Call Handling: A Comprehensive Guide

Call Handling: a Comprehensive Guide

What is Call Handling?

Call handling is the a-to-z, start-to-finish, process of managing phone calls. It’s every step your organization takes when a call comes in, or when placing an outgoing call.

We’re talking about…

  • Whether or not a call gets answered
  • How it gets answered
  • The way a company representative communicates to the person on the other end
  • How the company deals with call traffic
  • How calls are routed
  • What calls are blocked
  • How issues get resolved
  • What happens when callers are transferred or put on hold
  • What information gets logged during and after a call
  • And more

Good call handling can be the difference between a positive, and decidedly negative, customer experience. Unfortunately, many businesses lack the resources to ensure high-quality call handling every time. Others aren’t familiar with call handling do’s and don’ts, and don’t even recognize a problem until it’s too late.

Here’s everything you need to know about call handling, from business benefits to best practices and industry solutions.

How Does Call Handling Work?

Call handling takes numerous forms. It varies across every business based on factors such as the organization’s size, location, customer base, operating hours, technological capabilities, and sales and support strategies. In fact, strategies for call answering and handling can range in complexity from an in-house receptionist, to a live virtual receptionist service (like Ruby!), to a large call center operation with conversational scripts.

Inbound vs. Outbound Call Handling: What’s the Difference?

Inbound calls are calls made to a business. Despite inbound calls accounting for a majority of customer conversations, many organizations still let them ring to voicemail. In fact, many of these calls are from potential customers with questions about products, quote requests, appointment or consultation scheduling, etc.

The advantages of excellent inbound call handling include:

  • More calls answered
  • More leads generated
  • Faster resolution of issues
  • Fewer customer service mixups and delays
  • Less pressure on the customer service team
  • Happier customers

Outbound calls are the calls agents and other business representatives place. I.e the calls placed out from your business. These include sales pitches (e.g. “cold calls”), customer verifications, reminders about upcoming appointments, telemarketing, subscription renewals, surveys, and so forth.

The advantages of excellent outbound call handling include:

  • More outbound calls made
  • Increased sales
  • More information collected about customers
  • Less time spent on each outbound call

Should Your Business Consider Call Handling?

If you’re wondering whether your business—and customers—would benefit from better call handling, the answer is almost certainly “yes.” While phone calls may seem like an old-school customer service channel, they’re as important today as ever. Actually, more people are calling businesses than any other time in history.

Consider the facts:

  • 65% of potential customers want to reach brands by phone.
  • 29% of calls lead to a purchase.
  • 80% of customers say the experience a company provides is as valuable as the company’s products and services.
  • 67% of customers are willing to pay more for better service and support experiences.

Read more must-know customer service statistics.

The promise of great, or even good, call handling is speed, scale, and professionalism. A robust call handling solution empowers a business of any size to respond to as many inquiries as possible, minimize wait times, maximize efficiency, capture critical data, and ultimately provide excellent customer service.

Top 3 Benefits of Call Handling

  1. Never miss a customer service opportunity.
  2. Save time—your team’s and your customer’s.
  3. Provide extraordinary customer experiences.

However, depending on what solution an organization uses, the costs can outweigh the potential benefits. Call answering and handling technology can be complex and difficult to set up. Providers may saddle the business with inequitable contracts and expensive fees.

A worst-case scenario would be sending your potential customers to people who aren’t familiar with your business, or even dead air! And, if the solution hasn’t been properly vetted, the business risks sending the wrong message—literally—to the people who matter most.

3 Risks of a Lackluster or Poorly Integrated Call Handling Solution

  1. Sunk costs.
  2. Unhappy customers.
  3. Damage to your brand and reputation.

The key to effective call handling is connection with customers. Businesses that do call handling right prioritize their customers’ needs at every stage throughout the process and focus their efforts on building and strengthening customer relationships.


Curious about the difference great call handling skills can make?
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The Do’s and Dont’s of Call Handling

Do you know what it takes to connect with customers and deliver stellar experiences?

If customer sentiment is any indication, most businesses fall short. From one-person teams to advanced call centers and answering networks, there’s always opportunity to improve. Check out a few of Ruby’s call handling best practices.

