Person makes notes in a notebook on a table. A phone sits nearby.

You’re calling your favorite doughnut shop, Sally’s Donuts Galore. You sit through two rings while you tap your feet, eager to place your order for those fresh glazed, glistening, crunchy-on-the-outside-yet-soft-on-the-inside, party-for-your-tastebuds-and-everyone’s-invited hoops of fried dough.

The phone rings a fifth time, then a sixth time, and there it is: the recording telling you to leave a message after the tone. 

Sigh. Looks like you won’t be able to place an order today. A wave of disappointment hits you, your dreams of delicious doughnuts dashed.

Okay, I realize I’m being (a tad) dramatic here. But these feelings—the anticipation of connecting with someone over the phone, the frustration when they don’t pick up—can be a total bummer for people who want to get in touch with a business. 

And many times, the stakes are far higher than doughnuts. Imagine trying to call a financial advisor after receiving a scary letter from the IRS. Or a plumber after a pipe has burst. Or an attorney after getting arrested. How would you feel if that call went to voicemail?

Unfortunately, that’s what happens to countless people in need, countless times a day. Many business owners and professionals can’t or choose not to pick up the phone, sending most—if not all—calls to voicemail. In fact: 

But you don’t need statistics. Many of us know the truth from experience: lots of people simply don’t pick up the phone anymore. Why is that? Why are so many callers left hanging?

Reasons you might rely on voicemail

Let’s face it: businesses have plenty of reasons not to pick up the phone. 

Calls take time and energy that not everyone can afford to spare. When you’re busy developing legal strategies, helping patients, editing videos, or doing one of the other 25 things you have to do to pay the bills next week, voicemail feels like a necessary shield from distractions. After a while, keeping your phone on Do Not Disturb mode becomes second nature.

And then there are all the ways in which modern society has conditioned us to ignore phone calls. Maybe you send calls to voicemail because…

You don’t want to deal with robocalls.

If you’re like many Americans, you receive at least two robocalls per week—and if you’re truly unfortunate, that number is much, much higher

We’re living through what some have termed a robocall crisis, and despite making headway in the fight, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) admits it’s “a game of whack-a-mole” with no clear “long-term solution.” 

Stop robocalls for good.

Let’s end robocalls once and for all.

Learn more.

You really don’t want to deal with scam calls.

In addition to all those robocalls, there’s the scourge of scams. Phone fraud remains the number one most reported form of fraud in the United States, accounting for at least $667 million lost in 2019. 

According to the FTC, Scammers prey on trusting people who pick up their phones, often impersonating “the government or a well-known business, a romantic interest, or a family member with an emergency.” 

No wonder people have stopped answering their calls. As the aptly-named user “don’t answer any” points out in the comments of the article linked above, “I have a habit of not answering any call without caller ID or message on my answering machine.”

You don’t feel comfortable talking on the phone, period. 

Even if you don’t receive that many spam or scam calls, you might not love the prospect of answering the phone. That’s okay—not everyone’s a phone person. Many of us prefer other forms of communication, such as text messaging, email, or online chat

So-called “phone phobia” is particularly prevalent among members of younger generations. Approximately 76% of millennials, for instance, have anxious thoughts when their phones ring, and 61% prefer to avoid calls entirely.

It’s not hard to see why. Phone calls can be awkward, stilted, and—when you’re running a business—emotionally charged. Maybe you regularly receive calls from impatient clients or dissatisfied customers. Or maybe you don’t enjoy answering the same questions, trying to sell people on your business, and being “on” all the time.

What happens when you send all calls to voicemail?

All of this raises the question:

So what? 

What’s the big deal with sending people to voicemail? What are you really missing out on by not answering your phone? Well…

You’re missing connections.

Not every call is a time-waster. There could be a potential new customer or client on the other end—or even a potential employee, vendor, business partner, or investor. Indeed, a five-minute call from a stranger can shape the future of your business.

You’re getting an incomplete picture of the people you serve.

A call is a valuable moment to sit back and listen. Listen carefully and you may learn a few valuable insights that curb challenging conversations in the future. 

Remember: many people feel uncomfortable on the phone and prefer to research and connect with businesses through other means. In other words, they might be using the phone as a last resort. 

Next time you pick up a call, consider:

  • Why is this person contacting my business?
  • What is this person looking for?
  • How could I have provided the solution or information this person wants before they reached out to me?

Your customers or clients are going elsewhere.

Missed calls are missed sales. Someone who reaches your voicemail probably isn’t going to try to contact you again or wait for you to return their call. Instead, they’ll reach out to a competitor.

You’re risking a poor reputation.

Think back to the beginning of this article, and the caller waiting on the line, listening to a phone ring—the person waiting to place an order, or speak to their lawyer, or get an estimate for a plumbing job. That person’s feelings matter; their experience matters. Poor experiences can add up and are more likely to be shared, which can hurt your business in the long run.

Consider how unanswered calls can negatively affect sentiment around your business. People may start to think you’re too busy or disorganized to help them.

At a time when many people’s friends don’t even return their calls, we could all use more happiness and personal connections. Make sure calls to your business are answered and you’ll leave a positive impression that stands out among the noise.

That said, you don’t have to do it alone. In fact, you don’t have to answer any of your calls if you don’t want to—and you can still ensure everyone who contacts your business gets the personalized attention they deserve.

Let Ruby answer your calls for you.

When you use Ruby, you ensure your callers connect with friendly, caring virtual receptionists. It doesn’t matter who the caller is, why they’re calling, or what time they’re reaching out——we’ll answer the phone for you with a warm, professional, customized greeting. 

We do it for over 13,000 businesses every day, serving as a seamless extension of our customers’ brands. Discover how it works.

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Price, shmice. Brand, shmand.

These days, the number one differentiator is customer experience.

