When I founded Ruby Receptionists more than 15 years ago, my initial goal was to help small businesses become more efficient by “offloading” their phone duties. As with most small businesses, those early days were both exciting and filled with gut-wrenching worry about whether the money would run out before the value of our service was discovered. Thankfully, we found a small but raving customer base who put their trust in us early on and were critical in helping us not only get the business off the ground but also revealed the true value of what we did – that by providing real human connections over the phone backed by excellent service – we could help small businesses grow. We found that simply by being a friendly voice, providing great service and making connections that we could build trust, foster customer loyalty, and help our customers win new business. And that’s exactly what we, a small business, were aiming to do; just as the millions of small businesses around the world aim to do.
To this day, I still clearly remember signing up our first customer. He asked me how many customers we served at the time, and my response was “we’re working up to 20”. As a team of 600 people today, Ruby’s commitment and focus to serve our small business customers is just as strong as when we were a team of two. Just as strong as when we were serving “up to 20” customers, and now, I’m grateful, humbled and thrilled to say, serving more than 10,000 small business customers! Today, 10,000 small businesses in different markets across the country – from attorneys to roofers to marketing firms to non-profits and everything in between – trust Ruby to be the frontline of their business. And now with both receptionist and chat services, we can make great first impressions on their behalf over the phone and online.
I think, how did we do this? How did this all come together? I know the answer is simple. It’s our small business roots. It’s our humble, boot-strapped beginnings that shape every aspect of how we run our business and deliver our services. It’s having come from being a small business that helps us to understand what the needs of our small business customers are. It’s the entrepreneurial spirit that we hold dear that runs deep in every corner of our now 4 locations, in both Portland and Kansas City. What was once a small, two-employee business answering phones in a tiny studio has flourished into what Ruby is today—an organization where all Ruby employees care not only about the growth of our small business customers but are inspired by the businesses we serve, share in the joy of their success, and commiserate on the inevitable tough days. I didn’t consciously set out to focus our business on creating “WOW” experiences every day, but it was intrinsic to how we served customers, and over time, it became a defined core company value and a natural part of our DNA – because it worked!
Our 15 years of serving small businesses, along with our own small business roots, keep us connected to our customers and help us understand what keeps them up at night. It allows us to anticipate their needs before they even know they exist. I’ve never worn a more honored title than the one I held back then: Small Business Owner.
Every day I’m inspired by our customers, and I’m proud of our commitment to help in their success. Just as in the early days, this commitment brings a level of unity and pride in what we do every day – a collective effort to listen, learn and help. And in these ways, I hope Ruby is telling each and every one of our 10,000 customers, every day, “Thank You.”