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!

10 Opportunities to Send a Handwritten Notecard

Birthdays and holidays are wonderful reasons to send a handwritten notecard to a client. But, if you’re aiming to create connections, don’t wait for these annual events to roll around—any time is a great time to send a notecard! 

Here is a list of ten notecard-worthy occasions: 

IMG_2196

 

1. Sports team connection. Whether you’re fans of the same team or rooting for rivals, a shared love of sports opens the door to all sorts of great notecard opportunities.

2. Local news. Even noteworthy events in your client’s town are a great reason to reach out:

Looks like the weather in Pittsburgh is wild lately. How are you and your team holding up in the snow? We’re sending you warm wishes!

3. Encouragement or follow-up. Friendly chitchat is the gateway to genuine connection. Maybe your client mentioned she’s preparing for a big presentation during a recent conversation, or revealed her anxiousness about running a marathon. A notecard is a great conversational follow-up, and the perfect way to show you care:

The last time we chatted, you mentioned you were preparing for a big presentation. How did it go? I am sure you knocked ’em dead!

I’m so impressed that you’re challenging yourself to run your first marathon. You’re going to feel so great when you finish! Best of luck—we’re all rooting for you!

4. “You might like this.” Perhaps you came across a book, movie, or article you think your client might dig? Send a notecard with the details!

5. “I thought of you the other day.” When something reminds you of a client, take it as a gentle nudge from the universe to reach out:

I saw a cute old Volkswagen Beetle the other day and thought of you. Are you still fixing up the one you bought? I hope you’ve had a chance to take it for a spin!

6. Get well soon. This gold standard never loses its charm! When you learn a client is under the weather, send your well wishes.

7. New address. When a client moves to a new office space, be sure to send a congratulatory card.

8. Shared hobbies. A goldmine for notecard inspiration.

Our local convention center is hosting a knitting expo next month. Sounds like the perfect opportunity for you to visit Portlandour team would love to meet you in person!

9. After a great conversation. Something as simple as a pleasant exchange with a client can make your day, and theirs! Take a moment to pen a note. No complicated message requireda simple expression of gratitude is sure to wow:

Thanks so much for calling today. I had a wonderful time chatting with you! Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need anything.

10. A Just-Because notecard.  Maybe you don’t have a specific reason to send a notecard? Don’t sweat it—just grab a pen and card, and jot down something from the heart. Sometimes the greatest connections are sparked with the simplest of gestures!

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Fess Up to Your Mess Up

Value of Admitting to Your Mistakes

Have you ever called a service provider with a complaint? Most of us have, and most of us can recall an unpleasant experience or two. Whether the customer service folks on the other end seemed disingenuous, or the company did not do something they said they would, we can all relate to the frustration of feeling dissatisfied. As business owners, this is the exact feeling we aim to avoid. How can we abolish the stereotype of cold and unfriendly business? By practicing the art of the “Fess Up.”

Step 1: Acknowledge

The first step in rectifying an error is to acknowledge it, and that your customer is right in bringing it up to you. Acknowledging the error helps demonstrate the care and concern you have for your clients, and goes a long way in keeping their trust. It shows you and your company are taking responsibility. Saying something like, “Gosh, you are absolutely right! It looks like we did make a mistake here,” is validating to clients and helps them feel heard. Of course, if you’d like to apologize as well, this is the perfect time to do so! Just be sure you are genuine when you do say sorry. An insincere apology can be worse than none at all.

Step 2: Correct

It’s best to be clear about what you are going to do to fix the error—clients appreciate being kept in the loop. It’s also helpful to explain your next steps so the customer is confident the situation will be resolved. Be sure to set clear and realistic expectations about what you can and cannot do. Creating a partnership with a client is exactly what you’re aiming for here, and that is best done on a foundation of honesty.

