How do businesses turn simple transactions—digital and in-person—into moments of magic? How do they delight their customers, build loyalty, and increase profitability?

Katharine Nester, Ruby’s Chief Product and Technology Officer

Pixelspoke is a local Portland digital marketing and web design agency. In fact, we worked with them on the Ruby website design that led to the site you see now! In this podcast, Cameron Madill, Pixelspoke’s CEO, interviews Ruby’s own Katharine Nester. As Ruby’s Chief Product and Technology Officer, Katharine helps us turn even the smallest interactions into memorable moments. In this 30 minute interview, she discusses how every touchpoint, no matter how small, is an opportunity for delight—and why it matters.


The Highlights

What exactly is “delight”?

Katharine: First and foremost, as you’re looking to expand how you leverage delight, you have to think about it more broadly than just a campaign or a specific tactic. What we’ve done at Ruby is make it okay for employees to leverage the natural instinct to make somebody happy or to make them feel better. And so, if it’s part of your culture, you’re gonna tap into that, you’re going to make it okay, and it’s going to feel authentic. It’s important that your attempts to delight callers doesn’t feel forced. It should feel natural.

The other thing I’d say about delight, sort of philosophically, is it’s not just about greatly pleasing the people that you’re interacting with—it’s doing it when it’s unexpected. That’s what makes it stick. That’s what makes people remember it. It’s anticipating things, anticipating their needs, and giving them what they don’t even know they want. And again, it helps a lot if your culture’s empowering people to take the initiative to delight customers or callers.

How does Ruby delight callers?

Katharine: Delight can be as small as saying our customer’s or our caller’s name. So for example, one of the things we do to leverage technology and systemize the process of delight is connecting with customer’s CRM systems and mobile phones. We can collect contact info into our system and then recognize when callers from their contacts are calling them. This makes it easier for us to know that we’re saying their name right. You’d be surprised how often people mumble when they get on the phone. It really helps callers feel heard and relationships feel authentic.

We also provide receptionists with easy ways to make connections with callers. For example, most people’s default conversation shtick is, “How about that weather?” Like, “Did you notice how cold it is out there today, Cameron?” So one of the things we did with our proprietary technology is we brought in the local weather. We sit here in Portland, Oregon and we definitely have our own interesting weather, but when we’re taking a call for one of our clients in Chicago, they’re probably talking about the crazy windstorm. And having that weather available and using that technology means that our receptionists can achieve that moment of unexpected common connection.

A memorable customer story.

Katharine: One story that I always like to tell, and that I think is fun and funny, comes from one of our attorney customers who is down in the South. One of our receptionists got a call for him from the local feed store, letting him know that his chicken feed had arrived. The receptionist took the message and used that moment to make a connection with that attorney. She found a “how to raise chickens” book as well as some other small chicken raising items on Amazon, put a little package together and sent it off saying, “Good luck with the new additions to your family.”

He wrote back to us to let us know that, one, he really appreciated the gift. It was incredibly unexpected, and that it affirms his understanding about how much Ruby has become a part of his company. He felt that Ruby helps him to keep his own clients loyal because of the service that we deliver and, because we took the time to make a connection with them, he really sees us as a trusted extended part of his team. Plus, the chickens were very happy and we got a great chicken photo out of it.

So that’s one example where that moment of delight sort of reinforced for that particular customer how much of an impact Ruby has had for him, and it just made him more aware of how much we’re helping him in his organization. He was a solo entrepreneur attorney down somewhere in the South and he’s doing it all. The fact that we could alleviate some of that work for him and really be a part of his team made him feel less alone when he was sitting in his office working on papers.

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We’re so excited that Katharine Nester, Ruby®‘s Chief Product & Technology Officer, and Steve Severance, VP of Engineering, will be speaking at Twilio’s 2017 SIGNAL Developer Conference!

Their presentation takes place on Thursday, May 25th at 3:45 pm and discusses “A Blueprint for Delighting your Customers at Scale.” The discussion will include how Ruby uses Twilio products to support our ability to provide quality, flexible, and resilient options that meet the needs of our growing customer base.

