email sent is an opportunity to show customers who you are as an individual and as a company, so don’t underestimate the power of a well written, helpful, and clear message! Use these email etiquette tips to accent the quality attention you already give your customers:

Etiquette rules for excellent customer service.

Write in a friendly tone. Tone can be tough to illustrate through writing, and equally tough for the reader to interpret. That’s why it never hurts to be extra friendly. When you do, you’ll leave no doubt in the reader’s mind that your intention is to be kind and helpful.   

Use proper grammar. Write in a way that represents you and your business well. It’s awfully tempting to correspond the way we might in a text message — without regard for punctuation, spelling, and grammar — especially when replying from a smartphone.

Instead, focus on a professional writing style, just as you would in a handwritten letter, and then find other ways to give your message a casual vibe, if that’s your goal.

Respond responsibly. Keep the conversation organized by always responding to the thread when replying to an email. Respond to all new items — unless the issue has come to a natural conclusion.

When a topic doesn’t require more attention, “Thank you!” is a great way to wrap up a thread. In the spirit of lessening superfluous email, only send this type of message to the individuals who need to know you’re on board, rather than the entire group.

Offer assistance. Include an offer of assistance to show your commitment to providing an excellent experience. The other party may not take you up on the additional help, but knowing it’s an option can have a powerful impact on your professional relationship.

Tailor your offer of assistance to the situation, or provide a general one such as:

If there is anything more we can do for you, please do let us know. We’d love to help!

Make the call. Great email etiquette is also about knowing when email doesn’t cut the mustard. Last-minute cancellations, urgencies, sensitive issues, or confusing topics might warrant a phone call instead. Your customers will appreciate the extra effort!

Customer service still matters. See the real, bottom-line impact it can have on your business in our free ebook!

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I recently had the honor of being a bridesmaid in a longtime friend’s wedding. The other bridesmaids and I did a few little things to help her prepare for the wedding, and in the time-honored tradition, she sent notecards to thank us. Now, my friend’s given me some great gifts over the years, but these notecards were something else. With each card, her kind, thoughtful, handwritten words brought me to tears. I’ll treasure them as long as I live.

Virtual receptionist Caitlin W. writing a notecardOkay, okay – why am I telling you this? Well, if you’re interested in creating lasting connections with customers (and who isn’t?), take a cue from my friend and send handwritten notecards to help you get there. A handwritten note is impactful because it’s rare. Consider all the junkmail (and email and text messages) you received over the past year. Now, consider how many handwritten letters or cards you received. Pretty big disparity, right? Let’s also consider how many emails or texts you’ve printed out and stuck to your fridge, pinned to your wall, or propped on your mantle or desk. Yep – notecards are just more meaningful. Interested in making these meaningful connections with your clients? Here’s how to get started:

  • Stock your desk. Snag some notecards, envelopes, stamps, a nice pen, and keep them handy. When that grateful mood strikes, you’ll be prepared to jot off a thank-you card.
  • Make time. Penning a three-sentence notecard is not a time-intensive activity. So why don’t we do it more often? Probably because we don’t schedule it. Set aside time each week (or each day or month or whatever works for you). Then, get to writing!
  • Make it personal, if possible. A notecard is a way to create a stronger relationship with a customer, so take what you know about that customer and build off of it. Any tidbit your customer has shared works – an upcoming vacation, an impending deadline, favorite movies…whatever you know about your customer, reference it!
  • Focus on gratitude. Even if you don’t know much about your customer, your notecard can make a difference. An expression of heartfelt gratitude is sure to brighten your customer’s day (and set your company apart from the competition):

Thank you so much for calling the other day! It was wonderful to chat with you, and I hope I was able to help. Please feel free to call me any time.

Now I’d put that notecard on my fridge. Wouldn’t you?

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Sales Support
Legal_Final

The Secret to Successful Law Firms

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

Already a Ruby customer?

Let’s get started.

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 cancelled 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.