Person talks on phone in snowy outdoor environment

When I’m going through a stressful period in my life, I try to remind myself to take it one day at a time. By choosing not to think too hard about the future, I can focus on what’s in front of me—what needs to happen right now. Soon, I get something done, then another thing. Before long, my list of worries begins to shrink. What once felt overwhelming starts to feel doable.

I’m thinking “take it one day at a time” might be particularly good advice this holiday season. People and businesses are facing shortages, delays, and disruptions of all kinds. Shipments are stuck in transit. Prices are inflated and rising higher. Companies of all sizes are struggling to meet the demands of their customers and clients. And that’s on top of the usual holiday anxieties.

It’s all set against the backdrop of a pandemic that’s not quite over, creating a general climate of weariness and frustration.

Not exactly the easiest climate for customer service.

people-chat

That said, it’s still possible to help—and even delight—the people you serve this holiday season. The key is to manage their expectations.

In our last article, we laid out a few customer communication strategies for doing exactly that. In this installment, let’s go further and explore the psychology of distressed customers and clients, and how to respond thoughtfully and helpfully when people contact your business with heightened emotions. We’ll also explore some practical ways you can carve out quality time for yourself during the holiday season.

How the holidays influence customer psychology

For many businesses, the holidays are—how should I put this?—intense.

Ever watched footage of a big-box store opening on Black Friday? (I’ll be honest: I thought about linking a YouTube video here, but frankly, I didn’t feel comfortable sharing anything I found. The crowding and pushing make me wince. I feel awful for the unprepared shoppers losing their footing in the swarm, and for the employees trying to control the chaos.)

It’s not just the retail industry that endures extraordinary pressure and stress around this time of year. Accidents, home emergencies, family disputes, and crises of various kinds increase during the holiday season. As a result, many service businesses receive more calls than usual, with callers frequently bringing urgent needs and experiencing difficult emotions.

If you run, say, a legal practice or a plumbing business, these sorts of conversations might not seem unusual. But the holidays have a way of ramping up already-sensitive exchanges with callers. Consider a few reasons why a caller might be especially distressed right now, as well as what you can do to respond as supportively as possible:

1. The caller might be juggling multiple priorities on a tight deadline.

Emergencies such as a burst pipe or a pet who needs sudden medical attention are stressful as it is. When those emergencies occur right before travel or in the middle of holiday plans, extreme emotions are a natural human response. Callers might be distraught, agitated, distracted, impatient, or experiencing any number or combination of feelings.

What you can do: Remain calm. While it’s important to empathize with your caller, try not to let yourself become engrossed in their situation. Instead, focus on what you can do to make their life easier. If you can’t offer immediate help, you can always listen, and you may be able to provide them with useful information.

2. The caller might be uninformed or running behind.

Despite our best judgment, many of us wait until the week before the holidays to get our shopping and errands done. In fact, surveys indicate that over half of all Americans who celebrate Christmas wait until the day before to buy presents.

Regardless of whether your business sells anything that could be considered a gift, a caller may have a last-minute mindset: they’re hoping what they need somehow comes together in time. On top of that, perhaps they’re not up to date on the global supply chain and labor issues creating delays and shortages.

What you can do: The right response here can be a little tricky. Let’s break it down into four steps:

  1. Meet them where they are. Put yourself in the caller’s position and consider what their expectations may be, how they arrived at those expectations, and how they’re feeling at the moment.
  2. Explain your situation transparently and politely. Be honest with them about what you can and cannot do for them, and why.
  3. Offer them another option, if possible. Maybe you can’t meet their exact demand right now, but they’d be willing to wait a little longer or accept a substitute. If you can’t deliver what the caller is looking for, that’s okay—maybe you know of another business that can.
  4. Don’t overpromise. Some demands can’t be met. While “no” can be hard to say—and might be disappointing for a caller to hear—it’s better for both of you in the long run than a misleading “yes.”

3. The caller may need to vent.

For all the reasons above—and about 100,001 more—a caller may not feel they have enough control over their life at the moment. That can lead to significant frustration, which the caller may decide to take out on you or a member of your team.

