I’ll be the first to admit I’m a bit of a miser. From hoarding my Monopoly money as a child to receiving my haircuts from beauty students well into adulthood, I’ve always preferred to sacrifice in order to save a buck. It took meeting my husband to finally convince me of the virtues of spending a bit more to ensure a better experience—that and an asymmetrical haircut. Under his tutelage, I have tried to evaluate products and services based on value instead of price.

Unfortunately, old habits die hard and I’m particularly stubborn when it comes to purchasing plane tickets. After all, isn’t flying any airline a chore these days? Therefore, when I recently had to purchase a ticket to a friend’s wedding, I turned to Orbitz. For those of you who haven’t used Orbitz, it is price comparison site for travel. It’s an enabler for penny-pinchers, like myself.

Upon entering my flight details, I was thrilled to discover a ticket nearly $100 less than the other airlines. The reward section of my brain lit up and I purchased the ticket without hesitation, patting myself on the back for my cleverness. As I would soon discover, the difference in price should have set off alarm bells, instead of prompting a happy dance.

I soon found this airline prides itself on its minimal approach to travel. Instead of a flat ticket price that includes all basic services one comes to expect from airlines, everything was a line item fee: printing your ticket at the airport, checking OR carrying on luggage, even a glass of water on the plane. With all the additional fees, I ended up spending more than I saved, and was left with a horrible memory.

The Benefits of Choosing Value Over Price

My experience with this particular airline was a big wake-up call for me. As an employee of a company that prides itself on providing excellent customer experiences, I was surprised at how willing I was to give that up to save a few bucks (which I didn’t even save in the end). Price speaks to the instant gratification part of our brains, often to the detriment of our long-term, overall happiness. Consider the benefits of evaluating products and services on value over price using my airline experience as an example:

Less Risk
I was familiar with nearly all the airlines Orbitz listed when I performed my search—some from first-hand experience, others by reputation. By choosing to go with the unfamiliar, newer airline merely on price, I ended up taking a big risk. When reviewing products or service, it’s important to consider reputation and level of risk as part of a company’s overall value. Take a look at reviews, request references and read through customer case studies to determine if a company is the right fit for your expectations. Then, you won’t be left in the lurch if a company suddenly disappears or a product isn’t delivered as advertised.

Expertise
At times, the airline came across as very unprofessional—unclear departures times, miscommunication about luggage identification, etc. Along with reputation, knowing you are in good hands adds a lot of value to the customer experience. While reviews and references can indicate a company’s expertise, it’s also a good idea to read through their blog, search for contributed articles to external sites, or browse through their leadership bios. Being a thought leader in your industry or field is a sign you’ll contribute more value to a customer through knowledge and experience.

A Better Overall Experience
A dramatically lower price is a good indicator corners were cut elsewhere—in the case of my discount flight, comfort, customer service and convenience. There’s so much to do and so little time—do we really want to spend it annoyed and frustrated with poor service? If I had purchased the best value instead of the lowest price, I would have saved myself the time spent being stressed and anxious over hidden fees and unclear departure times. Spending a little bit more upfront on a company with an established reputation and expertise will save you not only from hidden fees, but save your energy so you can focus on what matters.

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We’re often asked how our company has been able to grow without losing the unique culture that allows us to provide such exceptional service. The answer? Keeping ourselves grounded in our core values and focused on the Ruby Service Pyramid.

What is the Ruby Service Pyramid?

Combined with our core values, we consider the Ruby Service Pyramid the roadmap for success in all that we do. When you think about a pyramid, a solid foundation is absolutely necessary to its overall structural integrity, so let’s take a closer look at the base level of the Ruby Service Pyramid: Be Prepared with the Right Infrastructure.

The Ruby Service Pyramid created by Jill Nelson

What does “infrastructure” mean?

It sounds pretty straightforward, but how do you know what constitutes the right tools? What is the true base of the pyramid, the foundation upon which the entire structure relies? We could talk all day about software, CRMs, and TPS reports, but the truth is, those solutions will be different for each business. There is only one factor that comes into play across virtually all business models, and that is its people.

The people we hire are the driving force behind everything that we do, so it makes sense we’d look at “people” as our most critical piece of infrastructure. To keep this foundation strong, we take pains to carefully craft each part of the employee journey.

