Four Tips for Using Virtual Talent in Your Practice

A virtual legal assistant sounds great on paper𑁋they lower costs, increase your billable hours, widen your profit margins, help you strike a work/life balance, and improve your client relationships. Ideal for the small firm or solo attorney, virtual talent is great in theory, but how do you actually make it work?

A reasonable query, one that I answer in quick four tips. Here are a few protips for incorporating virtual talent into your practice:

1. Identify and plan for your needs.

Running your practice is like working any case, it requires a goal and an understanding of all moving parts. With these in mind, you’re able to build a strategy and an action plan to reach your next milestone.

But let’s talk about your needs for a second. Are you honest with yourself about them? What are your strengths? Your weaknesses? What tasks do you hate doing? Outsourcing is an excellent way to help you focus on what’s profitable while shifting what you either don’t enjoy or don’t have time for to someone else’s plate.  Find a virtual attorney whose strengths are your weaknesses, virtual legal assistants who thrive on those tedious tasks you dislike, and virtual receptionists and legal tech for areas where you are losing money on office management.

In delegating tasks to virtual talent, you regain billable hours for your firm. Attorney and paralegal time can be billed to the client at a reasonable profit margin and you don’t need to cover their overhead as you would a body in your office.

2. Establish clear and proactive communication.

Communication is the key to virtual success. It enables delegation, builds trust, powers efficiency, improves integration, and creates a productive environment. All of which combine to reduce stress and increase efficacy and responsiveness.  Clear and proactive communication also reduces the likelihood of errors, conflicts in communication styles, and the oft-raised concern about assistants ‘disappearing’ along with your tasks (aka ghosting).

Good communication involves being direct about expectations, awareness of skills, and realistic time frames; it requires solid procedures and transparent processes.  Regularly scheduled calls and virtual meetings, the use of cloud-based technology and/or practice management software all give rise to clear communication.

3. Delegate effectively.

Doing everything yourself results in a self-perpetuating cycle of being overwhelmed, overworked, and overstressed. As your to-do list grows, you become more inefficient and less profitable. Delegate tasks where you can to remain productive and in control of your quality of life. 

Mindful planning coupled with effective communication is key to feeling confident that all delegated tasks will be completed. You have a plan, you know your weaknesses; you know you can bill paralegal time, and that by freeing up hours in your day you can focus on the work that generates revenue.

4. Use virtual talent to capitalize on specialities.

You’re a small or solo practice, and sure, while the law is the law there are some nuances to each practice area. You can’t possibly know everything about every speciality, so you inevitably reduce your practice area to focus your work.

So, as an estate planner, what do you do when you discover your client has a patent that is being infringed?  How do you handle an immigration case involves human trafficking?  You want to give your client the best service possible, so you study and familiarize yourself with the associated nuances.  But what’s even better? Hiring a freelance specialist to join your team. A virtual attorney and/or virtual legal assistant who supplements and compliments your own expertise is incredibly helpful.  Their knowledge is a significant benefit to your practice, as well as your individual clients.

Master these four tips to integrate virtual talent into your practice, and magic will happen!

Where do you go to learn more about virtual receptionists?

HERE

The Top 10 Ways to Destroy Customer Retention

Getting to know your customers

Customer retention is the fine art of keeping your customer base delighted by your service and loyal to your product. While customer retention is on the radar for most business owners, it may get lost amidst the day-to-day tasks that keep a business moving. Taking existing customer relationships for granted is rarely intentional, but it can feel surprisingly natural to ease off courting your customers once you get them through the door.

Continuing to charm buyers long after that first sale does require a plan and commitment, but the benefits of keeping them around are well worth the effort.

We’ve put together a list of 10 common mistakes businesses make that wind up losing them their most valuable asset: their customers. 

10. Under-Educating Your Base

Many companies overlook one of the best possible outcomes of doing business: the empowerment and gratitude people feel when you open their eyes to all the ways you can make their lives easier.

When it comes to your product or service, don’t be tempted to leave education up to “the Internet.” Take time to help them understand your product benefits; make sure they understand the latest features and updates. Highlight the differences among various product options, so they can easily and confidently make the best choice. They’ll appreciate the saved time, frustration, confusion, and the valuable decision-making power you’re providing them.

