Stop robocalls for good.

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Bah, robocalls! I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand robocalls. I get at least one per day, and I know people who receive dozens daily (they basically ignore their incoming calls at this point).

In terms of their economic impact, robocalls are more than a nuisance. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimates that robocalls cost Americans billions of dollars per year.

Business owners foot a large portion of that bill—not just in terms of minutes wasted, but also missed opportunities and diminished trust in phone interactions.

How? Well, imagine you’re deep into a project that requires your full concentration. You’re feeling focused; you’re in the zone. Then your phone rings. As a business owner, you can’t afford to miss a call from a prospect or existing customer. You don’t recognize the number, but it looks like someone from your city. So, you pick up the phone…

…only to hear spam on the other end. 

And then there’s the matter of lost trust. Say you’re trying to contact a potential new client. If that person doesn’t know your number, they may assume you’re a robocaller and refuse to answer.

If you’re like many business owners, you may have experienced these sorts of problems firsthand. You’ve wondered, “How do I stop robocalls?” Perhaps you’ve posed the question to friends, colleagues, or Google, but haven’t found the answer you’re looking for. You may have tried a robocall blocker app or another technique, but some unwanted calls still come through.

Enough’s enough. Here’s what you need to know about robocalls and how we can put an end to them for good.

What is a robocall?

If you ever answered your phone and heard a recording instead of a live person on the other end, chances are you received a robocall. These kinds of calls can seriously harm unwitting recipients, cautions the FCC.

And the folks at the FCC should know—unwanted phone calls are the top source of complaints they receive. Such complaints are filed by individuals sick of unsolicited robocalls as well as people who have been harmed when a scammer spoofed their phone number.

Robocalls can have severe financial consequences, particularly for people who don’t realize how dangerous such calls can be. As FCC Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau Chief Patrick Webre warns: “Don’t give in to fear or curiosity. A scammer’s first goal is to engage you, then they go to work on stealing your money or your valuable personal information.”

Robocalls are not the only type of unwanted call. The category also includes fraudulent (scam) calls, as well as inappropriate sales calls (spam). However, most spammy and scammy calls use some robo-dialing or robocalling technology. 

Note that most robocalls are illegal—but not all. According to the FCC’s BFF, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), some legally-sanctioned robocalls include automated calls from healthcare providers, automated calls from debt collectors, automated political calls, and automated calls from any party who has prior consent from the people they’re contacting. For example, if you’ve supported a nonprofit in the past, that organization may be allowed to contact you through robocalls.

Why do we get so many time-wasting robocalls?

The average American receives at least eight robocalls per month, as findings by Hiya Robocall Radar and Statista indicate (PDF). Actual scams and general spam account for 57% of these unwanted calls. Many business owners receive higher-than-average rates of unwanted calls, as their numbers are typically more publicly available, and they’re less likely to ignore calls from unknown contacts.

Why are robocalls so prevalent? As the FTC explains, making robocalls is “cheap and easy.”

Once upon a time, opening a call center required significant investment in staff, equipment, and technology. Now, it’s (sadly) relatively simple to create and launch a robocalling operation with minimal equipment.

In fact, some of the same technology that makes it easier for small businesses to operate also makes robocalling affordable for scammers and spammers. Instead of setting up a call center, scammers can run robocall campaigns from the comfort of home. All they need is an automatic dialing system, a US-based operator to relay the calls, and a phone. Thanks to flaws in the “caller-ID” system it is also easy to spoof phone numbers and even locations. (And yes, for those keeping score, The Simpsons predicted this.)

The average American receives

8 robocalls per month.

Robocalls cost approximately

$3 billion every year.

A single robocall accounts for

23 minutes in lost time.

What do robocalls cost your business?

As customer engagement company that provides virtual receptionist solutions, Ruby runs into robocalls frequently. In March 2019, for instance, 4% of Ruby customer call minutes were attributed to robocalls. That might not sound like a large figure at first, but the research shows that these spam calls on business lines negatively affect productivity by impacting employees’ ability to get back into a workflow after being interrupted. 

According to recent studies on the effects of digital distraction at the University of California, Irvine, it takes on average 23 minutes and 15 seconds for employees to return to their original task after an interruption. That’s nearly 25 minutes of wasted productivity every time a spam caller hits a business line! 

As we explored earlier, robocalls also erode trust—and frankly, they’re just a bummer. When you answer a robocall, you not only lose precious time but are likely to be left feeling frustrated or discouraged. Maybe you were excited to talk with a real, potential customer.

The same holds true for the people you serve. Although today’s consumers are likely to use online channels to research a business, they’re more likely than not to follow up on their Google search using tools like Google Maps or Yelp to call a company they’ve identified. They want to connect with a real person to verify what they’ve seen or read online, or to ask questions, and if they can’t reach you (because you’ve stopped accepting calls from unknown numbers), they’ll feel frustrated or discouraged. 

How to stop robocalls

No matter the size of your business, robocalls are a massive drain on you and the people you serve. Thankfully, there are affordable ways to prevent unwanted calls.

Try these tips to decrease and possibly eliminate unwanted spam and scam calls from your life—forever.

  • Add your cell phone number to the FTC’s “Do Not Call” Registry. (Note that this won’t end all spam calls, as many are based outside of the FTC’s jurisdiction and use a network of call routing tools.)
  • Hang up as soon as you recognize a spam call. The FTC also recommends that you avoid pressing any buttons the “caller” requests.
  • When a spam or scam call gets through, consider reporting it to the FTC. The more they know about bad actors the better they can work towards solutions. 
  • Some phone and Voice over Internet Protocol providers offer their own robocall blocking tools. Reach out to your provider to learn what they have available. These tools are imperfect, but they’re (usually) better than nothing.
  • Try using a third-party robocall-blocking app, such as Robo Revenge, Nomorobo, Hiya, or Truecaller. 

The most effective way to filter robocalls is to use a virtual receptionist solution like the one provided by Ruby.

Our exclusive filtering feature automatically sends calls likely to be robocalls to voicemail. 

Ruby offers some of the most effective and efficient communication tools for busy business owners and professionals. Our Robocall Filtering system uses live network data and advanced AI algorithms to screen most robocalls so you don’t waste a minute on them. Best of all, our users never pay for those calls that were sent to voicemail.

Try Ruby today. Sign up or give us a call at 866-311-7829—we’ll answer, we promise!—to get started.

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It is amazing to think that Google was founded almost 22 years ago and went public in August 2004, over 16 years ago! During this time, rapid change has been the one constant in the world of search. Search continues to evolve as consumers shift the devices, platforms, and intent of their search behavior, and that evolution isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. If anything, the rate of change is only accelerating!

This presents major opportunities for growing businesses. By staying current on emerging trends and adjusting your tactics wisely, you can gain an edge in your market.

At DSG, we help clients of all kinds do exactly that. Here are a few insights and tips you can use to improve your SEO performance.

PPC and SEO: unique marketing channels that yield complementary data

If your business is like many, you rely on both paid and organic marketing to expand your reach and generate revenue online. There is a delicate balance between paid and organic marketing.  Often, we encounter businesses who look at the data from their paid and organic search tactics as separate entities. However, when businesses strategize properly, they can use two powerful forms of paid and organic marketing—PPC and SEO—in harmony to maximize efficiency and spend smarter ad dollars.

