Ruby Receptionist is at the 2017 Clio Cloud Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana beginning on September 26th! You can find us at booth 23.
We’re thrilled to be showcasing our legendary remote receptionist service, the benefits of our integration with Clio’s practice management system, and our mobile app. With more than 40% of customers in the legal field, Ruby understands the unique needs of solo and small-firm practitioners to stay competitive while building trust with current and potential new clients!
This article was originally published on July 11, 2017 on Startups.co – The world’s largest startup platform, helping over 1 million startup companies. More from Startups.
I recently interviewed a millennial millionaire for my podcast and the idea of valuing your time as a business owner came up in the conversation.
My guest pointed out how one of the biggest mistakes he sees in the online business space is business owners undervaluing themselves both in pricing their services and valuing their time.
I myself have struggled with this in the past. I’ve also helped several of my business coaching clients start valuing their time more as well.
Signs That You’re Not Valuing Your Time as a Business Owner
There are several signs that can indicate that you’re not valuing your time as a business owner, however, the most obvious sign is that you’re overworked and underpaid.
But what exactly does overworked and underpaid looked like as it pertains to running a business? Here are some clues to help you out:
You’re still broke at the end of the month.
Clients are extremely demanding even if they aren’t paying you much.
You’re starting to resent your work.
You know that other people out there are making more money than you doing the same thing.
You have loose boundaries.
You say yes to everything and find that you’re spinning your wheels.
You’re doing everything yourself.
If you see yourself in any of these circumstances, then you’re probably not valuing your time as a business owner. While it may sting a little bit to realize you’re in this situation, there are things you can do to ensure that you do start valuing your time more.
Base Your Pricing on value, Not Hours Worked
Many freelancers and beginning business owners make the mistake of pricing their services based on an hourly fee. Even if they don’t tell the client this is what they are doing, they sometimes still use an hourly structure to come up with a package price.
One of my mentors helped me get out of this vicious cycle so that I would start valuing my time more. She said, “Base your pricing on value and impact, not hours worked.”
Because the reality is that if your business or service is providing major value or impact for your clients, then you can’t really quantify that by hours worked. So instead, you determine your pricing based on results.
This one tid-bit helped me completely rearrange my coaching structure and packaging. I’m already going to be earning more revenue from one coaching client this year than I did from all of my coaching clients in 2016. I also already have others waiting in the pipeline and price isn’t even an issue for them.
In other words, in order for you to starting valuing your time as a business owner, you actually need to forget about time and start charging people based on value, impact, and results.
Be More Mindful of What You Say “Yes” to
Another way to start valuing your time as a business owner is to become more mindful of what you say “yes” to.
At the beginning stages of a business, it’s appropriate to say “yes” to every opportunity, event and project that comes our way because we’re just starting out and need to get out there
However, there comes a time in which saying “yes” to everything has the negative effect of devaluing your time and earning less money.
The key is to determine when that time is and start becoming more mindful of what it is you agree to. Because when you start saying “no” to things that don’t make sense for your business, then you have more time for the things that do make sense for your business.
For example, I constantly get requests to be a guest on podcasts or offer free training as a part of a telesummit. There was a time in which saying “yes” to all of them made sense, however, now most of them either just get in the way or don’t give me enough ROI for my time.
So now whenever one of these requests comes in, I have to take the time to think about whether or not it makes sense instead of immediately jumping to a “yes.”
It may seem simple, but this one action can greatly improve the way you begin valuing your time as a business owner.
They either feel like they have to do everything themselves because they have control issues, don’t want to spend the money to hire people to help them, or stills see themselves as a person with a skill instead of a business owner.
However, if you want to make it in business and learn to scale, there comes a time when every business owner needs to start delegating.
Again, this simply frees up their time so they can prioritize and focus on the important stuff that will actually lead to more money.
For example, at this stage in my business, nearly everything for my own blog is outsourced so that I can focus on creating content for existing clients, build systems and offerings to increase revenue, and take a sales training class which will help me make more money. Those are the only three things I’m focusing on in the present.
If whatever is being asked of me doesn’t fit with those three things, I’m either handing it off to someone else or I’m not doing it period.
Another way to start valuing your time as a business owner is to start using systems to scale. At this stage in the online business game, you can automate a lot in an effort to free up your time so you can focus on more important stuff.
For instance, the webinar I’m currently using to move people into booking a consultation with me is automated. It literally looks like I’m hosting a live webinar a few times a week thanks to software that helps me scale and automate. All the emails before and after said webinar are also automated.
Valuing your time as a business owner isn’t complicated. In fact, it’s easier than ever thanks to tools, systems, and experts that can help you scale your business. The rest is just a matter of mindset and deciding to start valuing your time.
