Receptionist Etiquette Tip: Great Answers to Common Questions

Ah, the art of the phone call. In the world of business, how your company says “hello” can set the tone for your customer experience — and Ruby’s live virtual receptionists are brilliant artists, to say the least. Through our years of answering calls remotely, we’ve learned a lot about which phrases work on the phone and which fall flat. For example, mastering some great answers to common caller questions is a surefire way to step up your answering game, while improving your customer experience!

Here’s a few of the questions we hear most, paired with our favorite responses:

Is she in? or Is she available?

Questions like these are usually a caller’s polite way of asking Will she talk to me?  Sure, you may know whether someone is in the office, but that doesn’t mean you know whether that person will want to accept a particular call. Rather than answering common caller questions about someone’s availability with a yes or no or I’m not sure, try saying Let me try her line for you. Then, try the requested party’s line. If the person you’re trying to reach is unavailable or declines the call, return to your caller and segue politely into message territory with this Ruby standard: She is away from the phone at the moment, but I would be happy take a message. May I have your telephone number?

When will he be in or When will he return my call?

If you don’t know the answer and your crystal ball is out of commission, this type of question can throw you off your game. Fear not, phone call fielders! We Rubys have found a reply that works in most cases. It goes a little something like this: He keeps his own schedule, but I will be sure to let him know you called. What is the best number for a return call?  Next, you might make your reply extra helpful by offering to have the call returned at a convenient time. Sure, there’s no way to guarantee that your co-worker will return the call at the specified time, but there’s always a way to say it better! The extra information will be helpful to your co-worker, and the extra question will show the caller you care about giving them a standout customer experience.

Anything else? These replies work every time.

Even the best receptionists face common caller questions that they’re unsure how to answer. Fortunately, this doesn’t preclude you from being helpful and sounding confident! When you find yourself faced with a confounding question, try one of these rock-solid responses:

Let me find out for you.

I’d be happy to look into that for you.

Great question! Let me put you in touch with the best person to answer it.

Great question! Let me have a member of our team return your call with the answer. May I have your telephone number?

 

Without a doubt, replies beginning in Let me and I’d be happy to are essential to the Ruby toolbox. Adding a Great question! is another handy trick. We’ve found it’s the perfect way to add some extra friendliness to an already great response, while helping your customer experience reign supreme.

Looking for more customer service clues? We’ve got’em riiiiiight here:

Secrets 

How to Make Your Apology Count

How to apologize

Everyone makes mistakes. But not everyone knows how to apologize like they mean it. At Ruby Receptionists, we know that the right apology can turn a tough moment around. It’s important to understand the difference between the apology you want to give and the apology you want to receive—they’re not always the same thing!

Have you ever received a “bad” apology? One that didn’t make you feel any better?

In her study of apologies, Stanford psychologist Karina Schumann writes that insincere apologies happen because “people are highly motivated to maintain their sense of self-worth and integrity.” It can be hard to own our faults and promise change, but that’s what effective apologies do.

Sincere apologies are an asset in any professional relationship. You can set yourself apart by asking yourself what you want to hear in any apology, rather than what you want to say in an apology.

To give an apology you would be happy to receive, adhere to a few simple principles:

  • Take responsibility. Simply saying “I’m sorry” or better yet “Please accept my apologies” acknowledges your mistake and expresses your regrets. Keep it short and sweet instead of justifying or minimizing the mistake.
  • Offer a solution. The hard part is over, but don’t forget to follow through. Demonstrate that your apology is genuine by offering a thoughtful solution.
  • Move forward. In Karina Schumann’s study of apologies, adults who affirmed their own values and worth were able to make more effective, solution-oriented apologies. So, move forward with the knowledge that your apology reflects your values and strengthens your relationships.

With a little sincerity, and thoughtfulness, an apology can turn a difficult moment into a meaningful connection. Demonstrate your values and your problem-solving skills by making an apology you would be happy to receive.

What makes for an effective, sincere apology to you? Tweet us @callruby with your favorite apology tip!

Learn More: Fess Up to Your Mess Up

The Secret to Charming Callers Every Time

Customer Service Tip: Charming Callers

Does the thought of answering your own phone make you a little anxious? Are you energized by data, facts, and figures—but not people? Are you looking for relief so you can focus on the work you’re most passionate about? If you’ve been nodding your head while reading along, it may be time to consider outsourcing your call answering.

With all the hats you wear as a small business owner, it can be tough to transition between a tough negotiation with a vendor or reprimanding an employee, to pleasantly greeting a potential new client over the phone. Outsourcing your phone answering to a company entirely focused on delighting callers and creating a great experience means you never have to worry your bad mood will come through on a call.

Sound appealing? Here’s a few options to consider:

Forward directly to Ruby 24/7. If the sound of a ringing phone brings undue stress, forward your calls directly to Ruby and watch your anxiety disappear. Once you’ve forwarded your published number, calls will ring straight to Ruby and a group of friendly receptionists will handle them following your specific account instructions.

