Ruby Receptionists: Gold Certified in Sustainability

Sustainability is a focus at Ruby, a focus that’s reflected in our second Gold Certification through the Sustainability at Work program. As of 2017 both our Fox Tower and Pearl locations have been given the honor, recognizing our positive impact on our environment and community!

A big thank you to the Ruby community and our volunteer Green team for participating in our continuous dedication to innovation and sustainability.

Learn more about the Sustainability at Work Program >>

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You know your field inside and out, and you’re ready to take your business to the next level by adding content marketing to your comprehensive marketing plan. Well-written, thorough blog posts, timely social media, how-to videos, and strategic emails will make the most of your experience and expertise—and you’re excited to start putting these tools to work for your business growth.

There’s just one problem: creating all of this content takes time and consistency, which can be a challenge for growing companies.

From writing, editing, and posting blogs to studying reports, updating websites and landing pages, and staying on top of trends and tools, you’ve got a daunting to-do list. Factor in the time it takes to become proficient with the software needed to produce quality content, and you’re looking at spending a minimum of 15 hours a week once you’ve got an organized system in place.

As a result, many companies have found that outsourcing their content marketing is a solution that makes sense. The first step towards outsourcing content marketing is putting a few policies and components in place.

Tips For Outsourcing Your Content

By taking these small steps early on in the process, you can build a positive relationship that wins followers, expands your thought leadership, and increases conversions.

  • Start with your audience. Who do you want to attract to your company? Doing research on your audience and creating an avatar of your ideal customer is an important step toward a successful content marketing plan.
  • Think about your style. Do you want to publish highly technical pieces about your industry, or would you prefer more casual conversational blog posts? What’s your brand’s voice? Should content be written to sound as though it’s coming from you, or would you prefer a third-person, more formally written piece?
  • Think about your business. One of the biggest concerns many small business owners have when outsourcing content marketing is that the writer or marketer won’t understand their unique niche. Take the time to help the content marketing specialist shine by documenting your history, mission, vision, and goals. Include information that you’d like to see as standard in each piece.
  • Think about where you’re going. What’s your ultimate content marketing goal? Would you like to increase conversions or reach? Setting clear goals from the beginning helps the copywriter determine what they need to do to help you meet and exceed your goals.

Once you have a sense of your content goals, it can be helpful to create a short list of blog ideas, select a few different copywriters or copywriting agencies, and ask them to create a piece or two based on your chosen topics. When reviewing submissions, consider whose voice and style most closely matches your own, and which pieces best capture your company spirit.

Choosing Where to Outsource

Additionally, it’s important to keep these three things in mind when deciding where to outsource your copywriting:

  • Look beyond the dollar sign. In copywriting, you get what you pay for, and investing in quality content can have a powerful effect on your company’s success. No matter where you outsource your content marketing, remember that in order for your investment to generate a return, the writing must be clear, concise, and value packed, with a call to action that spurs consumers to take the next step.
  • Be clear from the get-go. Outsourcing your content marketing should never mean stepping back completely. Let the writer know what you want to see, be available and willing to answer questions, and review the content before publishing. Making style and voice suggestions can help in two ways: the writer learns more about you and can shape content accordingly, and you stay familiar with what is being written, preparing you to answer any questions or field any calls that come in as a result.
  • Remember, content marketing is all about relationships. Whether you’re working with your customers, employees, or your content marketing creators, the road to success is a two-way street. Investing your time and resources in the content marketing process upfront will help you see bigger returns and a more engaged, excited audience.

Above all, find a company or writer you trust, work closely with them in the beginning, and have patience. Becoming an established thought leader in your field isn’t something that happens overnight. Once you get a plan in place, allow your content marketing specialist or copywriter to do what they do best—create quality content—so you can spend your time focusing on your company, doing what you love.

Gabe Arnold is the founder of Copywriter Today where you can get unlimited fresh content for all your marketing needs. If you want 250 free headline ideas for your next marketing campaign, use their free tool here.

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Ruby Receptionists is a Top Answering Service Firm 2016Recently, Ruby was called out by Clutch, a business-to-business market research firm based in Washington, D.C., as a “contender” among top answering services. Clutch finds, evaluates and shares information about leading B2B firms around the globe. Using a proprietary methodology that consists of a dozen qualitative and quantitative factors, Clutch plots firms on a Leaders Matrix to identify market leaders.

