If you’re a small business owner, it’s no surprise that you typically spend two times the amount of time working as the average employee does. These long hours and managing everything from payroll to biz development to client meetings can sometimes put customer service on the back burner. Tune in to hear SmartHustle’s Ramon Ray and Ruby’s Molly Moore discuss how Ruby is there to help you not only be more effective and efficient but also helps provide a consistent customer experience that can help you keep the customers you have and win new business!

Tune in here!

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Do you have a sneaking suspicion your business isn’t delivering on customer service expectations? Well, I hate to break it to you, but you might be right. 

The fact is that most companies are out of sync with the people they intend to serve. Customer expectations have evolved incredibly quickly over the past two decades, and organizations have struggled to keep up. Many don’t even recognize that they need to keep up. 

Are you aware of how customer expectations have changed? Is your business doing everything it can to provide the best possible customer service? Take our true/false quiz to find out.

True or false: Most customers expect service within an hour. 

True. When reaching out to a business, over 80% of customers expect a response within an hour. Actually, most aren’t even willing to wait that long—75% of customers expect help within five minutes.

True or false: One bad experience is all it takes to lose a customer.

False. Although a significant number of people (26% to be exact) will switch to a competitor after a single bad experience with a business, most are willing to give the company another chance. That said, it doesn’t take much after that initial slip-up to lose a customer forever, as 92% of consumers will walk away after the third negative interaction, if not earlier.

True or false: Customers appreciate the convenience of automated technology.

False. For customers, artificial intelligence (AI) and other automated technologies don’t compare to human-to-human interactions. Gladly reports that despite advances in interactive voice response tech, “IVR remains a wildly unpopular choice amongst consumers, with 98% admitting they try to bypass company IVR systems to get straight to a human service agent.”

Chat-based AI doesn’t fare much better: two out of three consumers say chatbots are only “somewhat effective” or “not effective at all” in resolving their issues.

True or False: The phone call is dead.

False. Even in today’s digital-centric, omnichannel business environment, phone calls remain the dominant medium for customer service. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of people say they prefer to contact businesses by phone. Contrast that with the mere 24% who would rather fill out and submit an online form.

True or false: Customers will pay more for better service.

True. Believe it or not, satisfactory customer services are experiences are so rare that most people are willing to sacrifice upfront savings for them. Recent research by Salesforce reveals that 67% of customers will pay more for great customer service. That number is even higher (74%) among business-to-business customers.

True or false: Customers will tell you when they’re unhappy.

False. You can’t rely on customer feedback alone to measure your customer service performance. An estimated 91% of people who are unhappy with a company’s customer service will simply stop doing business with the company without ever raising a complaint. 

These customers aren’t entirely silent, however. According to a White House Office of Consumer Affairs report, “dissatisfied customers typically tell 9 to 15 other people about their experience; some tell 20 or more.”

How did you do? However many of these facts are new to you, one thing should be clear: customer expectations have grown and, in many senses, they’re higher than ever. Today’s customers demand speed, responsiveness, and personalized service. If they don’t get the experience they’re looking for from your company, they’ll go elsewhere—and likely take their friends, family, and colleagues with them.

This isn’t necessarily an unfavorable development for businesses. Higher expectations are a force for good. Deliver on these demands and you’ll cultivate an exceptional reputation, a loyal audience, and extraordinary word of mouth. 

We’re talking about creating genuine, longer-lasting connections with your customers—but you have to do things right.

Find 5 essential tips in our recent article for Hyken.com, “Connect With Your Customers & Watch Your Business Grow.”

Curious about the payoff from answering your phone? Our ROI of Virtual Receptionists Calculator can help!

CALCULATE MY ROI

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Here at Ruby, we strive to make meaningful personal connections with all of your callers and provide them with the best experience possible. However, for Rubys to truly sound like in-house receptionists, it is important to keep your status updated throughout the day. When you let us know that you are unavailable for calls, we immediately follow your instructions on how to handle them. Expecting an important call? We can handle that too and only connect callers you’re expecting with a unique status.

We’re constantly enhancing our Ruby app tools and have recently released some enhancements to make it easier for you to let us know your availability (ie. your status!). 

3D Touch for Quick Status Updates
Let’s start with the home screen quick actions. Before you even click into the Ruby app, you can touch and hold the Ruby app icon for a convenient way to quickly update your status from your phone’s screen. You apply a little extra pressure to the Ruby app icon (more than you use for opening an app) and voila! You can view a list of available quick actions.