Read the Press Release >>

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At Ruby, we’ve built a culture around fostering happiness and one of our tools for success is the Ruby Happiness Journal Challenge. This easy challenge takes just five minutes a day for 21 days, and it can make all the difference in a company’s happiness, productivity, and accuracy.

It isn’t just about happiness—though happiness is certainly important. It’s also about building a company that has the capacity to grow while keeping perspective, having gratitude, and focusing on what keeps us sharp day to day.

This year we’re taking on the challenge as part of our dedication to workplace wellness, or as we like to put it, Swellness.

Swellness?

The term Swellness may or may not sound familiar. Last year Ruby redefined the concept of sick time, focusing more on the goal and less on the problem. After all, you don’t stay home to remain sick, you’re taking the rest you need to become well!

Thinking about that process of going from “sick” to “well”, we landed on the word, “Swell”. This year, we took Swellness to a whole new level. Instead of focusing a single month on wellness, we’re bringing the Swellness all year long. In 2017 Hello Swellness is an entire year of whole-Ruby wellness from top-to-bottom, front-to-back, inside and out. Each month we’re zooming-in on a single aspect of wellness—from nutrition to physical activity to, you guessed it, happiness.

The Ruby Happiness Journal

All the way back in 2011 Shawn Achor did a Ted Talk titled The Happy Secret to Better Work. In his presentation, he revealed that happiness has a huge impact on productivity and accuracy. This is our 6th year taking on the Ruby Happiness Journal Challenge, and every year we’ve seen it make an impact on happiness and productivity! Happy people are just better team members.

 

 

In fact, his research credits small, daily positive habits—like writing down three gratitudes, journaling, exercising and meditating—with actually rewiring our brains to scan for the positive before the negative. And practicing these positive acts for 21 days makes them a habit.

All it takes is 21 days of positivity to brighten your perspective, improve productivity, and boost accuracy.

Still not sold on the importance of happiness?

You’re busy doing the work it takes to grow your business. It might seem like there isn’t time to set aside for journaling or meditation.

But what if we said the Ruby Happiness Journal will help you grow your business?

Achor’s research suggests that these moments do more than just boost overall happiness. In fact, happy people are:

  • 37% better at sales
  • 31% more productive
  • 19% more accurate

So happy people aren’t just happier, they’re more productive.

Join the happiness movement!

Interested in taking the on the challenge for yourself and your team? Participating only takes a few moments a day! Every day for 21 days, record these three things in your Happiness Journal (or notebook, or online blog).

  • Three things you’re grateful for that day
  • A positive gratitude action for the day
  • Your favorite positive experience from the past 24 hours
  • Optional: exercise for at least 10 minutes and spend at least two minutes in meditation

Grab your favorite notebook, blog, dry-erase board, or napkin and get writing. Then, let us know if you see a difference in your productivity and positivity!

Tweet us @callruby to share your experience!


We’re looking for a few happy people to join our team! Check out our open receptionist positions to see if you’re a good fit!


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jill-nelsonThis year’s Oregon Technology Association awards celebration gathered more than 500 members of the community to recognize tech companies and leaders for their innovation.

We were thrilled that Ruby®‘s CEO and Founder, Jill Nelson, was recognized among so many talented Oregon tech leaders as Technology Executive of the Year!

Meet all the 2017 Winners >>

Learn More About Jill’s Recognition >>

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In-Our-Customers-Shoes-mailchimp-email-header-598px
On April 26th we celebrated Design Week PDX with a very Ruby presentation by our Chief Product and Technology Officer, Katharine Nester, and our Director of User Experience, Terri Haswell.

With a spark of inspiration—and classic Ruby flair—they revealed one of our secrets here at Ruby. We think it’s important to get “In Our Customer’s Shoes.”

It’s not really a secret, we’ve made “In Our Customer’s Shoes” our company-wide theme for 2017. We passionately believe that in order to really know the people you’re designing your product or service for, you need to know what it’s like to walk in their shoes. Simply put, it’s how we get to know our customers.