Call Handling Best Practices:

How to Connect with Callers

Do…

  • Answer the phone as quickly as possible. Step one to successful call answering is speed. The faster a caller can resolve their issue or inquiry—usually, by connecting with a real human who’s ready to help—the better.
  • Greet your caller graciously. “Hello” doesn’t cut it. Begin with something nice like “Thank you for calling,” end with a “How may I help you?” and be sure to slip your company name in the middle. Above all, you want to leave your callers with a positive impression.
  • Personalize the interaction. This is where access to good data, and knowing how to use it, comes in. With data you not only know a callers name, but you also their background, experiences with your company, and—ideally—the reason why they may be calling. This information empowers you to tailor conversations to every caller.
  • Mind your manners. Kindness and an ear for etiquette both go a long way. Ask for information rather than demanding it, as in “May I say who is calling?” and “May I have your name?” Use “please” and “thank you” as much as possible. Remember: everyone wants to be treated with respect.
  • Keep calm. Emotions can run high during a phone call. Whenever possible, avoid taking a customer’s anger or disappointment personally. Be kind to the other person—and yourself—and you can overcome unpleasant experiences while minimizing any additional frustration.

Don’t…

  • Add unnecessary obstacles for your customers. Nobody likes talking to a robot. Unless your business absolutely needs it, ditch the multiple-choice routing system (e.g. “Press 1 for technical support, 2 for sales…”) and the phone tree. A worthwhile call handling system can address the complexities of routing and forwarding behind the scenes, without entangling your customers.
  • Try to resolve every issue alone. Great customer service agents know that it’s not about having the answer to every question, but about knowing what to say when you don’t know. Instead of saying “I don’t know,” accentuate what you can do. “Let me find out for you” and “Let me connect you with the best person to help you” are excellent responses!
  • Create dead ends. When you’re not able to reach the person your caller is seeking, always offer to take a message or transfer the caller to voicemail. Similarly, never make your caller ask to leave a message—it’s awkward and off-putting. It’s as easy as this: “Tim’s in a meeting. May I take a message?”
  • Get caught up in a mistake. Everyone, at some point, has said the wrong thing on the phone. Agents have overpromised, overshared, used an incorrect name or form of address—the list goes on. Nearly any flub can be remedied with friendliness. Remember: you’re a person communicating with another person, so be prepared to be a human being and forgive yourself.

Looking for a great company greeting? Learn a few Ruby-approved strategies for leaving a lasting impression as soon as you answer the phone.

3 Keys to Customer Conversations

  1. Keep it positive.
  2. Keep it personal.
  3. Keep it fast.

Here are a few practical ways to forge connections while responding to potentially challenging customer requests:

When it’s a basic question, but you need a moment to find the answer:

  • Great question! Let me find the answer for you.
  • I’d be happy to find out. Would you mind holding for a moment?

When you don’t know the answer, but you know who does:

  • Great question! Let me put you in touch with Susan—she’ll be happy to answer it.
  • Tim would be the best person to help you. He’ll be happy to return your call. May I have your telephone number?

When you don’t know the answer, and you’re not sure who does:

  • Great question! Let me find the best person to answer it.
  • Great question! I’ll find the best person to answer it, and have that person return your call. May I have your telephone number?

When the question is about someone’s whereabouts or schedule, such as “When will he be back in the office?” or “When can I meet with her?”:

  • He keeps his own schedule, but I’ll be sure to have him return your call as soon as possible. May I have your telephone number?
  • She keeps her own schedule, but she’ll be happy to return your call and set up an appointment. May I have your telephone number?

When your caller presses you for information you don’t have:

  • I would hate to give you any misinformation. Susan is the best person to answer your questions, and she’ll be happy to talk with you. May I have your telephone number, so Susan can return your call?
  • Our attorney will be happy to help you—I would hate to give you any misinformation. Let me try to reach her for you.

Call Handling Solutions With Ruby

Ruby is a call handling industry leader. When you work with us, you not only gain a top-rated virtual receptionist service but a partner for customer satisfaction and business growth. Our team of live, virtual receptionists can communicate with customers on behalf of your company 12–15 hours every day, seven days a week. Take control of your day-to-day by answering only the calls you want to answer and outsourcing the rest.

