Customer service skills

If you’re drawn to a career in customer service, you likely have a natural inclination for compassion and a desire to make a positive impact on others. Stellar service requires balanced, adaptable energy, plus the ability to bring your best self to work every day. It also requires you to keep cool in the face of unpredictable or challenging situations and personalities.

Maintaining your genuine desire to give–without burning out–means cultivating both professional development opportunities and self-care practices. Following are a few tricks to sharpen your skills on the job…and find more personal fulfillment in the process.

1. Understand Your Customer

Empathy allows you to create a genuine connection with your customer. It enables you to serve with a palpable sense of enthusiasm and dedication.

The dictionary definition of empathy embodies the basics of establishing any great relationship: understanding, sensitivity, like-mindedness. Even the word “chemistry” gets a shout-out. So, keep in mind that empathy is well within anyone’s grasp.

Have you ever had to wait on-hold forever? Or stood in line for what felt like hours, ultimately feeling twice as impatient about your issue as when you arrived? Probably. You can draw on this simple awareness to relate to your customer’s frustration and better position yourself as their advocate.

A solid understanding of your company’s offerings also helps you better empathize with customer needs. You can better speak their language and relate (as well as problem-solve) at a deeper level. At Ruby, we’ve built our business on the principle that meaningful connections are number one when it comes to a high-touch customer service experience.

2. Add to Your Toolbox

Whether you’re looking for ways to enhance your listening skills, new conversation starters, or tips on how to turn a tough call around, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

To keep your skills fresh and your energy creative, continually make time to learn. Spend a weekend at a professional development class or seminar. Watch a video online. Read a book or an article. There are hundreds of resources on customer service topics that may open you up to a new way of doing things. YouTube, Udemy, Lynda or your local library are just a few places to start.

Before you begin, ask yourself: In what areas of my work/role would I like to grow? What are situations that challenge me or expose my opportunities for growth?

Once you’re clear on your goals, the perfect resources are practically guaranteed to jump in your lap. It’s exciting to find fresh ways to surprise, delight, and support your customer, while keeping your own passion ignited, too.

3. Get Out of the Office…and Out of Your Comfort Zone

We are creatures of habit, repeating patterns day after day. While the comfortable is cozy, it often blocks our ability to receive inspiration. Your work environment is a major component of your mood and mindset. Change up the scenery during your workday. Enjoy lunch away from your desk. Take a walk outside. Check out a mid-day yoga class.

Trying new things in your personal life can also yield transformative results in your work. When we expand beyond our routine, we’re challenged to get over fears, let go of limiting beliefs, and tap into our potential. When’s the last time you did something for the first time?

Maybe it’s an improv or dance class, rehabbing a vintage guitar, getting artistic with a pottery project or cooking an exotic recipe. Living on the edge of your comfort zone helps you to think on your feet.

4. Discover Ways Keep Your Cool

If you’re not in the flow, it’s tough to be a rock for every customer who needs your support. But how do you stay positive when your day consists of dealing with person after person, and problem after problem?

One solution is to develop the right tools. Maybe it’s a breath exercise. Perhaps it’s a five-minute meditation practice, a brisk jaunt down the stairs and back, or a relaxation app or game on your phone that gets you back into your zone.



Find the thing(s) that work for you. Make sure they are specific. Then practice them, daily, until they become a habit. It may surprise you how these rituals help you regain your calm and re-energize your workday.

5. Find a Mentor and Expand Your Network

A mentor can be a game changer in opening you up to new ideas and possibilities. Having someone in your life with experience that differs from your own is invaluable to growth.

Maybe they’ve achieved certain goals you aspire to or you admire their communication skills. Invite them to coffee. You’ll be surprised how many people want to help you when you’re open to asking.

Networking is also a powerful way to elevate your skills. Engaging in a community–both within your profession and in other industries–gives you new insight, knowledge and a more holistic view.

6. Remember Your ‘Why’

A good practice for clarity about your relationship with work is asking, “What’s my ‘why’?” What motivates you to do the work that you do? What drives you to get out of bed and into the world every morning? What’s your superpower?

If you’re drawn to customer service because you enjoy connecting with people and making their lives better, try keeping a Happiness (or Gratitude) Journal. Journaling has caught on like wildfire, and with good reason. Numerous scientific studies have shown the benefits, which range from when you bring awareness to what you appreciate, your mind and body both take note and prime you to attract more of the same.

Once you move away from customer service as a chore or a transaction, you’ll tap into that place within you that innately desires positivity and meaningful purpose. When you remain tuned in to that vibe, happy and satisfied customers are sure to come along for the ride.

If you want to provide an exceptional customer experience but are a little preoccupied running a business…Ruby can help with that. Check out this ebook to learn how we can turn your callers into clients.