Step 3: Follow-Up

The follow-up call is an excellent way to go above and beyond in showing your dedication to client happiness. Set a reminder to give your customer a ring after your intreaction to see how things are going. While you’re at it, use this follow-up as an opportunity to offer additional assistance, even if it’s unrelated to the original complaint. Clients are often surprised and delighted you’ve remembered their woes, and are grateful to have the opportunity to provide more feedback.

Armed with this problem solving method, you’ll surely build loyalty and recognition among your client base. Your clients are human beings, and like most humans, they yearn to feel heard and supported. After all, improving customer experience is a win-win!

Paging Dr. Ruby Ep. 5: Handling Frustrated Callers

Everyone has bad days now and then, and that includes your callers. So we weren’t surprised when we received this question from Ruby fan, Michael:

“As the owner of a small company, there’s nowhere else for customer complaints to go, so I’m often the one having to deal with them. What magic does Ruby use to turn these types of callers into positive experiences?”

Continue reading “Paging Dr. Ruby Ep. 5: Handling Frustrated Callers”

Going on Vacation? The One Step You Don’t Want to Forget

Hooray! You’re headed out on vacation for a well-deserved break. But there’s at least one step to take before you can do this:

Top Vacation Tip
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Update your Status in Member Services:

Ruby Receptionists Status Feature

Let us know you’re on vacation, and we’ll gladly keep your callers in the loop.

Without Whereabouts, your customers may react like this after leaving their fifth message:

Vacation Preparation
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With Whereabouts, we’ll be able to set good expectations for a return call—or direct your customers to someone else who can help. For example, we’d be happy to tell callers, “John is on vacation until the 25th, but Susan would be happy to take your order. Let me try Susan’s line for you.” Your clients will say,

Ruby Receptionist Vacation Prep
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and you can have peace of mind while on vacation. But if you ever forget,

Home Alone
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simply update your Whereabouts from wherever you are using the free Ruby mobile app.

Ruby mobile app

Have a relaxing time away!

Enjoy Your Vacation
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Ruby’s Guide to Vacation Autoresponders

Office Etiquette: Vacation Autoresponders

Vacation season is here—time to kick back, relax, and reply to client emails from a new and exotic location. Wait—what? No! Cut the proverbial cord with your work email account during your next getaway. A thoughtful autoresponder can give you peace of mind while you’re miles from your desk! Follow these guidelines to keep your clients happy and informed when you can’t reply right away:

Make it warm. You may not be able to email your clients while you’re snorkeling or or trekking a mountain trail, but you still care about them. Show it with your tone! Use a friendly greeting and closing to ensure the tone of your auto-reply is top-notch. A general greeting like “Hello!” does the trick for starters, and a closing like “I look forward to getting in touch with you soon!“ is a nice way to wrap things up.

Let ’em know when you’ll be back. Don’t leave your clients hanging—let them know when you’ll be getting in touch with them.  If you suspect you’ll be swamped when you return to your inbox, factor in a bit of a buffer time. If you’re back Tuesday, for example, you might say you’ll be happy to get in touch Thursday. Replying a little earlier than expected is always better than keeping correspondents waiting.

Point ’em in the right direction. Is there someone who can help while you’re out? Including that person’s contact information will put your autoreply recipients at ease, even if they don’t use it. Everyone likes to know they’re taken care of! If you don’t have a back-up buddy, consider including emergency contact information, or giving those who have it the okay to use it (“If you need anything urgently, please don’t hesitate to call my cell phone.”)

Altogether, your autoresponder might look a little something like this:

Hello!

Thank you for your email. I am out of the office on vacation, and I’ll be back Wednesday, August 12. I look forward to catching up with you then! If you need anything while I’m out, feel free to email Kendra at hello@callruby.com

Best regards,

Ruby

And remember: When you’re back to business as usual, be sure your auto reply is no longer active. You may be able to create a schedule for your autoresponder ahead of time, but if not, set a reminder to turn off your autoresponder.

Now for the best part—enjoying your vacation!

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