Ruby App for More Complete Status Updates
If you have more complex instructions or simply prefer to go to the Ruby app to update your status, here are several ways to accomplish status updates.

  1. From the Ruby home screen, simply tap Hold My Calls and we’ll take messages until you’re back and can clear the status.
  2. For more customization, click on My normal call-handling at the top of the screen. Tell us how long you’ll be away, what you want to relay to your callers, and if you’d like us to take messages or offer voicemail.
  3. Even schedule ahead for vacations, match a new status with an upcoming event on your calendar or save a favorite status as a Shortcut to use over and over again.
  4.  Alternatively, you can always tap Status at the bottom of the screen to view and adjust an active status, create a new one, integrate your calendar to hold calls during meetings or select View Shortcuts to view, edit, or create new status shortcuts.

We’re constantly working to make our services and features better for you, your customers, and your business! Stay tuned and be sure to check the blog for any future updates!

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101 tech tools for business owners.

Reading time:

Running a business can get complicated. Really complicated. Between managing projects, keeping track of resources, meeting customer demands, maintaining a brand, and chasing down invoices, there’s always another thing to do. And those are only the fundamentals. Consider all the effort it takes to court customers, build your network, optimize your online presence, hire new staff, launch marketing and sales campaigns… The list goes on.

How do successful business owners stay on top of it all? Is it time-travel? Copious amounts of coffee? 

While caffeine can certainly boost productivity, thriving businesses are leveraging technology to elevate customer experience and the efficiency of business operations. But, given the sheer number of options out there, identifying and employing the right tools can become a job unto itself. So many search results, so few intelligible answers. 

Fortunately, we here at Ruby have done some of the heavy Google-lifting for you. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive list of 101 tools for business owners. Feel free to scour the entire list or jump to a section that meets your immediate needs. And be sure to bookmark this page so you can return to it next time you face a business challenge.

Project Management and Collaboration

Don’t let work about work overtake the work itself. Whether your business comprises a small team, multiple groups in multiple offices, or just one person (i.e. you), there are numerous solutions out there that will make project management and collaboration fast, easy, and—dare we say—fun. Here are our favorites:

  1. Evernote
  2. Trello
  3. Asana
  4. Slack
  5. Zoom
  6. Skype
  7. Basecamp
  8. OmniFocus
  9. Yammer

Document Creation and Storage

If your company is like 99.99% of businesses in existence, at some point you’ll need to generate and keep track of a couple (or a couple thousand) documents. Consider these the essentials—the tools you need to create and store bylaws, budgets, letters, proposals, and so forth.

  1. Microsoft Office
  2. Google Suite
  3. Dropbox
  4. Proposify
  5. Stamps.com

Time Tracking and Travel

Your time is a precious resource. Don’t take it for granted or let it go to waste. The following tools can help you organize meetings, track working hours, plan trips, optimize your and your team’s schedules, and more—all without consuming valuable time from your day.

  1. Calendly
  2. There.pm
  3. TripIt
  4. Timesheet
  5. TMetrics
  6. Harvest
  7. Homebase

General Business Information and Guidance

Business ownership can be a tough, unpredictable, and at times lonely experience. But no matter how isolated or overwhelmed you may feel, you’re never alone. Both the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and SCORE can put you in touch with mentors and other business owners, and provide you with the education, informational materials, and training (virtual and in-person) you need to succeed.

  1. SBA
  2. SCORE

Funding

From banks to venture capitalists, there may be plenty of people and organizations out there who are interested in helping your business grow. Use these tools to explore your options and get in front of some decision-makers.

  1. Fundera
  2. Lendio
  3. SmartBiz
  4. EquityNet

Accounting and Bookkeeping

Unless you’re a CPA, you probably didn’t get into business to work with financial information all day. And if you do do accounting or bookkeeping for a living, you’re probably going to need more than a pencil and paper. The following tools allow you to track income and expenses, create and send invoices, and file your taxes with ease.

  1. Expensify
  2. Quickbooks
  3. Gusto
  4. Slimvoice
  5. TurboTax

Staffing, Recruiting, and Contracting

Hiring for a new position and on the hunt for talent? Need a contractor for a one-off project or an ongoing need? You don’t need to rely on community job boards or settle for your neighbor’s out-of-work cousin. Use these tools to find candidates—and have them compete for the opportunity to work for you.

