INTERVIEW: Turning small moments into magic with Katharine Nester.

How do businesses turn simple transactions—digital and in-person—into moments of magic? How do they delight their customers, build loyalty, and increase profitability?

Katharine Nester, Ruby’s Chief Product and Technology Officer

Pixelspoke is a local Portland digital marketing and web design agency. In fact, we worked with them on the Ruby website design that led to the site you see now! In this podcast, Cameron Madill, Pixelspoke’s CEO, interviews Ruby’s own Katharine Nester. As Ruby’s Chief Product and Technology Officer, Katharine helps us turn even the smallest interactions into memorable moments. In this 30 minute interview, she discusses how every touchpoint, no matter how small, is an opportunity for delight—and why it matters.

The Highlights

What exactly is “delight”?

Katharine: First and foremost, as you’re looking to expand how you leverage delight, you have to think about it more broadly than just a campaign or a specific tactic. What we’ve done at Ruby is make it okay for employees to leverage the natural instinct to make somebody happy or to make them feel better. And so, if it’s part of your culture, you’re gonna tap into that, you’re going to make it okay, and it’s going to feel authentic. It’s important that your attempts to delight callers doesn’t feel forced. It should feel natural.

The other thing I’d say about delight, sort of philosophically, is it’s not just about greatly pleasing the people that you’re interacting with—it’s doing it when it’s unexpected. That’s what makes it stick. That’s what makes people remember it. It’s anticipating things, anticipating their needs, and giving them what they don’t even know they want. And again, it helps a lot if your culture’s empowering people to take the initiative to delight customers or callers.

How does Ruby delight callers?

Katharine: Delight can be as small as saying our customer’s or our caller’s name. So for example, one of the things we do to leverage technology and systemize the process of delight is connecting with customer’s CRM systems and mobile phones. We can collect contact info into our system and then recognize when callers from their contacts are calling them. This makes it easier for us to know that we’re saying their name right. You’d be surprised how often people mumble when they get on the phone. It really helps callers feel heard and relationships feel authentic.

We also provide receptionists with easy ways to make connections with callers. For example, most people’s default conversation shtick is, “How about that weather?” Like, “Did you notice how cold it is out there today, Cameron?” So one of the things we did with our proprietary technology is we brought in the local weather. We sit here in Portland, Oregon and we definitely have our own interesting weather, but when we’re taking a call for one of our clients in Chicago, they’re probably talking about the crazy windstorm. And having that weather available and using that technology means that our receptionists can achieve that moment of unexpected common connection.

A memorable customer story.

Katharine: One story that I always like to tell, and that I think is fun and funny, comes from one of our attorney customers who is down in the South. One of our receptionists got a call for him from the local feed store, letting him know that his chicken feed had arrived. The receptionist took the message and used that moment to make a connection with that attorney. She found a “how to raise chickens” book as well as some other small chicken raising items on Amazon, put a little package together and sent it off saying, “Good luck with the new additions to your family.”

He wrote back to us to let us know that, one, he really appreciated the gift. It was incredibly unexpected, and that it affirms his understanding about how much Ruby has become a part of his company. He felt that Ruby helps him to keep his own clients loyal because of the service that we deliver and, because we took the time to make a connection with them, he really sees us as a trusted extended part of his team. Plus, the chickens were very happy and we got a great chicken photo out of it.

So that’s one example where that moment of delight sort of reinforced for that particular customer how much of an impact Ruby has had for him, and it just made him more aware of how much we’re helping him in his organization. He was a solo entrepreneur attorney down somewhere in the South and he’s doing it all. The fact that we could alleviate some of that work for him and really be a part of his team made him feel less alone when he was sitting in his office working on papers.

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