A few years ago, I was complaining to a friend about the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day I was having. My friend listened patiently, and then said something that has stuck with me ever since:

“You know, your body only feels anger for something like 60-seconds. After that, you’re choosing to be angry.”

Every day, we choose how to frame and react to our experiences. The goal of the Happiness Journal Challenge Ruby hosts each year is to make choosing happiness easier by forming a habit—21 consecutive days of reflecting on the positive aspects of each day. And while those 21 days are critical, it’s what happens on day 22 that is the most important.

A Continuing Commitment To Happiness

Jennifer Orr is a first-time participant in the Happiness Journal Challenge. While Jennifer found the 21-day challenge a great way to shift her thinking, she recognized she would need to keep working every day to reach all her happiness goals. Here’s her story:

Dear Ruby,

I have really enjoyed the 21-day Happiness Journal exercise. I enjoyed it so much, I made copies so I can continue to use the prompts in my every day journal writing.

I found it took me 21 days to get in the habit of thinking of three things that made me happy. Like someone else said on your staff, there is so much noise in our lives; this was a great way to pull out the three things I most appreciated. And, I too, found it was mostly personal. For example, no matter how bad a day I might have had at work, I always could appreciate the simple act of having dinner with my family.

What I need more time for is the gratitude portion of the exercise. I figure it will take me another 21 days to get in the habit of looking for opportunities to thank the staff that works for me, or the patient who shares an important story, or when my kids clean up after themselves. I look forward to making that change. I truly believe it will be a life-changing habit!

I also loved having the reminder to exercise and meditate. I do try to do those on a regular basis, but I liked seeing the link between my happiness and the amount I exercised and meditated.

Thank you so much for providing me the journal and getting me started on a life time of more happiness!

—Jennifer Orr, Office Manager

Congratulations Jennifer on completing the challenge, and best of luck on your journey of continued growth!

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“What does it take to be a good leader?”

Leadership is the most common concern of the business owner, no matter if they have one employee or a thousand. However, the scope, span and ways in which leadership tactics are applied differ between a Fortune 500 CEO and small business owner. After 25 years of teaching, coaching, speaking and engaging audiences with the question of what it takes to be a good leader, I’ve found the answers to fit into five simple words—the 5 P’s.

Perspective

Leaders look at different things than managers. As one coaching client told me, her business is her baby. Thus how the business is marketed, the type of clients she serves and who she surrounds herself with are personal decisions. Clients become friends and the decision to no longer utilize one’s services can be taken personally. Maintaining perspective is essential. Very few decisions in business are personal. Rarely are budgets personal and when selling your services, it’s important to remember some will want them, some won’t.

What does this mean you do to improve your leadership skills in the area of perspective? Fill your days with so many sales calls and marketing efforts that you lose track of who said “no” and focus only on those who say “yes” to you and your business.

Potential

In a small business, the potential of the people you might hire or systems you might use, has a cost. If your instincts are right, that potential pays for itself. If your instincts are wrong, that lack of potential could create problems and cost you a bundle. As a result, many small business owners lead themselves to follow the actions of those they trust, but when overwhelmed (as many consistently are) the urge to get something done can mask the signals that would normally prevent the mistakes of a myriad of rapid decisions.

What does this mean you do to improve your leadership skills in the area of potential? Lean on the old Ronald Reagan saying: “Trust, then verify.” Take smaller risks to build your confidence. Hire a business coach for a short time period and measure the results. Determine the worst possible outcome, decide what you could financially handle if it happened, and then pull the trigger. Potential can pay off if you pay attention.

Power

Small business leaders sometimes create powerful titles for themselves because they don’t believe they have the power to compete in the larger market without them. Power is an internal element and not a function of your title. Power comes from believing in yourself, doing those things about which you have passion, and setting up your business so you can delegate the things for which you have little or no interest. Instead, small business leaders try to do it all. They fake a skill level or a desire because they believe they should. Shoulds rob you of your power to build your business.

What does this mean you do to improve your leadership skills in the area of power? Remind yourself customers like real people, not those who fake it. They are attracted to power and those who do as they say. Get out of your own way and surround yourself with those who can help. In other words, find talented…

People

Since 2001, when I wrote the first edition of Contagious Leadership, I’ve espoused leadership is contagious. Everything you do, see, say, think, believe and how you behave rubs off on those you lead. Of course, you first have to have people to lead. Sure, you can do everything—except not at the same time and usually not all by yourself.

What does this mean you do to improve your leadership skills in the area of people? Find other people to help you. Go to Elance or Guru to find inexpensive contractors. Engage a service like Ruby Receptionists to make sure your phones are answered and create great first impressions of your business. Avoid the need to employ everyone just so you look bigger than you are. Test your trust in their skills and don’t give away too much at first. Guide them, teach them and hold them responsible. Hire slowly and fire fast, no matter how much you think it will mean they don’t like you.