If you can make the people you serve feel happy, cared for, and enthusiastic about working with your business, you’ll outperform the competition every time. There’s a reason—or more precisely, a hundred little reasons—most people will pay more for a better customer experience. 

So how you make it happen? How can you center the people you serve in everything you do? 

It starts with a friendly hello. From there, the job is to listen intently to the other person and do everything possible to give them what they want.  

Simple enough, right? In practice, however, things can get rather… complicated. Every conversation is a new adventure, and wowing each customer demands a different combination of ingenuity, finesse, and nerve. Take it from Ruby’s connection-making, gift-giving, personalized-tour-hosting team.   

We have no shortage of tips and tricks for delivering extraordinary customer experiences. Here are a few of our favorite stories about how our virtual receptionists and Customer Happiness team members have boosted business by going above and beyond.  

Table of Contents

Reaching out when customers are in need—before they ask for it

Good customer service is proactive customer service. That means reaching out to help people before they ask for help—even when it means helping them pay less for your services, product, or solution.  

At Ruby, we’re not fans of charging our customers for more than what they actually need, as Carly Stringer of Stringer Law found out: 

It might feel like a loss of revenue, but this approach pays dividends over time, as a customer or client is more likely to stick with you and recommend you to others. With that mindset, it’s relatively easy to guide someone toward the most affordable option—just tell them how to pay less. Other forms of proactive customer service are equally powerful, but entail more steps and require other skill sets.  

For example, one of our virtual receptionists, Noah, recently noticed that a customer was manually flagging robocall after robocall on the Ruby app. The customer hadn’t realized that flagging doesn’t automatically block the numbers, so Noah reached out and offered to help. He not only took on blocking the calls in Ruby’s proprietary software, but created a quick script that automated the process, blocking nearly 300 numbers at once! The business owner was able to get back to work quickly and rest easy knowing that fewer unwanted calls would go through. 

Using real customer communication to create better FAQs

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) on your website empower your customers or clients to help themselves, saving themand your businessprecious timeNot every company shows visitors the most relevant FAQs, however, and many websites lack them altogether. 

That’s because some businesses feel they lack the capacity to create FAQs for everyone they serve, while other businesses may not have the perspective to understand what a prospect would want to know. Either challenge can be solved with an attitude shift. Rather than thinking of a conversation as a one-off problem to solve or an interaction to get through, see it as learning and data collection opportunity.  

Consider changing your definition of “frequency” as well. Remember that for every person who raises an issue, there are approximately nine more silently dealing with the same concern. Your customers or clients are always telling you how you can better serve them, if you’re able to listen to them. 

Of course, engaging in customer communication does take time, which is why we’re here to help. A virtual receptionist provider like Ruby can help you create, modify, and enhance your FAQs.  

Trust us—answering frequently asked questions is what we do for a living. A typical Ruby receptionist takes hundreds of calls per day, and each of our chat specialists handles a comparable number of online conversations. We can tell you what information your customers or clients are looking for, so you can make that information more readily accessible to website visitors. Many of our customers have used Ruby to do exactly that, improving their bottom lines as a result. They not only save time, but help clients and customers set the right expectations up front.   

One customer told us that adding FAQs based on real conversations has significantly reduced the number of irrelevant calls her business receives, so she can make the most of Ruby and focus more energy on connecting with actual leads. And she’s not alone—our most commonly-added FAQ addresses what services a business does and doesn’t provide, weeding out real prospects from poor fits.  

Aligning your schedule with customers’ schedules

More actionable FAQs are just the tip of the customer-centricity iceberg (try saying that five times fast). Listen closely to clients or customers, and you’ll uncover ways you can tweak your business to better serve their needs. 

Say you’re a family law attorney, and many of your clients and prospects reach out in the evenings after putting their kids to bed.  

Or you’re an HVAC professional who receives tons of calls on weekends in the summer.  

Or you run a different business entirely, and for whatever reason, Tuesdays have become your new Mondays—communication spikes in the middle of the week.

Rather than sending people to voicemail or waiting until the next available business day to follow up, you can shift your hours to correspond better to your customers’ or clients’ schedules.  

Better yet—if you don’t want to work early mornings, evenings, and weekends—use a solution like Ruby to handle those conversations for you. 

We act as a seamless extension of your business, indistinguishable from an in-house receptionist. That makes it easy for you to remain 9–5 (or hey, what about 10–3, or whenever-you-want to whenever-you-please?) and nonetheless provide customers or clients with 24/7, personalized service.  

Making it (super) personal

Speaking of personalized service, the best virtual receptionists are experts at making every person they’re talking to feel like the most important person in the world.

A little while back, for instance, we heard from a customer who was concerned our chat solution wasn’t working as desired. When Lin, one of our Customer Success Specialists, received this information, she flew into action. She connected with the business to find out what was going wrong and learned they were unhappy about the amount of time it took them to receive information about their website chats. They expected Ruby to connect every new lead to their office within a minute or two of the chat window closing.  

This sparked a conversation about what we could do to better serve the customer. Together, they discovered we could bypass a few steps and give the customer the results they wanted. It paid off. A few months later, the customer informed us that Ruby had generated $100,000 in revenue for them in a single month, thanks to Lin’s efforts and changes. 

Lin’s outreach to the customer required time and effort—and so did changing their account processes—but she was happy to do it because it made the customer’s life easier. Moreover, as the results bore out, those efforts delivered serious return on investment for everyone involved.  

By listening to every person you serve and focusing on how you can better help them, you’ll bring your business to new heights. An individualized approach ensures every customer or client gets the maximum value out of your offerings. And when a seemingly minor change can translate to a six-figure benefit, as it did in this case, it’s a no-brainer.