Part of the extensive analysis includes direct, one-on-one, interviews with company clients. Our clients didn’t disappoint.

As one client, an energy company noted: “It frees up so much work that we longer have to do and provides better service than if a person were doing the work.”

Another client said: “The level of professionalism Call Ruby carries in their work is phenomenal.”

See Ruby’s Clutch Profile >>

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Once you’ve launched a content marketing campaign, it’s important to know if the work you’re doing is successful. Measuring the time spent on each component of your plan, the effort put into sharing your pieces, and the finances spent on advertising and promoting your content can seem daunting when you’re looking at the work from a black-and-white, dollars-and-cents perspective. With a shift in perspective, though, you’ll find adding a few tools to your repertoire can help you measure your content marketing success.

Understanding Content Marketing

When you start a content marketing campaign, it’s important to understand the differences between sales—where you’ll be able to give a clear, definitive number that shows your investment in the client and the return through their orders over the years—and marketing. The goal of a sales team is simple: to increase the company’s sales. But a content marketing team might have several different goals for the same campaign and the tools used for its implementation, including the following:

  • Social media networks – Common goals include tracking the number of shares, likes, or the organic reach. Others might track the number of clicks to watch a video or the number of people who clicked through to a company website.
  • Blogs – You might want to keep tabs on the number of shares for your piece, the number of people who followed through on your call to action, and the number of hits on your blog’s individual posts.
  • SEO – You might be tracking the number of clicks or calls that went to your website, or where you stand in the search rankings.

The idea of content marketing is to reach new, qualified customers through a series of concerted, concentrated pieces and publications that add value to customers’ lives while positioning you as a thought and opinion leader in your industry. Readers build confidence in your abilities, and, in turn, become faithful followers and loyal customers.

Top Metrics for Success

  • Time – Track the amount of time users are spending watching your videos on social media or, more importantly, remaining on each page on your website. Review the pages that have the longest engagement times, and look for similarities in content or call to action. As you publish content, make sure to include those commonalities. This is a continual process and a strong indicator of the quality of your content marketing.
  • Bounce Rate – In addition to time spent on various pages, track bounce rate. A high bounce rate could mean visitors find exactly what they needed within seconds of arriving on your page—which is great! But it might also mean that they aren’t able to find what they need, and leave because they’re frustrated, bored, or unengaged.
  • New/Returning Visitors – Track your new and returning visitors. While new visitors are fantastic, returning visitors are equally important. The most common statistic quoted is that it costs seven times more to acquire a new customer than to accommodate a returning customer; others show that it’s about 50 percent easier to sell to current customers, noting that a five-percent increase in retention can increase profitability by 75 percent. When you measure your content marketing’s success, track the return rates of your visitors. A low return percentage shows that visitors aren’t taking the next steps to becoming customers, and should be an indicator that it’s time to make some changes to your content.
  • Conversions – When measuring content marketing, one metric that stands out above all others, and applies to each and every content marketing media option: conversions.

Content Marketing MetricsAt the end of the day, you want to see your prospects, followers, and fans become paying customers. In addition to conversions, you want to track the cost of obtaining a new customer—which means you’ll need to know how much you can spend on each acquisition. Start by calculating how much revenue each customer generates on average, and divide your upcoming revenue goals by your average individual customer revenue. Factor in your average close ratios, and you’ll be able to see how many leads you need and how much you can spend to acquire each customer.

By watching bounce rates, time spent on each page, and number of unique and returning visitors, and combining that information with the customer acquisition cost, you’ll be able to gauge the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts. Are leads returning and moving down the funnel? Or are you spending money publishing white papers, videos, blogs, and ebooks that your customers are quickly abandoning?

Ruby Receptionists understands the importance of creating experiences and fostering happiness with customers. Customers return, time and time again, because they’ve created an environment that encourages engagement and connection. Their interaction with customers serves as a good lesson to content marketers everywhere: the mark of truly successful content is a meaningful connection between brand and audience.

Gabe Arnold

 

Gabe Arnold is the founder of Copywriter Today where you can get unlimited fresh content for all your marketing needs. If you want 250 free headline ideas for your next marketing campaign, use their free tool here.