What you can do: Let them vent. Think of the conversation as an outlet for them, and take quiet pride in your ability to provide it. In a way, you’re offering a helpful service—even if the person on the other end of the line doesn’t realize it. Keep your cool and stay positive, and eventually, the caller may regain their composure and apologize.

That said, be aware of your own feelings and boundaries. If you can’t help your caller and they’re subjecting you to more aggression than you feel comfortable with, it may be time to end the conversation.

Remember to take care of yourself and your team.

‘Tis the season of giving. And one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself and your business is the gift of self-care.

I know what you’re thinking: “This is the most stressful time of year and you’re telling me I should curl up by the fire with a cup of tea?”

Yes. Yes, I am. Taking care of yourself is not optional. You need to do it to sustain yourself and your business, especially right now.

Put down the phone. Turn off the computer. Go for a run, or play in the snow, or sit down with that movie/book/TV show/video game/puzzle you’ve been meaning to dig into. Take a break—take a whole vacation, if you can. You deserve it. And when you return to your business, you’ll return stronger, well-rested, and better able to help the people you serve.

Check out 10 easy and fun ways to practice self-care.

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If you’re stretched thin, here’s another gift you can give your business, yourself, and the people you serve this holiday season: outsourced customer communication. Ruby’s highly trained, professional virtual receptionists are available right now to relieve the pressure of this challenging time for your business.

Instead of taking this holiday season a day at a time, you can take it off. We’ve got your phones and website chat covered.

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2021 Legal Trends Report: gavel with scale of justice on desk

What trends and events defined law firms in 2021? What does 2022 hold in store for the legal industry?

For the answers, look no further than the latest Legal Trends Report from our friends at Clio.

Published every year since 2016, Clio’s annual survey uses a range of approaches and data sources to deliver comprehensive insights about the state of the legal industry’s present and future. Sources include tens of thousands of Clio software users, as well as hundreds of legal professionals and legal consumers throughout the United States. This year’s report also incorporates a longitudinal study of over 1,600 law firms, grouped into three cohorts—“growing, stable, and shrinking”—based on their revenue performance over several years.

Here are a few standout themes that emerged from the data this year:

  1. Remote technology has become essential for attorneys and the people they serve. A large portion of legal business is now conducted almost exclusively remotely. But while countless law firms have adopted new technology to work more efficiently and better serve their clients, not every practice is able to consistently manage those platforms to the full extent of their capabilities.
  2. Successful firms embrace client-centric communication across multiple channels. Legal consumers expect firms to use more kinds of communication channels, with once-peripheral channels such as video conferences and text messages entering the mainstream. Nonetheless, phone and face-to-face conversations remain preferred communication methods for first-time and non-transactional interactions.
  3. Many attorneys struggle with efficiency. This year’s report reveals that attorneys are, on average, able to use just 31% of each 8-hour day on billable time. Although this key performance indicator (KPIs) has improved slightly over the years, lack of productive time is still a critical challenge for practices of all kinds.

The full, 73-page report is available to read here.

As we did last year, we’ve compiled some of Clio’s key findings to make it even easier for you to review 2021’s trends and plan for 2022 and beyond. Without further ado, here are several highlights from Clio’s 2021 Legal Trends Report:

Remote business is here to stay.

What started as a necessity for law firms to continue to operate during lockdown quickly evolved into an industry standard. According to the 2021 Legal Trends Report, 95% of all attorneys plan to continue to use the technology they adopted during the pandemic moving forward.

These kinds of technology include:

  • Firm management software
  • Client portals
  • Virtual conferencing platforms
  • Cloud storage
  • Electronic billing and payment platforms
  • Virtual document and e-signing platforms

Across firms, remote technology solutions improve efficiency and fuel growth.  Throughout 2020 and 2021, firms that embraced new technology were able to grow their revenue—despite an overall economic downturn—with a 6% year-over-growth for technology-enabled firms and a 40% increase in revenue per lawyer. Perhaps it’s no surprise that 84% of all surveyed partners expected their firms to further invest in these kinds of solutions in the next few years.