First, let’s define our terms. PPC (Pay Per Click) is a method of driving clicks through paid search campaigns via keyword bidding. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) aims to increase your business’s organic search engine rank by improving the discoverability, relevance, and authority of your website.

PPC and SEO each have separate roles, but that doesn’t mean that they need to work independently. PPC and SEO share a common goal: attracting people to click to your website. In other words, it’s like chocolate and peanut butter–two great tastes that taste great together.

So, why not mash ‘em up? Let’s look at how SEO and PPC can support each other. A holistic approach to search will help you navigate an increasingly complex landscape.

Keyword trends can inform strategies.

Here are some strategies you can use to intertwine your SEO and PPC data to gain a holistic view of your campaigns:

  1. First, identify high ranking keywords from your organic search campaigns. Use this data to reduce or eliminate your bids on these same keywords in your PPC campaigns—especially if a campaign has a high cost per click. If you’re already ranking well for these keywords organically, it becomes less valuable to spend your PPC budget on them.

  2. Second, analyze data on your PPC click-through rates. Identify keywords with an above-average PPC click-through rate but a low organic click-through rate, and then incorporate those keywords into your SEO tactics. This data indicates that these keywords are highly relevant and valuable, and should be a high-priority target for your SEO strategy. This enables you to extend your digital reach without extending your marketing budget.

What’s your online listing strategy?

The way that we conduct searches is evolving. People no longer search using a singular keyword—they ask questions that reveal specific needs and high intent. If you want to get serious about your search engine optimization, you need to get serious about your online listings.

In fact, 70% of search queries contain three or more keywords. This means your customers are searching with the intent to answer specific questions about your business—they’re not just looking for you, but looking for information about why your business is the best fit for their needs.

Changes in search behavior also reflect the rise of omnichannel customer experiences. These days, a customer may start their search on Google, but experience a journey of many different platforms before arriving at their final purchasing destination.

We all do it without giving it a second thought. For instance, when you’re in search of tonight’s dinner, you may hypothetically start by Googling “pizza places near me.”  Once you’ve discovered a contending pizza shop, you might visit their Yelp page to check out reviews, then their Facebook and Instagram to see if they’re running any special deals. Finally, you plug their name into Waze and drive to your destination. All of these platforms—Google, Yelp, Facebook, Instagram, and Waze—played a role in your purchasing decision, and you may not have arrived at your destination if the pizza shop had missing information.

For this reason, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your hyperlocal presence is robust and your digital listings are complete with relevant information on your business.

Today, business listings require more than just a business’ name, address, phone number. Search, social, navigation, and voice platforms offer rich libraries of additional attributes that allow businesses to share the information that their customers are searching for. For example, businesses have the ability to specify holiday hours, pickup/drop-off/delivery capabilities, FAQs, products, menus, and much more.

When a business’ online presence is fully populated with hours, reviews, photos, and relevant information like menus or product lists, consumers are 197% more likely (PDF)  to view that business as a place they can depend on. Proactively offering solutions to these queries helps your customers to find you.

These are just a few considerations for harmonizing SEO and PPC, and boosting your business’ performance in search. For a deeper discussion about these concepts, check out our recent webinar—you can watch the full recording here.

For more information about optimizing your online presence, check out Ruby’s free guide.


DSG is a digital marketing agency in Malvern, PA.

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Four young-looking people sit closely and casually on the floor, holding paper cutouts shaped like speech bubbles and thought bubbles in front of their faces.

Want to attract people to your business? How about fostering greater loyalty among your current customers or clients?  

Duh and double-duh. Why am I even asking? What are we doing here? 

We’re here because of live chat. Specifically, we’re here to explore the topic of chat services for business—why chat matters, how it works, and how to use it to connect with existing and potential customers. So, let’s chat about chat. 

What’s so special about chat?

These days, many people do business primarily or exclusively online. The pressure is on for organizations (like your business) and professionals (like yourself) to answer questions, offer information, and address customer concerns online in a quick, accurate, and personal manner. Chat fulfills these needs. 

Chat means convenience. A chat service can close the gap between customers reaching out for information and making a sale. When fast response times are vital, chat ensures people get nearly instant answers, rather than having to wait for an email or sit on hold on the phone. This not only builds customer trust, but also enables you to generate more leads for your business and convert those leads faster. 

(By the way, it’s convenient for those of us on the other end, too. You can multi-task, talk on the phone, take care of kid or pet needs—all while serving your customers.) 

Think of a chat service as the equivalent of a friendly secretary or welcome desk at a brick-and-mortar office. Visitors can have basic questions answered and be directed to the right area of the business for more detailed answers.  

With chat, you provide customers with service where they’re active in the moment—on your website. You can also set up the chat to ask visitors questions after they’ve been on the site for a certain length of time. This can prompt people to ask for the information they need rather than clicking away to conduct research on another site.  

Customers love chatand are more likely to buy from businesses that have it. 

You don’t have to take my word for it. According to multiple studies, people love chat: 

  • 42% of customers favor live chat above all communication channels. Compare that 29% who like email and 16% who want to communicate over social media. 
  • Customers are 46% more likely to make a purchase from a company with live chat support.  
  • Live chat results in larger orders. On average, customers who interact with live chat make orders that are 10% larger than those who do not.  

Plus, there are the effects of chat on customer sentiment. Customers feel heard when they have a positive chat interaction. When people experience not-so-great customer service, they remember the experience and warn others not to use the offending business. On the other hand, customers who can access information quickly, from a friendly person, are much more likely to do business with you—and to recommend you to their friends and family.  

Fullserviceself-serviceautomated lead capture: Which chat service is right for you?  

Generally speaking, there are different types of chat services available for your website:  

  1. Full-service chat 
  2. Self-service chat
  3. Automated lead capture

Each one has its strengths and use cases, and can fulfill various needs depending on your requirements and resources. 

An icon comprised of the numbers 24, 7, and 365, floating in concentric shapes, representing full-service chat.

Full-service chat 

When you use full-service chat, you have team of professionals ready to answer chats at any time of day or night. These professionals are equipped to give answers to the most common questions your business receive. They also know when to hand customers over to someone with more experience—you, or someone else on your team.  

Of course, that’s only if you want to communicate with those customers instantly. Full-service chat is available 24/7, so you don’t have to be. Live chat pros can take a message for you, complete with contact info, so you can get back to the customer during business hours. When customers feel their needs have been heard and taken seriously, they’re more willing to wait for your answer.  

Any business can benefit from full-service chat, but it’s especially useful for… 

  • Law firms 
  • Healthcare providers 
  • Educators 
  • Any organization that needs to build trust from the first impression and provide responsive, professional service 
  • Businesses that want to create human connections/conversations in every channel 
  • Businesses for which customer service is a key differentiator

See how live chat built real-world business for Prero Orthodontics. 

A speech bubble icon, representing self-service chat.

Self-service chat 

A small or highly specialized business might do better with self-service chat.  

Self-service chat works just like full-service chat, only you do it yourself. This can work well in the beginning stages of a business or for a business that doesn’t yet have a lot of traffic on its website. Examples include… 

  • Travel agents 
  • Event planners 
  • Photographers 
  • Salons 
  • Businesses that have the time and resources to answer chats in a timely, professional manner 
  • Businesses where direct, 1-to-1 interactions between owners/employees and customers/prospects are important 
  • Low-volume, high-margin businesses 

A icon displaying a line chart with the line rising, representing automated lead capture.