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most-admired-award

Ruby Receptionists was honored to be named one of Oregon’s Most Admired Companies of 2016 Across All Industries, by the Portland Business Journal and a survey of CEOs from across Oregon!

Ranked among 360 companies in the category, Ruby tied for 9th with Elemental Technologies and also ranked in the top 25 Most Admired in the Technology & Technology Manufacturing category.

“We are thrilled to be included in such an elite group of respected and honored Oregon companies,” said Jill Nelson, Founder and CEO of Ruby. “This recognition is a reflection of the entire company and a testament to the hard work our team puts forth every day to provide not only the best service to our customers, but a commitment to maintaining a company culture that inspires all to learn, grow and connect with others.”

Read the Press Release >>

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Content marketing accounts for some of the most creative, humorous, and touching pieces on the internet—and there’s no doubt memorable content can help set a company apart. If you’re just getting started with a content marketing plan for your business or looking for a little inspiration, check out what these ten small businesses are doing to grow their sales and become content marketing powerhouses.

Birchbox

Founded in New York City in 2010, Birchbox has grown from its initial investment of $1.4 million to being valued at more than $485 million. Each month, more than one million subscribers receive a box of premium beauty-related items, from lipstick and skincare for women to socks and earbuds for men. Much of this growth has come from their content, which includes multiple daily blog posts on topics like makeup application, box sneak peeks, and behind-the-scenes office happenings. Birchbox shares videos on their blogs and social media platforms, and encourages subscribers to post pictures of their boxes and tag them #birchbox for a retweet or regram.

Dollar Shave Club

Los Angeles-based Dollar Shave Club released a $4,500 video about their no-employee small-budget company—and two days later, they had 12,000 new customers, more than 9.5 million views, and more than 100,000 new followers and fans on their social media platforms. They continue to produce great content, with humorous and educational blog posts on fashion, skincare, and saving money.

Good Greens

This Cleveland-based nutrition bar company is evidence of how powerful the written word can be for small businesses. In fact, they saw their sales increase more than 50 percent in just four months when they began focusing on their content marketing. Their blog gives health-conscious customers information on everything from sufficient vitamin and mineral consumption to creating their own gardens. On social media, they actively share how customers enjoy their bars, and keep followers in-the-know about where bars can be purchased.

Mint

Personal financial management company Mint was launched in 2006 to help users track their spending. The company quickly grew, and was acquired by Intuit for $170 million. Their blog, Mint Life, played a big part in the company’s growth. Along with customer testimonials, Mint Life features articles on budgeting, work-life balance, and tools and tricks to help improve quality of life.

Nooma

Another Cleveland-based company, Nooma was created by two athletic brothers seeking an alternative to traditional energy drinks. They developed a plant-based formula, and watched their business take off when they began focusing on a content marketing strategy. The owners regularly contribute to Nooma blog, which covers subjects like health information, lifehacks, recipes, and workout hotspots.

Uber

By no means a small company anymore, Uber’s content marketing has propelled it into one of the top spots in practical apps. In 2014, the company had gross bookings of $2.96 billion, and grew to $3.63 billion by mid-2015, rapidly outpacing its previous year. Uber’s YouTube videos are a particular hit, showing their value while getting potential customers excited about the service.

KidRunner

Ruby Receptionists’ Oregon neighbor KidRunner has been a social media content marketing machine in the past few years, with popular videos garnering attention across social sites. Runners throughout the country shared and liked an article showing professional runner Max King winning the BigFoot 10K with his daughter behind him in the egg-shaped jogging stroller. While they don’t have a blog, their videos are an excellent example of content marketing.

Airbnb

In 2008, this company quite literally started in the founders’ living room. Now, Airbnb is a highly profitable and popular site with millions of bookings from around the world. Their blog is filled with content about cultural norms, business ownership, and places to visit across the globe.

Kissmetrics

The company is touted across the Internet for its growth, and for a good reason: in just ten months, Kissmetrics reached more than a million unique visitors without paid traffic. They publish outstanding content that teaches CEOs, marketing executives, and others working in a variety of industries about the habits of their customers, and offer free webinars to their readers as well.