Persistence

The toughest period for a small business is the first five years. Persist. You had a goal when you opened this business. You had a passion that drove you day and night to do what you felt was right in serving your customers. You found some people who worked well and some who made you want to read Make Difficult People Disappear. You found some customers you could serve and a few who said “No thank you.” Persist.

What does this mean you do to improve your leadership skills in the area of persistence? Keep going in the direction that gives you the greatest positive feedback and results.

There is a Native American story that was likely not intended to be about leadership, but nevertheless feels appropriate. The story goes that a group of Native Americans were observing a herd of buffalo and cows. A storm approached the two herds. As the clouds moved closer, the buffalo ran INTO the storm, escaping its wrath faster. The cows, on the other hand, ran AWAY from the storm, prolonging their exposure.

The moral of the story? Led by fear, the cows persisted in the wrong direction and gave up their power. By running head into the storm, the buffalo maintained their power of escape, were faced with less time needed to persist in a struggle, gained the clarity of perspective from the other side more quickly, and earned the respect of the Native American people.

Do your actions as a leader earn you the respect of those you lead, who observe your every move? Your employees watch your use of the 5 P’s, and how you use these strategies rubs off on them. Use your power to change what’s not working. Find people to help you and persist through the storms that are inherent to business ownership, knowing that the potential you saw when you first opened your doors, still exists if you simply persist, and lead.

Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development expert. As the CEO of Contagious Companies she develops leaders through coaching, consulting and training. As a professional speaker, she entertains audiences with a compelling leadership message. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica is also a ten year Ruby Receptionist’s customers and a firm believer that THIS was one of the best business decisions she’s ever made!

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Ruby Team

For the eighth year in a row, Ruby has earned a spot among the 100 Fastest Growing Companies in Oregon. Growth is an important part of the Ruby culture—so much so, it’s one of our core values. When we added “Grow” as our fifth core value in 2012, it was our way of expressing our willingness to take on new challenges—to take risks, adapt to change, and learn from our mistakes. The addition of this value has guided our company on a path of purposeful growth, one focused on delivering exceptional experiences for our clients and our team.

Achieving growth demands a great deal of passion and a daily commitment to excellence. We are so thankful for the incredible dedication of our employees, who help us grow by going above and beyond for our clients each and every day. We also thank our wonderful clients, several of which were included in the top 100, for trusting us to create those valuable personal connections with their callers. We love being a part of your growth as well.

Congratulations to all the companies recognized this year, and here’s to another year of growth!

 

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These days, it’s common to view email marketing solutions through the lens of lead generation and brand promotion. The cold hard truth is the days of simply emailing your entire customer and prospect list are coming to an end. Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia and long-time critic of automated email blasts, recently eviscerated one such company for sending bulk, unsolicited and impersonal email.

Despite the language he uses in the video, I’m sure we’ve all felt the same way when we get emails of this kind. Vaynerchuk’s advice is simple and direct: Don’t send emails to people who didn’t sign up for them. It’s impersonal and often doesn’t speak to the customer’s needs.

To leverage email marketing to its fullest, you must consider the entire customer experience. Just as we’ve all been frustrated by unnecessary, impersonal emails, we’ve also all enjoyed getting an email that arrives at the perfect time to answer a question or save a few bucks on a purchase.

So how can you start delighting customers through email marketing? Let’s dig in.

At Infusionsoft, we call the process of process of communicating to customers through the various stages of their experience Lifecycle Marketing. No matter what you call it, it involves methodically planning out the optimal prospect-to-customer communications, events and activities people will experience.

When creating a new customer communication sequence, put aside what you think is important—this should be all about the customer. Review your website’s searches, your support emails, listen to your sales and customer service teams, even call new customers to conduct interviews into their challenges. Once you have this information, organize it into a series of steps that aim to educate customers on, and engage them with, your product. Keep in mind, every interaction with a customer—from the website, phone, registration process, support process—is an opportunity to deliver value and earn trust. When building your customer lifecycle email campaigns, you need to be intentional about the story your customer experience tells from prospect, to purchase, and beyond.

To illustrate an example of this, I’ll share my experience with GoPro. Many months ago, I purchased a GoPro HERO3 video camera. While I knew it was a very capable product, I haven’t done much with it. I’ve found it a bit challenging to download videos to my computer and found the accessories I bought confusing to use and set up. As a result, the GoPro sits in a drawer collecting dust. For GoPro as a company, this means I’m not buying upgrades or additional accessories, and am quickly falling into the “disengaged” camp of their customers.

This experience has nothing to do with the product itself; in fact, I would say the camera is nothing short of amazing. It has to do with what I need. I need tips and advice designed for me at my early stages with the product. While the GoPro website does have an option to sign up for an email newsletter, it focus on deals, news and giveaways—not tips.