Automated lead capture

Finally, there’s automated lead capture, a configurable tool that handles basic interactions with visitors. Instead of having a human answer live, you set up automated lead capture to take visitors through a prebuilt conversation flow.  

In a nutshell: 

  1. Someone visits your website. 
  2. The lead capture tool initiates a conversation and gathers the visitor’s contact information. 
  3. You receive an email with details, so you can follow up. 

Automated lead capture is ideal for businesses whose customers do a lot of research before making a purchase or an appointment. It can also work well for businesses where customers have a fairly straightforward purchase journey. If your business has a very high volume of website traffic or lots of frequently asked questions, an automated lead capture tool can free up you and your staff to deal with the more complex issues or with customers who are ready to make a purchase or an appointment.  

Automated lead capture is perfect for… 

  • Automotive dealerships 
  • Specialized healthcare providers 
  • E-commerce/retail companies 
  • Businesses whose customers need to do a lot of initial research—automated chat can guide visitors to the right information 
  • Businesses that need to highly qualify their leads 
  • Businesses with a lot of frequently asked questions 

Grow your business with Ruby’s chat services. 

Whichever type of chat service is right for you, you can depend on Ruby.  

Our chat services are available 24/7/365, and are 100% secure. Each service will also come with information about the kind of information your customers are seeking, how long they spend on your website, and how live chat affects whether they make a purchase or appointment. This gives you valuable insights you can use to improve the information on your website and your customers’ experiences.  

Not sure which chat service is right for your business? Let’s chat about it! Start a conversation with us by clicking the chat option below. 

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Business and marketing consultant Melissa Barker has something of a cult following, and for good reason. Her experience navigating large projects and optimizing digital strategy, growth, and visibility makes her a go-to consultant for business of all kinds—and that means she’s perpetually in demand.

In this discussion with Melissa, we learn how to balance multiple high-end clients, manage expectations effectively, and build trusting relationships that translate into revenue.

Read the interview.

Jill McKenna: Hi, everybody. I am Jill McKenna. I’m the brand marketing manager here at Ruby, and I’m so delighted to be speaking with my friend Melissa Barker today. Melissa is a digital marketing consultant. She’s also an author and a jack of all trades. Melissa, do you mind talking to us a little bit about what you do?

Melissa Barker:
Thank you so much for having me. My name is Melissa Barker, and I am a digital marketing consultant, as Jill mentioned, as well as the author of the first college textbook on social media marketing. Really, my specialty is working with tech companies with their digital marketing strategies, as well as small business owners—helping them with their marketing sales and scaling best practices and figuring out how to grow their business.

Jill McKenna:
We’ve had the joy to work with you in the past and have had just an incredible experience. And I’m so delighted that we’ve been able to do that and that I get to speak with you again.

Melissa Barker:
Wonderful. I so appreciate it, too.

Jill McKenna:
I know that business services clients often come with high expectations and sometimes high dollars attached to them. Can you speak a little bit about developing and managing those unique and special relationships?

Melissa Barker:
Absolutely. So the business service clients are absolutely my favorite in terms of those to work with. But like you said, they definitely come with different relationship dynamics, especially with larger organizations where you generally don’t have just one point of contact, but you need to be building relationships throughout the organization at large. So the biggest things that I recommend around this is really getting clear on how you are building credibility. So showing previous client examples, having those references, but then also building trust. And so when we’re thinking about really building and developing trust with bigger clients, it’s all about delivering high quality work, strategic recommendations, and then delivering those on time. So, yes, you need to deliver quickly, but you can’t let the quality of your work suffer.
 
In terms of actually managing the relationship, there are three things that I always recommend, especially when you start with a new client. First is to get a clear understanding of the expectations the client has in terms of how frequently you need to be communicating, because there’s a lot of variety in that, in my experience. Some clients want to talk to you every single day; others say, “Hey, here’s the project. I’ll talk to you when it’s done.”
 
[You also have to] understand their preferred methods of communication. For some of my bigger clients, they have me on Slack, so they have that really high-touch, frequent access to me. Other clients, on the other hand, are really happy with email. So, it’s not only understanding how frequently they want to be speaking with you, but also what is their preferred method of communication.
 
And then, finally making sure that you’re integrating within their team. Even if your point of contact does not necessarily say, “hey, set up meetings with everybody on the team,” if there are names that keep coming up in those initial conversations, or people whose work you know you’re going to have to learn more about, being proactive in having those conversations, setting up those meetings, and building those relationships from the beginning.

Jill McKenna:
It sounds like you attack it from the get-go, but mindfully, and respond to what it is that they need and they’re looking for.

Melissa Barker:
Yeah, absolutely. And really focusing on developing a relationship that has the potential to be a long-term relationship, so you become that trusted provider that they reach out to whenever they have a question. If you’re a little bit more relaxed about building that relationship at the beginning, they may or may not come back to you in the future.

Jill McKenna:
That makes sense. It makes a lot of sense. What type of client experience and service standards do your customers tend to expect? Because I’m sure that they’ve not only worked with you in the past as a consultant, but other folks as well.

Melissa Barker:
Yeah, absolutely. And there are the fundamentals of creating great service, which is that quick turnaround, really high quality work, delivering, developing against your timeline every single time. But in addition to that, there are five things that I always recommend for service providers, especially when it’s a high-dollar client or someone that you’re looking to build that long-term relationship with. First is getting comfortable using their tools and systems. Oftentimes I find that service providers don’t necessarily want to integrate or learn all those tools, but it is worth that time investment, especially for your high dollar clients. Because of that, I’ve learned things like Basecamp, Asana, monday.com. So getting really comfortable with all the different project management tools. And it will be really worth that time investment for you as a provider as well because inevitably there will be other clients who use them too.
 
Second: make sure that your recommendations in whatever type of service you’re providing really fits within what they’re capable of, their scope, the budget that the client has said they have, the people, the staff, the budget—because oftentimes what I see with a lot of my one-on-one business coaching clients that are also service providers is that they’ll make these really big complex recommendations, or they’ll make recommendations that are smaller than what the client wants. And both of those leave your client in a very strange position where they can’t really implement your recommendation. So, be mindful to fit within the scope that you get from the beginning.
 
Third is make sure you’re reporting on impact, or showing them how to report on the impact of what you’re providing. And not just telling them the quantitative story, but really getting into the qualitative side and giving some analysis around whatever metrics and numbers you pull, and telling that story. Creating the story for the client is super critical.
 
Fourth is make sure that when you’re delivering your recommendations, you leave your client feeling really empowered to follow through. Because I think it’s easy to come in and say, “Here’s everything you’re doing wrong,” versus coming in and saying, “Hey, here’s the baseline and here’s the opportunity.” So I think, again, not framing the recommendation, making sure that you can take it from that 50,000-foot view, and give the exact steps that they need to follow to be able to implement your recommendations.
 
And then last is treating their business like your own—really taking the time to understand the client, the history, the product or services that they offer can make you really valuable. Because when consultants come in, for any kind of business services, and they’re giving all these recommendations, but they don’t fully understand the history of your business or the nature of your products completely or your industry, it really makes it hard for the client to want to follow through on the recommendations. So again, that upfront time investment. Even if they’re not asking, even if it’s not billable hours, doing your homework and really thoroughly researching the business ahead of time, or asking those correct questions from the get-go can make you feel like a part of their team.

Jill McKenna:
That’s very thorough, and it is obvious that you’ve developed that over time in working closely with some of these people.

