The business-to-small-business (B2SMB) Institute has announced featured speakers and program highlights for the B2SMB Institute Global Conference. The gathering of executives will take place on Oct. 1-3 in Chicago’s West Loop, where leaders from Google, Comcast Business, Dell, IBM, and Ruby Receptionists (and others), will reflect on the strategic demands that B2SMB leaders face, including how to advance the business relationship with small business customers.
Among other B2SMB leaders, Ruby Receptionist’s founder and CEO, Jill Nelson, will be delivering her keynote speech on conference Day One!
The global conference will also include a workshop-styled hackathon, engaging panel discussions, and topics discussing transformational changes that impact the B2SMB marketplace over the course of two and half days.
AI and Machine Learning
Blockchain Business Models
Digital’s Next Wave and more!
Tickets are now available, with prices set to increase on Sept. 4.
Tune into the new episode of the Scaling Up Business Podcast, featuring Ruby Receptionist’s founder and CEO, Jill Nelson. Hosted by business coach Bill Gallagher, the podcast examines how some companies have made it, and why other’s don’t, drawing inspiration from coaching clients, partners, and the best-selling book, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits 2.0, Scaling Up by Verne Harnish.
In the new case study, Ruby’s Jill Nelson speaks on growing a service-based business without burning out and how Ruby has grown into the company it is today.
As any rookie or seasoned vet in the vast arena of customer service can attest to, interacting with a less-than-impressed buyer can be intimidating, stressful, or even a bit scary. Especially when a customer’s frustration is a direct result of something your company did (or did not do).
Thankfully, with a little etiquette magic and wisdom from the professionals, there are ways to power through these moments with poise and empathy. Plus, as a business owner or employee on the front lines, your genuine desire to fulfill a customer’s needs is the most important asset in curing a cranky customer.
Which is great news, as your success may be hinging on it.
Enter: The Reach of the Customer
In a time not so long ago, stories of lackluster customer service traveled at word-of-mouth speed. This is meant quite literally. Information passing through the phone or in person was (and remains to be) powerful in coloring a company’s reputation.
So, what’s changed?
Two words: social media.
From websites devoted to customer evaluations to the not-so-formal but far-reaching Facebook post, the consumer soapbox has been taken to a whole new level. What’s more? Your potential new customers are paying attention.
Think about it: if you’re in the market for a product, are you more inclined to call a company with mediocre ratings and “meh” reviews, or a business boasting five-star testimonials and a trusting customer base?
In short, your customer service offering bears weight and the words of consumers have a profound impact on your business.
In failing to satisfy the needs of a reasonably grumpy guest, the opportunity to convert a non-believer into a *gasp* brand ambassador is lost.
Discover the ROI of Personal Connections!
See how a real, meaningful connections can help boost your bottom line in our free guide.
Here at Ruby, receptionists have an eerie ability to temper the testy. We answer for over 8,000 companies and a single receptionist can take upwards of 250 calls a day. With a sample size like that, we’re bound to get some sour grapes from time to time.
What have we learned over the years? A sincere desire to turn someone’s day around (and leading with a little empathy) can have tremendous results. In showing customers that their experience matters and working to remedy the situation, you’re strengthening the foundation of their trust in your brand.
Big time brownie points.
And potentially a few future referrals.
So how do we do it?
The next time you set out to improve a customer’s mood, give these tips a try:
Listen. Customers want to tell you what’s wrong and are, in turn, giving you the chance to fix a problem before they walk away from your business. Give them room to explain, complain, and tell you what’s bothering them. Refrain from interrupting, and when it’s your turn to speak…
Acknowledge frustration. A little empathy goes a long way and ultimately, we all just want to be heard. Slip in phrases like, “I can certainly see why you’re upset! I’m going to do everything I can to help get this resolved.”
Let them know what you can do. We can’t emphasize this enough. In any situation, speaking to what you’re able to do for a customer is infinitely more helpful than breaking down what you cannot. However, if you are being asked to do something that lies outside of your realm, we recommend you…
Frame your role. If you’re not the expert your customer is looking for, briefly explain what you actions you can take, and assure them you’re doing everything in your power to help.