Walking in Their Shoes

Next time you see your customers in person, take a look at their shoes. Could you imagine walking in them—literally and figuratively? Is it easy? Hard? Why might they have chosen those shoes specifically?

In order to really know the people you’re designing for, you need to know what it’s like to walk in their shoes. You need to feel empathy for them. It’s this curiosity and empathy that drives Ruby to deliver consistent WOW-worthy experiences for customers.

This attitude shouldn’t stop at customer service. The dedication to understanding your customers’ experiences extends its reach to everyone in your organization—from product and UX, to billing and finance.

Step 1: Act it Out

Getting to know your customers can be easier than you think. Start with what you know which is your relationship with them. How do you fit into their lives? Why and how do they need your service?
One effective way to get into your customer’s shoes is to roleplay. Have your team get up and act out scenarios that your customers may experience on a daily basis. It gives employees a visceral and literal understanding of your customer’s feelings, stresses, and experiences. It’s much easier to feel empathy for someone when you’ve had a small taste of what they might be going through.

This is a great place to start for two main reasons:

  1. Organizational buy-in. This is step 1 of moving your organization towards being more customer-centric because you’re exposing employees to a customer’s perspective in a meaningful way.
  2. Low investment. Acting out scenes is free, fun, and insightful. Don’t feel like you have time to plan? Don’t worry—it can be total improv!

Step 2: Ask Them

Who knows your customers best? Well, unless you have a psychic on your team, your customers know themselves best!

The next step is to reach out to them. Get to know them as people.

Think Vogue’s 73 questions, Inside the Actor’s Studio, or even the classic game of 20 questions. We use this interview method to learn about the challenges our customers face, what they feel passionate about, and what makes a good day good and a bad day bad. It helps us get to know them as people—not just customers.

Interview goals include:

  1. Gathering real insights directly from customers.
  2. Sharing insights with employees so the whole team gets a chance to walk in your customer’s shoes.

Step 3: Make it Actionable

And how does Ruby use all this information? Service design!
Service design is a collaborative approach used to identify what people, services, and systems are needed to deliver an experience focused on the steps in a customer’s journey.

In summary: service design is understanding that experiences don’t just happen—it’s all intentional.

There are many tools in Service Design. Our go-to service design tools are Journey Maps and Service Blueprints, which take all your prior insights and make them actionable.

  1. Journey Maps capture the end-to-end user journey, uncovering highs and lows in a customer’s journey to satisfying a need. This creates a narrative that allows you to see the experience from a customer’s perspective.
  2. Service Blueprints represent your strategy for figuring out all the people, processes, and systems that you need to support your customer’s desired journey.

Step 4: Diving into the Service Blueprint

A Service Blueprint is often broken up into three stages.

  1. Journey/Front Stage. This is what’s happening from the customer’s perspective. Think of it like acts in a play—the end-to-end path a customer takes towards a final objective.
  2. Backstage. This is where all the work happens that’s necessary to put on the play—imagine all the stage managers, audio engineers, and lighting technicians.
  3. Behind the Scenes. These are the actions and systems that are needed to put on the play that aren’t ever experienced directly by the customer. For example, the ticketing systems and playwriting.

Getting to Know your Custoemers Shoes with Service Design
A service blueprint in its entirety

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the thought of starting a service blueprint, but it can be easier than you think. Start small and iterate to awesome by taking on small challenges over time.

The customer research, journey map, and service blueprint represent how everything comes together to create a cohesive customer experience. It’s the act of understanding your customers and applying that knowledge to improve your services.


Get into your customer’s shoes, use that empathy and insight with service design tools, and you will design and deliver exceptional, wow-worthy customer experiences.


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In Our Customer's ShoesIf you’ve been following Ruby this year, then you know that we’re all about our 2017 theme, In Our Customer’s Shoes. This stylish theme (and I mean custom Ruby shoes stylish) reflects our desire to get to know our customers better than ever. The goal is to be able to anticipate customer needs so we can better meet—and exceed—them.