Melissa Barker:
Thank you. Yeah, it’s been a learning experience, too, because I think initially I maybe didn’t do all of those things, but as time went on, I’m learning the importance of yes, a little extra upfront time investment in learning their systems and being willing to integrate, make a big, big difference.

Jill McKenna:
And once you work with your clients over a period of time and over years, how do those relationships tend to change or more for what do they need later on?

Melissa Barker:
The biggest thing I’ve noticed over time is that I get brought into lots of different kinds of marketing projects, or things that even maybe sometimes fall a little outside of marketing because they want to work with the same people, right? Because there’s that foundational understanding of the business, they trust the quality of the work that they’re going to be getting. So sometimes I’m actually learning some things in the process as well, to be able to fully serve the client in the way that they’re asking for.
 
But I think the biggest changes over time are really that, there’s less negotiation actually in the proposals. They’ll sometimes even tell you the budget and say, “Hey, what can you do with this amount? How much can you fulfill of this?” And so it becomes less of a negotiation and really trying to prove credibility, but there’s that high degree of trust already. So it’s really about making sure that you understand what their needs are and you can deliver against it. And then I think the way that the needs change are really just that they sometimes actually end up meeting more tactical support. So once you’ve given them the strategy, they’re coming back to you and saying, “Hey, could you actually help us with certain parts of implementation?” And if there’s that element that you actually do offer, it’s a really wonderful, longer term relationship opportunity.

Jill McKenna:
I’m sure that that serves you both really well. That’s great. Great. Thank you so much for your time, Melissa. I appreciate you so much. And if people want to find more about your work, where should they go to?

Melissa Barker:
You can find me at melissabarker.com. You’re also welcome to add me on LinkedIn. I’m Melissa Barker there as well. Either is great, but I always love to connect with folks, especially those who come from Ruby, and these conversations are always wonderful to have.

Jill McKenna:
Great. Thank you so much, Melissa.

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Arizona, here we come!

Reading time:

We have exciting news to share—Ruby is expanding and hiring in Arizona to better serve the small business community! Our new remote team augments our existing brick-and-mortar presence in Portland, Oregon, and Kansas City, Missouri.

At Ruby, we currently support more than 13,000 businesses. On a typical day, each receptionist answers more than 250 calls. By hiring more bilingual receptionists and others for customer-facing roles, we better meet the needs of small businesses and Latinx consumers nationwide. A fully remote team also provides increased reliability since service is less likely to be affected by local weather patterns.

How our growth benefits small businesses.

Ruby decided to expand into Arizona upon acquiring Pure Chat, a Scottsdale Arizona-based company providing state-of-the-art live chat software backed with proprietary AI-powered technology.

“With the acquisition of Pure Chat and the current employees based there, Ruby has already built a technology and marketing hub in Arizona,” said Ruby CEO Kate Winkler. “This, combined with a growing talent pool from universities and transplants attracted to the quality of living in Arizona, makes the state an ideal location to grow our employee base for all positions.”

Arizona is also uniquely positioned to provide a young, tech-savvy workforce with a larger population fluent in Spanish and English.

“We actually opened up and looked at the dynamics around the Phoenix and the Scottsdale area and just said, wow, this is a perfect population,” Kate told the Phoenix Business Journal. “It was such an easy choice for us because it just really checked all the boxes.”

The Arizona expansion will feature an entirely remote workforce perfectly adapted to the ever-changing needs of today’s small business.

We are hiring top local talent!

We’re absolutely thrilled to be bringing more than 50+ jobs to Arizona! These positions include virtual receptionists and chat specialists and several sales, marketing, product, and engineering openings. Best of all, these opportunities allow ideal work-life balance since they are fully remote positions doing rewarding work.

“I’m thankful to have the opportunity to grow from my role delivering Ruby’s amazing service to now helping more small businesses gain time back in their day,” said Lex Foster, a former receptionist who is now a sales account executive. “I’ve gained so much confidence and experience due to the support from my colleagues and supervisors throughout the various roles I’ve had and am excited to continue growing my career at Ruby.”

A little more about working at Ruby:​

  • Competitive wage starting at $15.75 per hour, with compensation packages including 401k matching and recognition incentives.

  • Access to health benefits, including the coverage of 75% of the premiums for employees and 50% for dependents. Our coverage includes medical, dental, vision, prescription, and alternative care.

  • Flexible scheduling options allow for the ultimate work-life balance.

  • Opportunities for career development.

  • Award-winning training to empower our Rubys to excel.

  • A chance to be part of a company culture nationally recognized by Fortune Magazine as a “Best Small Company to Work For in the U.S.”

  • Access to special perks like the “Swell Fund” to cover up to $200 a year to purchase items that enhance employee wellbeing.

In other words, our Rubys deliver world-class service because they work in an environment where they thrive.

How our training and development results in excellent service.

Like other companies, Ruby adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. We transitioned to a fully remote model within 11 days in March 2020. Due to this success, we are moving to a hybrid model in our Oregon and Missouri offices and embracing a fully remote team in Arizona.

To prepare our team, we adapted our comprehensive in-house training to a modular, self-paced online program. We use an effective combination of self-study supplemented with live check-in sessions and interaction with our experienced training team. 

We broke our traditional, lecture-style training into bite-sized five-minute modular content chunks. A few days later, trainees receive follow-up questions reinforcing previous lessons. We won a 2020 Silver Stevie Award for “Customer Service Training Team of the Year” due to this approach. Our trainees love it due to the convenience and the way this method suits various learning styles.

To join the Ruby team, visit our Careers page to see our current openings!

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Reflections on fallout

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Some months into COVID and work-from-home, I was taking a meeting from my bed. I’m generally exiled to my bedroom, as my six-year-old is simultaneously schooling from home, and with four classes per day, sometimes hours apart, her non-class time is spent spread out playing in the common areas while listening to kids’ podcasts. On that day, while I was speaking in the meeting, my child wandered into my room, grinning, with green marker all over her face, eyelids, lips, and neck. It was a new bead on a string of parent-life and work-life collisions that now happen regularly.  

I sighed and kept speaking.

I can’t complain. In all, she is a joy and an easy kid. She’s generally happy, I can mostly figure out what she needs, ands she has a rich imagination she can occupy herself with.

But when I first began working from home, I was suffering from COVID. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I was an early case; too early for testing, and when antibody tests came out, too far past infection to measure for those. But doctors noted my inability to draw anything but shallow breath, as well as a decreased blood oxygen level, severe lethargy, fatigue, muscle weakness, kidney pain, blinding chronic migraines, confusion, sinus difficulties, and inability to smell, and they concluded I was an extreme case. Still suffering, in the same way, six months later, I was diagnosed as a long-hauler

At this time last March, I also experienced grief over the fact that I could no longer work how I used to. The number of plates I could spin reduced by a third to half depending on the day or week—sometimes more. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone in this regard at work, and my colleagues supported me. But there is no adjustment to an unsustainable reality. While I was trying to get “ahead” by making dinner for us during lunch, walking the dog, and reading to my child all within an hour, I wasn’t registering that intense productivity at all. I was erasing it, concentrating only on what I wasn’t doing. And somehow, through illness, I kept working and parenting full time. During the worst months, I often had to call a friend to come make dinner and play with my child because I couldn’t stand up or lift my arms.