Ruby Receptionists

At Copywriter Today, we are huge fans of Ruby’s content marketing strategy. They truly care about their customers and share a wide variety of resources on topics like growing your business, taking care of your customers, and building a culture of service. We love the WOW story of the month because it puts into words the importance of the small things we do in business, and their articles and webinars are filled with information that can be quickly implemented for immediate results.

When you’re developing your content marketing strategy think about your goals and consumers—and how they like to absorb information. Whether you should create blogs, social media posts, videos, or infographics depends on who you’re trying to reach, and what you’re trying to say. When it’s done with love, content marketing is a powerful force.

Gabe Arnold is the founder of Copywriter Today where you can get unlimited fresh content for all your marketing needs. If you want 250 free headline ideas for your next marketing campaign, use their free tool here.

 

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Fly your small business flag!

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It’s pretty clear, customers prefer to deal with local businesses. According to a Yodle survey of over 6,000 U.S. based consumers, conducted in April 2015, 96% believe local businesses beat national chains on delivering personalized services. That’s an astounding and overwhelming insight.

Further highlighting that preference, 72% say they are willing to pay more to a local business for better quality work than they would expect from a national chain.

That bias toward local business is a real competitive advantage for small business owners. Think about that for a second – the big, national chain with millions in advertising is at a disadvantage to your one-man operation.

Yet, so few businesses take advantage of this imbalance. Choosing to hide behind a toll-free number and PO box to appear bigger than they are, when there is a clear advantage to promoting their small-time status. It’s time to fix that.

Promote Your Local Street Cred

Your business sends out a lot of signals on a regular basis. Marketing communications, business identity, letterhead, business cards, your website, and many more. Each is an opportunity to highlight your local presence.

The easiest place to start is with your contact information. Nothing says “hey neighbor!” like a local phone number and address.

That’s right, skip the toll-free number and pick up an area code that people around you will recognize.

According to a 2014 study by Software Advice, people are nearly four times more likely to answer an unknown number that is local compared to an unknown toll-free number.

Consider the expectation that a local presence sets with the customer, and that disparity makes a lot more sense. Local means real, local means personal, local means quality.

Be Local, Without Being Local

Naturally, right about now, you’re thinking “That’s all fine and dandy, but I need to reach multiple markets near me, maybe even across state lines, and I can’t afford to setup an office everywhere”.

Fair enough, that’s a legitimate concern. The beauty of the 21st century is that you can get all of those benefits, without the overhead.

Setting up a local phone number in each of your target areas is extremely easy. If you’re already a Ruby customer, a quick email will get you taken care of.

Ruby will even host your local number for you, so you don’t have to deal with a separate provider—it’s a pretty sweet deal. Certainly, you can look toward services like Grasshopper and RingCentral, among many others, to provide local numbers as well.

When it comes to addresses, that can be a bit trickier. There are several solutions available that cater to local address presence. You might have heard of virtual offices from Regus, Davinci Virtual, or Alliance Business Centers to name a few.

There’s also Earth Class Mail, which offers virtual addresses in many markets with the added benefit of mail scanning. Unlike virtual office providers, a virtual address service is much more affordable and scalable.

Armed with your new tools, you can take advantage of that local business bias in your marketing campaigns.

There’s a lot of opportunity to improve ad performance online by featuring your local number instead of a toll-free. Especially on mobile, where click-to-call has become a dominant way for prospects to interact with businesses.

Similarly, there’s still a lot of opportunity in direct mail, especially if you’re sending your materials via first-class to high quality leads. Imagine the impact of that lead knowing that you’re in their neighborhood, not just some faceless organization with a PO Box in Delaware (unless you’re in Delaware, of course).

And don’t forget the power of Google. 

An updated and current Google My Business profile puts your company’s address, phone number, website, and directions right in front of Google searchers. When somebody searches your business category near me (grocery store near me), your business will be readily available on search or maps.

In fact, Google My Business information shows up on the side of Google search or with a map segment at the top of the search results. These results are more noticeable, segmented, and likely to be clicked.

Local Google Search Results

 

Of course, this can be tricky if you don’t have a physical address. Google requires an address to match the listing, and there can only be one listing per address.

If on the other hand you have multiple addresses, it’s important to make sure your information is listed, verified, and accurate across all your locations.