Getting to know your customers so you can exceed their expectations is an attainable goal for companies of all sizes. The key is to make delighting customers a priority. And this can start small. You don’t have to jump into big gestures—in fact, it’s the smallest moments that are often the most memorable.

Understand Your Market

The first step: knowing your audience. You can’t meet customer expectations unless you understand what they’re expecting.

When you want to learn more about a friend or coworker, how do you about getting to know them? You could Google them. Or maybe reach out to a friend of theirs and ask about them. Or even hire somebody to do the research for you—in extreme cases.

But the best way to get to know someone is by simply asking.

Talk to the people who know your brand or service, current customers, and those who have left your service.

  • What motivates them?
  • Why do they use your service? What would convince them to use it? Why did they leave?
  • What’s most important to them regarding your service? Price, quality, customer experience?
  • What are the benefits that they were looking for when they found your service?

Keep in mind, understanding your market doesn’t have to be a formal process. Just listen to your customers. Find out what they say when talking to your sales team, what keeps people from making a purchase, and what they comment on—positively and negatively—when they’re talking to your support team or canceling services.

The more you know, the easier it’ll be to put yourself in their shoes.

Small Talk Has a Big Impact

Now that you understand your market, it’s time to understand your customers as individuals. You have two timelines to consider.

  1. Short-term connections. This is your opportunity to build rapport using everyday small talk. Listen to what your customers are saying. If they’re calling from LA, you can ask them how they like the city. If you hear a dog in the background, you can ask what breed. Instead of “How are you?” you can ask them if they’re doing anything fun that day. These kinds of positive short-term interactions can make long-lasting positive impressions.
  2. Long-term relationships. Building long-term relationships is easiest when you have a CRM or a small customer pool that allows you to get to know your customers as individuals. As a consumer, nothing feels better than when you feel like you have a personal connection with a business. These kinds of connections can be as small as remembering a tidbit dropped by a client during small talk—like the fact that they love traveling, have a small dog, or have kids. Then bring that tidbit up the next time you talk to them. Personal connections help customers think of your brand fondly. Treating your customers like people is key to building long-term relationships that grow your business.

Even as a small business, if you’re friendly, you can get in your customer’s shoes on a micro level. All you have to do is make an effort to get to know them.

WOW Customers by Exceeding Expectations

Now you know what the expectations are. Next, you have to set internal expectations, then prepare to exceed them.

This idea is best explained in our blog post “WOW Customers by Delivering the Unexpected.”

Use the knowledge you’ve gathered from surveying, listening, and getting in customer’s shoes to delight them with unexpected excellence. Walk yourself through the customer journey, and use your knowledge to figure out how to blow your customers away.

Looking for more advice on putting yourself in your customer’s shoes? Check out some of our Ruby resources!

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In celebration of Small Business Week, we’ve curated 10 of our favorite Ruby small business resources! Today we’re featuring five of our favorite articles. Check in tomorrow for five more!

Whether you’re looking for tips, tricks, advice, or resources—we have something for you.

1. 10 Successful Small Business Content Marketing Campaign Examples

In the age of the internet, memorable content sets you apart from the competition. If you’re looking for a little content marketing inspiration, check out these ten excellent examples curated by our friends over at Copywriter Today!

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2. 7 Things Every Small Business Should Automate

Automation can help your small business improve internal processes, increase efficiency, and save time! Check out our list of must-have tools.

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3. Harnessing the Written Word for Small Business Success

Content marketing all starts with conquering the written word! By creating interesting, educational, and shareable content, you can get your business’ name in front of millions of potential customers. Our friends over at Copywriter Today put together three key tips for successful small business content marketing.

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4. How to Build a Foundation for Small Business GrowthRuby Service Pyramid

In this post we discuss the Ruby Service Pyramid, specifically the base of the pyramid:Be Prepared with the Right Infrastructure. Learn how preparing the right infrastructure can set your small business up for success.

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The Secret to Successful Law Firms

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

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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.