Customize your call-handling. During the new client onboarding process, you can decide on exactly how you’d like Ruby to handle your calls. Typically, we can either connect calls to you live, take messages or offer voicemail, or do a combination of both. If you’re looking to focus on big projects or client work, Ruby is happy to let callers know you’re away from the phone. We’ll immediately send over written and voice messages.

Are there some calls you’d like to take live and others you’d rather not? We can also connect certain types of callers to you while holding calls for others. For instance, many of our clients love when we connect potential new clients or emergencies to them live, and simply take messages for everyone else.

Read The Watercooler. Ruby’s blog is full of tips and tricks to help you deliver friendly, exceptional service when you do need to speak with clients. From phrasing to stress reducing time management tips, you’ll be armed with the knowledge to put your best foot forward—whether you’re a people person or not!

How Does Call Forwarding Work?

Woman on phone, silhouette.

If you’ve had the pleasure of speaking with a receptionist at Ruby, you know the experience is nothing short of magical. But have you ever wondered about the behind-the-scenes magic that makes Ruby possible? Call forwarding allows our receptionists to sound like they’re answering from your office, even from thousands of miles away. Our clients save money, and their callers receive exceptional care, never knowing they’re chatting with a remote receptionist.

Check out the infographic below to explore the many ways clients forward their calls to our talented team! (Click infographic to enlarge)

How Call Forwarding Works

Interested in treating your callers to stellar service without breaking the bank? Whatever your business situation, Ruby likely has a call forwarding solution to meet your needs. Give us a call!

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5 Service Power Phrases You Should Steal

words

Words are powerful. They can create connections or put distance between folks; they can result in appreciation or frustration. Service power phrases are a way your business can make them work for you. It might sound simple, but a little intentionality goes a long way. At Ruby®, we’ve found careful and positive phrasing leads to quality customer experiences that build meaningful relationships with our clients, and in the long term—loyal clients.

If you’re looking to beef up your customer service vocabulary, read on!

Five service power phrases for delivering exceptional caller experience

 

1. Absolutely! Certainly! I’m glad to!

Simply saying, “okay” or “sure,” to a request is bland. Convey enthusiasm and energy by dressing up your affirmations so it’s clear you’re excited to honor your customer’s request! Positive language creates meaningful connections with clients as you demonstrate how deeply you care for them and their needs.

 

2. In our experience, typically…

On the flip side, sometimes we find it’s best to say no to a customer request. What if they are asking for something outside of the scope of the service you offer? Perhaps they’re asking to implement something you can do, however, you know from experience it isn’t the best way to go. Above is an example of how service power phrases are a great way to reference your experience without discounting their own or making them feel silly about their request. It provides insight into the reasoning behind your no so that clients truly understand why something won’t work well. To really WOW your client, immediately segue into the options that do work so you can collaborate together toward a solution.

 

3. If I don’t hear from you by…. I’d be happy to follow up with you on….

Have you ever needed to follow up with one of your clients for extra information? If so, has your client ever said something like, “I’ll let you know when I have it,” with no clear timeframe? The key to making follow ups a breeze is to be upfront about your timeline so expectations are clearly set for everyone. This phrase provides you with a solid date to reach out, and your client knows they can rely on your doing what you say you will if they haven’t quite gotten around to giving you a ring. Everyone is busy—if you can set the stage so your clients feel comfortable relying on you to help them get things done, they’ll surely appreciate it!

 

4. The best person to speak with is…

Picture it—you’ve answered a call and a current customer dives into their billing questions the moment you greet them. What your customer doesn’t realize is you’re a sales representative and not the company billing specialist. Have no fear! The above phrase allows you to defer to the right person politely—saving your customer time better spent chatting with the person who can help.

 

5. I’m happy to help! I’m here for you!

You may find yourself offering a customer further assistance at the end of a call or email exchange. To make this offer impactful, be expressive! Warm and welcoming language like the phrases noted above demonstrates your genuine sincerity in wanting to help. You care for your customers, and they’ll be inspired to reach back out to you because they know it.

For even more service power phrases and tips, check out our YouTube playlist, “Paging Dr. Ruby.” The series is all about improving communication, and making personal connections— two great ways to step up your customer experience!

 Discover Ruby      Download Our Free Customer Service eBook

Treat Yourself to a Conversation Makeover

Phone Tip: Improving Conversations

At Ruby, we believe in delivering world-class customer service. When we interact with our callers and clients over the phone we’re determined not only to help, but to create a positive experience for who we’re helping. How do we accomplish this? Largely by tone and phrasing! Here are a few tips for taking your conversational skill to the next level.

Phone tip: tone and phrasing

Match Tone

As you can see from the image, responding in a different tone can be awfully confusing! Tone of voice is one of the most pivotal parts of conversation—it immediately tells a caller how sincere and empathetic we are. While a friendly and warm tone is almost always the best choice, there are times where adjusting tone to match your caller is better. If a caller is excited and happy, matching their gleeful tone is perfect. If they’re complaining or having a tough day, a more serious approach will help them feel understood and validated. If someone speaks at a slower pace, slowing your pace will help them feel more at ease.