Apologize, and make it count. A simple “I’m sorry” isn’t enough. There’s a whoooole post dedicated to apologies here.
Offer a solution and stick to it. With the exception of losing your cool, failing to do what you say you’ll do—especially when tensions are already high—is a surefire way to obliterate any chance you had at repairing a damaged relationship.
Follow up! Even if a customer leaves your office or ends a phone call singing your praises, seal the deal after the tides have calmed with a hand-written note. Never underestimate the power of a proper WOW.
Ruby to the Woo-scue
You know tending to the needs of your customers is key to a successful relationship. And that sometimes, you’ll be wooing your way back into good graces.
But, how do you manage this while running your business?
Are unanswered phone calls the root of your customer’s frustrations? Or are you losing the opportunity to right a wrong to an impersonal voicemail box?
How many customers are calling your competitors when they don’t feel taken care of?
Fortunately, there’s a solution.
With our small business roots, Ruby understands the plight of the entrepreneur. When you’re wearing a thousand different hats and dealing with everything from billing to process improvement to delivering your actual product or service, making time to pick up the phone and connect with your customers can be tough.
That’s where we come in. Delighting callers and preserving connections while building up your reputation for a stand-alone customer service experience is what we’re here to do. Our mission is to help you grow, one happy caller at a time.
Want to learn more about what a virtual receptionist can do?
“Giving a VIP client experience is the number one source of referrals and happy clients,” says Jill Nelson, Ruby’s Founder and CEO, to the folks at WealthManagement.com.
To help provide clients with an individualized experience, we here at Ruby have designed a mobile app that expands upon traditional receptionist services. The app offers the flexibility to choose when to have a Ruby receptionist answer or when to forward calls directly to advisors, and more!
Guest Post by FieldPulse CEO and Founder, Gabriel Pinchev
Building your contracting business takes a tremendous amount of effort. It requires three things: finding and selling to new customers, delivering great service, and managing everything behind the scenes. For each area, focusing on the customer experience throughout their lifecycle (or customer journey) can bring significant returns.
The customer lifecycle is the journey a customer goes through in deciding to buy a product or service. For example, if Sally needs her home painted, she starts with an idea of what she wants. She’ll spend some time on the internet researching then talk with friends. She finds Professional Painting Co. and contacts them for a quote, either on the phone or a contact form on the company’s website. Sally accepts the quote and the service is rendered. Afterward, she has an opinion on the service and shares her perspective with a friend and posts an online review. All of this is the customer lifecycle.
In a Forbes article on revisiting the customer journey, the author points out that there are many points where the company has little control. Instead, the company’s job is to satisfy the customer to the point that they become an advocate. In a world of social media, having digital advocates help spread the word about your company is priceless.
The key to growing a business in the digital age is exceeding customer expectations.
But what are those expectations, and how can you use technology to achieve this?
Before your future customer even reaches out, they’ve spent time learning about you. Today, that usually means an online search or asking friends and social media groups for a recommendation. Because of this, you want customers that are not only happy with you, but that are willing to promote you. All of this starts at the first point of contact.
When a prospective customer reaches out to you, they’ve already made up their mind that you’re worth spending time talking to. They’ve done their research. So now it’s important to give them the exact experience they’re seeking.
Whether your first point of contact is from your website “Contact Us” form or a phone call, this is your chance to make the right first impression. According to Consumer Reports, 72% of callers who reach an automated answer will hang up without leaving a message – and potentially call a competitor. If you don’t respond quickly, you lose the opportunity. Today, people are looking for instant gratification. Answering the call or responding to the email right away is the first step.
Build Rapport from the Start
Throughout the sales process, it’s important to build a real relationship with your customer. Remember the Golden Rule – treating customers like you would want to be treated goes a long way.
Even when you find ways to specialize your business and stand out from the crowd, your customer will almost always have another option. Keeping updated information about your customer in CRM (customer relationship management) software is a good place to start. FieldPulse is a CRM solution built specifically for contractors. With CRM software you can keep contact information together with appointments, past work records, photos/documents, and more.