Client-centric practices invest in multiple forms of communication.

Tech-enabled firms also achieve positive results in terms of client satisfaction, as legal consumers now express a high degree of preference for remote communication. Approximately 79% of clients regard the option to work remotely with a lawyer as a positive influence on their hiring decision—up from just 23% of clients who felt the same way in 2018.

Video conferencing, in particular, has become popular for first meetings and consultations, placing third (at 58%) in consumer preferences behind in-person meetings (76%) and phone calls (70%). And video isn’t the only communication platform towards which clients gravitate. Over the last year, more consumers have also embraced text messaging, social media messaging, and mobile apps.

These findings reveal that clients increasingly expect firms to use multiple communication channels—and to provide a consistently excellent experience across channels. Given the decline in in-person interactions, firms should look at adopting solutions that offer flexibility and accessibility for individuals with various needs.

As the authors of Clio’s report explain, such considerations are fundamental to designing a client-centered framework:

“To determine what’s best for law firms—or any business for that matter—legal professionals should be asking themselves: What’s best for their clients? … This mindset enables firms to anticipate their clients’ needs, often before they recognize those needs themselves. The goal is to make working with a law firm as easy and effortless as possible.”

In a remote-first world, clients still prefer highly personal experiences.

During the first stages of attorney outreach, phone calls and in-person meetings remain the top preferred methods for new clients. In terms of popularity, email, text messaging, mobile apps all trail behind in-person and phone consultations (and to a lesser extent, video conferences, as mentioned above), suggesting many new clients place significant value on real-time, one-on-one communication.

Consumers don’t favor the phone in every kind of interaction, however. Compared to online portals (66%), automated billing (61%), and mobile apps (61%), only 46% of clients surveyed by Clio would prefer to make payments over the phone.

In general, consumers prefer to use self-service, asynchronous forms of communication for transactional interactions (such as billing), but continue to choose live, one-on-one channels for key conversations (such as those involving decision-making and status updates).

Myriad factors influence a consumer’s choice of lawyer.

What motivates a client to choose one legal provider over another? The latest Clio report identifies numerous factors:

  • Responsiveness to questions
  • Price transparency
  • Free consultations
  • Availability of payment plans
  • Positive online reviews
  • Personal recommendations
  • Online searchability
  • Remote options
  • Availability outside of business hours
  • Availability via text or instant message
  • Support for online bookings/scheduling

Notably, many of these factors relate back to communication—specifically transparent, flexible, and responsive communication. The more an attorney can “be there” (in more ways than one) for the people they serve, the better their chances of winning and retaining clients.

Sustainable growth depends on measurable insights.

For today’s law firms, dependable success is measurable success. As the authors of the 2021 Legal Trends Report write, one “striking difference” between well-performing firms and others is “their use of firm reporting tools”:

“[G]rowing firms are more likely to increase their revenues because they have access to the information and insights that help them assess how their business is performing, which also allows them to focus more attention on planning for additional, ongoing growth over the long term.

As a whole, growing firms are twice as likely to be using reporting tools than shrinking firms—a difference that reached as high as 175% in 2019."

Three fundamental KPIs any firm can measure (and which Clio has tracked on an industry-wide scale for five years) relate to billable hours:

  • Utilization rate measures workload and productivity
  • Realization rate measures the potential value of work performed
  • Collection rate measures the ability to capitalize on work performed

Year after year, the Legal Trends Report has shown that, on the whole, legal professionals struggle with utilization. In 2020, the average lawyer surveyed billed only 2.5 hours of an 8-hour workday.

Why do many attorneys fail to maximize billable hours? One major reason ties into a theme that’s surfaced multiple times in this article: client communication. Countless legal professionals lose countless hours every day due to routine distractions and unexpected interruptions such as phone calls.

At the same time, attorneys are generally feeling more overwhelmed than in previous years.

