There’s nothing like a warm lead—a potential customer who needs a service or product you provide, and seeks you out as a solution. And for small businesses, there are more opportunities to capture these types of leads. Thanks to the convenience of click-to-call, mobile users are connecting directly with the companies that offer what they want.

If you’re ready convert your next caller into a long-time customer, you’re in luck. Marchex reports conversion rates from mobile phone calls are on average four times higher than those from desktop PCs, with 5-25% of calls converting into a sale. Does that mean each call needs to reach by a skilled salesperson ready to close a deal? Not necessarily, but creating a great experience for every caller ensures those ready to become customers are likely to do so. Here are some ways to make that happen:

Skillful Communication

Mobile users are looking for a helpful, friendly interaction, and they’re likely in a hurry. Don’t dawdle in delivering your best service—be prepared to make a great impression from the get-go. Guiding callers is one of the best ways to get the information you need and stay in control of a conversation while providing a positive experience. If guiding is a new concept for you, this article can help you get started.

Be Prepared

Getting prospects in the right hands is key, so be sure your phone answering team knows when and where they can reach your sales staff. Ideally, your sales team should be reachable during business hours. When they aren’t, have your phone answering team collect vital information with a few intake questions. Callers are less likely to move on to the next option in their search results if they have a pleasant conversation and share some of their contact info. Giving callers a timeframe for a response is helpful, too. If your phone answering team lets callers know when they’ll hear from a salesperson, callers will be dissuaded from continuing their search.

Understand Common Pain Points

If you’ve taken the time and effort to build a business, chances are you know what your ideal customer looks like, what their pain points are, and how your business can solve their problems. If you can get a caller to express their pain, you have the opportunity to show why your solution is the best one. Got a caller who’s tight-lipped about pain points? Try teasing out their specific pain points by citing pain points common to your existing customers, or pain points your competitors focus on:

“We’ve found our customers often have have trouble with _____. Is this something you struggle with?”

Even if your caller doesn’t relate to common pain points, introducing them creates a jumping off point for a richer conversation. The more you get to know your callers, the better you can help them.

Follow-up

A follow-up routine lets customers know what to expect, and helps you stay on track. For the Client Happiness team at Ruby Receptionists®, follow-up includes an email after every call. For you, that might mean setting a reminder to check in at a designated time. The key is to create a routine you can stick to. If you say you’ll get back with an answer by the end of the day, be sure to reach out—even if you don’t have an answer yet. A friendly “I’m still researching” makes a much better impression than radio silence. Answer or no answer, your callers will appreciate the thoroughness and thoughtfulness of a follow-up.

At the end of the day, turning calls into a customers is about making meaningful connections. If you have the opportunity to prove the value of your product or service, all the better. But if you only get as far as having a friendly conversation, you’ll still make a great impression. By putting a few systems in place, you can ensure interested prospects become customers, and those who aren’t yet ready to become customers can still become fans.

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Ruby Receptionists is thrilled to announce David De Rego has joined the company as its first Chief Marketing Officer. David brings more than 30 years of experience growing service and technology companies, having held leadership roles in marketing at Sage Software, Viewpoint Construction Software, and most recently as the SVP, Marketing & Sales of CSQUIRE Inc. David seeks to build on this growth, further expanding the sales funnel and advancing Ruby’s brand, positioning, and awareness among the more than 26 million small businesses nationwide.

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Smartphone users are calling businesses more than ever before, and the number of mobile-to-business calls is expected to keep rising. How can small businesses prepare for these calls? What are mobile callers seeking?

According to Invoca, smartphone users typically reach out for three reasons:

  1. To get a quick answer. Scrolling through your website or FAQ page doesn’t appeal to mobile users. They’re looking to click, call, and get to the bottom of things quickly (e.g. service, pricing, hours, etc).
  2. To express a concern. When mobile users are concerned about something, they’re not interested in sending an email or submitting a form online—they want to speak with a live person who can help.
  3. To get expert advice. What better way to learn a topic than to chat with someone who knows that topic through and through? Mobile users look to the pros when seeking guidance. That’s you!

In other words, the click-to-call crowd needs help, and they want it right away. Including these elements in your telephone toolkit will set your business up for success with mobile callers and more:

An inviting introduction.

Responsiveness inspires trust. If you aim to catch every call within the first few rings, you’ll begin making a great impression before you pick up. Live answering during business hours is key, too—if callers reach voicemail or an automated system, they’re liable to hang up and click on the next search result. Craft a friendly greeting, and be sure anyone who’s answering calls is ready to say it with a smile. Make the first moments of every call count!

A game plan for responding.