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Ruby is always seeking ways to connect with the small businesses we aim to serve. Recently, we partnered with Telarus to leverage its 4,000 technology and service brokers and bring Ruby’s legendary receptionist and chat services to their small business clients. Ruby’s solution portfolio uniquely meets the needs of customers who value a high-touch experience and want to connect with businesses, anytime and anywhere.

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Growing Your Business While Growing as an Entrepreneur

Are you the owner of a small business that is challenged with how your role changes as your business grows? In this episode of John Jantsch’s Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, Jill Nelson shares how she started Ruby, and how her leadership role has evolved as the business has gone from a startup to a growing and thriving organization.

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Virtual employees

A virtual legal assistant sounds great on paper? They lower costs, increase your billable hours, widen your profit margins, help you strike a work/life balance, and improve your client relationships. Ideal for the small firm or solo attorney, virtual talent is great in theory, but how do you actually make it work?

A reasonable query, one that I answer in quick four tips. Here are a few protips for incorporating virtual talent into your practice:

1. Identify and plan for your needs.

Running your practice is like working any case, it requires a goal and an understanding of all moving parts. With these in mind, you’re able to build a strategy and an action plan to reach your next milestone.

But let’s talk about your needs for a second. Are you honest with yourself about them? What are your strengths? Your weaknesses? What tasks do you hate doing? Outsourcing is an excellent way to help you focus on what’s profitable while shifting what you either don’t enjoy or don’t have time for to someone else’s plate.  Find a virtual attorney whose strengths are your weaknesses, virtual legal assistants who thrive on those tedious tasks you dislike, and virtual receptionists and legal tech for areas where you are losing money on office management.

In delegating tasks to virtual talent, you regain billable hours for your firm. Attorney and paralegal time can be billed to the client at a reasonable profit margin and you don’t need to cover their overhead as you would a body in your office.

2. Establish clear and proactive communication.

Communication is the key to virtual success. It enables delegation, builds trust, powers efficiency, improves integration, and creates a productive environment. All of which combine to reduce stress and increase efficacy and responsiveness.  Clear and proactive communication also reduces the likelihood of errors, conflicts in communication styles, and the oft-raised concern about assistants ‘disappearing’ along with your tasks (aka ghosting).

Good communication involves being direct about expectations, awareness of skills, and realistic time frames; it requires solid procedures and transparent processes.  Regularly scheduled calls and virtual meetings, the use of cloud-based technology and/or practice management software all give rise to clear communication.

3. Delegate effectively.

Doing everything yourself results in a self-perpetuating cycle of being overwhelmed, overworked, and overstressed. As your to-do list grows, you become more inefficient and less profitable. Delegate tasks where you can to remain productive and in control of your quality of life. 

Mindful planning coupled with effective communication is key to feeling confident that all delegated tasks will be completed. You have a plan, you know your weaknesses; you know you can bill paralegal time, and that by freeing up hours in your day you can focus on the work that generates revenue.

4. Use virtual talent to capitalize on specialties.

You’re a small or solo practice, and sure, while the law is the law there are some nuances to each practice area. You can’t possibly know everything about every specialty, so you inevitably reduce your practice area to focus your work.

So, as an estate planner, what do you do when you discover your client has a patent that is being infringed?  How do you handle an immigration case involves human trafficking?  You want to give your client the best service possible, so you study and familiarize yourself with the associated nuances.  But what’s even better? Hiring a freelance specialist to join your team. A virtual attorney and/or virtual legal assistant who supplements and compliments your own expertise is incredibly helpful.  Their knowledge is a significant benefit to your practice, as well as your individual clients.

Master these four tips to integrate virtual talent into your practice, and magic will happen!

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Improve your customer retention

Customer retention is the fine art of keeping your customer base delighted by your service and loyal to your product. While customer retention is on the radar for most business owners, it may get lost amidst the day-to-day tasks that keep a business moving. Taking existing customer relationships for granted is rarely intentional, but it can feel surprisingly natural to ease off courting your customers once you get them through the door.

Continuing to charm buyers long after that first sale does require a plan and commitment, but the benefits of keeping them around are well worth the effort.

We’ve put together a list of 10 common mistakes businesses make that wind up losing them their most valuable asset: their customers. 

10. Under-Educating Your Base

Many companies overlook one of the best possible outcomes of doing business: the empowerment and gratitude people feel when you open their eyes to all the ways you can make their lives easier.

When it comes to your product or service, don’t be tempted to leave education up to “the Internet.” Take time to help them understand your product benefits; make sure they understand the latest features and updates. Highlight the differences among various product options, so they can easily and confidently make the best choice. They’ll appreciate the saved time, frustration, confusion, and the valuable decision-making power you’re providing them.

As you educate the customer about your products, take time to educate them about your company and your brand, as well. What’s your company’s story? Your values? Specialities or expertise that lend credibility to both you and your products? Make sure your customers know.

Establish yourself as the trusted go-to expert in your field, with just the tools they need, and customers will keep coming back for more.