Taking time to truly listen—as much time as the customer needs

I could write at length about other tricks of the receptionist trade (such as sending thoughtful follow-ups and gifts), but you know what’s really powerful—and takes no money or special training to do?   

Listening.

Seriously. In nine interactions out of ten, what a customer, client, or prospect wants is for someone to listen to them. I’m referring to real listening—active, supportive, empathetic, judgment-free listening—and letting the talker talk for as long as they need to. 

This one’s not too difficult to practice at your business. Show up with an open ear, mind, and heart for someone who contacts you and you’ll be surprised at what you hear. People will tell you things that alter your perception of your business and your purpose. 

We’ve experienced the power of listening time and time again at Ruby. 

  • There was the time Tiffany W. listened to a caller talk about her wrongful termination claim. Although our customer couldn’t take the caller’s case, Tiffany took the initiative to ask for another resource and was able to connect the caller to the National Employment Lawyers Association.

  • Another time, Jasmine T. had a much longer conversation than usual with a caller she realized needed an empathetic ear—it seemed he had primarily called just to talk to someone. Nevertheless, she took detailed notes from the conversation and passed them on to our customer. Days later, the customer informed us that the caller had converted into a client thanks in large part to the helpful person he talked to on the phone.

  • And then there was the time Maddie T. spoke to a frustrated-seeming caller who told her, “We’re on a time limit here.” Instead of getting defensive, Maddie took a deep breath and reminded herself to be gentle and supportive. She listened to the caller, took notes, and read them back. As it turned out, the caller was terminally ill. They were given a few months to live and were calling an attorney to finalize their end-of-life plans. By the time the conversation was over, the caller was laughing and telling Maddie how now the only thing they had left to do was to buy passes and go to Disneyland every day until the end.

Ultimately, these kinds of stories are what great customer experience is all about: people receiving the service, compassion, and kindness they deserve. And our “secrets” aren’t so secret—they all tie back to customer experience fundamentals: showing up, listening, and making a sincere effort to help.

Most businesses already know these secrets. And countless business owners would love to implement them at every opportunity. They would love to go above and beyond to serve customers and clients… but it doesn’t always seem possible or cost-effective. 

Ruby makes it possible. And with our proven ROI with growing businesses, you can trust Ruby to make connections that translate directly into revenue. 

See how it works. Book a free consultation with us.   

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IT answering services: a group of people meet in a well-lit open office environment

By now, most people have become accustomed to working remotely. And many of us have become intimately familiar with our computers—attending everything from virtual meetings and presentations to virtual meetups, doctor’s appointments, consultations, dates, weddings, happy hours, baby showers, therapy sessions, international tours, and more.

It’s no surprise that tech companies are busier than ever, or that information technology providers in particular are dealing with extremely high call volumes. If you run an IT business, you might be experiencing not only an influx of calls from interested buyers, but also a flood of calls from customers who are having not-so-sunny experiences with their technology. And if that’s the case, it’s time to consider an IT answering service.

An IT answering service ensures your clients and potential clients connect with friendly, professional receptionists. Those receptionists can help the people you serve navigate the often sensitive and emotionally fraught challenges they bring to your business. 

We’re talking about conversations with people like…

  • Confused potential customers bewildered by multitudes of options and technical specifications 
  • Leery sales leads concerned about the expense of purchasing IT products and services 
  • Distressed customers with urgent IT issues that seem to occur at the worst possible times, like right before important meetings or deadlines
  • Concerned customers who need help after hours

The best IT answering service will answer the call (or website chat) when someone’s in need, solving problems and handling questions while engaging and retaining your customers. Here’s how the right IT answering service will grow your business.

An IT answering service keeps your business human.

For non-specialists, IT conversations can get very technical very quickly. This is both a practical and emotional reality. Whether they realize it or not, people who reach out to your business want to connect with a human on the other end of the call who will not only offer them solutions but also empathize with their concerns. 

In other words, they keep the conversation human.

A virtual receptionist solution’s quality makes all the difference. The most effective IT answering services combine warm, personalized interactions with active listening, setting the tone for the entire customer experience. 

It happens in ways big and small. For instance, an IT answering service can keep your business human by…

  • Providing 24/7 service, so your customers reach a live person whenever they want to connect. Given that IT issues aren’t limited to business hours, an after-hours IT answering service is crucial.
  • Responding to every call promptly, ideally within four rings or fewer.
  • Answering calls with your customized greeting. The ideal IT answering service will sound like a seamless extension of your business—indistinguishable from an in-house employee—and your callers will never know the difference.
  • Connecting your callers with well-trained customer experience professionals who know how to engage in real, wow-worthy conversations rather than rely on scripts.

An IT answering service gets right to the solutions.

When a customer calls an IT answering service, more often than not it’s because something just went wrong—an emergency needs to be resolved right now. When that customer’s life or business occurs online, it can be an intense situation, not unlike the experience of rushing to the ER. 

Virtual receptionists are trained to stay calm—especially when a caller isn’t. Even without having the technical knowledge required to find the correct solution right away, they know how to diffuse a situation and guide the person to the help they need. 

This is where call handling comes in. When time is of the essence—and basic subject matter knowledge and FAQs aren’t enough—an IT answering service can save the day by knowing exactly how and where to transfer a call. Well-trained receptionists are experts in call handling. They can avoid conversational dead ends and set the right expectations, insulating businesses from overly demanding customers and keeping everyone happy. 

Call handling: A-to-Z

Learn all about call handling—the process of managing phone calls.

Check out the guide.

An IT answering service knows your audience.

This may come as a shock, but in a pinch, most people can’t identify a SATA drive from a PATA drive. (To be honest, I’m not entirely sure I understand what I just wrote there .)

