Hively’s super simple rating tool will help us gather feedback and measure our clients’ happiness, so we’ll be able to make our virtual receptionist service even better!
We’re really excited to work with Hively. They’re an energetic and fun bunch, and their goal is to make customer feedback fun and easy and ultimately make people happy – what’s not to love?
We’ll keep you posted on what we find out, and in the meantime, if there’s anything more we can do to help, feel free to write us at email@example.com or call us at 866-611-7829. We’d love to hear from you!
Learn more about Hively at http://www.teamhively.com. Readers of this blog also get a chance to try Hively free for 60 days with any subscription plan by entering the code ‘CALLRUBY’ (without quotes) during the payment process.
To help us manage our various social media channels, we’ve found Hootsuite, bitly, and Picasa immensely helpful — and best of all, they’re free! Here’s how these tools may boost your small business’ social media efforts, too:
Hootsuite. You can connect your Twitter and Facebook feeds to this handy tool to keep track of your feeds in one place. Create Twitter “lists” (which can be public or private) to keep track of all your followers. You can even schedule tweets and posts in advance!
bitly. A link shortener is great for sharing content with your followers and most have built-in metrics. Though Hootsuite has its own link shorteners (ow.ly and ht.ly), bitly is Twitter’s default shortener and I find its metrics easier to digest. You can view your link history, how many clicks each received, and archive old links. Bonus: every link comes with its own QR code!
Picasa. Many of our virtual receptionists and staff members (myself included) look forward to our “Fashion Fridays” here at Ruby. Each week, virtual receptionists Sara-Lee and Mercedes pick a theme for a dressed up Friday, and we share photos with our Facebook fans. We love seeing our coworkers’ creativity in the festive wear, and our clients enjoy seeing who’s answering their calls. Picasa helps me edit these photos like a pro. Cropping, red eye reduction, and basic color changes are all included and help me show my fellow Rubys in the best light possible. If you share a lot of photos with your fans, Picasa is an easy, inexpensive alternative to Photoshop.
What’s your secret to social media magic? Share with us in the comment section below, or tell us about it via Twitter or Facebook! We would love to connect with you!
Ruby® Receptionists’ Member Services Area just got a whole lot cooler — and way more convenient for all you Blackberry and Droid users! We’ve made the site completely mobile-friendly, and now it’s easy as pie to update our virtual receptionist team as to your whereabouts, straight from the Member Services homepage! Simply go to http://www.callruby.com/ and click on “Member Login” (in the upper right-hand corner). You may have noticed the new option for “Whereabouts” on your snazzy new Member Services homepage:
Whereabouts are a great way to relay temporary instructions to Ruby’s expert team of virtual receptionists. Would you like your calls held? Are you on your cell for the rest of the day? A quick update on the Member Services page (or in the Ruby iPhone app), and you’re good to go!
Convenient drop down menus offer options for how you’d like us to route calls as well as timeframe suggestions. If you have a specific date and time in mind, the ”Other” option lets you customize the timeframe:
Feel free to update our virtual receptionists as often as you like! You’ll always receive a confirmation email back from us, just as when you relayed your status in an email or over the phone (which still get the job done, too!). Whereabouts are just one way our friendly virtual receptionists are able to sound like they’re right in your office — and with the redesigned, mobile-friendly Member Services Area it’s even easier to keep us in the loop! Happy Whereabouts-ing!
Congratulations to the six delightful Rubys celebrating anniversaries this month! Heather Q Brackett, one of our resident programmers, has been with Ruby® for a phenomenal five years! Cheerful and outgoing virtual receptionist Amanda S. is celebrating her second year while quick-witted Stefani V. has been a virtual receptionist at Ruby for three. We’re also glad that savvy virtual receptionists Amy W. and Ellen W. have both been brightening our studio for one whole year. And last, but certainly not least, one of Ruby’s first virtual receptionists and our current Billing Specialist, Paddy McCaffery-Allen, has been back with Ruby for one year. Here’s a quick glimpse into what what makes these ladies an ineffable part of Ruby Receptionists:
What’s your favorite part about working at Ruby?
Heather Q: I’ve been really lucky here at Ruby. They saw something in me, from the very beginning, and I got to become the “Ruby Programmer.” I learned all sorts of crazy things that I never thought I would be into. Ruby, as a whole, really believed in me and allowed me to flourish.
Ellen: Definitely the wonderful spirit that we have here. Everyone is cheery, fun loving, and creative. It’s really energizing.