Katharine Nester, Ruby®‘s Chief Product and Technology Officer, was recently featured in the Technology Association of Oregon’s new magazine, Techlandia. Her segment, Ruby Receptionists: Disrupting with Diversity, discusses the value of diversity and the practices that Ruby puts into place to be inclusive and promote from within.
“There is no Portland business too weird or unique to succeed… This accepting environment helps attract entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, and all sorts of talented individuals to our city.”
At Ruby, we empower our employees to use their own unique personalities to step outside the lines and deliver truly exceptional customer experiences. This month’s WOW Story is a perfect example of this management philosophy in action.
Picture this: You’re at the bowling alley with your co-workers for a special, off-site team building session—a rare chance to connect outside the office. You’re loving the appetizers. You’re nailing those strikes. You’re having such a fantastic time, you’ve totally forgotten about the silly rented shoes you’re wearing.
Suddenly, you check your phone (because hey, it’s still business hours) and realize that something is wrong with your company phone line. Do you have to abandon your game early to go back to the office and fix the problem? Not if you have Ruby!
When Paul found his team in this exact situation, he knew they could rely on Ruby to handle the situation. Paul gave us a call and reached Alex, all-star Ruby Problem Solver and Happiness Maker.
After a bit of digging, Alex discovered that the issue was on the side of Paul’s phone provider. Rather than just passing this information along, Alex took it upon himself to work directly with the provider to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. He recognized that the best experience in this moment for this customer was to break all the rules. No missed bonding, no annoying wait times.
Paul couldn’t believe it. He wrote in to Alex’s manager, bragging about the service he received and the lesson he shared.
Just wanted to take a second to let you know how wonderful of a job Alex did to help our business in a challenging situation. He went out of his way to help so our fun activity didn’t have to be ruined. This got done quickly and efficiently without any business interruption. This is amazing customer service. I will be sharing this with my team of how we should act and wanted to share with you.
Dealing with angry customers is an unfortunate—but necessary—part of an excellent customer service strategy. Luckily, if you’re prepared, you can turn those unhappy customers into loyal fans of your business!
Anger happens. It’s a natural response to frustration that researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara describe as a “bargaining emotion.” Internal anger is a defensive response to perceived unfairness. And the anger we express externally is our (admittedly not always productive) way of communicating our desire to resolve the situation.
When you represent your company, a game plan for addressing customer anger is key to successful customer service. It’s important to provide your customers with the opportunity to air and resolve their grievances, which helps you maintain your online reputation and provides valuable feedback for your business. Best of all, when your customer service teams are trained to handle angry customers, you have the opportunity to turn them back into happy customers.
With a few strategies, you can equip yourself to turn negative customer interactions into positive customer experiences.
1. Don’t take it personally
Stellar customer service is all about creating personal connections. But in difficult moments, it may be more effective to take the personal out of the equation—allowing you to better address their frustrations. Remind yourself that they’re frustrated with a product or a service, not with you personally. A little breathing room will better equip you to address your customer’s concerns head on.
Even if you’ve heard it all before, remember that your customer hasn’t had the chance to say it all just yet. To be sure you fully understand their concerns, give the customer room to express their point of view. Allow your customer to finish their thought before interjecting with a helpful solution. Often all they need is to feel heard, and more importantly, to feel like you care enough to take proactive action that will help them.
Once your customer has had the chance to speak, repeat and rephrase your customer’s concerns to show that you heard them. If you’re unclear about your customer’s concerns, ask follow up questions to be sure that you’re fully comprehending their point of view. Demonstrating that you are attentively listening establishes that you and the customer are on the same page working towards a solution. A little bit of empathy goes a long way.
Apologize for their frustration and mean it. As the representative of your business, it’s important to acknowledge faults and express your regrets.
Additionally, let them know that their complaints will be taken into account moving forward, that your company will learn from them. An authentic willingness to learn from mistakes and take complaints seriously can turn a customer relationship around.
5. Stay Postive
It can be difficult to maintain a upbeat attitude in a difficult situation, but a little positivity can go a long way. Your confidence in yourself will instill your customer with confidence in you and your problem-solving skills. And your positivity, when genuine, will put your customer at ease.
How have you turned a negative customer interaction into a positive brand interaction? Tweet us @callruby and share your story!
This is the time of year that the phones are starting to slow… the A/Cs that were going to break have broken and no one really has money they are dying to spend on plumbing or electrical ‘nice-to-haves’ because school is just around the corner. It’s tough but it’s necessary to drum up the calls because if you don’t keep your technicians and plumbers busy then they will find someone that will and potentially move to another company OR they will sit around the breakroom sending negativity throughout the company. I’ve been there.