Which is why great IT answering services train receptionists to use clear and simple language when speaking to clients and prospects. These professionals understand technical jargon—they’re seamless extensions of your business, after all—but combine that knowledge with active listening skills. They engage a caller to gauge their expertise and direct the conversation accordingly, offering the right level of service whether a customer is calling to ask about manually rewiring a hard drive or about opening a PDF. 

The best providers of IT answering services go above and beyond by empowering receptionists to have real conversations (built on talking points rather than scripts) with callers and providing bilingual answering.

An IT answering service keeps the conversation going.

Truly effective customer support extends past phone and chat reception, and even beyond problem-solving. It’s more than support; it’s a form of ongoing customer engagement, a flywheel that continually reminds customers of your company’s value, brand, and commitment to improving their lives. It’s also a great way to stay at the front of a customer’s mind and gain word-of-mouth publicity.  

Here are a few ways in which IT receptionists stay connected with customers beyond initial calls:

  • 24/7 messaging collection and delivery when staff members are unavailable
  • Following up with a customer after the first support exchange is complete
  • Keeping customer contact information on file for future engagement opportunities
  • Placing outbound calls on your behalf

It’s all a part of creating an omnichannel customer experience and delighting the people you serve no matter how, where, or when they contact your business. 

Get the best IT answering service—and more—with Ruby. 

Customers expect your business to be online 24/7—but that doesn’t mean you personally have to be. Reclaim your time and take full control of your business with Ruby. 

Ruby is more than another answering service. We’re a full-fledged customer experience solution dedicated to making meaningful connections with your customers and growing your business.

Learn more about how it works:

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You’ve heard the positive word of mouth. You’ve watched a couple videos, read a few articles, shopped around and asked the right questions, maybe downloaded an ebook or two. You’re feeling ready to see how a customer engagement and virtual receptionist solution like Ruby can grow your business. 

What comes next? What can you expect from signing up for a solution like ours? 

If you’ve been waiting on picking up the phone until you learn more, you’re in luck. We asked our Customer Happiness team about how they help new customers get started quickly and make the most of Ruby from day one. Here’s a quick overview of the onboarding process:

1. First steps 

First things first, we’ll help get your calls over to Ruby! There are several ways to forward your phones to our receptionists to answer. If your business phone number is hosted by an outside phone provider, we can help you initiate call-forwarding with most providers. If Ruby is hosting your business number (which we can do for free, by the way!), you’ll be able to forward and un-forward your calls using our app and online portal. 

2. Logging in and checking activity  

Next, logging into your Ruby account. You can access your account in two ways: from the my.ruby.com website and from the Ruby mobile app, available for both iOS and Android. Both give you access to all your call activity, allow you to update your status when your availability changes, and much more, so you have full control over tracking and managing your account. 

3. Viewing your messages

Once we’re receiving your calls, we’ll send you a message whenever we’re not able to connect a call to you. All of your messages will be emailed and/or texted to you, and are also accessible in the Activity section of the Ruby app and online portal.  

Your messages will contain a lot of helpful information about your calls—making it easy to connect with prospects, as well as learn about and better serve your customers or clients. If you’re not seeing everything you’d like to see in your messages, we can customize them for you! We’ll make sure you receive the most useful, actionable information about the people who contact your business. 

4. Customizing your service 

Ruby is highly customizable, and our Customer Happiness team is here to make our solution work for you. Give Ruby instructions and we’ll ensure your calls are handled exactly the way they should be.  

From new client intake to holding all calls to routing potential new clients directly to your sales team, Ruby can handle a multitude of tasks for your business, giving you valuable time back in your day. You can update your instructions and company profile at any time. 

5. Exploring more features 

We can do way more than handle your incoming calls! Ruby’s people-powered features including making outbound call assists on your behalf, scheduling appointments, and chatting with your website visitors, in addition to tech-powered features like robocall filtering

Learn more about some of our features: 

There’s a lot more to Ruby than we’ve had the chance to cover here. If you’re ready to learn more, we’d love you take you on a personal tour. Give us a call at 844-311-7829 or chat with us by clicking the button in the bottom-right corner of your screen! 

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Fun fact: between 28% and 40% of all businesses don’t have websites. That’s somewhere around 8–12 million companies without URLs to call their own.

Okay, this fact’s not really all that fun considering how many people prefer to connect with businesses online. Companies without websites not only neglect to meet their customers’ or clients’ needs but miss out on countless opportunities to earn money.

So why don’t more businesses create websites? Because, to put it simply, the opportunity doesn’t seem worth the time, effort, or upfront cost.

In the early days of the internet, that would have been an accurate assessment. Websites used to require significant expenditures. You’d have to pay someone thousands of dollars to build one, or spend hundreds of hours trying to do it yourself.

But these days, it’s easier and cheaper than ever to launch a website and start generating leads and connect online. If you’re still not sure your business needs a website, read on.

Let go of these 6 myths about business websites.

Let’s leave outdated assumptions about websites in the past. Here are six common myths about websites it’s time to dismantle once and for all.

Myth: You don’t need a website if you run a purely local business. 

Fact: 46% of internet searches have local intent.

That means people are constantly searching for businesses in particular areas that meet their needs: local lawyers, local plumbers, local financial planners, local dentists and doctors and pet-sitters and consultants and personal chefs… Companies with websites will show up in those searches—simple as that.

By not having a website for your business, you’re missing out on the opportunity to connect with people doing local searches for a company like yours.   

Potential customers are searching the internet for businesses in your community right now. Don’t send those leads to your competitor because they have a website and you don’t.   

Myth: You don’t need a website if you’re small. 

Fact: You need a website even more when you’re small.

On a basic level, a website ensures your business has visibility. Something as simple as a landing page with your company’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) can be vital information for people searching for your business.

And a website not only gives visitors the information they’re looking for, but also lends your business instant credibility. It’s a reality of the internet. Users perceive companies with websites as more professional, responsive, and trustworthy. And the more engaging, up-to-date, and user-friendly your website is, the more credibility you gain.