Paddy: All the innovation. Whether it’s technology, the company culture, or the way departments are encouraged to grow and try new things, the progress Ruby has achieved is truly remarkable!
Amy: Ruby makes me feel supported and encourages me to be myself. The managers have helped me identify my strengths and work with me to use them in a team-oriented way. I have also learned a great deal about how to be professional without being stuffy!
What’s your favorite part about living in Portland?
Amanda: I’m in love with the community! As a virtual receptionist, I talk to a LOT of people from all over the country. And after “visiting” other states all day, I like coming home to Portland’s eclectic group of folks.
Ellen: There’s always something to do here — when the weather’s cold, there are lots of cheap movies and happy hours. When the weather is warm, there’s Sauvie Island and Multnomah Falls to visit. You get the best of both worlds here.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not at Ruby?
Heather Q: I Do and Make. My life revolves around projects. Whether it’s working on my house, screen printing t-shirts or posters, painting, doing illustrations, working on a movie with my husband – it’s rare that I’m sitting still for very long. “Done is the engine of More” is my motto.
Amanda: I like to catch up with friends all over the city. I go to plays, concerts, happy hours – there is just so much to do around PDX! I recently found a warehouse where people practice Poi (a traditional form of New Zealand dance), contact juggling, aerial acrobatics, etc. Needless to say I’ve started contact juggling!
Stefani: I’m in school right now, so I’m usually studying my heart out when I’m not answering phones.
Paddy: I have a fantastic husband and three awesome kids. I love anything that has to do with them. Cooking and traveling to new places are pretty cool too!
Does your company use Microsoft SharePoint? We do! What is SharePoint? Well, it’s a lot of things: it’s a program that makes web page building a snap for folks familiar with Microsoft products, it’s a great way to share documents and information, it’s a social networking site, it’s an amazing way to communicate, and the list goes on and on.
This fantastic interactive tool replaced our office intranet years ago, and we couldn’t be happier. I’m no SharePoint expert, so I’ll leave the how-to explanations to the pros (a quick Internet search of “SharePoint” yields tons of great results!), but in this post, I’ll give you a snapshot of one of the many ways we use SharePoint. And trust me, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Creating Community is one of the Ruby Receptionist Core Values, and we use SharePoint to help us do just that. As you can probably guess, all our phone answering keeps us pretty busy. Because we don’t always have time to chat face-to-face, our Director of Culture Sarah Sackett created a social website on SharePoint. It’s sub-site of our main SharePoint page, and it’s dedicated strictly to fun stuff. Here are three cool things our social site allows us to do:
1. Share photos. We love to host events and snap photos of the Ruby revelry. The SharePoint picture library feature makes sharing photos a breeze! The best part? All it takes is a minute of photo viewing to put smiles on our faces. Ah, memories!
2. Share recommendations. Looking for a good restaurant, a new doctor, or something fun to do this weekend? Never fear, the social site is here! We’ve got discussion boards for all sorts of intriguing topics. When we want feedback, we know where to turn!
3. Know what’s up. Our Event Planning Committee creates all sorts of opportunities for our teambuilding — kickball, bowling, and volunteering, to name a few. So when does all this fun stuff go down? Just check the event calendar on the social site to find out!
If your team uses SharePoint, consider creating a space for socialization. We think you’ll like the results! And if you already use SharePoint for a social site, please share your tips below.
We’ve blogged previously about how much our Core Values mean to us. They are at the center of everything we do. Or more accurately, they are at the base of everything we do. You see, we’re strong believers in the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish, aka “The Growth Guy,” (and a loyal client to boot!). In this insightful book, Verne sets up a framework for how to organize your business, and he places Core Values at the base, a reference point for every action your company takes. And how do you keep your Core Values top of mind for every employee? One way is by storytelling. Telling stories creates “Legends” and illustrates the different ways that your Core Values can be carried out throughout your daily routine.
For example, once a quarter, Ruby® Receptionists holds a staff meeting where our virtual receptionists get to learn about how things are going with the company while socializing and chowing down on some delicious HotLips pizza. It’s also an opportunity to take a moment to recognize those who have really taken the Ruby Core Values to heart and put them into practice in the day-to-day – our “Legends,” if you will. Throughout the quarter, Rubys can nominate coworkers for “outstanding achievement” in one of our Core Values: “Practice WOWism,” “Create Community,” “Foster Happiness,” or “Innovation.” Then, we select 4 stories (one for each value) to share with everyone at the company and celebrate the special people who make us who we are! Here are the standout stories from our last meeting:
Virtual receptionist Kris R. noticed that the desk where new hires sit during training was looking a little plain Jane. She took it upon herself to donate a few knickknacks, including an awesome robot, turning a drab seat into a welcoming space that WOWs each new employee!