Still, I could recline with a computer on my lap, weak arms propped on pillows. And though I was completing task after task at work by computing when my child was asleep and before waking, I dismissed the value in it. All I could see is where I was falling down. Like so many, I couldn’t keep the house clean like I did before. I couldn’t find time to recenter myself or feel like anything but a brain at a computer and a parent trying to meet needs, day after day. It was hard to find any personal meaning or value in the haze of chronic productivity.

“One thing that has saved me is TikTok. Really.”

“One thing that has saved me is TikTok. Really.”

As the months dripped by, that haze and that constant feeling—the feeling that I was never close to the waterline, let alone above it—became totally blurred by a smear of work and life enmeshment. My computer was always open. I was constantly monitoring what was happening and ready for an extra 15 minutes of work whenever I could manage. My health finally picked up a bit in summer, but I immediately did too much in an attempt to catch up to some imaginary bar I had set for myself, and my health went into a tailspin again in autumn. 

In this cloud and always sitting on the brink, the ways I thought about myself and reflected on my life evolved at a crawl. One thing that has saved me and served as a mirror, aside from amazing friends, is TikTok.  

Yes, TikTok. 

In March of 2020 I found myself cranking through story after story on TikTok—not only content creators doing clever dances and creating happy trends, but moms working from home, trying to do everything, feeling like no matter what they were failing, always dressed in yesterday’s sweats; juggling a kid, a phone, a computer, laundry, snacks, a dog, dishes. And yet, still knowing what shoe size their kid was in and when they would need to upgrade, still setting up and getting their kids to doctor appointments, still reading parenting books, still working with their kids to build their emotional IQs and help them through quarantine, still sending out birthday cards, still scheduling virtual playdates, still making holidays special for children. 

One day a friend listened to me as I cried recounting all the ways in which I felt like I was failing and how at sea I felt floating among it all, and very far from the fulfilling creative projects I had abandoned. She reminded me that I was measuring myself through an impossible lens, a lens solely focused on productivity, and one that says nothing about the quality of a person, their soul, their evolution, their growth or development. It struck me in that second, as though my head knew that—that the target always moves, and enough is never enough—but my heart was late to the integration. 

Over on my beloved TikTok, other people—and especially moms—are starting to connect that messaging too. People are raising the idea of a four-day workweek, for example, or more vacation time, more time self-development, more time for being filled up as a person. These sorts of changes could transform the world, the habits, and the model our children inherit for the better.

It’s curious to see this connection and mental shift, which looks like a collective realization—one that has shaped in the wake of feeling like we are chronically falling short, because maybe, probably, it isn’t us. Maybe it’s the untenable expectations to be perfectly ideal parents and chronically productive, all of the time. Those expectations don’t serve us in our current reality—nor, likely, our future. 

“We are continually told that we are the flaw. That if we just got up a half-hour earlier, read those books, watched a certain webinar, stopped buying avocado toast…”

“We are continually told that we are the flaw. That if we just got up a half-hour earlier, read those books, watched a certain webinar, stopped buying avocado toast…”

My brother-in-law is a Deputy Chief in the Fire Department of a major city. He’s second in line, managing city catastrophes and hearing FEMA’s plans, thinking, and processes during national and local cataclysms. He has always maintained our country is two simultaneous disasters away from total fallout. After this last year, it’s clear most of our lives are like that too. We’re so chronically taxed, racing, wildly chasing mechanical hares, stretching for brass rings that are purposely unattainable, that when stresses pile on, we are in a state of shock and dither or overcompensation and performative busy-ness until we swallow the knot in our throat and have the courage to realize: it isn’t us falling down, it isn’t us that’s failing.    

We are continually told by media, blogs, influencers, that we are the flaw. That if we just got up a half-hour earlier, read those books, watched a certain webinar, stopped buying avocado toast, and so on endlessly, that then, and only then, would we be deemed “highly-functioning.” This mode of mentality erases everything else we do, and the places where we have soul-worth; worth for ourselves outside of external validation, which might be meaningful, or not. It inhibits our ability to be real people who come into union with ourselves and our personal sense of curiosity and interests; people who are free to revel in hobbies, who have regular and sustained joy for joy’s sake, who are sparked by wonder and throw themselves into exploration.   

Work can, of course, fulfill us, but not totally, and parenting can fill us up, but not all the way. We need our hands in the earth, planting and tending, or our minds creating open-ended paths for projects, exploring ideas, stringing together our own words, or wondering, or woodworking, or reading, or resting, or programming something just for the joy and exploration that feeds us alone. 

“Work can fulfill us, but not totally, and parenting can fill us up, but not all the way.”

“Work can fulfill us, but not totally, and parenting can fill us up, but not all the way.”

This moment has unfolded as an opportunity to reimagine our whole world. We can spend more time on what we love, even if it doesn’t have a measurable impact of some kind—especially if it doesn’t. We can make the work-at-all-costs attitude a relic of the “Before Times.” We have a singular chance to create a foundation and show our communities, children, and loved ones what it means to keep growing, evolving, and developing, modeling curiosity and depth that we can portray and share. 

I hope we sustain and retain the idea to let go of telling each other what we do, and start finding out who we want to be and are becoming, outside of productivity, far outside of what is measurable; wonder for wonder’s sake.

This last year has vibrantly reflected so many absurdities and traps of output-at-all-costs, and thankfully connected my head to my heart in this regard, altering not only my own measurements for success, wholeness, and worth, but that of many others, and I hope that understanding is something that becomes highly communicable… in a good way. 

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Concerned about burnout? You’re not alone. Healthcare is facing a staffing crisis.

Fact after figure points to this troubling trend:

  • 64% of unemployed healthcare professionals lost their jobs due to COVID-19’s impact on their organizations.
  • 52% of clinicians have reported increased anxiety, burnout, or mental health issues during the pandemic.
  • The healthcare industry needs 5.9 million more nurses to meet global demand—and job growth is “barely keeping pace with population growth.” 

At the same time, patient expectations have intensified:

  • 51.3% of consumers say convenience is the most critical factor in their choice of providers. 
  • 84% say being treated like an individual, not a number, is very important. 
  • 73% expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. 

It adds up to a challenging equation. Overwhelmed, understaffed providers struggle to deliver individualized, compassionate care while balancing patients and business needs. Meanwhile, patients accustomed to quick answers expect more immediate access, but providers can’t deliver the service the expect—leading to patient churn and future staff cuts, starting the cycle over.

How can healthcare providers take care of their own needs while ensuring patients experience the quality of service they expect? Find out in Ruby’s infographic, Telehealth 2.0: beating burnout and delivering on patient expectations.

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Ruby, the premier provider of live virtual receptionist and chat services for 13,000+ businesses, today announced the promotion of four of the company’s women leaders, including two at the C-level. Women make up four of Ruby’s five top leadership positions, including CEO. 

In total, women hold 72% of management positions and represent 71% of the entire employee population.

Stephanie Copeland Weber, who manages the company’s legendary services team and all people operations, has been promoted to President and Chief Operating Officer. Stephanie joined Ruby in July 2017 and most recently served as Chief Operating Officer. Her extensive background in business operations, people leadership, and developing customer-centric teams for high-growth businesses has been invaluable in scaling Ruby while maintaining the company’s best-in-class service and focus on meaningful connections. 

Rebecca Grime’s promotion to Chief Revenue Officer comes as Ruby seeks to streamline the customer journey from the first contact through the ongoing support and management of a business with Ruby, creating an optimal experience at each touchpoint. In addition to overseeing all sales, partnership, and marketing functions, the newly created Revenue Department will incorporate Ruby’s industry-leading Customer Happiness Team. Ruby has immediate plans to hire additional roles to the team, including a VP of Revenue Operations.