Step 1: Hire the Best

We figured out early on hiring only the best and the brightest was one of the main elements of success. We carefully screen all prospective employees to ensure, above all else, they’re naturally friendly and delightful. We don’t hire for typing speed and software skills; we look for cheerful, bright, charming individuals who have a desire to serve. We seek these traits out during the hiring process to ensure all new team members are natural cultural fits for our company. Plus, we altered our pay structure to better align with our values and to attract the best possible candidates (and keep them).

Step 2: Incent, Inspire, and Empower

Once we’ve welcomed all of those fabulous folks we’ve hired, it’s time to reap the benefits: wow-worthy customer service! We incent, inspire, and empower our people to make connections, and the result is a true culture of service across every department. We share stories and celebrate successes in order to inspire our team, and we focus on empowerment at every opportunity.

Step 3: Align!

Taking steps to ensure your leadership team is aligned on the important issues is critical to the success of a company’s culture, particularly during stages of fast growth. Maintaining our fantastic company culture is priority #1 for us, and as we grow, it’s important to make sure we’re all on the same page. Everyone in a leadership position or who otherwise has a “big voice” within our company attends a quarterly alignment meeting, during which we discuss company culture and employee morale.

What do you consider the “base” of your “pyramid”? How do you ensure that you’re focusing enough energy on company culture? Tweet us @callruby and share your story!

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Whether you’re a new business starting out, or a company with years of history, here are five statistics about customer service you should consider when creating your company’s strategy for the new year.

2020

Over the past decade, customers have begun to recognize competing on price is a race to the bottom. Anyone can go online and find a great deal, but the experience is impersonal and often fraught with customer service issues. Studies have shown customers are willing to pay more to ensure a great brand experience, making customer service the new name of the game.

customer love

In the age of the customer, service and support representatives are the face of your company. Hire employees who innately enjoy helping others and possess a desire to go above and beyond. Empower them to do what’s best for the customer and you’ll find you create not only happier customers, but happy employees.

Sad Customers

To make matters worse, those 4% are more likely to post feedback in the form of a negative Yelp review instead of speaking directly to you. Companies have a limited window in which to resolve a customer complaint, but only if they know about it. Proactively reach out for customer feedback whenever possible and ensure your customers know how they can escalate issues. Giving them options, even before there’s a problem, will catch more unhappy customers before they move onto a competitor.

Customer retention

Great companies build relationships with their customers. This means periodically checking in to see how they’re doing, passing along resources to help them make the most of their purchase, as well as inviting them to join a community. Loyal customers are worth 10 times the value of their original purchase, so make sure they know how much you appreciate their business.

Phone

With all the focus on optimizing your website and social media channels, the phone is often forgotten as a key customer communication channel. Yet, the majority of customers still prefer to speak with a real person before purchasing. Auto-attendants or being sent straight to voicemail may leave a caller frustrated and ready to move onto the next name on the list. Consider investing in a virtual receptionist service, like Ruby, to ensure every call is answered live in a friendly and professional manner.

What does all this mean for small business?

Consumer views on customer service interactions may have changed, but their collective perception of small business has not. 80% of Americans believe small businesses place a greater emphasis on customer service, so use this to your advantage:

  • Reiterate your commitment to customer service in your company values, as well as across all your customer communication channels.
  • Invest in tools that specialize in delivering stellar service.
  • Make sure all employees are trained in customer service best practices, not just the support staff.
  • Connect your customer service metrics to business goals, so all employees can see the real impact great customer service has on your bottom line.

If you found this article helpful, could you hit the Share/Save button below so others can benefit from it too? Thanks for sharing!

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Have you ever called a company’s support line looking for help, only to hear the same lines you’ve heard a million times before? How did that make you feel?

Great customers experiences are driven by personal connections and the willingness to go above and beyond. This can rarely be achieved with dictated responses. At Ruby, we’ve found eliminating scripts empowers our receptionists to focus on creating a great experience. Rather than provide our receptionists with verbatim wording, we arm them with tone and phrasing to help during even the toughest of calls.

When you throw out the script, here’s what you can expect:

A better caller experience. Humans want to feel heard and understood by nature, even when making a phone call. When scripted, a receptionist might sound robotic and stiff—after all, none of their words are really their own! A receptionist trained to conduct their calls in a more conversational way can relay their sincere desire to help. They create connections through individualized conversations and relating to callers. As a result, your caller won’t feel like just another face in the crowd.