It’s no secret that virtual receptionist Lauren O. loves animals. But she went above and beyond by organizing a group visit to the Oregon Humane Society. She saw a need in our community and coordinated a day to volunteer helping homeless animals. She even took time out of her weekend to lead 7 Rubys in reaching out to animals in need!
One day, virtual receptionist Sara-Lee B. was strolling through the grocery store down the street from Ruby on her break, when an ice cream craving hit. Instead of picking out a little something for herself, she bought enough for the whole office! Her random act of happiness brightened everyone’s day!
This one is truly inspiring. Virtual receptionist Monica P. noticed that there were a couple very important holidays that we may be overlooking – Mother’s Day and Father’s Day! With a little help from Ruby Client Services, she collected a list of clients that we knew to be parents, and she handwrote the cards herself! She saw something that would warm our clients’ hearts, and she saw it through personally – a truly great Ruby moment that we won’t soon forget!
Do you have any legendary examples of your own “Core Values in Action” that you’d like to share? Keep the warm and fuzzies coming with a comment below!
From celebrities to CEO’s, these days it looks like everyone’s trying to be a little more eco-conscious, and it’s a wonderful thing! But we know it can be a challenge to go green on a budget, so here are a few tips that don’t break the bank.
1. Set your office printer(s) to print double-sided by default. It uses less paper, and the best part is that it actually saves your business money!
2. When you’re leaving for lunch or for the day — and still need to run a few updates on your computer, take a second and turn off your monitor. It’s a small step, but all that energy can add up!
3. Keep a couple of reusable shopping bags in the kitchen. The Ruby® Receptionists office is located a couple of blocks from a grocery store, and Rubys will frequently need to grab a quick snack from down the street. We keep a few reusable shopping bags on hand for just such occasions. You can usually find them at your local grocery store, oftentimes in the checkout line itself, and they can cost as little as a dollar! Or, if you’d like to get a little fancy, you can spend a couple more bucks on a Baggu which folds into its own pouch to save space.
4. Start a Green Team! Here’s how the Ruby Green Team came to be: Ruby® Receptionists has always strived to be a green company; we weren’t named #19 on Oregon Business Magazine’s 100 Best Green Companies list for nothing! Our brilliant Director of Human Resources Charlene Huwe has always been passionate about protecting the environment, and she’s done a fantastic job of helping Ruby stay green. However, as we’ve grown and expanded over the years, she needed help! And thus, the Green Team was formed! Several of our virtual receptionists as well as other staff members meet once a month to go over goals and set action items for each member. For more details on the logistics of how to start your very own Green Team, check out this helpful article by the City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. We’ll keep you posted on how these green superheroes are working their magic here at Ruby!
Has your office implemented any green practices? Share them in the comment section below!
Our Ruby® Receptionists iPhone app has been out for a few months, and we’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback about it so far.
Clients especially like using the “Whereabouts” section of the app. This feature enables current clients to update their “Whereabouts” so Ruby’s remote receptionists can provide more personalized — and helpful — service. For example, if a client knows he will be at a conference all day, our receptionists don’t need to try his line for an answer. This saves time, which keeps client costs down and caller satisfaction high. The Ruby client doesn’t pay for the time it would have taken for the receptionist to try his line for an answer, and the caller likes the fact that they weren’t kept waiting. In addition, this enables Ruby’s live virtual receptionists to provide a more personalized level of service — it’s as if they saw you walk out the door on your way to the conference!
With the Ruby for iPhone app, clients can update their “Whereabouts” (examples: in court, at a conference, in a client meeting) to change how their calls will be handled for “The Rest of the Day,” “Until Further Notice” or by setting a “Specific Date and Time” at the touch of a screen.
Ruby’s live virtual receptionists are already known for sounding like they are sitting right there in the office, and this handy feature allows them to stay in the loop just like an in-house receptionist.
Are you a current client using the Ruby for iPhone app? If so, please post a comment and let us know how it’s working out for you. We’d love to hear from you!
Ruby Receptionists grew a lot in 2009. We finished a dramatic renovation of our office, located in Portland’s Pearl District. We added seven new receptionists and created three new administrative positions. We were #34 on the Portland Business Journal’s list of 100 fastest-growing private companies. Maybe most importantly, we introduced our new company core values. They define who we are and what we believe. They are the qualities we would never compromise, no matter how unpopular or unprofitable: Innovation, Foster Happiness, Create Community, and Practice WOWism. These are the values that drive us.