9. Breaking Promises

The crutch of exceptional customer service is doing what you say you’ll do.  Failure to deliver on the promise of your good is a recipe for dissatisfaction, prompting your customers to walk away with the impression that you cannot meet their needs.

Yikes.

Take time to review the performance or quality claims touted in your marketing materials.  Are they accurate? Do you deliver? Think also about the kind of expectations your customers have about the experience they want when they buy from you.

Here’s your opportunity to take the lead: Set expectations from your side–then meet or exceed them. Be crystal clear about deadlines, the time required to rectify issues, the potential add-on-costs, and similar factors. Being up-front can help you better understand the needs of your customer and reduce the risk of mutual frustration.

8. Failing to Follow Up

One common misstep is not following up with your customers. Is your product hitting the mark for them? Did your project perform as expected?  Even if the answer is no, you’ve opened the door for a new conversation and an opportunity to learn how to improve your offering.

Following up can be as simple as an automated email or as personal as a call from the business owner. Find the practice that works best for you and your customers, and you may be surprised to see a spike in retention and active brand evangelists alike!

7. Forgetting to Ask for Repeat Business

A slight variation on the follow-up is the direct ask. Chances are, if your customers have a good experience, they’ll purchase from you again.

Or perhaps they’ll point you in the direction of another prospective customer.

Consider offering your first-time clients a next-purchase or next-project discount. If you’re completing a big project, be proactive about a follow-up proposal that showcases your abilities as an ongoing strategic partner.

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6. Failing to Reward Loyalty

Customer loyalty can be recognized financially, such as offering “frequent-flier”-type rewards. Or, you can opt for something a little more thoughtful, like sending a unique gift or hand-written notecard for an added personal touch.

Loyalty can be built or broken at every touchpoint in the customer lifecycle. Does your customer-facing staff greet repeat customers in a warm, professional way? Does your team retain knowledge about your client over time so that working with you never feels like a “do over”?

Customers like doing business with companies that make them feel like they’re more than just a number. Explore new ways of thanking customers for their business and acknowledging where you’ve been together and where you’re going.

5. Being (Only) a Commodity

If you don’t add value to your customers—or fail to create a personal rapport for that matter, you risk being seen as a commodity. Your offering becomes a service chosen based on price and features, making you an easily-replaceable part of the pack.

So how do you avoid being seen as a commodity? Demonstrate your value by creating meaningful connections.

Get to know your client’s favorite sports team or reach out when you hear about a big accomplishment in their professional or personal life. Connecting with your customer base humanizes your company, making customers more “sticky” and can validate their decision to buy from you – even at a premium price point.

4. Ignoring the Chatter 

There are many platforms today where customers can tell others about their good and bad experiences. It pays to monitor review sites on an ongoing basis and really listen to what people say, the bad and the good.

Negative reviews pose an opportunity for you to make things right with disgruntled customers in a public forum—flex your customer service muscles here and let people see you for the customer-centric business that you are.

3. Being Non-Analytical

It can be tempting to rely on anecdotes or “gut sense” when evaluating your product and customer service experience. But doing so opens you up to missing some truly valuable information and insight. Back up that intuition with a little hard data and you’re off to the races.

Make sure your data analysis extends beyond measuring operational expenses and ROI. Ask questions to gain insights, such as:

What percentage of your current customers are first-timers? How many have been with you for a year or more? Is there something bringing your customers back? And how can you create an even more effective strategy based on the customer lifecycle?

Evaluate the data and share the insights with your customer service reps, sales, and marketing teams to create content, experiences, and product enhancements that will further benefit your current customers.

2. Missing the Heart Connection

It’s easy to assume that people make business decisions based on rational criteria, yet studies show quite the opposite. Some 90% of customer decision-making is emotional, regardless of your industry. That’s why world-leading brands like Coca Cola, Apple, Nike and others spend millions of marketing and advertising dollars annually. They’re investing in emotional connections to draw like-minded (or like-hearted) people to their brands.

You have an opportunity to stand for something that your customers care about. Whether that’s a social cause, a set of beliefs or even a shared sense of humor—take the time to understand the connection between you, your product or service, and your ideal customers.

1. Not Having a Plan

The absolute fastest way to destroy customer retention is to leave it to chance. If you want to keep your customers coming back time and again, you need a plan. Make it simple. Include some measurable data-points, so you know what success looks like. Put it in action, then watch your sales and customer retention metrics blossom.

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In our ever-changing world, how people interact with businesses has evolved, and higher levels of convenience and customer service are expected. Customers are looking to engage with companies anytime and anywhere. To expand on our mission of providing real, human connections in an increasingly technology-focused, virtual world, Ruby Receptionists has recently acquired ProfessionalChats. We are so excited about the opportunity to extend our personalized, friendly service to online chat!

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Sales Support
Legal_Final

The Secret to Successful Law Firms

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

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Ready to turn more callers into customers?

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.