As you educate the customer about your products, take time to educate them about your company and your brand, as well. What’s your company’s story? Your values? Specialities or expertise that lend credibility to both you and your products? Make sure your customers know.

Establish yourself as the trusted go-to expert in your field, with just the tools they need, and customers will keep coming back for more.

9. Breaking Promises

The crutch of exceptional customer service is doing what you say you’ll do.  Failure to deliver on the promise of your good is a recipe for dissatisfaction, prompting your customers to walk away with the impression that you cannot meet their needs.

Yikes.

Take time to review the performance or quality claims touted in your marketing materials.  Are they accurate? Do you deliver? Think also about the kind of expectations your customers have about the experience they want when they buy from you.

Here’s your opportunity to take the lead: Set expectations from your side–then meet or exceed them. Be crystal clear about deadlines, the time required to rectify issues, the potential add-on-costs, and similar factors. Being up-front can help you better understand the needs of your customer and reduce the risk of mutual frustration.

8. Failing to Follow Up

One common misstep is not following up with your customers. Is your product hitting the mark for them? Did your project perform as expected?  Even if the answer is no, you’ve opened the door for a new conversation and an opportunity to learn how to improve your offering.

Following up can be as simple as an automated email or as personal as a call from the business owner. Find the practice that works best for you and your customers, and you may be surprised to see a spike in retention and active brand evangelists alike!

7. Forgetting to Ask for Repeat Business

A slight variation on the follow-up is the direct ask. Chances are, if your customers have a good experience, they’ll purchase from you again.

Or perhaps they’ll point you in the direction of another prospective customer.

Consider offering your first-time clients a next-purchase or next-project discount. If you’re completing a big project, be proactive about a follow-up proposal that showcases your abilities as an ongoing strategic partner.


Earn Referrals One Happy Customer at a Time

With Ruby

 


6. Failing to Reward Loyalty

Customer loyalty can be recognized financially, such as offering “frequent-flier”-type rewards. Or, you can opt for something a little more thoughtful, like sending a unique gift or hand-written notecard for an added personal touch.

Loyalty can be built or broken at every touchpoint in the customer lifecycle. Does your customer-facing staff greet repeat customers in a warm, professional way? Does your team retain knowledge about your client over time so that working with you never feels like a “do over”?

Customers like doing business with companies that make them feel like they’re more than just a number. Explore new ways of thanking customers for their business and acknowledging where you’ve been together and where you’re going.

5. Being (Only) a Commodity

If you don’t add value to your customers—or fail to create a personal rapport for that matter, you risk being seen as a commodity. Your offering becomes a service chosen based on price and features, making you an easily-replaceable part of the pack.

So how do you avoid being seen as a commodity? Demonstrate your value by creating meaningful connections.

Get to know your client’s favorite sports team or reach out when you hear about a big accomplishment in their professional or personal life. Connecting with your customer base humanizes your company, making customers more “sticky” and can validate their decision to buy from you – even at a premium price point.

4. Ignoring the Chatter 

There are many platforms today where customers can tell others about their good and bad experiences. It pays to monitor review sites on an ongoing basis and really listen to what people say, the bad and the good.

Negative reviews pose an opportunity for you to make things right with disgruntled customers in a public forum—flex your customer service muscles here and let people see you for the customer-centric business that you are.

3. Being Non-Analytical

It can be tempting to rely on anecdotes or “gut sense” when evaluating your product and customer service experience. But doing so opens you up to missing some truly valuable information and insight. Back up that intuition with a little hard data and you’re off to the races.

Make sure your data analysis extends beyond measuring operational expenses and ROI. Ask questions to gain insights, such as:

What percentage of your current customers are first-timers? How many have been with you for a year or more? Is there something bringing your customers back? And how can you create an even more effective strategy based on the customer lifecycle?

Evaluate the data and share the insights with your customer service reps, sales, and marketing teams to create content, experiences, and product enhancements that will further benefit your current customers.