Just 7% of lawyers believe that law school adequately prepared them to run a business, and only 23% say their bar association helped with business training. Consequently, 76% of attorneys reported that they felt tired and overworked.

The bottom line: The challenge for firms and attorneys is to meet clients’ expectations for communication and availability while maximizing productive time. The most effective way to do this is through the right technology, ongoing performance measurement, and a client-centered approach in every aspect of business. But legal professionals can’t do it all alone—they need help and resources to reclaim their hours and energy.

For details and comprehensive information, be sure to read Clio’s 2021 Legal Trends Report.

Looking for practical tools and insights you can use to improve client communication and billable hours? Check out our new and improved law practice resource hub.

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Content marketing and social media tips: side view of photo editor working in a creative office

I’ve worked in content marketing and social media for over a decade. I’ve designed infographics, produced and edited videos, presented webinars, and written thousands of blog posts, articles, and scripts for small businesses like yours. I’ve also run dozens of social accounts and campaigns, building and communicating with audiences ranging from dozens to hundreds of thousands of fans and followers.

I can tell you firsthand that it’s a lot of work. Content such as articles and videos take time and energy to create. Success on social media demands an exceptional amount of patience, consistency, and grit. And the work is never over—from researching blog posts to stitching together footage to setting up ads, there’s always more to do.

But I love my job, for two reasons:

1. Content and social media are essential forms
of expression. Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “content is king.” That’s true—content marketing is the best way to reach your audience and get them interested in your business, and social media is a crucial tool for distributing that content and staying in touch with your audience.

And it goes deeper than that. There’s a reason social media sites encourage you to “join the conversation”—there are thoughtful and compelling conversations happening online all the time. The content you publish on your website and social media profiles can uplift, surprise, and inspire. You can make people laugh and cry. You can educate and empower your audience (and yourself). It’s not so different from writing a book, or painting, or giving a lecture, or playing music.

2. Content and social media make businesses human. You are so much more than your products and/or services, and those offerings are more than things people can buy. You have a passion, a story to tell, values to champion, an aspiration to make the world a better place.

Digital marketing gives you an avenue to share what matters most to you—to lead with your personality, sense of humor, and unique perspective. It’s a wellspring of human connections, a key to creating meaningful relationships with new and existing customers online.

What does great digital marketing look like?

Here are a few of my favorite examples of businesses using content and social media to truly connect with their audiences:

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These are just three examples among many. The beauty of content marketing and social media is that there’s a virtually endless supply of words, images, and sounds—much of it available for free on the internet—to enjoy and draw inspiration from. It can be engaging, enriching, thought-provoking, heart-wrenching, hilarious, or multiple things at once. And it’s produced by people of all kinds and all experience levels.

It really is a global conversation. Any person or organization can join the conversation at any time to tell a story and capture someone’s—or even the world’s—attention and imagination.

4 content and social media marketing tips

You can use digital content and social media to get your brand and story out there, too, and you don’t need a massive budget or a full-time team of dedicated marketing professionals.

Here are a few tips for #JoiningTheConversation in a smart and authentic—and cost-effective—way:

1. Be bold.

I’ll let you in on a digital marketing secret: there are no rules for any of this stuff. Sure, some strategies work better than others, but the most successful businesses online are the ones who innovate, experiment, and stand out with their content and social media. Take a stance. Be weird. Be funny. Be yourself.

Just don’t be boring. So, so many businesses are boring online, and see little to no engagement (likes, comments, shares, etc.) from their audiences as a result.

Nine times out of ten, this happens because business owners just don’t know what to do. They aren’t sure what their customers or prospects want or expect from them on these channels, and that can be wildly intimidating. The good news is, business owners have room to play, to test, to figure out works best for themselves, their audience, and ultimately, their business.

Rather than ruminating on what could go wrong, shift your attention toward what’s exciting about content and social media. Create what you love and focus on the people who connect to it. The internet is a dynamic, living place. If worst comes to worst, you can always edit or delete something, apologize, and grow from the experience. But, again, you’ll never get anywhere unless you dare to get attention.