To address this case of customer disengagement, I would suggest GoPro provide a “Creators” email list filled with tips, examples, Q&A and tutorials to inspire me to use the camera to its fullest. Email is perfect medium for this type of campaign, especially since GoPro has a wealth of experience working with successful customers. Here’s what I would like to see from this campaign:

1. “Welcome to the Community!” (Instant) – This email reinforces my expectations for the product. Additionally, it states how often I’ll receive their emails and thanks me for signing up.

2. “Five Minutes to Set up Your GoPro” (2 hours after signup) – This should point me to video examples of how to set up the GoPro the first time including the assembling the camera itself, and connecting to my Mac or PC. Also, a link to an accessory guide so I know what each accessory does and how it’s used.

3. “Securing Your GoPro” (3 days after signup) – Provides suggestions on best practices for securing my GoPro when recording—tripod, suction mounts, and more. This helps me feel confident setting up the camera, therefore encouraging me to use it more.

4. “Shooting Like a Pro” (7 days after signup) – Covers the different recording modes, different frame rates and aspect ratios, as well as provides examples of each.

5. “Editing Your Shots & Uploading Your Videos” (13 days after signup) – By now I’ll most likely have some footage, so this email should explain how to install the right software on my computer, links to codecs (if required), and advice on how to upload videos to YouTube or Vimeo for the best quality.

6. “Join our Creator’s Community!” (21 days after signup) – This email serves two purposes. First, it should conclude my new customer email experience with a quick recap and links to resources. Second, it should reset communication expectations from a weekly email to a monthly newsletter with tips for creators, by creators.

The purpose of a customer engagement email campaign is to gently, but confidently, lead the customer towards success so they will enjoy using your product and be willing to purchase more from you later. As you create a customer success campaign, you will naturally foster up-sell opportunities that serve the needs of your customer. Plus, when customers are delighted from using your product, they tend to spend more and refer others your way.

Of course, customer engagement email campaigns aren’t exclusive to consumer products like GoPro cameras. In fact, it can be just as critical to use this when onboarding new B2B clients. Service clients will want to know who their point-of-contact is, what support resources are available, and an outline of the next steps for fulfillment. If you own a service-based business, begin collecting data on your client’s current challenges and personality from the very first point of contact. You’ll get into the mind of a new customer and understand their concerns through each step of your service. As a result, you’ll better serve your customers and they, in turn, will become much more invested in your company.

Email marketing is here to stay, but its value decreases the more we use it poorly. The more more emails we send, the fewer emails we enjoy; that should be reason enough to compel you to send fewer, but more meaningful email messages to customers.


Joe Manna is the Developer Partner Program Manager at Infusionsoft, where he helps small businesses succeed by attracting partners and developers to create powerful integrations with Infusionsoft. He enjoys supporting entrepreneurs in Phoenix and taking road trips in his lightly-modified Mustang.

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As a local business, it’s your goal to provide the best customer experience in your industry. You want to please people with your services so that they not only come back, but they tell their friends about you as well.

A great way to improve your relationship with customers is by using SEO (search engine optimization) as a primary tool. There are five main ways to better your customer experience this way, including the following:

  1. Post Relevant Content
  2. Create Service Pages
  3. Remember to NAP!
  4. Engage Through Social Media
  5. Encourage Reviews

Let’s get started!

1. Post Relevant Content

Content marketing—the distribution of relevant content such as blogs, videos, etc. for a specific audience—is a huge contributor to how a company ranks. Google determines the thought leaders and experts in each industry based on content that’s produce. In order for this to happen, you must create valuable content that improves your SEO and your customer’s experience.

Blogs are a great way to enhance the customer experience while building your SEO. A dentist, for example, may write an article on how long a patient will miss work after having their wisdom teeth removed. This improves the user’s experience by providing an answer to a common customer concern. Plus, updating your site regularly with fresh content improves your SEO and keeps Google happy.

At Loud Rumor, we wrote a blog called “Pros and Cons To Having Your Business on Yelp” to address whether or not it’s really worth putting your business on Yelp when so many reviews are filtered. Addressing this concern made us a resource for local businesses. We still receive a ton of traffic each month to our site as a result.

Customers won’t always be comfortable asking you their questions outright. Producing content that addresses their concerns not improves SEO, but meets an unfulfilled need of a potential customer.

2. Create Service Pages

As a local business, you want to rank for specific services to ensure your target audience can find you easily online. Returning to our previous example, a dentist may choose to focus on veneers, teeth whitening, Invisalign, dentures, and so on. These services become keywords—the words or phrases customers will type into search engines—and you want your business to show up when a potential customer uses them.

To do so, each of your services should have their own page explaining what customers can expect. Individual pages provide more opportunities to use your keywords, but also build relationships with your customers by a more thorough explanation of your background, skills and methods.