By keeping track of your customer, and having quick access to all of their details, you’ll be able to provide better service. Having a team that’s connected to that information at all times will take you even further. The level of service you can provide will set you apart and help you win more business.
Wow Them While Delivering the Work
Your reputation is built on the quality of your work. Beyond the quality of the work, your customer has high expectations around communication. Keeping customers in the loop during every step is important. This means sending confirmations when booking, a reminder before the appointment, day of notifications, and follow up after the job is done.
Being consistent is key. You’ll want to make sure you have a system in place to manage communications. That system can be contractor software (and that’s definitely recommended), but a standardized process that everyone on the team follows is a great place to start. Make sure that you’re staying in touch with your customers at every step.
Build an Ongoing Relationship
Once the work is complete, it’s time to build onto the relationship you’ve started. This part is so important because it’s what takes a happy customer and turns them into a promoter for your business.
Word of mouth, social media mentions, and reviews will bring you more business. Unfortunately, a happy customer doesn’t always volunteer to spread the word. Instead, you’ll want to follow up with them. Keep them on an email list. Call them two weeks later and ask them about the work that was done.
Tell your customers that you appreciate referrals and online reviews. They need to know how they can help you. When they do, you’d be amazed at how many more reviews and referrals you’ll get.
Everyone has service expectations, and your customers are no different. By using the right kinds of technology and services to support how you do business, you’ll be able to exceed those expectations. Having someone answer the phone every time and having the tools to track and communicate with your customers (and your team!) are two great ways to exceed customer expectations.
About Gabriel Pinchev:
Gabriel is the founder and CEO of FieldPulse, a field service software that lets you run your entire contracting business from a single app. FieldPulse helps contractors go digital with tools to handle everything from customer management (CRM) and estimates/invoices, to scheduling and dispatching, team timesheets (and GPS location), and much more – available in the office or on-the-go.
The Inc. 5000 list is up and is showcasing the 5000 fastest growing companies in America. These businesses have “exhibited spectacular three-year growth,” and
together have generated a collective revenue of 206.1 billion in 2017. Dang!
Businesses featured had a three-year average growth of 538.2% and included 64 Oregon companies. Among them was Ruby, which came in at 2484. That makes 7 years in
a row Ruby Receptionists has been featured on the Inc. 5000 list!
LawSite, a blog dedicated to posting news and websites of interest to those in the legal profession, recently reported on the Ruby Solo product.
Designed with the true solo attorney or business owner in mind, Ruby Solo provides a local number that rings through to a mobile phone, live answering by our team of virtual receptionists, and access to a full array of call-management features through our robust Ruby mobile app!
The business call is more important than ever, but for the entrepreneur or owner of a small business who often works on the go, answering those calls may interrupt time needed to meet with current customers, or manage and build the business. Ruby Solo is an economical solution that allows customers to add an additional line to their cell phone, keeping their personal number private, and provides a team of professional receptionists to make certain those essential business calls are answered. Get the full scoop here:
In an article featured in CIO Applications, Ruby CEO and Founder, Jill Nelson, writes on the importance of the phone call in today’s high-tech, high-touch digital world. Despite ever-growing methods of communication, nothing wins a customer over like the trust you can gain through an exceptional call experience.
“The phone isn’t going anywhere, and it’s your most valuable communication channel.”
Ruby’s Chief Product and Technology Officer recently contributed an article to Forbes Magazine focused on the importance of diversity in product development and engineering teams—and how we’ve been making strides at Ruby. Go here to get the full story!
Your phone alarm beeps and you wake up at the crack of dawn.
You head to the kitchen to put a pot of coffee on to brew. Surveying the fridge, you wish you had just a bit more time to catch some zzz’s.
Breakfast in tow, you sit down to check your schedule for the day: Industry research, appointments, meetings with investors… (and at this point in the process for a solopreneur, everything feels like it’s live or die!)
You ask yourself: How do you build a brand with the prowess of a successful company when you’re starting out as one-person show?