What do they really mean? Company core values are all well and good in theory, but what do they look like in action? Today’s post is about innovation.
Innovation is the receptionist who looks up a caller’s information from a previous message and confirms it rather than asking the caller to repeat his name, phone number, email address, etc. Innovation is the creation of the Culture Czar position — not something you would see in any other company! Innovation is seeing every mistake, every hiccup, as a chance to improve what we do and how we do it. Sometimes it’s seeing something that “ain’t broke” but that could be fixed anyway. It was a receptionist who suggested we use Shortkeys Lite to take messages more efficiently and accurately.
Hilary is a new addition to our team of virtual receptionists, and she had this to say about her introduction to the core values: “I like that all of the core values are interwoven. If employees aren’t happy or don’t feel like they’re an important part of the company they work for, they really have no reason to want to help make it the best it can be. Plus, the idea that we’re welcomed and encouraged to facilitate innovation shows that the company respects its Rubys on an intellectual level — which is really a big deal!”
We listen to our clients and their suggestions too. In fact, we go out of our way to ask them what they’d like to see. When a client has been using us for a few months, we call to find out how everything has been going. One of the most important questions we ask during this call is whether the client can think of any new software or features that would make our service better. Some of the best ideas come from our clients because they know what would make their lives easier. That’s what we want to do. It was a client who helped us standardize the way we write phone numbers and extensions to be compatible with most smart phones. Speaking of — for those of you iPhone users out there, keep an ear to the ground for exciting new developments in 2010!
If there is a better way to do something, we’ll find it. “That’s the way it’s always been done” is not a reason to keep doing what we’re doing. We are not confined to “standard operating procedures.” If it’s not working for us, we’ll change on a dime. Our ideas come from everywhere, and we’re not afraid to throw ourselves into the creative process, whether or not our ideas come to fruition. We are creatives, we are geeks, we are rebels, and we define our own way of doing business. We follow no one. We lead through innovation.
Upon becoming a Ruby, each of us is introduced to the Ruby Core Values. We read them, we discuss them, and we are both expected to represent these values at work and encouraged to live by them in our personal lives. Here’s a peek inside the Ruby guidebook, and a little of my own commentary as well:
Integrity: We do what we say we’re going to do, when we say we’re going to do it. We strive to do the right thing for ourselves, or company, and our clients. We are honest. We are committed to live out our values.
The way I see it: It’s pretty important that the person handling your calls does what she says she will. The receptionist provides your callers’ first impression, so it is vital that no one slips through the cracks. Integrity means placing sufficient importance on every call and handling each call in the way that will reflect the company best.
Accountability: We are clear on what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and what outcome each of us has to deliver. We recognize and celebrate our successes and achievements. We take personal responsibility in performing our jobs to the best of our abilities. We take pride in our work.
The way I see it: I’ve had jobs with bosses that do not tolerate mistakes. They get all worked up over the slightest error, and it makes for a stressful working environment in which you would rather hide in a corner than admit you’ve done something wrong. Thankfully, this is not that job. Here we are encouraged to admit our mistakes, and we are forgiven. Everyone works together to solve the problem, and then steps are taken to help prevent those mistakes in the future. It’s a beautiful thing when mistakes are not seen as the end of the world, but rather as room for improvement.
Outstanding People: We act on the belief that our people are our service, knowing that knowledge, commitment,and talent of different people drive our success. We maintain a business environment of dignity and respect. We foster personal and professional growth and development.
The way I see it: It’s no secret how I feel about my coworkers (they’re amazing!). Just take a look at my previous post, An Introduction to Ruby Culture, below.
Innovation: We are always looking for a better way to do what we do.
The way I see it: This is the Ruby value that is least visible to our clients and others outside of the office. It’s not just an empty promise, though. Since I’ve been here I have seen several new systems and operating procedures implemented that make the office work faster and happier.
Unparalleled Service: We consistently exceed the expectations of our clients and their callers. We recognize that “we are our clients,” and represent our clients’ interests as we provide our service.
The way I see it: This is the one that clients and callers really see. It’s what we call the “WOW” factor. I suppose all of the other Ruby values could be included in this one, because it takes integrity, accountability, outstanding people, and constant innovation to provide the level of service that makes Ruby Receptionists a great company to do business with and a fantastic company to work for.