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Marketing agencies, IT services, design and development firms, video studios, consultants—the world of business-to-business services has changed radically in recent times. As clients approach their trusted service providers, they do so with new needs, new demands, and historically high expectations. How can businesses best satisfy and retain clients who are counting on them?

We sat down with Justin Dunham from Ercule, a full-service content and search engine optimization agency, to find out how he’s adapted his business and stayed on top of evolving client expectations.

Read the interview

Jill McKenna: Hello, everyone. I’m Jill. I’m the brand manager here at Ruby. And I’m so delighted to be speaking with Justin Dunham today. Justin is owner of ércule. Justin, do you mind explaining a little bit about your work and what ércule does?

Justin Dunham:
Yeah. So, ércule is a boutique digital marketing agency and our mission is to make it so that your content is successful. One of the things we’ve noticed is that people can write and produce all kinds of things, but there’s so many other things that you need to know to actually translate what you write and create into success. We do a lot of SEO for clients. We do a lot of content strategy, and we situate that in a full-service agency. We often do things, like marketing operations and analytics, too, and even paid media for folks as well. That’s what we do.
 
Jill McKenna:
I know business services clients can often come with high expectations and sometimes high dollars attached to them. Can you speak a little bit about developing those unique relationships and managing them?
 
Justin Dunham:
The number one thing we’ve found in this business is it’s all about creating that personal connection. You just can’t templatize everything. It has to be about the people who you’re dealing with on the client side and the people that you are dealing with on the agency side, and the relationship between those people. And of course, it’s about the work, but the relationship has to be really good for it to be successful.
 
So in terms of managing these projects, I think a lot of it is the emotional energy that you bring to the interactions with people. It’s being responsive to what they’re looking for. It’s being willing to sometimes not necessarily go way beyond the scope of what you’ve been hired for, but trying to be as responsive as you can to all kinds of unexpected or perhaps even uncommon things that might come up during the process. And your job as somebody who’s in client service is to do the best you can to actually help the client with that problem and help them look really good at work.
 
Jill McKenna:
But how do those relationships change over time and through multiple projects? Because you can have these relationships for a very long time. So how does that evolve?
 
Justin Dunham:
I think the way those relationships evolve, hopefully they get a little bit deeper. And as a result, they get more efficient. So I can think about lots of examples where we’ve been hired to work in one very specific area and it becomes possible to expand that work or deliver more value for our client because we’ve gotten to know them in this one area. We know their approach. We understand their business. We can work together well with them. And that lets us work on other things that might be more challenging or that might be adjacent to what we were originally working on.
 
And that’s what you really want. And that’s a huge part of this business is being able to evolve the relationship in that way. I think the other thing that happens too, is your client hopefully becomes an expert in a lot of these areas along with you. Or maybe not an expert-expert, but part of job as working in client service is to really help educate them. And so, they’re asking better questions. And so they can work with you on getting deeper and deeper into the real challenges, the real places that you might be able to create value for them.
 
Jill McKenna:
So, what kind of client experience and service standards do your customers tend to expect and how is that driven by that relationship that you’ve explained?
 
Justin Dunham:
We’re an agency with a real focus on partnership. We’ve had clients who have engaged us and a big reason has been, hey, we’re not talking to your salesperson. We know we’re talking to the actual team that we’re going to be working with. And that’s a big deal for our folks. So in terms of how the engagement works, we always try… And again, let me know if I’m giving you the answer that you are looking for here. In terms of the way the engagement works, there’s a lot of responsiveness in terms of, for example, all of our clients have their own Slack channel with directly with us. And we don’t have an SLA. You know, we don’t say like, we’re going to get back to you in an hour or two. It might take longer than that. But just having that channel where they can actually really talk with us at any time they want, even if we don’t respond right away, makes a big difference.
 
So I think that’s part the engagement and that’s part of creating that relationship with them. I think the other thing is, of course, you have your weekly meetings and there’s all sorts of other things, too. When we do reporting with our clients and updates, our decks are always in the same format. They’re really easy to read. We think a lot about the user experience that our clients are going to have in terms of parsing the data that we’re giving them. A lot of agencies, we’ve seen them send clients like Excel spreadsheets that are not very well-organized or long memos that are not formatted or not well-written. Writing is a really key part of communicating as well, especially digitally and in digital marketing with clients. And so good writing, good, well-structured writing is also a really important part of that.
 
Jill McKenna:
What do you wish people knew about business services work and what you all do and what this is really like, tending those relationships every day?
 
Justin Dunham:
I wish people knew that business services is this: To do it well is this incredibly complicated and often very fun—a combination of technical expertise, which you have to bring to the table. You have to know what you’re doing, that’s what you’re being hired for. But together with that, there’s a big emotional component to it, which is around explaining what you’re doing and why it’s valuable, being responsive to what your clients, perhaps their fears about what might happen with a project or even what might be going on with their business. And also responsive to the fact that usually clients hire you because they don’t know very much about a certain area and they don’t have the expertise.
 
You have to find a way to communicate that to them and help them understand more and feel really good about what you’re doing for them, knowing that by definition they’re not in a position to always deeply evaluate everything that you’re doing from the position of an expert. I think people really overlook that emotional component to the service. And again, technical expertise is the foundation for the whole thing. Providing the services, doing it efficiently—that’s the foundation, but there is a huge component, which is just about building the relationship, good service, keeping your client first, really thinking about what their needs are even beyond the technical stuff you might be delivering for them.
 
Jill McKenna:
Thank you for that answer. Justin, it’s been so great to talk to you today. I’m so thankful for your time. Where can people find you online?
 
Justin Dunham:
Check us out at ercule.co. We have a library there—we’re constantly writing about topics that are useful to know for small businesses and startups around marketing and how to make yourself successful and how to get everything set up. I’ve also got a chatbot. We’re always happy to do office hours. You can reach out to me on LinkedIn—Justin Dunham. I’m right up there and posting all the time. So it’d be great to hear from you all.
 
Jill McKenna:
Thank you so much.
 
Justin Dunham:
Yeah, thanks a lot.
 
Jill McKenna:
Have a good one.

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Growth. Every law firm wants it, but many struggle to reliably and sustainably achieve it. Meanwhile, a select few are able to consistently scale their practices without ever spending a dollar on advertising.

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According to Clio’s 2020 Legal Trends Report: “Delivering on what clients need throughout the course of their matter, in a way that is effortless and convenient for them, earns higher client satisfaction—which in turn drives new business through positive reviews, repeat business, and referrals.”

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For lawyers like Ashton Taylor of the A. Taylor Law Firm, recent months have brought rapid change. Ashton, like many lawyers dedicated to using their knowledge and skills to support their communities, has embraced and leveled up his technology, apps, client services, and equipment at a much more accelerated rate than expected. 

We were delighted to sit down with this valued Ruby customer to hear about what has worked, what hasn’t, and how changes have revolutionized his service and trajectory.

Read the Interview

Jill McKenna: So first, this is my first time getting to talk to you, which I’m super excited about. So I’m Jill, I’m the Brand Manager here at Ruby. Do you mind please telling us a little bit about yourself and your work?