Ruby’s customizable call handling platform includes everything you need to impress your callers and customers:

  • Create a custom greeting
  • Set call-answering instructions
  • Engage customers with 100% live answering and 24/7 live chat
  • Screen and transfer calls automatically
  • Receive real-time updates and notifications
  • Manage calls on the go with the Ruby mobile app

See why we’ve received an average of 5/5 stars in over 400 reviews on Trustpilot. Discover Ruby’s call handling services for yourself.


See how a virtual receptionist combines smart call handling and friendly receptionists in The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Receptionists!

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13 Things You Should Never, Ever Say to a Client

Years of loyal business, created or ruined in minutes.

That’s the power of a phone call or online chat exchange. Every conversation with a client, customer, or prospect is a moment that could shape your company’s future—for better or worse. It’s an opportunity to either win someone over or lose them to a competitor, to establish trust or sabotage a relationship. And the outcome, positive or negative, can result from seemingly minor decisions and inadvertent behaviors.

Frequently, it comes down to a few words.

With that in mind, and in the interest of helping more small businesses avoid catastrophic client interactions, here are a few all-too-common phrases to avoid:

1. “I don’t know.”

Unless you run a psychic reading service, you’re probably going to encounter questions to which you don’t have an immediate answer. That doesn’t mean the other person needs to know that you don’t know. Skip the shrug and move on to helping the client or prospect get the information they need.

What to say instead: “Good question! Let me put you in touch with someone who can answer it.”

2. “I’m not sure.”

Like “I don’t know,” “I’m not sure” is a useless acknowledgment of doubt. Moreover, it can cause you to seem disorganized, unprofessional, or lacking in confidence. It’s better to focus on the positive assistance you can offer. (Learn a simple strategy for dealing with uncertainty.)

What to say instead: “I’ll be happy to find that out for you.”

3. “I can’t.”

During an interaction with a client or prospect, your job is to keep the conversation moving. “I can’t” is a dead end. Think of what you can do and offer to do it. There’s always another route to take—perhaps it’s providing an alternative option, following up later, or even just listening and acknowledging the individual’s concerns.

What to say instead:
“I know who can help you with that—let me connect you with them.”
“I can do that! One moment please.”
“Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention. We’ll work on resolving it as quickly as possible.”

4. “That’s not my problem.”

Also said as “That’s not my job.” Regardless of your role, department, or area of knowledge, every client or prospect concern should be your concern when you’re involved in the conversation. Again, demonstrate what you can do rather than what you can’t (or would prefer not to).

What to say instead: “Our specialist [name] would be the best person to help you with that. Can I connect you with them?”

5. “You’re wrong.”

No, the customer isn’t always right. But you don’t need to go out of your way to tell them that. Use a misunderstanding or potential conflict to demonstrate empathy, check your assumptions, and gently educate your client or prospect if necessary.

What to say instead: “It sounds like you’re experiencing [specific problem, reiterated back to the client or prospect]. Is that right? Here’s what I can do to help.”

6. “Calm down.”

Urging someone to relax tends to have the opposite effect. Phrases like “calm down” turn what should be a collaborative exchange into an adversarial one. No matter how angry or upset your client or prospect might be, it’s up to you to deescalate the situation. Rather than telling the other person how to feel, acknowledge their emotions and guide them to a resolution that will naturally result in them feeling better.
What to say instead: “I can see why you’re upset, and I’m sorry for any frustration this situation has caused you. Here’s what we can do to fix it.”


Wondering why any of this matters? Discover the ROI of real, meaningful personal connections!

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7. The wrong name, pronoun, or form of address.

Referring to someone by the wrong name or identifier is not only embarrassing, but disrespectful—and potentially discriminatory. Know the name of the person you’re talking to, as well as their preferred pronouns (e.g. he, she, they) and forms of address (sir, ma’am, Ms., Mx., Dr., etc.). If you’re not sure how the client or prospect identifies, consider asking. One easy way is to state your pronouns first, thereby offering the other person the opportunity to do the same. 

Many professionals have taken to adding their pronouns to their email signature. A simple (she/her/hers) under your name will do!

8. “We’re too busy for that.”