Myth: You don’t need a website if you’re not focused on growth. 

Fact: A website is a prerequisite for staying competitive. 

I get it—not every business owner wants to grow their company. But be careful not to fall into complacency and lose the success you’ve worked hard to earn. Every day your business goes without a website is a day your competitors with online presences have a chance to win over your customers or clients.

At the same time, those competitors are gaining market share. They’re advertising to your audience and showing up where you aren’t.

On the flip side, if none of your competitors are active online, you stand to outperform them by launching a website. It’s an easy path to standing out in your market and reaching unserved or underserved populations. Sure, your focus might not be growth at the moment, but a little boost in business is nothing to be afraid of.

Myth: Websites are expensive and time-consuming.

Fact: You can get a website up and running cost-effectively, within an afternoon.

Websites used to be clunky and expensive, but that’s not the case anymore. With today’s tools, you can build an online presence in hours or less. It doesn’t need to be complicated, either—some of the most effective websites are the simplest.

DIY website builders are much more affordable than they used to be. Plus, many web-building tools have intuitive features that make it easy to build pages, and provide access to customer service departments who can quickly solve problems. 

For more information, make sure to check out our guide to launching an online presence.

Myth: Websites are hard to maintain.

Fact: Although they do take some ongoing effort, websites aren’t difficult to keep fresh, up to date, and in working order.

Website maintenance for most small businesses means checking semi-regularly to ensure your services, portfolio, and contact information are up to date.

The primary reason to maintain your website is user privacy. When you first build your website, you’ll set up security features that will help protect your customers’ contact information. When you schedule your regular web maintenance sessions, you’ll want to check and make sure those security features are updated. 

Additionally, it’s a good idea to continually look at your website and consider ways in which you can optimize your users’ experiences.

Finally, if you want to keep your business at the top of search results and provide your visitors with compelling information, consider regularly updating the content (words, images, video) on your website.

Myth: Websites don’t bring in business. 

Fact: They definitely do! 

Websites absolutely bring in business—perhaps in more ways than you realize. 

A business website is an essential touchpoint for generating leads, converting leads into buyers, and even upselling and cross-selling existing customers or clients. Consider all the opportunities a website offers:

  • Contact forms
  • Blog subscriptions
  • Mailing list subscriptions
  • Contact us pages 
  • Landing pages
  • Calls to action

Last but not least: live chat. In fact, one of the most effective ways to generate business from your website is through chat.  

Live chat enabled on your website helps your customers stay in touch with you and your business 24/7/365. Whether you monitor it yourself or have help from Ruby, live chat is an essential tool in growing your business and maintaining those more important-than-ever customer relationships. 

See how it works.

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Imagine this: a potential customer or client hears about you and wants to do business with you, so they place a call, and… 

Ring… 

Ring… 

Ring… 

Imagine this: a potential customer or client hears about you and wants to do business with you, so they place a call, and… 

Ring… 

Ring… 

Ring… 

No one picks up.

You don’t want that to happen, and we don’t want that to happen, which is why we at Ruby are dedicated to making sure your calls are answered by friendly, professional human beings.  

But calls are just one channel people use to reach out. What about the interactions you can’t hear—the attempts to connect that don’t cause the phone to ring?  

Phone Thumbnail 4

Every day, potential customers or clients are visiting your website, seeking solutions to their problems. These people want quick answers, but many would prefer not to pick up and call. Perhaps they’re busy or in an inconvenient location.   

Or maybe, like so many of us, they have phone phobia. They’d rather send an email, reach out on social media, or do anything other than—gulp—make a call and speak out loud to another person. 

Phone anxiety is more common than you may realize. It’s especially prominent among younger generations, but it can affect anyone. The Conversation reports that “76% of millennials and 40% of baby boomers have anxious thoughts when their phone rings,” and as a result, “61% of millennials would completely avoid calls, compared with 42% of baby boomers.”  

What does this mean for your business?

It means that, for as many people who reach out over the phone, there’s a large number who prefer not to call. In most cases, these people are visiting your website (assuming you have a website), and if they don’t see a way to connect with you digitally, they’re moving on. 

An illustration showing that people who call translate into money for a business, while people who visit a website are left without a next step, and bounce to competitors' websites

It’s not only about phone phobia. Technology has raised our expectations as consumers; we expect efficiency, convenience, and quick answers—which conversations over the phone don’t necessarily provide. So, when someone’s only option is to call your business, it’s perhaps no surprise how often they choose to go with a competitor instead.   

To be clear, we’re talking about lost opportunities. A lead bouncing from your website is the equivalent of someone hanging up when no one answers the phone.  

And it can happen as quickly. Keep in mind that you have five seconds to capture a website visitor’s attention. If that visitor wants to talk to you but there’s no easy easy option for them to do it, well…

What’s the price of those lost opportunities?

Let’s do some quick math.  

For simplicity’s sake, let’s say that 60% of your website visitors call your business, and you receive 12 phone calls per day. That means there are another eight customer interactions per day you’re missing out on. Multiply eight by 365, and that’s the equivalent of 2,920 “unanswered calls!” 

8 non-callers per day × 365 days per year = 2,920 missed connections annually

Now, consider how many leads you convert into customers, and the value of a new customer or client for your business: How much revenue does a prospect bring? 

Again, for the sake of this exercise, we’ll assume you convert 25% of leads, and a typical customer brings in $2,000.  

Ready to see what those missed connections cost? 

2,920 missed connections at a 25% conversion rate × $2,000 = $1,460,000

That’s right: if you can find a way to connect with interested prospects who don’t call your business, you could gain $1.46 million in revenue every year.  

Holy.  

Smokes.