2. Missing the Heart Connection

It’s easy to assume that people make business decisions based on rational criteria, yet studies show quite the opposite. Some 90% of customer decision-making is emotional, regardless of your industry. That’s why world-leading brands like Coca Cola, Apple, Nike and others spend millions of marketing and advertising dollars annually. They’re investing in emotional connections to draw like-minded (or like-hearted) people to their brands.

You have an opportunity to stand for something that your customers care about. Whether that’s a social cause, a set of beliefs or even a shared sense of humor—take the time to understand the connection between you, your product or service, and your ideal customers.

1. Not Having a Plan

The absolute fastest way to destroy customer retention is to leave it to chance. If you want to keep your customers coming back time and again, you need a plan. Make it simple. Include some measurable data-points, so you know what success looks like. Put it in action, then watch your sales and customer retention metrics blossom.

 

Looking for ways to satisfy your customers? We’ve got an ebook for that.

Learn how language can turn your callers into clients.

Check It Out

 

 

Why You Should be Measuring Customer Satisfaction


There’s a familiar saying about assumptions. It’s not one we’re going to repeat here verbatim, but we’ll paraphrase the takeaway: Assumptions are guesswork.

Customer satisfaction is one of the most critical aspects of running a profitable and successful business. Yet, many companies lack a process for measuring customers’ perception of their brand and service. It’s easy to assume you and your staff are taking great care of your customers. But if there are flaws in the system, you may not know there’s a problem until it’s too late.

Luckily, the power is in your hands. Implementing one or more of the following strategies helps you to be proactive in creating happy customers.

Conduct a Survey


The survey is an obvious go-to strategy for measuring customer service success–and with good reason. There are many tried-and-true methodologies you can leverage to test your customer touch points.

You may think “big money” when you consider doing a survey, but it’s easier than ever for a small business to develop a do-it-yourself poll. Write up a small handful of key questions, then use a free or low-cost resource such as Survey Monkey to send it out to your email list. The set-up is a breeze, and dynamite analytics are built right into the software.

You don’t need a huge customer list for your survey project to be a home run. Qualitative surveys can flood you with useful insight about your customers’ experience and attitudes.

Pro Tip:

There’s a wealth of information online about popular customer satisfaction surveys, how to structure them, and what questions to ask. You may want to consider:

  • The CSAT (to measure overall customer satisfaction)
  • The Net Promoter Score (NPS) (to gauge how likely customers are to recommend your brand to others)
  • The Customer Effort Score (to assess customer ease-of-use with your product or service)

Worried customers won’t take the time to fill out your survey? Offer an incentive. The information they’ll provide is pure gold and well worth a small gift or discount.


Impress Callers to Win Business

With Ruby

 


Be an Active Listener


Another massive advantage to being in business for yourself these days is the ability to hear the unvarnished truth from customers in the form of reviews and social media sites. It’s taken the business world a while to get comfortable with this reality. After all, these forums allow your customers to rave about the good but also shout about the bad.

But guess what? You can work both scenarios to your advantage.

First, your customers may sing your praises in ways you didn’t imagine. This positive feedback allows you to re-evaluate your own messaging in a whole new light. It also provides insight into what your customers REALLY find important.

Second, the truth is there are no “bad” reviews. Complaints can magnify negative trends you didn’t know existed. Even better, you can engage with the customer online and work with them toward a solution.

Resolving an issue can generate greater customer loyalty than never having had a problem in the first place. Better yet, other potential customers monitoring the conversation will see you’re willing to go the extra mile to ensure customer happiness.

Pro Tip:

A listening program can be as simple as identifying a few key sites or platforms, then assigning one or more of your staff to listen in. If you want to go bigger, a variety of apps and agencies are ready to help you tap technology for robust monitoring campaigns.\

 

Just Ask


A slight riff on the survey is a brief Q&A script for your customer-facing staff. Develop a short list of queries that Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) or account managers can interject into the course of a business conversation.

Does your customer feel their issue was resolved during the call or visit? If not, were they provided with a clear plan of action? Was the process quick and easy or did the customer experience friction? What could your CSR do better next time?