Busy-ness is great for business—until it gets in the way of new business. Like “I can’t,” “we’re busy” is a dead end. Don’t simply tell a client or prospect they’re out of luck. Instead, set communicate your availability, set realistic expectations, and schedule a follow-up if possible.

What to say instead: “I’m afraid we can’t do that right now, but I would be happy to help you as soon as we can. The next opening we have is [on/around date]—will that be all right for you?”

9. “Just a sec.”

There’s nothing wrong with taking a brief pause to meet a client or prospect’s need. That said, this specific phrase is a little too informal. Trade it for a classier “one moment, please,” and let your professionalism shine.

What to say instead:
“One moment, please.”
“Happy to help! I’ll need to [engage in a certain action] first. Could you give me one moment?”

10. “Hold, please.”

The flipside of “just a sec,” this phrase is too formal—and somewhat cold and robotic. It’s also framed as a command rather than a request. Before placing someone on hold, be sure to ask their permission first. If they decline, respect their decision—don’t press the “Hold” key.

What to say instead: “May I place you on hold for a moment?”

11. “They’re on the other line right now.”

Sure, it might be true that Ms. Smith is on the other line, but maybe don’t tell your caller that. Otherwise, they may infer that Ms. Smith will return the call as soon as she’s off that other line—which might not be true. Another potential hitch: your caller might ask to wait on hold until Ms. Smith is available, and if you’re not sure Ms. Smith wants to talk to your caller as soon as she’s free, trouble could be ahead.

What to say instead: “I’m afraid [name] isn’t available right now, but I would be happy to take a message! Is there anything else I can help you with in the meantime?”

12. “Just between you and me…”

Camaraderie with a client or prospect is a beautiful thing—unless it comes at the expense of your team. No issue is worth throwing someone you work with under the bus, so to speak. The same goes for company policies, values, trade secrets, or anything else your organization holds dear. By sharing confidential matters or your unfavorable opinions with someone outside of your business, you risk that person perceiving you as dishonest or untrustworthy.

What to say instead: Nothing. Raise your concerns with members of your team or keep them to yourself.

13. “I’m not in the mood for this.”

We’ve all had bad days. You don’t need to keep those feelings to yourself, but you definitely shouldn’t share them with a client or prospect. If a conversation is too taxing, consider asking a colleague for help or returning the call or chat request at a later date.

If you’ve got a cranky caller that is testing your charm, we’ve got a list of tips to help with that. 

Keeping up with client and prospect requests can be tough for any growing business. You don’t need to do it all alone. When you work with Ruby, you gain a team of friendly, professional, thoroughly-trained customer support agents who are available when you need them.

Check out our Ultimate Guide to Virtual Receptionists to learn more about how Ruby can elevate your customer service experience and support your in-house team!

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101 Tech Tools for Business Owners

Customer Service Hacks

Running a business can get complicated. Really complicated. Between managing projects, keeping track of resources, meeting customer demands, maintaining a brand, and chasing down invoices, there’s always another thing to do. And those are only the fundamentals. Consider all the effort it takes to court customers, build your network, optimize your online presence, hire new staff, launch marketing and sales campaigns… The list goes on.

How do successful business owners stay on top of it all? Is it time-travel? Copious amounts of coffee? 

While caffeine can certainly boost productivity, thriving businesses are leveraging technology to elevate customer experience and the efficiency of business operations. But, given the sheer number of options out there, identifying and employing the right tools can become a job unto itself. So many search results, so few intelligible answers. 

Fortunately, we here at Ruby have done some of the heavy Google-lifting for you. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive list of 101 tools for business owners. Feel free to scour the entire list or jump to a section that meets your immediate needs. And be sure to bookmark this page so you can return to it next time you face a business challenge.

Project Management and Collaboration

Don’t let work about work overtake the work itself. Whether your business comprises a small team, multiple groups in multiple offices, or just one person (i.e. you), there are numerous solutions out there that will make project management and collaboration fast, easy, and—dare we say—fun. Here are our favorites:

  1. Evernote
  2. Trello
  3. Asana
  4. Slack
  5. Zoom
  6. Skype
  7. Basecamp
  8. OmniFocus
  9. Yammer

Document Creation and Storage

If your company is like 99.99% of businesses in existence, at some point you’ll need to generate and keep track of a couple (or a couple thousand) documents. Consider these the essentials—the tools you need to create and store bylaws, budgets, letters, proposals, and so forth.