Remember: this is very basic math. The numbers are likely quite different for your business. Your opportunity could be smaller—or it could be even greater, particularly if you have recurring revenue, a lot of website visitors, or both.  

To figure out what those interactions you can’t hear could mean for your bottom line, take the following steps: 

1. Do the (real) math for yourself.

Take a look at your website analytics and determine how many people visit your site every day, week, or month. Then, cross-reference that figure with the number of calls you receive in the same period.   

If your website attracts significantly more visitors than calls, it might be a sign that you have the opportunity to bring in serious business online. 

2. Optimize your online presence.

However your website currently performs, you only stand to gain from improving it. By making your online presence more responsive, user-friendly, information-rich, and search engine-optimized, you’ll bring in more eyeballs and more business. 

Not sure where to begin? Get our free guide to optimizing your online presence. 

3. Add chat to your website.

If unattended website visitors are like callers who don’t get through, adding chat is the equivalent of picking up the phone. 

When you use Ruby, you can ensure your website visitors are greeted by a friendly, live chat specialist, 24/7. Our chat specialists are experts in creating meaningful connections and converting visitors into customers or clients. 

Discover how Ruby’s live online chat has transformed real businesses. Read a customer story. 

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Ring, ring, ring.

There’s the phone. Quick—how fast can you answer it?

Three people over colorful backgrounds smiling doing phone gesture with hand and fingers, pantomiming talking on the phone

Many professional receptionists—that is, people who answer phones for a living—strive to pick up every call in fewer than five rings. Most advice online says you should do the same. The Balance Small Business’s number one tip for answering the phone professionally, for instance, is “Answer all incoming phone calls before the third ring.”

Call virtually any provider that specializes in customer service over the phone and you’ll see this principle in action. In fact, most virtual receptionist and customer engagement solutions average an 80% answer rate in four rings. Keep in mind that many of these companies handle hundreds, if not thousands of calls, per day.

Sounds remarkable, doesn’t it? And yet countless callers are less than impressed. These companies see significant abandonment rates—callers hang up before anyone on the other end answers.

Why? Think about it from the caller’s perspective.

With each ring, doubt creeps in.

From a customer’s point of view, each ring produces a new emotion—and not an altogether positive one. It’s equivalent to the experience one might have when knocking at a door or calling out to someone in another room; the longer they wait without a response, the more frustrated, unappreciated, and anxious they feel.

Let’s take an in-depth, slow-motion look at the process:

The first ring: Anticipation. Hope. The caller has just pressed the “call” button, clicked to call, or (if they’re really old-school) manually dialed a number. Their heart rate is up a bit; they’re subconsciously preparing themselves to speak. At this moment, they’re primarily focused on the reason they placed the call, and anticipating the conversation ahead: I hope this company can fix my HVAC problem. I hope this lawyer isn’t too expensive. I hope we can get this figured out quickly. 

The second ring: Uncertainty. Unease. Doubt has begun to form. It’s a slight doubt, but a noticeable doubt—like when you eat a spicy pepper and it doesn’t taste hot at first. The doubt’s there but it hasn’t fully kicked in yet. The caller is starting to wonder—their mind is drifting a little from the anticipation of the call ahead and towards other questions: Hmm, will someone pick up? I hope the person who does pick up is nice…

The third ring: Disappointment. Irritation. The doubt has become real, and it’s no longer ignorable. Back to the pepper analogy, the caller is starting to think they need some milk or water to cool down. Your business answering that phone is the cold, crisp beverage they need, but they’re not getting it. At this point, the caller wonders: Why am I still waiting? Maybe they’re super busy right now. Maybe someone stepped away for a moment. Maybe, maybe…

The fourth ring: Resignation. The caller’s doubts and fears have been confirmed. By now, the heat has kicked in; their mouth is a ball of flames. The message the caller gets is “we’re too busy for you,” or “we’re too disorganized to take your call.”

Pretty wild that a person can experience all that in a matter of seconds, huh? That a few small chimes can bring us any amount of hope and despair at all. Why is that? 

Why does the phone ring, anyway?

Well, the history’s too convoluted to really dive into here, but basically, the ringing sound dates back to the invention of the telephone. In the old days (think thick mustaches and padded undergarments), there was an actual bell attached to the phone that would ring when someone called—but only the person on the receiving end would hear it. The caller, meanwhile, would be connected to a switchboard operator, whose job was to transfer the call. 

The ringback tone (i.e. the sound the caller hears when they’re trying to reach someone) was invented in the mid-20th century. Telephone systems were becoming more efficient and automated, and human operators were starting to phase out, but callers still needed an auditory indication that a call was connecting to a machine. Otherwise, without an intermediary to immediately answer the line, a caller would be stuck in limbo waiting for another person to pick up. 

The ringback tone bridges the gap by mimicking the sound on the other end. It gives the caller a cue that the phone belonging to the person they’re trying to reach is, indeed, ringing.

With that in mind, it’s no wonder we pin our emotions on the sound of a ringing phone. It’s a simple, universal indicator of an attempt to connect—an outstretched hand, an unmet gaze. By picking up the phone, you’re returning that gesture. You’re showing the caller that you’re here for them; that you care about them; that you, too, want to connect. 

Take a moment to think about your experience and notice your emotions next time you place a call. What do you feel with each ring? How do those feelings change the longer you remain on the line—and what makes you decide to wait or hang up?

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At Ruby, we understand the importance of meeting customers’ expectations and creating great first impressions. Customer service is where business begins. It’s where connections are made.

We also know answering the phone isn’t always every business’s first priority. When you’re responsible for all areas of your business, you probably don’t have the time or capacity to pick up every single call and provide your callers with cheerful, personalized service. That’s where we come in. With Ruby, your customers talk to a real person who’s ready to answer their questions, address their concerns, or just have a friendly conversation. 