This is a very stressful position to be in. You walk into the customer service department and you ask them to try and call the service partners and get 10 more calls on the board for the next day. They groan and say “it’s Summer, no one will book” and you say “Please try…” Then low and behold, they were right and they are unable to book enough calls. This is not an uncommon issue. I visited companies in many different cities over the past 5 years and many of them had this same situation. We hire our Customer Service Representatives to answer the phones as their primary purpose but I think we are hiring them to do the wrong primary purpose.
I did a few things right and I think that making an outbound calling machine is one of those things. During my time at Bob Hamilton Plumbing, Heating, and A/C, I worked very hard at building the call center culture that complimented the marketing department. Here are a few things that radically changed the culture.
Get a team that gets it. This is a hard piece to digest, but you might have the wrong people working for you. The Call Center can be a KPI driven powerhouse if you let it. Hold the team members accountable to their numbers and push out the people that do not do the work. I tracked lots of KPIs and coached the CSRs on them weekly. Conversion rate on bookable calls weekly/monthly, how many total calls booked weekly/monthly, percent of emails collected (free marketing material), how many outbounds made daily/weekly/monthly, and how many outbounds booked daily/weekly/monthly. Do not be afraid the get people on your bus that will get the job done. They exist and they are magnificent.
DO NOT hire people to answer phones and then expect them to outbound. DO hire people to outbound and then expect them to answer the phones. Every time I hired a new CSR I would have them spend their first 2 weeks, sometimes more, only outbounding. I told them it’s the most important part of the job and after they get the hang of it, then I’ll teach them to answer the phones. We had professionals that worked for us and the professional piece of the job was calling out, not answering. Every person in our company, including the bookkeeper, could answer the phone and book appointments. True professional CSRs are experts at calling out to our service partners and getting them booked. It was hard and that skill was valuable to the company. Coming at them with that mentality gives them ownership over a part of the business and the attention for their good work pushes them to do more and work harder. Every time my CSRs weren’t on the phone with an inbound, they were calling out to someone on an outbound. The result was 5-6 CSRs making 300-400 calls a week EACH and booking hundreds of additional calls each month
Change the words you use. One of my mentors in the industry has been Jim Hamilton, and he taught me this concept about 4 years ago. It changed my life. I don’t want to butcher his life-changing article so I’ll link to it because it’s published in PM Magazine: http://www.pmmag.com/articles/95870-the-words-you-say-can-ruin-your-business. I actually took the content of this article and I put it into our training material. Every CSR read it on their first day and we debriefed it afterward. And the language of ‘system check’ versus A/C check or Furnace Check did not stop with the CSR department. This is a whole company idea and your technicians have to understand the ‘why’ if it’s going to work. If you don’t explain to your technicians why they are doing a system check in August or in February, they will complain to the CSRs (that are working their butts off booking them) that they are a waste of a call- That breaks the whole program down.
Outbound all year round! You can change the day that you are booking for based on a monthly calendar but you should never just stop calling out. Even during the heat of the season we were still calling out and booked the customers for a date further out. You know when you typically slow back down, so work smart and fill it early. We set different goals as far as how many to book but we never stopped. I am a firm believer in momentum and if you completely stop a train, it takes significantly more energy to get it back moving again. It’s fine to slow down or switch gears (book plumbing or electrical instead) but do not stop.
I think the Call Center is the heart of the company. They interact with the field, customers, suppliers, and more. If you put your time and resources into the Call Center then you will see huge differences in the effectiveness in every part of your company. I think they are the most overlooked and also the most crucial piece of a well run residential service company. I have many more ideas I would be happy to share in regard to the customer service department, including how to compensate them, how to coach them, and how to motivate them. Let me know if you’d like to set up a call and learn more, no charge! Although I might push you to use our chat service because you should be using us already!
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Ruby® Receptionists is at Contractor Leadership LIVE in Cleveland, Ohio, Sept. 12-14! Look for Ruby pink on the expo floor, booth 310.
Ruby understands that the front line of any contractor’s business is the phone call, and in an industry where missed calls are missed opportunities, relying on a potential new customer to leave a voicemail is a risk. Stop by our expo booth to explore the Ruby Mobile App and discover how Ruby services help contractors increase productivity and competitively differentiate their businesses!
Perusing the internet, you’ll see lists of anywhere from nine to 25 traits that all successful entrepreneurs allegedly have in common. How can you tell if you’ve got what it takes when the lists are so long?
As we explored numerous lists of buzzwords and theories, there are three things that always rise to the top—and they aren’t all related to business.
When you’re passionate about your business, you feel a deeper calling to connect with your audience. At the end of the day, no matter the product or service, you want to better their lives. Most businesses started because the founders saw a need they wanted to address. Combine this need with your deeper calling for connection, and you’ve created a mission that motivates you to want to get to work every morning.