2. Be honest—with your audience and yourself.

One of the greatest things about digital marketing is the opportunity to give people a behind-the-scenes look at your business. Your customers want to meet you and your team; they want to know your story.

Your content and social media exchanges should deliver on this promise. Why not record a video of a day in the office, or share a work playlist on Twitter, or write an article about one of the biggest challenges your business has faced? These kinds of moves take relatively little planning and effort—they just need to come from a genuine place. And you don’t need expensive equipment or a creative arts degree. In fact, a certain lack of polish makes what you put out there personal and charming.

That said, it’s important to be aware of your limits. Only take on as much content creation and social media management as you feel you can handle. Maybe you don’t need to update your blog every day or every week, and maybe you don’t need to respond to every direct message you receive within 15 minutes. And if you don’t feel comfortable doing all this yourself, find a member of your team or an outside collaborator you can trust to take the lead.

3. Find your niche and your groove.

As Vlad Shvets of Paperform writes elsewhere on our blog, you don’t need to be active on every single social media platform. Some businesses connect with their audiences most effectively through Facebook, while others do better on LinkedIn. Some people enjoy posting photos to Instagram while others prefer bantering on Twitter. Some companies dedicate all their time and energy to their blogs while others thrive entirely on YouTube, posting how-tos, reaction videos, and live Q&As. Find the platform or mix of platforms that you like using and where your audience is most active.

Once you’ve identified your channel or channels, make a habit of posting new content regularly. There’s no single formula for the right cadence of updates or the length of each article, video, podcast episode, and so forth. You’ll learn it through experience and interactions with your audience. Be sure to look at your content metrics—page views, downloads, etc.—often and tweak your approach as needed.

No matter what, stick with it. Digital marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. You probably won’t see results immediately, but with a consistent publishing schedule, an active social media presence, and high-quality content, you’ll experience a pattern of sustained growth before long.

4. Remember: it's a conversation.

Everything you post online shares one basic purpose—it should serve your audience. Use your digital marketing as a means to inform, entertain, and help people. It doesn’t have to be incredibly slick, fancy, or complex as long as it’s useful.

To know what’s useful to your audience, pay attention to them. Read and respond to any comments they leave. Incorporate their ideas and feedback into future content. Thank them for checking out and sharing what you create.

I should mention that content and social media aren’t the only forms of communication with your audience in the digital space. There’s an even more direct and immediate way to reach out to and start serving people within seconds of them visiting your website. It’s called live chat.

And that’s all for now. I hope I’ve left you with some motivation and ideas for using digital marketing to create connections with the people you serve.

The next step is, well, to do it. Get inspired, get creative, and get out there!

For more digital marketing tips and secrets to standing out online, check out our guide: The new front door to your business.

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A single pine tree on a rocky summit

The holiday season never fails to heighten emotions—positive and negative alike. Maybe you’re overjoyed to spend time with your loved ones. Or maybe overstressed trying to figure out what the heck to gift to those loved ones (seriously, Dad, I need one hint or it’s going to be socks again).

Maybe you’re thrilled to hear Wham!’s “Last Christmas” back in rotation. Or maybe you’ve already sworn you’ll do everything in your power to ensure it’s the last Christmas the world ever hears that song.

But 2021, as it has over and over again over these 11 long months, is proving to be different from other years. This holiday season is more challenging than ever. Between product shortages, supply chain traffic jams, and price hikes across a number of industries, shoppers are already seeing their deliveries delayed well into 2022.

Despite everything, holiday shopping isn’t slowing down.

There’s a timeless moral at the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas: we don’t need extravagant presents to celebrate the holidays, as long as we’re surrounded by those we love.

As it turns out, the moral might not be so timeless. The story of How COVID Stole Christmas may have a different ending. The truth is, as shoppers, consumers aren’t used to being told to wait or sacrifice.

No one in Whoville had next-day delivery, after all.