It’s just one of the thousands of little things Ruby does to create meaningful connections every day.

Want to see how it works? Call us today!

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Whether you’re a solo attorney, part of a small practice, or a member of a large firm, billable hours are essential to getting paid for your services. But it’s not easy to keep those hours high and consistent, especially when you don’t have the right tools.  

Even if you work hard for 10, 12, or more hours per day, you’re only human, and you can only bill clients for the hours you actually work. Consider all the hours beyond client work—the hours spent on business development meetings, conferences, commuting… And perish the thought of taking a sick day.  

And then there are all the interruptions attorneys experience. Say you’re drafting a motion for a client. It’s going smoothly, you’re almost done, then—ring! ring!—it’s the phone. You need to stop what you’re doing and deal with whomever is on the other end.  

Did you know that 30% of lawyers report being interrupted six to 10 times a day, and 25% report being interrupted more than 10 times a day? That means over half of the attorneys surveyed were being interrupted at least six times a day.  

Interruptions are not only annoying; they eat up a lot of time. After you’ve dealt with the interruption, it can take an average of 23 minutes to get back to your original task. If you’re in the group with at least six daily interruptions, you’re losing over two hours of work time per day.  

Ouch.

What do billable hours have to do with client experiences? 

I’m glad you asked.  

(Okay, I asked, but you were thinking it. Right? I’m just going to assume you were thinking it. Moving on…) 

The link between billable hours and client experiences is trust.  

Good client experiences are founded on trust. And the more meticulous you are in tracking your billable hours, the more you create trust. 

Take a client-centered approach and think about it from the point of view of someone you serve. Hiring a legal provider is a significant cost. The client knows they need your legal expertise, but affording that expertise is another matter entirely, and they don’t want to overpay. They might enter the relationship with doubts or preconceived notions about attorney credibility due to prior experiences. In any event, they’ll be eyeing their bills carefully.  

At the same time, clients want to feel like they can contact you when they need to, without paying more billable hours than necessary. By tracking your time carefully, you’re allowing clients to see exactly what they’re paying for, ensuring transparency and honest communication. 

It’s one way that firms can become more client-centric—and outperform their competitors

The secret of successful law firms.

Learn why success is all about combining a client-centric mindset with virtual technology.

Get the infographic.

Due to all the reasons above, it’s vital to keep track of your phone calls and billable time. Of course, that’s yet another task to add to your already-laden plate… 

Unless you delegate and automate it, that is. 

Let Ruby and Clio handle time-consuming tasks—and increase productivity. 

Ruby’s virtual receptionists take the burden of client communication off your shoulders while improving relationships, 24/7, 365 days per year. Your clients and prospects no longer need to leave messages and wait for calls back. Our team can answer questions about the services you offer, how billing works, and schedule appointments. This keeps interruptions to a minimum and allows you to maximize billable hours. Your clients will appreciate being able to get quick answers to simple questions, and we can seamlessly route them to you for more complex issues.  

Appointments: made. Questions: answered. Calls: handled. It’s as simple as that.  

But a client engagement solution like Ruby is just one way you can grow your practice. By using a legal practice management solution such as Clio, you’ll also boost efficiency, improve client intake and communication, and get paid faster.  

With Clio’s time tracking capabilities, you can record how much time you spend on each task for a case. If you use one of several time tracking apps, you can sync them to Clio to keep track of time in one place for everyone in the firm. Clio also integrates with the tools you use so you can intelligently track your time spent communicating, researching, writing, and more. At the end of the month, you can easily pull all this information to quickly generate a detailed invoice.  

It’s just one way that Clio streamlines your law practice and frees you up to do more billable work. 

Together, Ruby and Clio are foundational tools for providing the best client experiences. Here’s a quick overview of how we work together:

Clio users can easily sync their Ruby client communication data into Clio Grow and Clio Manage, aligning calls and chats with case files.  

Access information easily: View and manage your client information right through your Clio account. You can even use your Clio credentials to log into Ruby’s customer portal.

Automatically intake new clients: Every call, voicemail, and message you receive via Ruby’s live receptionists automatically syncs to your Clio Grow Matter Pipeline, prepopulating the Quick Intake Form with details like name, phone, and caller notes.  

Minimize effort: Automatically have your Ruby call, message, and voicemail data sent to your Clio Manage account to swiftly associate client communication with specific cases and matters.   

Maximize efficiency: Get more done—and simplify your billing—with all your clients’ details in one place.

Discover how Ruby and Clio work together to increase your practice’s productivity, maximize your billable hours, and ensure the best experiences for the people you serve. Learn more.  

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There’s this place in town I love called The Muffin Shop. Despite the name, The Muffin Shop doesn’t exclusively sell muffins, but also coffee, donuts, breakfast sandwiches, eggs, pancakes, waffles, and more. It’s a perfect little stop for breakfast. Oh, and they serve lunch, too.

When it first opened, this tiny storefront branded itself as simply “the place where you buy muffins.” But over the decades, it’s transformed into a full-service café—a one-stop shop.

I know this isn’t a totally unique or surprising story. Businesses expand their offerings all the time. It’s what we as consumers have come to expect. We want more options with better prices. Expansive services with minimal complexity. A solution for every problem. A muffin store that also serves meatball subs.

However, we’re talking about a business-to-consumer operation here. For many business-to-business providers, these expectations can come as a serious strain.

Expanding B2B services isn’t as easy as adding a sandwich to the menu.

And yet clients and prospects continually hunger for more. I’m willing to bet you’ve experienced this firsthand.

Maybe you run a consulting firm, and a client has assumed you’re capable of providing not just business guidance, but also legal advice.

Maybe you’re an IT provider who’s been asked to design a website.

Or a videographer whom clients presume must be a brilliant animator as well.

Or a marketing studio expected to do everything.