Often just asking the question will put you heads-and-shoulders above your competition. Also, it eliminates guesswork about whether the customer got the help they needed.

Pro Tip:

Don’t send your people in cold. Roll out your new Q&A program as a formalized process and acknowledge you’re asking for a behavior change. Highlight that ending a call on a positive note is a benefit for your staff as well as the customer. And consider rewards you might offer for CSRs who go above and beyond.

Now, plot your course.


Once you have data in hand, it may feel like your job is done, but it’s really just begun. Now, it’s time to make your Customer Satisfaction Plan.

Initiatives can range from rolling out a new set of company values to implementing training for your customer-facing staff to introducing a gamified program that engages your team and provides incentive for top achievers. It could even include bringing in a pro to outline a formal strategy for continual improvement.

Even one exceptionally positive experience can create a customer for life.  Launch a customer success strategy to measure and improve your customer relationships, help you win new business, and retain your existing customers.

Looking for more customer experience tips?

We recommend starting from the moment you say “hello.”

Learn how to turn callers into clients with our free ebook!

 

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7 Things Every Business Should Automate

Heart on smartphone screen.

What if you could save time, improve efficiency, and provide your customers with a better experience, all while actually taking work off your plate?

Automation is the tool of the innovative business. When you use automation tools, you’re enabling your team to work more efficiently, as well as providing your customers with a better experience. These tools, combined with a talented team, can streamline everything from marketing to customer relations and internal processes. Save yourself time and precious energy with our suggested list of automation tools for small businesses!

1) Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Efficiently managing a lead pipeline can be difficult, but customer relationship management software can make the process much easier to manage. With the right tools, you can better target your leads, improve customer experience, and manage your sales process. For example, imagine being able to delight your customers with anniversary emails and product updates, automatically. Implementing a CRM allows you to provide your customers with a premium experience, without the extra work.

Examples:

  • Infusionsoft is a CRM specially tailored for small businesses. Their tool helps small business owners reach the right customers at the right time and provides insights into who customers are and what they’re doing.
  • Clio is designed to help solo or small firm employees build a better practice with case, client, document, bill, and time tracking capabilities. If you’re looking to improve your practice’s efficiency, Clio can help.

2) Invoicing

As a small business, it’s vital you stay on top of your accounting and invoicing. With the help of automation you can streamline recurring invoices, centralize timesheets, and automatically track what’s been paid, and what hasn’t. Put your customers at ease with proper, reliable, and consistent invoicing.

Examples:

  • Freshbooks is easy to use accounting software that streamlines creating professional looking invoices, capturing expense reports, tracking billable moments, and collaborating with others.
  • Harvest empowers you to focus on doing your work, not tracking it. With a straightforward design and all the tools you need to organize your books, Harvest makes wasting hours on invoicing a thing of the past.

3) Social Media Scheduling and Management

In this day and age, social media is a vital part of every business’ marketing efforts—no matter how big or small. Scheduling tools allow you to manage your social media presence across platforms, maintain a personal connection with your customers, and stay organized. Share a product update across your social networks and update your customers about special events automatically. Making a personal connection has never been so easy!

Examples:

  • Buffer and Hootsuite each offer unique platforms that help you to streamline your social media efforts by scheduling posts at the optimum time, posting across social networks, uploading custom photos and videos, and centralizing all of your social efforts.
  • IFTTT is an innovative tool that allows you to work more efficiently by helping you with social sharing, productivity, web alerts, and more. Save time and keep up with industry news with IFTTT.

4) Customer support

Quality customer support automation allows you to provide a personal touch, while also making it easy to quickly view, catalog and reference customer requests. By building out processes through automation, your employees can focus on providing the highest quality of customer care.

Example:

  • Zapier is the tool you want at your side to centralize workflow. By connecting all your apps, automating routine tasks, and building processes, Zapier ensures that everything you need to support your customers is always at your fingertips.

5) Appointment and Meeting Scheduling

Scheduling meetings and appointments can be bothersome with variable schedules and busy customers, and nobody enjoys a missed or rescheduled meeting. An efficient scheduling software simplifies managing your day, while also helps you build trust with your customer base, and makes your company feel more approachable and accessible.