For many business owners, this passion runs deep:
They enjoy what they’re doing so much, they can’t imagine doing anything else.
They wake up ready to fully throw themselves into their work every day because they have so many ideas and see so many opportunities.
They don’t find boredom or annoyance with the repetition of their business’ daily operations.
Of course, passion doesn’t equate to easy. Starting a business is hard work. If you’re not feeling a deep passion for the work you’re doing, you won’t find that inner fountain that will sustain you when you’re facing inevitable challenges. Make sure the business you start is one that leaves you feeling satisfied and full of purpose, even on the toughest days.
Entrepreneurs are out-of-the-box thinkers. They don’t just see a need—they mold a unique and innovative solution. They take proactive steps to develop products and services that will meet or eliminate that need in a new or unexpected way.
An innovative mindset is made up of a few key characteristics:
Discernment: The first step for any innovator is to recognize a challenge. And these challenges aren’t always clear-cut right from the get-go. Someone with discernment takes this feedback—the subtle responses from others combined with their own experiences—and explores what changes would make the biggest difference.
Vision: Entrepreneurs are able to see what isn’t there. They envision a system or solution that hasn’t yet existed, and imagine how it could be developed to address the problem.
Creativity: Creativity is key. Whether you’re the first person to try addressing a challenge or you follow a long string of others, creative thinking allows you to develop a unique and workable solution to the challenge. It’s your creativity that sets your business apart.
Flexibility: As much as we would like it to be true, not everything works on the first, second, or even third attempt. Flexibility allows you to learn from what didn’t work on the first go and adapt what did work for the next.
Neither passion nor innovation matters without drive. This is the spark that ignites you to take action. It’s what compels you to find what you’re passionate about in the first place. It’s what makes the early mornings and long nights go by in the blink of an eye. It’s what keeps you going when you’re on that second and third product iteration.
Like the first two characteristics, drive is about more than just one action. It’s about the desire to learn and continue developing your own skills and expertise in your field. To seek out information and resources from non-traditional sources. To take risks—and do so with gusto. It’s about staying the course with determination, perseverance, and excitement.
Here’s the thing about these characteristics: We all have them. Some of us just haven’t tapped their full potential yet.
You may have heard these words before—in fact you certainly have. But that doesn’t make them any less vital as an entrepreneur. If you’re thinking about starting your own business, dig deep and find what lights up your passion, innovation, and drive. Think about the areas of your life where you lose yourself; where a conversation about a particular topic goes on for hours; where you feel not only interested but called to help. That’s where you’ll find your purpose—and just maybe your next business venture.
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.
Your message matters—and so does the voice you say it with! There are more opportunities than ever for businesses to create meaningful connections with customers and people are being exposed to more advertising messaging than ever before. So, how can you stand out from the crowd to showcase your amazing product and top-notch service?
Your brand voice is more than a tagline and a logo. It’s an extension of your customer experience that inspires customer loyalty and word-of-mouth. No matter the size of your business, who you are and how you communicate with your audience is important.
Consider these three reasons why your brand voice can’t be ignored.
Use your brand voice to communicate a message that inspires enthusiasm, like your values or your company culture. The things you are most proud of about your business will draw a customer base that’s as passionate about your product as you are.
2. Lasting Connections
With so many marketing channels and unique best practices, it can be all too easy for a brand voice to become brand voices. Maintaining brand voice consistency across marketing channels allows your business to stay top of mind at all times. Your new marketing efforts will naturally recall your previous messages, creating a seamless blend of positive associations for your potential customers.
Your brand voice should convert your customers into brand loyalists by evoking that same memorable experience time and time again. From your website to your packaging, there are a myriad of opportunities to remind your customers what drew them to your business in the first place.
3. Ripple Effect
Your voice can turn brand loyalists into brand evangelists. By providing your customers with a brand voice to stand with, the same messages that you share with your customers will be repeated in turn to their friends, family, and coworkers. According to a study conducted by Nielsen, 84% of consumers say they trust recommendations from people they know. Word of mouth marketing remains a valuable marketing channel in the digital realm, and it starts with a shareable brand voice.
Your brand voice echoes beyond marketing messaging in digital, print, radio and other marketing channels. Be sure you’re creating a lasting impression that will resonate in your customer’s minds.
So ask yourself the question, does your brand voice resonate?
We’re thrilled to share that Ruby®‘s Chief Technology Officer, Katharine Nester, was featured on an episode of the Emerge Mobile First Podcast. She sat down with Jordan Bryant to discuss how technology can expand the reach of meaningful human connection. In this 30-minute episode they discuss:
Katharine’s history and passion for technology
Ruby’s secret to success
The story of the Ruby mobile app—from launch to failure to relaunch
Enjoy a quick 15-second preview of their conversation:
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 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.