It may be your bread and butter, but your specialty can cause friction when clients want sandwiches. B2Bs in this situation often doubt themselves. You may wonder:

  • Am I doing enough?
  • How can I expand my business while maintaining client trust?
  • How can I expect to succeed in a competitive marketplace if I don’t have the resources to provide consistent 24-hour customer service?
  • How can I do all this without pulling my hair out?

Practically every business right now is dealing with the same uncertainties, which can be boiled down into a single question:

Specialization or generalization?

What’s more successful for a professional or organization in the long run: specializing in one thing or generalizing?

Business analysts, investors, and academics have debated this subject at length in recent years. Harvard lecturer Vikram Mansharamani, for instance, believes the “future belongs to the generalists”:

“If you’re relatively new to the workforce, my advice is to manage your career around obtaining a diversity of geographic and functional experiences. The analytical capabilities you develop… in the process will fare well when competing against those who are more focused on domain-specific skill.”

Harvard lecturer Vikram Mansharamani, CNBC

In other words, Mansharamani asserts that the most successful people are the ones with skills in various fields, as they can tackle diverse, complex problems as they arise.

Bestselling business author Marcia Layton Turner, on the other hand, argues “specialization is the way to go to maximize profits (corporate or personal).” She points to the fact that many of the most successful companies today—including Apple, eBay, and Spanx—were built to offer one solution:

“[B]uyers tend to gravitate towards businesses that solve a specific problem, such as a broken water pipe, a car that won’t start or a snow-covered driveway. They turn to specialists with the expectation that someone who is an expert in a particular field is more likely to do a better job of diagnosing and fixing the problem faster than someone who is more of a generalist—someone who knows a little bit about a lot of things.”

Marcia Layton Turner, Forbes

Frankly, I side more with Layton Turner here. I understand where Mansharami is coming from—and there’s wisdom in the idea of gaining diverse experiences—but the world is too complex for generalist solutions. We need experts, not know-it alls.

It would be naïve to suggest there’s one right answer for every business. So, ask yourself which kind of business you would like to run: a one-stop-shop or a specialized service provider? Do you want to build a full breakfast menu with pretty decent options overall? Or do you want to focus exclusively on baking the tastiest muffins in town?

If you believe, like me, that the money’s in the muffins, here are a few ways to maximize success as a specialist:

1. Know your worth.

Recognize that the pressure to overextend yourself and provide services beyond what you’re currently capable of can arrive both internally and externally. Internally it could be a thought like I should do more. Externally, maybe it’s a client or multiple clients who are asking too much of you in your current position.

When these internal and external forces meet, B2B providers can say “yes” too hastily and commit to services they can’t effectively provide.

One way to avoid to this issue is to honestly confront your inner critic. Consider whether the pressure you’re putting yourself under arises from a deep motivation to grow, or a temporary feeling of insecurity. Make a decision in line with what you truly want to happen rather than what you fear will happen.

2. Set clear boundaries with honest communication.

Expressing your limitations to a client may feel more daunting—but the underlying emotions and considerations are the same. Perhaps you fear that, if you don’t expand your offerings, your client will seek an alternative to your services. Truth is, this is always a risk, even if you provide the greatest services, the most comprehensive solutions, and the lowest prices.

In the vast majority of cases, retaining clients isn’t about doing more for them, but communicating with them better. The foundation to all solid client relationships is trust. This demands transparency and authenticity. Be careful not to overpromise. Make clear the boundaries of your services while continuing to remind your clients of your value.

Don’t forget—you were hired for a number of reasons. Remind yourself what those reasons were and what they weren’t. As Justin Dunham from Ercule recently told us in an interview:

“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 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. [It’s also about] being 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.”

Justin Dunham, Ercule

3. Remember: other options exist.

It’s one thing to understand the intrinsic value of your business. It’s another thing entirely to communicate that value to demanding clients.

If you feel a disconnect between your clients’ expectations and the services you provide for them, it may be time to consider an audit. Take a step back and ask if continuing a working relationship is worth the time and sacrifice required. Don’t feel guilty about letting go if, deep in your heart, you know it’s the right thing to do. Remember: you aren’t required to service every client who comes to you.

Delegation is another option for handling certain requests from clients. Perhaps you don’t have the time or the resources to handle a specific task. Look to your team members or outside parties if you need help tackling a large request.

For more client communication tips, check out Ruby’s comprehensive customer service audit checklist.

Check out the list

Above all, don’t be afraid to charge more for your services when a client asks more from you. Remind your clients that your free time is valuable. If a particular request comes through that you know can be accomplished, but will require more time to get right, inform your client that your services will cost them extra.

Some business experts believe that strategic collaboration is the way to handle clients with high expectations. On the limitations of the “one-stop shop” model for businesses, My Accounts executive director Matthew Rowe writes:

“There’s a lot of talk about accountants and financial planners being in competition… It’s like we’re being asked to assume that the advice market isn’t big enough for both accountants and financial planners… I think that strategy going forward now in professional services will be around both competing [and] cooperating at the same time.”

Matthew Rowe, My Accounts

In other words, instead of working to transform your business into a one-stop shop, seek other vendors who can help share the tools you need. Look into automation, outsourcing, and partnerships.

4. Ask for help.

No matter what you specialize in or the breadth of services you offer, client communication takes time, energy, and expertise. It’s a job unto itself.

At Ruby, it’s the job we specialize in. We’re here for you and your business. Ruby acts as a seamless extension of your business’s team, brand, and voice. Spend more time creating and collaborating while you’re on the clock—and more time enjoying your life when you’re off.

Answer only the calls you want to answer, and breathe easy knowing the rest is taken care of. Ruby keeps your business communications humming, and your clients happy and informed. It’s all completely tailored to the unique needs of your business and the people you serve. 

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