And what does it take to harness the customer service to make your name stick, all while attending to the many needs of an up and coming company? It’s not easy to be superhuman, with only so many hours in the day!
Here’s the truth: You love your business, but the endless to-do lists sometimes make your head spin.
That’s okay. Another cup of coffee might help you. But maybe, just maybe, there’s another way.
After all, polishing your presentation to get in league with the big dogs as a solopreneur takes work.
Fear not! We’ve got a few insights that can give you a running start.
Use Tools and Tech to Work Smarter
Though your company might seem incomparable to bigger businesses, your technology helps level the playing field.
Well, it’s all about the infrastructure. After all, you’ve already got the goods (a great product or service). As a solopreneur, your offering might even be yourself! The next step is building processes to serve as the foundation of your customer service.
Are your customers able to get in touch?
Does a friendly voice answer your phone?
How quickly and efficiently are you meeting their needs?
During our time as a start up, Ruby quickly learned that we cannot deliver on the apex of customer service (making personal connections) without mastering the basics. In response, we developed The Ruby Service Pyramid as a road map to striking the delicate balance between people and process.
Proper infrastructure creates better experiences. Even as a solopreneur, by investing in tools that enable you to work better and faster, you’re well on your way to fostering a little happiness.
And giving that coveted above-and-beyond customer service (that leads to referrals!), puts your business a cut above the rest.
Mastering Your Touch Points
Just like an interview or a first date, your potential customers are sizing you up from the moment you meet. From the tone in your voicemail to the look of your website, your customers get to know you from the way you present or display your business. Each touch point counts!
More than anything, the phone call is what wins business. So when a customer calls, giving them an exceptional experience starting from the first “hello” can keep them calling…and buying!
Here are a few flawless phone answering tips that you’ll be wanting up your sleeves…
So, whether it means starting a blog, personalizing your invoices, or sending a handwritten note, take the time to make the extra effort. No opportunity to impress is too small or insignificant. Every step along the buyer journey is a chance for your customers to fall in (or out of) love with your business. Be sure to keep them swooning.
Hint: maximize your impact through accessibility. When your website shows up on the first search, and your emails include a click-to-call phone number, they don’t have to take that extra step to get in touch. Make it easy to connect!
Grow In Grace
Once you’ve got the building blocks lined up and business begins to flourish, don’t lose momentum.
More business=busyness—and when calls are coming in and you’ve got work to be done, the growing pains can be real.
Kind of like where you are, right this moment: schedule jam-packed, to-do list ever-long, still waiting for the coffee to kick in.
The good news? You don’t have to go it alone. If you have the cash flow, bringing on an employee can be a great way to increase productivity, as well as your customer service offering.
But…that isn’t your only option. If you don’t have the extra wiggle room in your budget for a full or part-time hire (or simply don’t want to complicate your business by adding another person to payroll), going virtual is an excellent solution.
What does it mean?
A (good) virtual receptionist service fills the customer experience gap that so often gets missed by a hustling business owner. There to answer your phones when you can’t, a team of live, remote professionals gives your company a polished, established appearance, while building trust with every answered call. At Ruby, we take messages, answer and transfer, make outbound calls, collect intake, and more (just like an in-house hire, but like…waaaaay less expensive).
Our mobile app is pretty cool, too. You can change your call-handling instructions on the fly, view messages, and all call activity. We can *also* give you a local number so you can choose to use your personal or local business number when making a call. BOOM. Two lines, one phone. No more giving out your personal phone number to customers or juggling two separate devices.
Whether you’re just starting out or find yourself uncomfortable in the midst of a growth spurt, Ruby can help. With our small business roots, we know what it can take to ramp up business, and keep it booming. From the solopreneur still working a day job, trying to get their dreams to take flight to the more established, tenured business owner needing just a little extra help, we see you. Ruby’s got you covered.
Happy callers turn into customers, and happy customers bring in referrals. With the proper tools, a little mindfulness, and some customer service skills, you’ll be bringing in steady business in no time.
You’ve got what it takes to bring your vision to life, but if you need it, we are…
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.