  1. Microsoft Office
  2. Google Suite
  3. Dropbox
  4. Proposify
  5. Stamps.com

Time Tracking and Travel

Your time is a precious resource. Don’t take it for granted or let it go to waste. The following tools can help you organize meetings, track working hours, plan trips, optimize your and your team’s schedules, and more—all without consuming valuable time from your day.

  1. Calendly
  2. There.pm
  3. TripIt
  4. Timesheet
  5. TMetrics
  6. Harvest
  7. Homebase

General Business Information and Guidance

Business ownership can be a tough, unpredictable, and at times lonely experience. But no matter how isolated or overwhelmed you may feel, you’re never alone. Both the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and SCORE can put you in touch with mentors and other business owners, and provide you with the education, informational materials, and training (virtual and in-person) you need to succeed.

  1. SBA
  2. SCORE

Funding

From banks to venture capitalists, there may be plenty of people and organizations out there who are interested in helping your business grow. Use these tools to explore your options and get in front of some decision-makers.

  1. Fundera
  2. Lendio
  3. SmartBiz
  4. EquityNet

Accounting and Bookkeeping

Unless you’re a CPA, you probably didn’t get into business to work with financial information all day. And if you do do accounting or bookkeeping for a living, you’re probably going to need more than a pencil and paper. The following tools allow you to track income and expenses, create and send invoices, and file your taxes with ease.

  1. Expensify
  2. Quickbooks
  3. Gusto
  4. Slimvoice
  5. TurboTax

Staffing, Recruiting, and Contracting

Hiring for a new position and on the hunt for talent? Need a contractor for a one-off project or an ongoing need? You don’t need to rely on community job boards or settle for your neighbor’s out-of-work cousin. Use these tools to find candidates—and have them compete for the opportunity to work for you.

  1. Workable
  2. ZipRecruiter
  3. Fiverr
  4. Behance

Websites and E-commerce

Designing a website can be a costly prospect, especially if you sell products online. It’s no surprise that many businesses struggle to maintain an internet presence—a good number of business owners simply can’t afford a professional website designer. These tools empower you to do everything yourself, from the basic elements (building homepages, implementing shopping carts, accepting payments) to the more advanced (reducing visitor bounce rates, carrier rate shopping, learning code).

  1. Shopify
  2. Squarespace
  3. WordPress
  4. Square
  5. Unbounce
  6. ShipStation
  7. Siteliner
  8. Searchcode
  9. Hotjar

Design

Your business’s look and feel are more than aesthetic considerations. A well-designed logo, advertisement, piece of marketing content, or user experience delights your customers, ultimately boosting loyalty and generating more sales. Unleash your inner designer with these affordable (or free) tools.

  1. Canva
  2. Coolors
  3. Adobe Creative Cloud
  4. Acrobat
  5. Snappa
  6. Unsplash
  7. 99 Designs
  8. Typekit
  9. DaFont

Content and Video Creation

Content, particularly video content, is one of the most effective means of reaching your audience. As hours of footage get uploaded to YouTube every second, no business can afford to sit on the sidelines. Create eye-catching videos and other engaging content (hello, blog posts!) with these tools.

  1. Animoto
  2. Drift
  3. Pablo
  4. Lumen5
  5. Playbuzz
  6. Infogram
  7. Podbean
  8. Hemingway

Marketing and Social Media

Word-of-mouth marketing is the single most effective form of advertisement for a company, and providing a stellar customer service experience is key in creating loyal customers who recommend your business. However, other marketing and social media efforts can definitely be helpful in getting your name out there. Avoid agency costs and start spreading your own message with these marketing, advertising, and social media tools.

  1. HubSpot
  2. MailChimp
  3. YouTube
  4. Instagram
  5. Promo
  6. Buffer
  7. Hootsuite
  8. Facebook Ads
  9. Google Ads
  10. CrowdTangle
  11. IFTTT
  12. Zapier

Customer Engagement and Satisfaction

Speaking of customer service, it’s a good idea to focus on that—perhaps even before you launch a concerted marketing effort. When used in tandem with a superb customer relationship team, these tools ensure you never miss an opportunity to forge connections with the people who matter most to your business. Wow your customers, and who knows? Word of mouth just might save you some money otherwise spent on a campaign.