If you find yourself with a little bit of budget and a desire to reach out locally, Google advertising is also a great option. By targeting local keywords—service in location—you can ensure your business appears local, even if you don’t have a physical address.

 
Local is the new cool (and you’ve already got what it takes!)

Getting started with this strategy is really easy, so don’t hold back. Whether you’re a real estate agent, attorney, home service provider, plumber, electrician, or anywhere in between—there’s a real opportunity to capture more leads and grow your business.

michael-beckMichael Beck is the Head of Growth & Marketing at @EarthClassMail, constant tinkerer, and gearhead. He’s always happy to share his experiences and help others avoid his missteps.

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What office type are you?

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Home office vs office

The first step to WOWing your customers is enabling your employees to be a positive and effective force. You and your team spend approximately 40 hours every week in your workspace, and that space (whether physical or virtual) has a significant impact on productivity and happiness.

So what kind of office space does your company need?

The Classic—brick and mortar office.

As long as there have been businesses, there have been brick and mortar offices. It’s the home space, full of cubicles, desks, conference rooms, and coworkers.

Of course, what you have to consider here the advantages and disadvantages of a large office versus a small office. A private office versus a shared floor. But, for the sake of argument, let’s assume you’re a small team.

Advantages of a traditional office.

  • A professional space. Having a traditional office space ensures you always have a professional place to bring clients, have meetings, and work with employees. You can even use your office space to develop your brand personality and create community with your clients. If meeting clients in person is vital to customer service success, you might need a traditional office space.
  • Collaboration. An office location gives you the advantage of having a physical place for employees to meet and collaborate on ideas.
  • Complete control over the office environment. When you have a physical space, you have full control over your office environment. All employees have access to the same tools and resources. You’re also better able to mold your company culture and ensure your output is always high quality.

Challenges of a brick and mortar office.

  • It’s expensive. Capital is a common problem small businesses face, and rent isn’t cheap. Paying rent as well as buying supplies, furniture, and equipment can add up to a hefty price tag.
  • Commute and location can cause you to miss out on talent. Whatever your office location, your talent pool is comprised of area residents. Where virtual or home offices can allow you to hire people from around the country or world, a physical location often limits you to those who are able to commute to the office.
  • You have to commit to a lease. Unfortunately, renting an office space is a commitment. It can be difficult to project the size of the space you’ll need, and growing out of it can mean additional costs if you have to break a lease and find a new space.

The One-Man Show—home office.

If you’re just starting out, a home office might be the best choice for you, as it can be an effective way to balance costs, efficiency, and capabilities.

Benefits of a home office.

  • Schedule flexibility. If you need to get your kids to school by 8:30 am, you can get up, work for an hour, then take your turn on the carpool schedule. When you don’t have a commute, you get to enjoy increased flexibility and the ability to schedule your day around your needs and the needs of your clients.
  • Tax benefits and cost-saving. If you qualify, you can deduct a portion of your home’s expenses against your business income. A home office also has the distinct advantage of lowering startup costs by eliminating office rent.
  • Your work is always available. If you get a call at 8:00 pm and you need data from your work computer, it’s always near. Have international clients? Do customer service right and make that client call at 5:30 am. Your work is never far away.

Challenges of a home office.

  • Limited hiring capabilities. While a home office may be perfect for the sole practitioner, it can be hard to hire employees. You may be able to fit one, maybe two, employees in your home, but you lose privacy as a result. As you grow, you’ll likely have to find a new location.
  • Lack of “professional space” to take clients. Meeting with clients can be hard when you work out of a private residence. Do you have space set aside for client meetings? Can your appointments be done in shared spaces, like coffee shops?
  • Lack of boundaries and inability to leave. Burnout is the worst. When you work at home, you’re home all the time. You live at home, work at home, and sleep at home. This seclusion can cause undue stress and anxiety. Can you rest during your off hours knowing you have an unfinished project one door down?

The Incubator—coworking office.

Many people believe that it comes down to the home office vs the traditional office. Luckily, there are more choices than you think!

Freelancers, contractors, and startups are flocking to coworking office spaces. Essentially a big, flexible shared space that is occupied by a variety of employers and industries, a coworking space can be great for folks who are energized by people.