Ashton Taylor:
Okay. I’m a small business owner, as you said, an attorney here in Texas. I’ve been practicing on my own for about nine years—well, it’ll be 10 years this year. I started back in early 2011. My background is in accounting and finance. I worked in corporate America and oil and gas accounting finance here in Houston, Austin area. I decided to go to law school, like a midlife crisis thing. A lot of people go backpacking and jumping out of planes—I just decided to go to law school. I went to law school up here in Texas at Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University and got out. It was a change for me.

School was challenging. I was an older student at the time and just wasn’t used to studying and staying up late and having the weekends where I still had to work. I was working in corporate America. As you know, in business, the weekends were for me. But back in school, it was changed because it wasn’t really any weekends. You just worked through the weekends—Sundays, Saturdays, the same. So that was a big adjustment for me, and it was a different industry. Fast forward—I finished, passed the bar exam. My wife—she wasn’t my wife at the time, but she’s my wife now—she’s an attorney here in Texas and she was just looking for jobs and everything, so I came back and I just started my own firm.

In the beginning, I was just doing anything that came into the door. Because I was on my own, I didn’t have a lot of money for overhead, so I had to get the computer and thank God, my wife, we got married, so she had health insurance, so I didn’t have to worry about that, which was a tremendous blessing.

I was able to do a lot of same kind of work with people that couldn’t really afford attorneys. A lot of my work was court-appointed and court-appointed attorneys, indigent defense work. I did some car accidents and things of that sort.

To fast-forward, over the past 10 years, that business has just grown. And I didn’t do a lot of advertising. I was just blessed to get caught appointments, and through that, get some private business also through Facebook and friends of friends, and things of that sort. I have a good foundation of colleagues and friends from working in the corporate world—and then being from New Orleans, a lot of people that transitioned from New Orleans to Houston in ’05 from Katrina.

The thing about New Orleans—and like you were saying earlier about you being from Chicago—New Orleanians like to put their faith in other New Orleanians. That helped me out being in this big pond in Texas, because everybody that I knew with the Louisiana connection would still come to me and, thank God, give me the business.

I’ve touched every area of the law that’s on a solo basis—family law, criminal defense, I had a business client, breach of contract fraud, I’ve been in federal court, probate, wills, estate planning—and that goes back to my accounting background, I was able to do that. But just now, it’s been good. I’ve been able to hire some other associates. I have another full-time attorney who’s working with me now. She came on staff, and so that’s where I am. I have been pretty successful, I will admit, but up to the pandemic…I’ll stop there and explain to you now where I am.

Jill McKenna:
So, first of all, how did COVID change the kind of businesses that are coming to you?

Ashton Taylor:
To be honest, I’m a community attorney, I feel like. Like I said, I don’t advertise, I’m not on a billboard, but I represent a lot of people in my inner circle, which is in my community. I come from New Orleans—I come from an “impoverished background”. My parents were great. My parents always had us in the best schools and everything like that. So I’m not going to tell that story, like, “I didn’t have any money.” My parents took care of us. They took care of us. But I know that area because I know that, so most of my clientele are people that are low-income. And especially when COVID hit, because like I said, I do get court appointed when it comes to criminal, but a lot of people in family law—because I have a big family law business—that are dealing with divorces and child custody issues, I still have to charge them.

When COVID hit, all the family law business went that way—went up—but the people didn’t have money to pay for an attorney. I had to start just taking things and working with people with payment plans, and it was really, really frustrating, because the level of someone, maybe full-time employer not knowing if they were going to continue to work—I know I have a lot of friends and clients that are bartenders, that work in the hospitality industry, and so you know what happened with restaurants and bars, they immediately shut down. So a lot of my clientele or a lot of people that needed the family law because they’re shut down, but people still have those children issues and those custody issues: “Oh, it’s a lockdown. I don’t want my kids to go to online schooling.” So the issues just went up, but the money didn’t. That was a big challenge. My family, my business—it picked up, but I had to turn down a lot of cases because people didn’t have the money to pay me.

Jill McKenna:
Wow. I mean, talk about a shift in structure, and I feel like we’re seeing that in so many ways. There’s healthcare—people who are out of work can’t afford it. So all of a sudden I feel like we’re seeing more sliding scale, we’re seeing more payment programs arising, and probably that’s an overdue thing for our economy.

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Most small businesses have encountered forced changes this last year involving commerce, tech, and customer shifts. We sat down with well-known small business advocate and journalist Loren Feldman of 21 Hats, to talk about collaboration, creativity, and resilience among small business owners.

Read the Interview

Jill McKenna: Thanks, everybody, for joining us. I am Jill McKenna. I’m the campaign marketing manager here at Ruby, and I’m delighted today to be talking to Loren Feldman. Loren is many things, wears many hats—he’s a writer, editor, podcaster, blogger, entrepreneur. And Loren, you’ve been working in the small business sector and industry for a very long time. I know you’ve been an editor and writer for The New York Times, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc.—can you explain to our viewers a little bit more about your background and how I got to speak to you today?

Loren Feldman:
Sure. Well, thank you Jill. It’s a pleasure to be here. I appreciate your having me. I have been doing this a long time—about 20 years now, it pains me to say. Previously, I’d been a general interest journalist with magazines, a little bit of business stuff. I did go to business school, undergraduate. But in 2002, a friend of mine was named editor of Inc. magazine, and he was kind of figuring out what he was going to do with it, and I happened to have been fired from a job as editor of Philadelphia Magazine previously, So I was looking for something to do and he invited me to sort of just hang out, no pressure, see if I could help and get to know it.

I had had some experience with business journalism, but no experience with entrepreneurship, and I kind of fell in love with it. I thought I would be there for a few weeks, and 20 years later I’m doing the same stuff. It’s been great. I spent about six years at Inc. and then I went to The New York Times. They kind of asked me to build their version of an Inc. magazine as a web vertical inside The New York Times. I did that for about six years, and then I went to Forbes and they wanted me to do their version of it. And I spent about five years there.

They’re all great publications with really smart people. At each place, they all wanted something a little bit different, and I learned something really important at each of them. And then ultimately, about two years ago, decided to leave Forbes and try to bring it all together in one place. I found a partner who was kind of my backer and we created something we called 21 Hats, referring to all those hats that an entrepreneur has to wear. The idea was to try to bring together everything I’d learned at Inc. and the Times and at Forbes, and create the platform for business owners. Unfortunately, we ran into this pandemic thing you might’ve heard about, and our plans haven’t quite played out the way we hoped, but we’re still working on it and still trying to do some good stuff.

Jill McKenna:
Are you seeing any industry or business model shifts that are working right now?

Loren Feldman:
The one obvious shift that is really widespread is that people who have been reluctant to adopt e-commerce and really go online have been forced to do it. That’s another difficult transition. That doesn’t work for everybody. But people are being forced to do it now. Some are succeeding at it, some are not. There are a tremendous number of small businesses that are run by people who went into the business not because they wanted to be famous or make a fortune, but because they loved whatever it is they do. Maybe they make a product that they’re passionate about. They create a service that they’re passionate about. Maybe it’s artistic, involves crafting or artwork of some kind. So they focus more on the art and less on the commerce. And they’ve been able to make it work in a brick-and-mortar setting and now that’s more challenging. So, can they translate that to doing something online? I think that’s the big shift right now.

I mean, it’s happening to big companies and small. We’re all buying a lot more groceries online than we ever thought we would. People are adopting that much faster than was expected. I don’t think there’s any going back on that.