Example:

  • AppointmentCore is a fantastic tool that integrates with major calendar and meeting apps. This innovative software creates timeslots for your customers, update internal schedules, and displays easy to navigate calendars. You’ll never double book an appointment again.

6) Collecting Feedback from Customers

Customer feedback helps your company grow. Unfortunately collecting customer feedback can be, you guessed it, time-consuming. As your customer base grows, it gets harder and harder to reach out to each individual and request personalized feedback. Luckily there are tools to help!

Examples:

  • Mailchimp’s tagline is “send better email, sell more stuff.” It allows you to skip the process of selecting who to email, what to say, and when to send it by automating the whole process. Want to send a follow-up email right after a customer makes a purchase? No problem. Email is powerful, and Mailchimp puts this power at your fingertips.
  • SurveyMonkey enables you to make, deliver, and record the results of surveys, quickly and easily. Send your survey via mobile, web, or social media in an accessible format that clients can fill out effortlessly. Plus, it integrates with Mailchimp!

7) Office Supplies – Amazon Dash & Subscribe & Save

Shorten your work week and save time by automating your office supply orders. Avoid submitting the same supply order manually every month and have your orders sent out automatically, without a  second thought.

Examples:

  • Amazon Dash is the new way to shop. Using a simple button or wand, you can order new supplies quickly and effortlessly. It doesn’t get much more streamlined than this.
  • Amazon Subscribe and Save is perfect if you need the same supplies on a month-to-month basis. You just select an item, schedule deliveries, and subscribe to your order. Every month you’ll get your supplies and save up to 15%.

 

Receptionist Tips for Answering the Phone: 3 Ways to Make Your Company’s Greeting Great

First impressions: you never get a second chance to make them, and at Ruby® Receptionists, we’re all about making them great.

For our virtual receptionists, answering the phone is a chance to show off our super-friendly stuff. A company’s greeting plays a key part in making an impeccable impression on a caller, and we love helping new clients craft greetings that wow!

Without further ado, here are three Ruby-approved elements to use when answering the phone:

A greeting.  

I know, you’re shocked.

But, first things first: simply stating your company name isn’t enough. Begin your company’s greeting with “Hello,” or “Thank you for calling,” or, if most of your callers are in the same time zone, try “Good morning/afternoon.” Better yet, combine two or three of these options in your greeting!

Welcome your callers with a few warm words before saying anything else. A little courtesy goes a long way!

Your company name.

Now, “Hello” is a great way to begin a greeting, but it does not a greeting make. If your business is answering the phone with “Hello” alone, call a company meeting pronto and nix that nuttiness. In fact, a plain “Hello” can be confusing to callers, and it’s likely to make them question whether they’ve dialed the correct number. Always state your company name when taking calls. You’d hate to have a potential client hang up on you because they think they’ve misdialed, right?

An offer of assistance.

“How may I help you?” Ah, what beautiful words. Let your callers know you’re raring to make their day by rounding off your greeting with a question. “How may I help you today?” and “How may I assist you?” are two rock-solid options. Are you routing calls rather than addressing questions when answering the phone? Perhaps try “How may I direct your call?” Is there a question you need to ask every caller? Ask it! (“May I have your account number please?”)

Because every customer wants to feel considered, ending your greeting with a helpful question makes for a great customer experience every step of the way.



Your Gleaming Greeting:

After all is said and done, here’s what the finished product should look like, er…sound like, rather: “Good morning! Thank you for calling ABC Company. How may I help you today?”

I feel good just reading it. Sure beats the heck out of “Hello”!

 

Make a lasting first impression and start turning callers into customers today!

10 Critical Phone Tips for Construction Professionals

Between email, social media, and chat services, there are plenty of ways for your clients to reach your construction business. But it may come as a surprise that 48% of new clients prefer a phone call as the first point of contact for a local business. Though many of us may shy away from phone calls in favor of text messages in our personal lives, professional telephone etiquette remains a critical skill for all businesses.

In a recent survey, only 21% of clients reported being satisfied by phone interactions with construction professionals, making construction the sector of the survey with the most room for improvement.