  1. SumoMe
  2. Kilterly
  3. Yelp
  4. Fivestars
  5. Yesware
  6. Trustpilot

SEO

Whether they realize it or not, customers are searching for your business. It’s your job to help them find you. How? By harnessing the power of the algorithm. Ensure your website and landing pages reach the top of search results with these essential search engine optimization (SEO) tools.

  1. Google Analytics
  2. Google Keyword Planner
  3. Moz

PR

Ah, public relations. If your business does PR well, it can become a beloved company—or at least one whose personality has earned a dedicated following (think of Wendy’s, for instance). If you manage the press and your public image poorly, however, your business will appear unkind, boring, out of touch, or—worst of all—invisible. Here are six tools you can use to monitor public sentiment, coordinate media communications, and build your reputation.

  1. HARO
  2. Survey Monkey
  3. Google Alerts
  4. Podium
  5. Mention
  6. Reddit

Networking

Networking can bring you into contact with life-changing partnerships and opportunities. Grow your circle and discover what’s out there with these networking tools.

  1. LinkedIn
  2. Shapr
  3. Hunter

Security and Privacy

Businesses face greater security threats than ever—and confidential data (such as your customer’s private information) is at risk. Don’t treat protection as an afterthought. The following tools will help you balance security with productivity, so you can keep your and your customers’ data safe without sacrificing the necessary flow of information.

  1. LastPass
  2. Private Internet Access
  3. Avast
  4. FCC Cyberplanner

Legal and HR

While it is a good idea to hire a qualified attorney for your business, there are times when it’s smarter (and cheaper) to do things yourself. In other words, you don’t need to bother your legal representative with every single piece of paperwork. And the same is true for human resources-related matters as well. Take a look at these tools before calling your lawyer or HR manager.

  1. LegalZoom
  2. ShakeLaw
  3. UpCounsel
  4. Zenefits
  5. Goco.io

Whew! There you have it: 101 tools you can use to stay productive, successful, and in control of your business. Keep in mind that these tools are meant to bolster—not replace—the human element in your business. Your greatest resource are the human beings you choose to work with and for! Discover the power of personal connections for yourself with our free business guide.

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Here Comes Summer—and Your New Customers

It’s officially summer! (Okay, technically, officially 10 days until summer, but who’s counting?) For some, that means kicking back, going on vacation, and enjoying long, sunny days full of recreational activities and time with family and friends—sweet, sweet rest and relaxation.

For others, however, summer means major business. We’re talking construction projects, real estate sales, landscaping jobs, home repairs, local and long-distance moves, and so on. And right now, countless seasonal and season-driven companies are preparing for their busiest times of the year.

If you operate a company that thrives during the sunshine months, you’ve no doubt been spending significant time and resources on ramping up business for summer. Maybe you’ve invested in marketing and sales campaigns, improved your online presence, hired new team members, purchased new equipment, or all of the above.

But are you ready to handle a wave of new customers? Getting people through your literal or figurative door is only half the battle. Customers expect your full attention. Will you be able to give them the experiences they deserve while juggling the demands of a bustling business? 

Optimize Customer Experiences (and Your Own) with Virtual Receptionists and Live Chat

You don’t need to work long hours, double your staff, or turn away prospects to ensure an exceptional customer or client experience. With the right team of virtual receptionists on your side, you can be confident that:

  1. Every call gets answered in a friendly and professional manner that reflects your company’s values and voice
  2. All necessary information about the caller gets captured completely and accurately
  3. Receptionists keep you updated with real-time notifications, empowering you with the ability to plan and prioritize tasks

Consider the labor that goes into attracting and serving a customer or client. A real estate agent, for example, can expect to spend a dozen hours working face-to-face with a homeowner—on top of 35 to 100-plus hours behind the scenes selling the client’s property. Much of that time is spent establishing trust. A single negative interaction, via phone or otherwise, threatens to undo all that hard work.