Benefits of a coworking space.

  • Lower Costs. With a coworking space, you have the advantage of having access to the tools and resources you need at a much lower price. You also avoid paying rent on an office or getting roped into a lease.
  • Collaboration and networking. There’s something powerful about being surrounded by smart, creative people. In a coworking space, you get the opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs and freelancers, reach out to them for advice, and learn from them.
  • Community. When you put a bunch of smart people together, a community develops. Natural camaraderie builds a sense of identity within a community of smart, like-minded people.

Challenges of a coworking space.

  • Distractions. Distractions are everywhere. The community and networking that can be such a benefit can also distract you from tackling the tasks on your plate. This kind of environment isn’t for the easily sidetracked.
  • Cost. Coworking spaces are much less costly than renting an office but more expensive than working from home. If you’re just getting off the ground, $300-$500 a month may be outside your budget.
  • Noise. When you put a lot of people in one space, things can get loud. While coworking spaces can be great for collaboration, they might not be the best strategy for making phone calls. If you need to focus, you’ll probably need your headphones.

The Traveler—virtual office.

Maybe you don’t need an office at all. Maybe you travel, have virtual clients, and don’t need traditional office supplies. A virtual office space is essentially no office space. It’s the ability to work completely from wherever your computer is. With telecommunication tools, cloud storage solutions, outsourcing capabilities (like maybe a receptionist?), and conferencing technology, physical location doesn’t have to hold you back anymore.

Benefits of a virtual office.

  • Cost. Your overhead is just a fraction of what it would be anywhere else. You aren’t paying rent, buying supplies, and paying for phone lines. You get all the capability for less.
  • Limited management. You aren’t managing a space. You don’t have to worry about doing dishes, getting a cleaning service in, and having building security.
  • Work from anywhere. With virtual office spaces, you take your office with you. You can essentially work from anywhere and customize your workspace no matter where you are.

Challenges of virtual offices.

  • Lack of physical space comes with its own difficulties. As with a home office, the lack of physical location can make client meetings more difficult.
  • Distractions abound. There are distractions everywhere you go, and the virtual office can have a lot of these same problems. If you’re working from home, while traveling, or in coffee shops, there are plenty of distractions.
  • Communication. In a physical location, you can turn to your coworker to address a problem. When you’re working in a virtual space, communications can lag, and there is more room for miscommunication.

Advantages of traditional vs virtual offices

So, which office type are you?

If you want to foster happiness in your workplace, it’s important to make sure you have the right infrastructure. It all depends on your needs. Are you launching a small business? Leading a growing law practice? Venturing into the world a freelance web design? Each business, culture, and work style is going to require a different space to thrive.

Things to consider when choosing a workspace:

  • Size of your team
  • Nature of your business—do you need to meet clients in person
  • Company/team culture
  • Capital
  • Preferences and lifestyle

Mastering your calls, no matter your office.

No matter what office type works for you, call-handling is still key for growing your business and impressing your clients.

Get The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Receptionists to discover what a virtual receptionist can do for your home business, brick & mortar, virtual office, or however-you-work business!

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No need to carry a personal and professional phone with you wherever you go. Ruby is excited to announce our new Choose Your Caller ID feature—giving you two lines on one phone! All you have to do is select whether you want your personal or business number to display when you make a call through the Ruby app—your customers will never know the difference and your privacy is secure.

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Portland Business Journal on Ruby Receptionists

Skip Newberry, President of the Technology Association of Oregon recently wrote an article about Ruby’s transition from a service-based startup to a successful technology firm.

“In 2011 we launched our own backend software,” Ruby CEO, Jill Nelson said. “It was at that point we realized we were actually a technology company. We offer technology-powered services, and it’s our IT that enables us to scale to serve so many customers seamlessly and offer such highly customized, personalized services.”

Ruby’s team of live, friendly receptionists is only part of what makes Ruby so successful. In fact, it’s the combination of call-handling software, a customer-facing mobile app, and optional integrations with a variety of industry-specific practice management software systems that truly empowers our virtual receptionists to provide exceptional service. It’s this proprietary technology that provides the opportunity to personalize every interaction with everything from specific call-handling instructions and tailored greetings to the local weather.

Read the Portland Business Journal article >>

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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 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.