3. Remember to NAP!

Including your NAP (name, address, phone number) throughout your website is a simple way to better serve your customers. Being able to easily find how to contact you and your location improves the experience of researching your company prior to making a purchase. Additionally, your NAP is a very important factor for local SEO. It’s a strategy many local businesses use to rank more prominently in the map section of Google.

4. Engage Through Social Media

Social media promotes a sharing environment where people can ask questions, see pictures, and get information. Customers enjoy interacting with companies they patron via Facebook, Twitter, and so on. As a result, 46% of people refer to a business’ social media prior to making a purchase. It’s no longer optional—engaging in social media is crucial to your business.

Fortunately, social media is a fun and unique way to communicate because it’s still fresh. It’s not as common as a phone conversation or email, so customers get excited when they comment on a company’s post and receive a response. This small gesture makes them feel special and improves their perception of you as a business. Plus, social media offers several ways to incorporate SEO, such as with hashtags. Use your keywords as hashtags in your posts so your services are easy for users to find. Then, when someone comments on your social media post, be sure to respond right away in order to provide the best interaction possible.

5. Encourage Reviews

Good, quality reviews help you stand out. While reviews only have a small ranking signal in terms of SEO, they play a huge role in determining whether a customer will engage with your service.

90% of customers say their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews, which they trust as much as personal recommendations. Therefore, it’s important you truly care about your customers and provide them with a great experience—then they’ll want to go out of their way to review you.

These online reviews show potential customers what people love about you. For example, I recently ate at Arrogant Butcher because they had so many good reviews. People raved about their oysters and suggested sitting at the bar in order to interact with the chef. Had I not read the reviews, I would have sat at a table and ordered something else. Those reviews not only convinced me to eat there, but helped me have an even better experience.

Google’s algorithms may be complex, but their goal is simple—to put the most relevant, worthwhile information in front of users so they have the best possible experience. By making this your goal, you’ll find it is much easier to win at the SEO game.

Mike Arce is the Founder and CEO of Loud Rumor, an online marketing company that helps local businesses grow with AdWords management, Local SEO, social media marketing, and YouTube marketing. 

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One of the most delicate moments in a customer’s lifecycle is the time between their first exposure to your business and when they make a purchase. For many services, this is known as the customer onboarding process, and it’s important to spend time designing this process to be simple and transparent.

From the moment a new client signs up for Ruby’s service, we take care to make the experience easy. Not only do we make the process simple, we incorporate meaningful connections throughout to build a relationship with customers. After all, people do business with people they like—not robots!  How can you be sure to make your onboarding process a simple one? Start with these three steps!

Step 1: An Easy to Navigate Website


You wouldn’t spend time and money improving your search ranking only to send potential clients to a confusing website . As small business owners, it’s crucial your website connects with your company’s brand and be easy to navigate at the same time. Taking care to create a website with a clear link to your sign-up form means the difference between a new client finding that link or moving on to the next site. Netflix is an excellent example—their link to signup for a free month of service is large and smack dab in the middle of the screen!

Step 2: Assign a Point Person

To begin Ruby service, new clients fill out a short and simple online form outlining the basics of what their company does, as well as what they’d like Ruby to do. A Service Kickstarter & Happiness Builder (like me) will supplement that information with a brief phone call. While the call helps us get to know our new clients, it also makes the transition to Ruby a whole lot easier. A point person is also able to make meaningful connections by making sure new clients feel heard and cared for. Plus, clients are put at ease knowing they will reach a familiar person with any question they may have.

Point Person Email Example

Step 3: Set Clear Expectations

What will happen once a client has signed up for your service? Is there anything else you need from your client? Folks appreciate knowing where exactly in the setup process they are. If their account is ready on your end, be sure to let them know! If you’re waiting on information from them, a quick phone call to fill them in typically does the trick. Sending a follow up email is also an excellent way to share any information your client needs. It’s a great tool for including your contact information and welcoming your client to reach out if they need anything.

Expectations Email Example

Fostering relationships from the start is a sure fire way to create loyalty and happiness in your new clients. While it’s important to make your onboarding process a simple one, it’s certainly worth it to leave room for true connections too!

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Happy 12th birthday Ruby!

Reading time:

Ruby through the years
We’ve come a long way!

12 years ago, Ruby Receptionists began its journey to restore the lost art of human interaction in an increasingly technology-focused, automated world. From our humble beginnings working out of a small office with leaky pipes, the last decade has seen us grow to two locations with more than 200 employees. Yet, despite our growth, our mission remains the same—to WOW callers and clients alike, fostering happiness with each and every call.

Today we celebrate the wonderful friends, colleagues, staff and clients who have helped us grow year after year. Thanks for making every year better than the last, and cheers to another year of innovation, growth and, most importantly, making personal connections!

Birthday

 

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*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.