Despite appeals from retailers big and small for customers to get their shopping done early this year, the National Retail Federation is projecting that holiday sales from November to December will grow by 8–10% from last year. And despite the supply chain, inflation, and staffing difficulties in 2021, overall retail spending has been on a steady increase all year. That’s leaving shelves particularly sparse and businesses under even greater pressure to meet customer demand.

The challenges aren’t just affecting retailers.

The supply chain and labor shortage issues are forcing businesses to get creative this holiday season. Certain bookstores, for example, in the wake of massive printing delays, are adapting by pushing older inventory and falling back on orders made months ago.

Business-to-business providers, meanwhile, are likely to be hit harder by missed shipments. Many of these companies rely on raw materials and bulk orders, a lot of which are still stuck on cargo ships. A clear solution to the problem hasn’t quite materialized. 

And then there are service-driven businesses, such as law firms, medical practices, and home services companies. This time of year is always busy for all of the above, but the end of 2021 is poised to be, once again, unique. Let’s consider the facts for various industries and professions:

  • Family law attorneys may want to prepare for a spike in demand from new clients, if this same period in 2020 was any indication.
  • The jumble of increased spending and increased financial pressure on families suggests accountants and other financial professionals should expect the unexpected.
  • Small businesses of all kinds will need to brace for emotionally charged conversations with customers who are feeling exhausted and exasperated—perhaps due to issues entirely unconnected to the conversation at hand.

If that weren’t enough, there’s the ever-present reality of extreme weather events. My hometown was already hit pretty hard by a historic Nor’easter in October, which led to dozens of downed trees and thousands of homes without power. As major storms threaten the United States this winter, the nation’s essential workers—such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists, electricians, plumbers, house cleaners, delivery drivers, and others—may have to dig deep and brave the elements to yet again go above and beyond for their clients, customers, and patients this year.

How can your business respond?

Heightened customer expectations are mentally and emotionally taxing for representatives of any business. And the inability to meet their demands can cost your business in the short and long term.

This season, many people may not be thinking about supply chain delays and shortages when unable to find the perfect gifts or access the services and help they need, when they need them. Instead, when those socks are out of stock, they’ll likely blame the bearer of bad news. Ditto for when there’s a two-week wait to see a plumber.

These conversations are particularly painful for smaller businesses that lack dedicated in-house customer communication teams. Being the person who is spread thin and the person who has to tell a caller you’re spread thin stings twice as much.

Plus, of course, it can also result in a lost sales opportunity. Triple bummer.

So, how can a business or enterprise navigate these demanding customer interactions—even when they know it likely won’t end with a guaranteed sale?

1. Keep your communication informative and consistent.

The last thing anyone wants to hear when they can’t get what they want is “there’s nothing we can do—it’s completely out of our hands.”

The tricky thing is, for many businesses this year, that’s the truth.

You may not be able to control the situation or relieve your customers or clients of their initial disappointment. But you can help them make informed decisions and realign their expectations. Rather than giving a “no” or a shrug, be honest and transparent. Tell them why the situation is what it is, as well as what you can and cannot do—and then, if possible, offer an alternative: Would they be willing to wait a couple weeks longer for service? Would they like to consider another product?

Make sure to keep your approach consistent from conversation to conversation. Now is not an ideal time to offer “special treatment” or prioritize one person over another. Fairness may not calm emotions, but it prevents a difficult situation from worsening.

The key is to shape your communication with the needs of your customers or clients at the center. Focus on what you can do for them. By using clear and consistent language that outlines the reality of a shortage or delay, and updates on the most recent developments, they may gain a greater understanding of the situation and return to you when you’re better equipped to help them.

2. Give them a timeline (if possible).

If possible, don’t let your customers and clients leave the conversation in the same place as they started. “We can’t help you now” doesn’t have to mean “we can’t help you later.”

Sure, your customers will likely look elsewhere if they learn that you can’t help them on their desired timeframe, but a promise of resumed service in the future offers hope of an eventual resolution.

That said, if you’re not sure when your business will be operating in its ideal state, it’s best to avoid making promises you can’t keep. Instead, offer your existing and prospective customers or clients insight into any causes of the difficulties, as well as what changes you’re making to get back on track.