Increased accuracy. With lengthy scripts come higher chances of inaccuracy. If a receptionist is reading through lines and lines of wording, they may misread or even skip a line. What if they miss another important instruction, like who the caller should be directed to? Going scriptless means a receptionist will innately learn the best responses to caller’s questions, even if it is simply deferring to the best person to speak with. Your callers will be happy they’ve reached someone who can point them in the right direction!

Empowered receptionists. Providing receptionists the tools and confidence to handle calls without scripts creates a culture of empowerment. If a true emergency call came in, would you prefer your receptionist to try and reach you, even if it meant going outside of your standard instructions? Or would you rather the receptionist deliver an unhelpful scripted response to your caller? Allowing receptionists to think on their feet means they’re enabled to do what’s right for your caller, and by extension, your business.

So throw out the script and focus on providing the necessary information for your team to deliver great experiences. For Ruby, that includes:

Our expert receptionists will take it from there!

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Call forwarding: how it works

Forwarding your phone for the first time can be a tricky business. There’s a good chance you’ll find yourself having some confusing conversations with some less-than-helpful service representatives. When you’re shopping for an answering or virtual reception service, it’s useful to be prepared with some basic information ahead of time.

Luckily, our Client Happiness team makes it their mission to be fully informed and knowledgeable about telephony. We see ourselves as a member of your team and will work with you and your telephone provider to create the best experience. To be prepared to forward your phone, we’ve created a glossary of some common industry terms you may find useful during your provider search.

Manual forwarding.

Ah, the good old fashioned way! To manually forward your phone, you typically dial a 3-digit code, followed by the phone number to which you’d like your calls forwarded. The 3-digit code varies based on service provider and region, but it’s often *72. In order to forward this way, you must dial the 3-digit code from the phone line you are attempting to forward.

If you’re forwarding a smartphone, this process is even simple; there’s typically a “Call Forwarding” option in the settings menu. Easy as pie!

Remote call-forwarding.

Remote call-forwarding is another version of manual forwarding, with one nifty difference— you can forward your phone from anywhere. With remote call-forwarding, your telephone service provider supplies you with a toll-free number, which you can then dial from any phone and, after following a few prompts, forward your existing phone line to any phone number you’d like! This feature is not available through all telephone service providers, so check with yours to find out if it’s offered in your area.

Call forward busy/no answer, or delayed call-forwarding.

A favorite of many of our clients, delayed call-forwarding allows every call to ring in your office (for a pre-determined number of rings) before it is forwarded. This is a great option if you tend to come and go frequently and like to have the option of handling your own calls. This feature is available through most telephone service providers, and can typically be activated by contacting a service representative.

Time-of-day, scheduled call routing.

This feature allows you to create a forwarding schedule so calls can be routed to different numbers throughout the day. This is a particularly helpful option if you’re using a virtual receptionist service during the day, but would prefer that afterhours calls be directed to your established voicemail system. Not all service providers offer this feature, but it’s somewhat common, particularly amongst VoIP service providers.

Porting or publishing your business number.

While forwarding terms are helpful, what if you don’t want to forward? If you use a virtual receptionist service, you may be in luck! Many virtual receptionists, including Ruby, will allow you to port your toll-free number into their ownership. All of the routing and forwarding would then be handled by the service itself, making it completely painless!

Of course with a receptionist service like Ruby Receptionists, you’ll be assigned your very own toll-free number for forwarding, and you’re also welcome to publish that number. This completely circumvents the need for forwarding, and as an added bonus, the toll-free number can be ported into your ownership if you ever cancel your service.

See your call forwarding options with Ruby.

Knowing exactly what you should ask for when reaching out to a telephone service provider representative or evaluating a virtual receptionist service can save you quite the headache. Of course, our knowledgeable and friendly team at Ruby is here to assist in any conversation with your telephone provider. We assisted thousands of small businesses across the U.S. in setting up their service, and we’re here to help you have the best experience!

Learn more about Ruby’s live virtual receptionist service!

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Everyone has bad days now and then, and that includes your callers. So we weren’t surprised when we received this question from Ruby fan, Michael:

“As the owner of a small company, there’s nowhere else for customer complaints to go, so I’m often the one having to deal with them. What magic does Ruby use to turn these types of callers into positive experiences?”

Continue reading “Paging Dr. Ruby ep. 5: handling frustrated callers.”

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Legal_Final

The Secret to Successful Law Firms

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

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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 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.