But the same thing’s happening to brick-and-mortar stores. I actually have been working on a story I’m writing about the yarn industry. It’s a very small industry, but it’s exactly what I was just describing. It’s made up of wonderful people who care deeply about the craft, are very passionate about it. Most of them have your typical neighborhood yarn store—probably does, if they’re lucky, a few hundred thousand dollars a year in revenue. Maybe there are 10 yarn shops in the entire country that do more than a million dollars a year in revenue. So, it’s small, but you can imagine during the shutdown, if you didn’t have a presence online, you didn’t have a business. And so there have been a lot of people headed to Shopify, and a lot of them, I hear, are very happy with it. I’ve never used it myself. I don’t mean to give them a plug, but I have heard that over and over.

It is a difficult transition. If you go looking for somebody to help you design an e-commerce site, you’ll wind up with a list of gurus who will promise you the world. How do you know which one to trust? It’s so easy to take that leap down the rabbit hole and spend way more money than you expected. Shopify is something you can take off the shelf and use very easily, whether you have any technical skill or not. I’ve been told, it helps to have a consultant who’s got some experience. If you have no experience, you might want to talk to somebody who can help you optimize your site. To me, that’s the big transition that’s happening right now.

Jill McKenna:
Yeah. We’ve seen that a lot. A lot of our customers are attorneys who have just kind of put off their online presence. A lot of people, they don’t even want to pick up a phone right now. So we’ve seen this huge rise in web chat and web chat apps. So that, when somebody goes to a website, it’s not a static experience, it’s like you’re having a staff member there who can actually engage and get people to the right place. But so many questions about: Do you require masks? What time are you open? Do you have special hours? And all of those can get answered so quickly from somebody’s phone with typing instead of them having to call. So we’ve seen a lot of that.

Loren Feldman:
There are also all kinds of social media tools that people are using. Some of those yarn shop owners I’ve talked to, a lot of them basically started running their business on Instagram. With Instagram IGTV, they could basically do a show from their shop. Somebody would be looking at them on their screen and say, “What color is that over your shoulder? No, the one below that.” And just literally on social media, grab a ball of yarn and put it in a bag and ship it to somebody, which is not something that people were doing a lot of before this happened.

Jill McKenna:
Do you find that there’s a rule right now about which small businesses are doing better? Is it by industry, by model, or by attitude? Or do you see any trends kind of popping up that way?

Loren Feldman:
Nothing that isn’t obvious. I think the most important thing… Here’s a great example. I think there’s no set formula, there’s no right answer that works across the board. And it’s important for business owners to understand that and not put that pressure on themselves. For some people, we’ve heard so much talk about pivoting and how important it is to be flexible. I can give you great examples of pivots. I know you could give me probably more examples of pivots that have succeeded and that weren’t obvious, and that are really impressive and inspirational, but that doesn’t mean there’s a pivot for everybody. There’s some businesses, it’s just not going to work right now. The smart thing might be to shut down and keep whatever powder you have dry until the situation changes a little bit.

We had this conversation on the podcast recently. One of our business owners makes high-end conference tables that he sells primarily to other business owners. Somebody who wants to have a statement table in a board room that will impress people, clients, or board members, whatever it is, will buy a table that can easily cost $30,000 or $40,000 from Paul Downs, who’s my podcast regular. Right now, not only is there economic crisis and people aren’t spending money, a lot of people aren’t spending money the way they before, a lot of businesses are struggling. That’s an issue. But we don’t even know who’s going back to work when this thing’s over and who’s going to want that impressive table in an impressive boardroom if everybody’s working from home. So he’s got a really big question mark hanging over his head and he’s had lots of people giving him unsolicited advice saying, “You know, you should start making other pieces of furniture.”

Well, he developed his success 20, 30 years ago because he focused really tightly on doing one thing really well and becoming known for it and doing it right. So what should he make now? People have told him, “You know, you should make some kind of desk that people can use when they set up their work from home office.” The thing is, you can find something for a couple hundred bucks on Wayfair. He sells tables for $30,000. He’s not going to be able to employ his full factory contingent of employees making $200 tables competing with Wayfair, which doesn’t make any money of course. There’s an example. He’s pretty much decided, we have some work to do, we’ll see how much comes in. Sometimes there are government offices or embassies or police departments that need a table, maybe we’ll get enough work to keep going with that.

He’s already had to reduce his staff, some. He’ll reduce it more if he has to. But his goal is to not waste money, not to blow money on marketing a product that he’s not sure he can make money on and live to fight another day. One day, this will stop and his hope is that we won’t all work from home, there will still be offices, and he will go back to making lots of tables someday. He wants to be ready to do that when the time comes, but he’s not going to risk his company by trying to do something he’s not good at doing right now.

Jill McKenna:
Yeah. That makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, a lot of people are in that position of having to make those types of decisions. It’s probably not going to change anytime in the near future. So if folks want to find out more about your podcast, your daily email, where can they go and find out more?

Loren Feldman:
Well, they can find me on LinkedIn if they’d like to connect. I’m always happy to connect with people. It’s a Loren, L-O-R-E-N, Feldman, F-E-L-D-M-A-N. They can go to 21hats.com and find our archive of podcasts there. We’ll be publishing a new one on Tuesday. We always publish on Tuesdays. Or they can go wherever they get podcasts, whether it’s Apple or Google or whatever.

Jill McKenna:
Thank you so, so much for your time and insight. I’m really appreciative.

Loren Feldman:
My pleasure.

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Rubys hiring up to 100 new employees

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Ruby established a presence in Arizona last year with the company’s acquisition of Scottsdale-based Pure Chat, which was announced in August 2020. Ruby was ecstatic to gain Pure Chat, which is a live self-chat software and an AI-powered chat technology called Artibot. According to the press release, the acquisition only strengthened Ruby’s ability to continue its mission to provide human interaction for its more than 13,000 small business customers 24/7, 365 days a year. The acquisition was the biggest reason for Ruby’s plans to hire Arizona-based employees, though the company also sees a lot of potential talent here. 

“With the acquisition of Pure Chat and the current employees based there, Ruby has already built a technology and marketing hub in Arizona,” says Ruby CEO Kate Winkler. “This, combined with a growing talent pool from universities and transplants attracted to the quality of living in Arizona, makes the state an ideal location to grow our employee base for all positions.”

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Ruby expands into Arizona

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Ruby.com plans to hire 50+ employees in Arizona,  one year after its acquisition of Pure Chat—the Scottsdale, Arizona-based provider of self-service chat software. Hiring will focus on virtual receptionist and chat roles to support the increased demand Ruby’s seen for its 24/7/365 and bilingual services. Ruby, the premier provider of virtual receptionist and chat services for more than 13,000 U.S. businesses, also has open positions in sales, marketing, product, engineering, and customer success.

After successfully onboarding and training more than 175 employees in a virtual-first setting in 2020, Ruby began looking to Arizona as the next location to continue to grow its world-class team.

“Our 17-year-old company switched to a fully remote model in just 11 days in March 2020,” said Ruby CEO, Kate Winkler. “And our 600+ employees have proven we can maintain our superior service quality in a remote setting while onboarding new team members. Simultaneously, we’re seeing our customers’ hours of operations expand and an increased need for Spanish services —making Arizona a perfect market for active recruitment.”

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Try Ruby Risk Free

Call to talk to a live virtual receptionist and hear why 10,000+ companies Ruby.

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*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.