3. Offer recommendations and referrals.

Paying it forward is a hallmark of the holiday season. If you can’t provide someone with what they’re looking for, but you’re aware of another business that can, give them a shoutout. Don’t think of it as losing a sale; you’re building a reputation as a helpful, community-minded business.

4. Practice empathy.

This year will likely be the most stressful and emotionally draining holiday season on record for many of us. Because of that, your callers may want to take out their frustrations on you and your staff.

Rather than matching their tone, remember to stay calm. You don’t know what kind of struggles the person on the other end may be dealing with. Try not to make assumptions about them. Instead, put yourself in their position and reinforce your commitment to their well-being by providing them with thoughtful and compassionate customer service.

Apologies and expressions of gratitude go a long way. Words and phrases like “I’m so sorry” and “thank you for your patience” are powerful for building trust.

Look for opportunities to connect. If someone complains about something that isn’t related to your business, commiserate with them and offer them comfort by embracing your humanity. Everything is slower, tougher, and more expensive right now than any of us anticipated, but we’re in it together.

Let’s put it all together. Here’s an example of what a helpful, compassionate customer service response might sound like:

“Thank you so much for contacting us. Unfortunately, our team is unavailable right now and our next available appointment would be on January 5th. I realize this isn’t ideal. We sincerely apologize for the delay. I would be happy to schedule an appointment for you in January, or I can recommend another option if you’d prefer not to wait. What would be best for you?”

5. Above all else, be patient and understanding. Especially with yourself.

Remember: your well-being matters too. Verbal abuse is never something you should feel the need to tolerate. Respect your boundaries and know your limits when it comes to engaging with difficult customers—and keep in mind that you don’t always have to be all things to all people.

Turning a customer away is always difficult. But if you feel that as though you’re being pushed to your limit, don’t sacrifice your mental health for the sake of your business.

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Ruby can share the weight.

This holiday season, your business has enough on its plate without you and your staff having to worry about difficult customer or client interactions. If the stress of the holiday season is eating into your business’ time, now is the time to explore other solutions.

Ruby’s industry-leading, 24/7 virtual receptionist and live chat services can help lighten the load this holiday season and beyond. We tailor our communication services to your business’s unique needs and ensure that your callers always connect with a compassionate, highly-trained live professional.

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Small businesses and their teams are capable of superhuman feats—but that doesn’t mean they can be everywhere at once. Sometimes even superheroes need backup.

The right part-time virtual receptionist solution can support your business whenever (and however) you need it. Here’s how it works:

What is part-time answering?

More and more businesses are relying solely on virtual receptionists to answer their calls and create meaningful connections with their clients. But not every enterprise needs a full-time customer communication solution. Some already have in-house customer service teams, while others see seasonal fluctuations in call volume.

That’s where part-time answering comes in. Part-time answering gives you on-demand access to professional virtual receptionists whenever you need them—such as after-hours, on holidays, or during meetings. 

Many virtual receptionist providers also refer to this as “part-time forwarding,” as calls are forwarded from the business to the provider.

Certain providers (like Ruby) make it easy for you to create a forwarding schedule to route calls to different numbers throughout the day. This is particularly useful if you work from an office some days and at home other days, have team members on various shifts, or prefer to have after-hours calls directed to your voicemail system.

Best of all, you still get all the benefits that come with a full-time solution. Your virtual receptionists can…

  • Transfer calls to you or members of your team
  • Direct people to relevant information on your website
  • Handle customer service inquiries
  • Answer frequently asked questions
  • Gather insights about the people you serve
  • Assist with outbound calls
  • Onboard new clients
  • Schedule appointments
  • Qualify new leads
  • Make lasting first impressions
  • And much more!

Delayed call-forwarding gives you even more flexibility by allowing you to set specific parameters regarding when the service takes your calls (e.g., after a certain number of rings, or specific times of day). No matter what your needs are, your virtual receptionists are always available to delight callers and capture leads.

Benefits of part-time answering