Smartphone callers may do little or no research on your business before calling, so be prepared for basic questions. Drafting an elevator pitch can help you respond confidently to callers who are shopping around. It’s not uncommon for callers to ask to speak with a particular department, like sales, support, or billing. If you have a small staff, it can be helpful to break down who wants to handle which types of calls, so you don’t miss a beat when your caller has a specific request. Give your phone answering team guidelines for routing different kinds of calls, and a playbook of phrases so they’re ready to reply to a variety of queries. A ready-for-anything attitude is a must!

Consistency.

Creating a great experience for some of your callers is a start, but to build a strong reputation, delivering solid service on every call is where it’s at. That’s can be a tough mark for a small business to hit. A virtual receptionist service ensures callers are treated to a pleasant, helpful conversation when you and your team are too swamped to get to the phone. Many virtual receptionists are happy to field common questions from callers and relay general information about your business. They can typically collect caller information as well, enabling you to make an informed follow-up when time allows.

If you’re a smartphone user, chances are you’ve used your phone to connect with a business. Can you think of a time you were impressed when calling a business? How about a time when you were disappointed? Use your experiences to inform your company’s call-handling strategy, and you’ll likely be on the right track.

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Does the thought of answering your own phone make you a little anxious? Are you energized by data, facts, and figures—but not people? Are you looking for relief so you can focus on the work you’re most passionate about? If you’ve been nodding your head while reading along, it may be time to consider outsourcing your call answering.

With all the hats you wear as a small business owner, it can be tough to transition between a tough negotiation with a vendor or reprimanding an employee, to pleasantly greeting a potential new client over the phone. Outsourcing your phone answering to a company entirely focused on delighting callers and creating a great experience means you never have to worry your bad mood will come through on a call.

Sound appealing? Here’s a few options to consider:

Forward directly to Ruby 24/7. If the sound of a ringing phone brings undue stress, forward your calls directly to Ruby and watch your anxiety disappear. Once you’ve forwarded your published number, calls will ring straight to Ruby and a group of friendly receptionists will handle them following your specific account instructions.

Customize your call-handling. During the new client onboarding process, you can decide on exactly how you’d like Ruby to handle your calls. Typically, we can either connect calls to you live, take messages or offer voicemail, or do a combination of both. If you’re looking to focus on big projects or client work, Ruby is happy to let callers know you’re away from the phone. We’ll immediately send over written and voice messages.

Are there some calls you’d like to take live and others you’d rather not? We can also connect certain types of callers to you while holding calls for others. For instance, many of our clients love when we connect potential new clients or emergencies to them live, and simply take messages for everyone else.

Read The Watercooler. Ruby’s blog is full of tips and tricks to help you deliver friendly, exceptional service when you do need to speak with clients. From phrasing to stress reducing time management tips, you’ll be armed with the knowledge to put your best foot forward—whether you’re a people person or not!

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The right receptionist can be an invaluable member of your team, building customer relationships and lessening many of the burdens of small business ownership. However, the financial commitment of hiring an in-house employee can be downright crippling to a budding business. Before you place that want ad, consider these expenses:

Salary, and then some. Depending on where you live and how experienced your receptionist is, you could be looking at a base pay of around $33,000 per year. Paid time off is another cost to consider—the national median amount for receptionists is around $4,000 annually, and many states have requirements for paid sick leave as well. Factor in insurance and benefits, employment taxes, even office supplies (at the very least, a receptionist needs a phone!), and it all adds up quickly. With Ruby’s plans starting at around $260 a month, your employee’s base pay alone will likely cost at least 10 times as much as a virtual receptionist service.

Finding a receptionist in the first place. Sifting through resumes and holding interviews can take hours, if not weeks. You could pay a third party to recruit for you, or you could oversee the hiring process yourself, forsaking billable hours. Either way, there’s no guarantee the person you hire will work out.

Training. Most likely, you can’t afford to wait for your new receptionist to get up to speed—your phone will continue ringing as you show them the ropes! Plus, you may not have a receptionist training program to speak of. At Ruby, our virtual receptionists attend “Ruby University,” a comprehensive two-week training program complete with proper phone etiquette and lessons in phrasing, tone, and grammar.

The cost of unavoidable absence. Employers are required to provide at least two 10-minute breaks and one 30-minute lunch for every 8 hours worked, and even the very best receptionist needs a day off now and then. While your receptionist is at lunch, out sick, or sipping pina coladas on a much-deserved vacation, your potential clients will meet the odious voicemail void. 67% of callers admitted to hanging up when they couldn’t talk to a real person, so even a quick bathroom break could cost big bucks!

Regardless of what type of employee you’re seeking, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who will work five days a week, 13 hours a day. Ruby’s talented team of virtual receptionists does just that, and best of all, our clients are only charged for the time our friendly, professional receptionists spend on the phone. That’s a tough bargain to beat!

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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 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.