How to improve your phone coversations

Offer Help

When offering a caller assistance, it’s important to only offer help you can actually deliver. Your offer should be sincere with no strings attached! You’ll want to express not only that you can help, but you’re delighted to be of service. Here are some examples of more polished offers of assistance than the one illustrated above:

  • “I guess I could…” vs. “One option would be…”
  • “If you want me to…” vs. “If it’s helpful to…”
  • “I can…” vs. “I’d be happy to…”

Setting expectations: phone call makeover

Set Clear Expectations

When chatting with a client, you may come across a request you have to say no to. When doing so, it’s important to set clear expectations about what you can do for them and what you can’t—and be polite while doing so. While this sounds intimidating, it doesn’t have to be! Using more polished phrasing can quell a caller’s frustration and show you really are on their side.

Think about the way you begin saying no. Are you inadvertently criticizing the caller’s request? Swapping a phrase like, “It’s not a good idea to…” for a phrase like, “In my experience…” is far less judgmental. Saying a phrase like, “I wish I could, but…” isn’t very helpful either. It may seem like a way to show empathy for your client, however, it only reinforces the image of your being powerless to help—and that’s not the case! It simply may be your way of helping is bit different than your client originally envisioned.

Improving phone skills: apologizing

Apologizing

The most important aspect of any apology is its sincerity. A disingenuous apology is worse than none at all, so skip saying “I’m sorry” if you don’t mean it. Alternatively, you may find you really are sorry for an error you’ve made, and let your client know multiple times. Over-apologizing can undermine your client’s confidence in you as they begin to doubt how competent you are. Saying a phrase like, “I’m sorry, but…” can also weaken an apology. The word “but” negates everything in front of it! Try swapping to, “I’m sorry and…” if you have more to say. The key is to keep it simple, acknowledge your client’s feelings, and say sorry once—and mean it.

Improving phone skills: expressing gratitude

Expressing Gratitude

If you’re receiving a compliment from your client, avoid shirking it off. False modesty does the opposite of what we intend—it can be dismissive and stand in the way of opportunities you truly deserve. Using phrases like, “It wasn’t a big deal,” and “Stop! It was nothing!” invalidate the very statement someone has made to you. Responding with an insincere compliment right back can also backfire, as you run the risk of your client feeling as though they’re being lied to. Simply saying, “thank you” is the way to go—accept the compliment and get back to building connections!

The path to positive customer communication doesn’t require a complete language overhaul—just a little makeover! Swapping out a the phrases we’ve highlighted above will ensure your customer’s feel heard, understood and appreciated.

Paging Dr. Ruby Ep. 6: Create Connections with Positive Phrasing

Ruby has a reputation for employing friendly receptionists who are experts in delighting callers. Our clients enjoy how our upbeat attitude puts callers in a positive mood and often ask how they can improve their own communication to match. For example, here’s one such question we recently received from Ruby client, Frederick:

Continue reading “Paging Dr. Ruby Ep. 6: Create Connections with Positive Phrasing”

5 Common Phrases That “Spook” Your Customers

Spooked man

Creating a personal connection with customers is vital to any business’ success, and so much of that connection hinges on the use of warm tone and positive phrasing. A negatively-toned phrase directed at a frustrated customer can quickly escalate a situation, and leave your caller feeling unhappy.

Here are 5 phrases to avoid when interacting with customers—and the friendly replacements we opt for instead!

I don’t know. Nobody wants to hear the answer to their question is flat-out not available, so let’s put a happier spin on this one. Next time you’re tempted to use this frustration inducing phrase, try switching it out with, “What a great question. I’d be happy to find out for you.” Your callers will be delighted!

No problem. This one seems pretty innocuous at first, but the problem (pun intended) with this phrase is in its negativity. With so many alternatives available, why not try something more positive? A good old-fashioned “You’re welcome” or “My pleasure” can go a long way—and of course, our virtual receptionists love using “Gladly!”

You’ll need to… Stop right there! This phrase comes across as demanding and cold. Instead of telling your callers what they need to do, guide them in a more friendly way by saying, “The best way to do that is…”

Hold please. The problem with this phrase may not seem apparent at first—it is, after all, a huge step up from “one minute,” or “just a sec.” But instead of commanding your customer to give you a moment, ask the caller if you may have a moment instead—“May I place you on hold for a moment?” Most importantly, remember to listen for their response before acting—if they say no, find a solution that doesn’t involve pressing the hold button.

I’m just the _______. This one is of particular importance to our team here at Ruby—we don’t think of our virtual receptionists as “just” receptionists. They’re the best receptionists you can find! Instead of diminishing your role with this negative phrase, next time lead with what you can do. For example, a Ruby would say, “As the receptionist, I would be happy to take a message and have him return your call.” Whatever your role, focus on how you can help the customer and not what you can’t do. The customer will appreciate your willingness to do what you can, leading to a more positive interaction overall.

A slight change to your tone and phrasing can make a big difference when it comes to making personal connections with your callers, as well as avoid scaring them away!

Give us a call!