It’s important to stay on top of new client relationships as well as existing projects with friendly and approachable phone etiquette. Whether you have a dedicated receptionist or answering your business phone is a shared responsibility, every time your phone rings you have an opportunity to impress (and win jobs).

From the moment a potential client decides to call your business to your parting goodbyes, there are a few simple phone tips that your construction business can make every phone call count.

Be Accessible

Rule number one to growing your business: give clients ample opportunity to connect. When someone realizes they have a problem that you can solve, picking up the phone and dialing in should be as easy as 1,2,3:

  1. Make your phone number easy to find.

    Don’t play hide-and-seek with potential clients—your phone number should be visible on every page of your website and empowered with click-to-call. In fact, wherever your business name appears (Google, Yelp, etc.) make sure your phone number is present and up-to-date!

  2. Make it memorable.

    In a time where cell phones dominate how we connect with one another, the odds of clients (potential or current) memorizing your business number are slim. Stay top of mind by creating something catchy. Think jingles and soundbites that speak to your expertise, something like 1-800-ROOFERS.

  3. Make it a point to pick up.

    What’s the point of driving traffic to your business phone if you’re just going to lose callers to an automated phone system or deflating voicemail? Missing calls is a great way to send business straight into the arms of your competitor.

Be Impressive

Remember that daunting stat we gave you at the beginning of this blog post? While a 79% dissatisfaction rate is pretty alarming, the good news is: you’re doing more than most contractors can by simply picking up the receiver. While this is a great first step, failing to impress while actually speaking with a client can be just as harmful as an impersonal phone tree. Woo your callers into clients with these little bits of Ruby magic:

1. Create a great greeting.


We’ve written a handy how-to for great greetings here, but in summary, your business’s standard telephone greeting should sound something like this:

“Good afternoon! ABC Construction. How may I help you today?” or “Thank you for calling ABC Construction. How may I assist you?”

2. Use hold wisely.

The location of the hold button is one of the first things you learn on your business’s phone system. But how do you communicate your rationale for putting a customer on hold? When it comes to putting a customer on hold, it’s better to ask than tell. Ask your customer’s permission to press the hold button with a simple “May I put you on hold?” Of course, your caller may prefer to stay on the line. If that’s the case, stay on the phone and communicate how it is you’re addressing their question or ask how their day is. A hold button is a valuable tool for your business, but wield it’s power wisely.

3. Be polite.

Incorporate politeness into your client service strategy with a few key phrases. While there’s no shortcut for great phone etiquette, saying “please” and “you’re welcome” will go a long way. Phrases like “my pleasure,” “may I,” and “I’d be happy to…” make a conversation feel balanced, pleasant, and natural—especially when it’s your client’s first point of contact with your business.

4. Smile!

Be sure to smile. You may have heard this piece of advice before, but did you know that you can hear a smile over the phone? Callers will be able to hear the warmth in your voice, and you may find yourself feeling more positive. No one can truly anticipate all of a client’s unique needs, but a smile is an important first step to keeping the conversation upbeat.

5. End the call in style.

When the conversation is winding down, reverse our three-stage greeting for a professional sign off. Be sure that you’ve addressed your customer’s reason for calling by asking if there’s anything else they may need help with. Once the conversation is at a close, thank your caller for reaching out! They’re expressing an interest in your business, so regardless of how the call ends, be sure to thank them for their time. Your final exchange for every call will sound something like:

Is there anything else I can help you with today? Thank you for calling ABC Construction. Have a great day!

 

Looking for a full breakdown of how to turn callers into clients? We’ve got an entire ebook dedicated to just that.

Check it out

What is a Virtual Receptionist?

what is a virtual receptionist

Before the dawn of the digital age, there was only one way for businesses to connect with customers over the phone—someone had to physically pick up the receiver to answer the call.

Nowadays, between phone trees and auto-attendants, employees and business owners need not worry about a ringing phone and can rest assured that callers will have the pleasure of pressing “0” until their thumb falls off.

Or, hang up the moment they hear a recording on the other end of the line. And then return to their Google search, immediately clicking to call a competitor.

Ooooh, plot twist.