  1. Workable
  2. ZipRecruiter
  3. Fiverr
  4. Behance

Websites and E-commerce

Designing a website can be a costly prospect, especially if you sell products online. It’s no surprise that many businesses struggle to maintain an internet presence—a good number of business owners simply can’t afford a professional website designer. These tools empower you to do everything yourself, from the basic elements (building homepages, implementing shopping carts, accepting payments) to the more advanced (reducing visitor bounce rates, carrier rate shopping, learning code).

  1. Shopify
  2. Squarespace
  3. WordPress
  4. Square
  5. Unbounce
  6. ShipStation
  7. Siteliner
  8. Searchcode
  9. Hotjar

Design

Your business’s look and feel are more than aesthetic considerations. A well-designed logo, advertisement, piece of marketing content, or user experience delights your customers, ultimately boosting loyalty and generating more sales. Unleash your inner designer with these affordable (or free) tools.

  1. Canva
  2. Coolors
  3. Adobe Creative Cloud
  4. Acrobat
  5. Snappa
  6. Unsplash
  7. 99 Designs
  8. Typekit
  9. DaFont

Content and Video Creation

Content, particularly video content, is one of the most effective means of reaching your audience. As hours of footage get uploaded to YouTube every second, no business can afford to sit on the sidelines. Create eye-catching videos and other engaging content (hello, blog posts!) with these tools.

  1. Animoto
  2. Drift
  3. Pablo
  4. Lumen5
  5. Playbuzz
  6. Infogram
  7. Podbean
  8. Hemingway

Marketing and Social Media

Word-of-mouth marketing is the single most effective form of advertisement for a company, and providing a stellar customer service experience is key in creating loyal customers who recommend your business. However, other marketing and social media efforts can definitely be helpful in getting your name out there. Avoid agency costs and start spreading your own message with these marketing, advertising, and social media tools.

  1. HubSpot
  2. MailChimp
  3. YouTube
  4. Instagram
  5. Promo
  6. Buffer
  7. Hootsuite
  8. Facebook Ads
  9. Google Ads
  10. CrowdTangle
  11. IFTTT
  12. Zapier

Customer Engagement and Satisfaction

Speaking of customer service, it’s a good idea to focus on that—perhaps even before you launch a concerted marketing effort. When used in tandem with a superb customer relationship team, these tools ensure you never miss an opportunity to forge connections with the people who matter most to your business. Wow your customers, and who knows? Word of mouth just might save you some money otherwise spent on a campaign.

  1. SumoMe
  2. Kilterly
  3. Yelp
  4. Fivestars
  5. Yesware
  6. Trustpilot

SEO

Whether they realize it or not, customers are searching for your business. It’s your job to help them find you. How? By harnessing the power of the algorithm. Ensure your website and landing pages reach the top of search results with these essential search engine optimization (SEO) tools.

  1. Google Analytics
  2. Google Keyword Planner
  3. Moz

PR

Ah, public relations. If your business does PR well, it can become a beloved company—or at least one whose personality has earned a dedicated following (think of Wendy’s, for instance). If you manage the press and your public image poorly, however, your business will appear unkind, boring, out of touch, or—worst of all—invisible. Here are six tools you can use to monitor public sentiment, coordinate media communications, and build your reputation.

  1. HARO
  2. Survey Monkey
  3. Google Alerts
  4. Podium
  5. Mention
  6. Reddit

Networking

Networking can bring you into contact with life-changing partnerships and opportunities. Grow your circle and discover what’s out there with these networking tools.

  1. LinkedIn
  2. Shapr
  3. Hunter

Security and Privacy

Businesses face greater security threats than ever—and confidential data (such as your customer’s private information) is at risk. Don’t treat protection as an afterthought. The following tools will help you balance security with productivity, so you can keep your and your customers’ data safe without sacrificing the necessary flow of information.

  1. LastPass
  2. Private Internet Access
  3. Avast
  4. FCC Cyberplanner

Legal and HR

While it is a good idea to hire a qualified attorney for your business, there are times when it’s smarter (and cheaper) to do things yourself. In other words, you don’t need to bother your legal representative with every single piece of paperwork. And the same is true for human resources-related matters as well. Take a look at these tools before calling your lawyer or HR manager.

  1. LegalZoom
  2. ShakeLaw
  3. UpCounsel
  4. Zenefits
  5. Goco.io

Whew! There you have it: 101 tools you can use to stay productive, successful, and in control of your business. Keep in mind that these tools are meant to bolster—not replace—the human element in your business. Your greatest resource are the human beings you choose to work with and for!

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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.