While automation may be a game changer for efficiency, in today’s high-tech world, human interaction is more valuable than ever.

Which is good to know, but can you sacrifice the work you do to run your biz to answer every call that comes through?

Nope. You sure can’t.

But what if you were able to offer a customer service experience that sets you apart, while also focusing on the needs of your company?

 

Behold, the virtual receptionist.

What does a virtual receptionist do?

Virtual receptionists work remotely, offering callers the opportunity to connect with a real, live person that represents your business. Unlike automated phone systems, virtual receptionists delight callers and customers while performing tasks an in-house hire would do, such as:

  • answering and transfering calls
  • taking messages
  • relaying and collecting information on your behalf
  • making outbound calls
  • answering FAQs
  • scheduling appointments

So, at a fraction of the cost of an on-site employee, virtual receptionists come packing the same punch, plus a little extra. With the manpower of a full, highly trained team, 100% of your calls are answered, your receptionist is never sick, on vacation, or late, and every caller receives the same stellar service.

How do they do it?

A little bit of tech magic and loads of coffee.

While the above statement is absolutely true and I am tempted to just leave you with that, here is a quick break down of what this process looks like for you, your virtual receptionist, and your caller:

  1. Prospective (or current) Customer Calls: A caller dials your published number and the call rings through to your virtual receptionist service.
  2. Warmly Greeted by a Receptionist: Using your custom greeting, virtual receptionists pick up the phone to say hello.
  3. Receptionist Takes Action: Equipped with training and your personalized call handling instructions, receptionists will either forward the call to your preferred line, take a message, or offer the caller voicemail.
  4. You Stay Connected: Can’t take the call? A message will arrive shortly after your caller and receptionist have disconnected to fill you in on what you missed.

In addition to picking up when you can’t, look for the virtual receptionist companies that merge the advantages of technology with a human touch. From handy mobile apps that put the power of the front desk at your fingertips to hosting your business line, the best services offer a suite of comprehensive features that integrate seamlessly into your day.

Is it right for me?

Excellent question.

Let’s answer this query with…more questions.

  • What are your aspirations for your business? If you’re looking to grow, missed calls are missed opportunities. You never know when your next big customer will phone in.
  • How much potential revenue have you already lost to voicemail?
  • How do you value your customer experience? Between balancing the many duties of a business owner, are you able to pay proper attention to your touchpoints?

If you’re feeling it and plan to start scoping out your options, make sure you select the service that fits your unique needs. To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of q’s to ask your top VR contenders:

  1. Will my calls be answered live? (Because what is the point, if not?)
  2. What is the average ring time per call?
  3. What services are included?
  4. How are the receptionists monitored? (Unhappy receptionists = unhappy callers.)
  5. How can I update my call preferences? (Is it easy? Or just creates more fuss?)
  6. How will I be charged? (Better to clear the air right from the start.)

With companies like Ruby® Receptionists waiting in the wings to wow your callers and empower you with the freedom to focus, there is no reason to lose out on potential work or sour your relationships with customers due to a lackluster client experience.

After all, if you’re constantly reassuring customers that their calls are important to you…are they really?

 

P.S.

We made a little something for you. Not a super big deal, just a really useful checklist to help you evaluate virtual receptionist services.

Take Me There

 

Solopreneur: Customer Service and the New Way to Start-Up

 

Life as a solopreneur can be a breeze!

Your phone alarm beeps and you wake up at the crack of dawn.

You head to the kitchen to put a pot of coffee on to brew. Surveying the fridge, you wish you had just a bit more time to catch some zzz’s.

Breakfast in tow, you sit down to check your schedule for the day: Industry research, appointments, meetings with investors… (and at this point in the process for a solopreneur, everything feels like it’s live or die!)

You ask yourself: How do you build a brand with the prowess of a successful company when you’re starting out as one-person show?

And what does it take to harness the customer service to make your name stick, all while attending to the many needs of an up and coming company? It’s not easy to be superhuman, with only so many hours in the day!

Here’s the truth: You love your business, but the endless to-do lists sometimes make your head spin.

That’s okay. Another cup of coffee might help you. But maybe, just maybe, there’s another way.

After all, polishing your presentation to get in league with the big dogs as a solopreneur takes work.

Fear not! We’ve got a few insights that can give you a running start.

Use Tools and Tech to Work Smarter

Though your company might seem incomparable to bigger businesses, your technology helps level the playing field.

But how?

Well, it’s all about the infrastructure. After all, you’ve already got the goods (a great product or service). As a solopreneur, your offering might even be yourself! The next step is building processes to serve as the foundation of your customer service.

Ask yourself:

  1. Are your customers able to get in touch?
  2. Does a friendly voice answer your phone?
  3. How quickly and efficiently are you meeting their needs?

During our time as a start up, Ruby quickly learned that we cannot deliver on the apex of customer service (making personal connections) without mastering the basics. In response, we developed The Ruby Service Pyramid as a road map to striking the delicate balance between people and process.

Proper infrastructure creates better experiences. Even as a solopreneur, by investing in tools that enable you to work better and faster, you’re well on your way to fostering a little happiness.

And giving that coveted above-and-beyond customer service (that leads to referrals!), puts your business a cut above the rest.

Mastering Your Touch Points

Just like an interview or a first date, your potential customers are sizing you up from the moment you meet. From the tone in your voicemail to the look of your website, your customers get to know you from the way you present or display your business. Each touch point counts!

More than anything, the phone call is what wins business. So when a customer calls, giving them an exceptional experience starting from the first “hello” can keep them calling…and buying!

Here are a few flawless phone answering tips that you’ll be wanting up your sleeves…

  1. Greet your callers graciously
  2. Mind your manners (your p’s and q’s)
  3. Deflect with style
  4. Avoid dead ends
  5. Keep calm and carry on!

Curious? Get the full scoop here.

So, whether it means starting a blog, personalizing your invoices, or sending a handwritten note, take the time to make the extra effort. No opportunity to impress is too small or insignificant. Every step along the buyer journey is a chance for your customers to fall in (or out of) love with your business. Be sure to keep them swooning.

Hint: maximize your impact through accessibility. When your website shows up on the first search, and your emails include a click-to-call phone number, they don’t have to take that extra step to get in touch. Make it easy to connect!

Grow In Grace

Once you’ve got the building blocks lined up and business begins to flourish, don’t lose momentum.

More business=busyness—and when calls are coming in and you’ve got work to be done, the growing pains can be real.

Kind of like where you are, right this moment: schedule jam-packed, to-do list ever-long, still waiting for the coffee to kick in.

The good news? You don’t have to go it alone. If you have the cash flow, bringing on an employee can be a great way to increase productivity, as well as your customer service offering.

But…that isn’t your only option. If you don’t have the extra wiggle room in your budget for a full or part-time hire (or simply don’t want to complicate your business by adding another person to payroll), going virtual is an excellent solution.

What does it mean?

A (good) virtual receptionist service fills the customer experience gap that so often gets missed by a hustling business owner. There to answer your phones when you can’t, a team of live, remote professionals gives your company a polished, established appearance, while building trust with every answered call. At Ruby, we take messages, answer and transfer, make outbound calls, collect intake, and more (just like an in-house hire, but like…waaaaay less expensive).

Our mobile app is pretty cool, too. You can change your call-handling instructions on the fly, view messages, and all call activity. We can *also* give you a local number so you can choose to use your personal or local business number when making a call. BOOM. Two lines, one phone. No more giving out your personal phone number to customers or juggling two separate devices.

Whether you’re just starting out or find yourself uncomfortable in the midst of a growth spurt, Ruby can help. With our small business roots, we know what it can take to ramp up business, and keep it booming. From the solopreneur still working a day job, trying to get their dreams to take flight to the more established, tenured business owner needing just a little extra help, we see you. Ruby’s got you covered.

Plus, we grow (and go) with you.

 

Happy callers turn into customers, and happy customers bring in referrals. With the proper tools, a little mindfulness, and some customer service skills, you’ll be bringing in steady business in no time.

You’ve got what it takes to bring your vision to life, but if you need it, we are…

Here to help!

 

 

 

 

 

Give us a call!