Even worse? Missed opportunities. An overwhelmed or unavailable business not only squanders customer acquisition investment, but effectively works against its own interests. Between 72% and 80% of would-be customers will hang up without leaving a voicemail if their call isn’t answered. 44% of those callers will immediately dial a competitor. Yikes.

At Ruby, our legendary receptionists enable your business to give every contact complete, personalized attention, on your terms. We respect the hustle and the personality every business owner brings to their company. But, thanks to our own small business roots, we understand that no one can be everywhere at once. (Even if you really want to be!)

Our solution is not about replacing you or your reception staff, but empowering the people and systems you already have in place. During the busiest of days, or days when you choose to step away and into summer, Ruby gives you flexibility. Take the calls you want and rest assured knowing that those you can’t take are being handled by live professionals. Have busy days and not-so-busy days without sacrificing quality and consistency.

Ruby IS NOT…

  • a traditional answering service—we do not read the same scripts to every caller, and aim to answer 98% of our calls by the fourth ring. 
  • a loose network of remote agents—all of our receptionists work out of our offices in Portland, Oregon.
  • an automated bot service—we’re very much human around here!

Ruby IS…

If summer is bringing new business your way, call the Ruby team! We’re here to give you the support you need to provide every one of your customers or clients with an exceptional, seamless experience. You’ll gain more time to do what you do best, connect when you want to connect, and—hey, why not?—enjoy all the season has to offer.  

Want to learn more about virtual receptionists? Download our ebook to get the full scoop!

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Client Communication Tips for Attorneys

Human communication is layered with non-verbal messages and read-between-the-lines language that require a high level of emotional intelligence to navigate. In the legal field, picking up on these signals can help an attorney establish and build trust with potential and current clients alike. For attorneys who excel in their practice but perhaps struggle with interpersonal communication, we’ve put together a few quick tips to help you meet the needs of your clients.

Listen Well

“Active listening” and “good communication” are buzzwords we’ve all used during an interview or around the office, regardless of our industry. From law firms to contractors to hair stylists, professionals recognize the role of effective communication—which might explain why most adults fancy themselves expert listeners.

While active listening is typically associated with head nods, the occasional “mhmm”, and an accurate regurgitation of a speaker’s main points, the Harvard Business Review contends that these actions just barely scratch the surface. Skilled listeners will first create an environment in which a person feels comfortable speaking. For attorneys, this means eliminating distractions. Desk and cell phones, a smartwatch, or any other electronics that threaten to divert attention away from a client should be tucked away. From here, your own body language, the questions, and insights you offer, and your ability to pick up on nonverbal cues (and acknowledge them) not only deepens your understanding of a client’s unique circumstance, but also establishes a foundation of trust.

Break it Down

A benefit of honing your listening skills is gaining a clear understanding of a client’s motivation around specific litigation. Becoming familiar with their goals empowers you to provide information in the context of their aspirations. Give clients insight as to why information matters to them and reinforce a positive perception of your firm. Frame information in a way that connects with your clients to let them know you’re listening, and again, you’ll earn their trust.

In addition to context, remember to steer away from legal jargon. Avoid inaccessible language that can further confuseand potentially frustrateyour clients. Be sure to break down terminology in a way that aligns with each individual client’s needs. And remember to always loop back to why the information you are giving them is relevant!

Follow Up

What might be the biggest challenge of running your own practice? Following up with client communication in a timely manner in the midst of meetings, casework, and court dates. While the clients who have you face-to-face appreciate your undivided attention, your focus there will inevitably result in unanswered client (or potential client) phone calls. Virtual receptionists are a great solution to a ringing phone. Clients are able to connect with a real, live human ready and trained to help them, while you remain focused on the task at hand. Even if a receptionist is answering your calls, be sure to set aside time to follow up with clients. Keep them updated and check in to reassure them that their needs haven’t been forgotten to maintain valuable positive client relationships.

Bottom line: Eliminate distractions in your environment, seek to understand client goals, and avoid legal jargon to meet clients where they are. Better communication means an elevated client experience, which translates into wider profit margins for your firm. 

TimeSolv is a comprehensive project management and legal billing software that has been helping lawyers and other professionals increase billable time and get paid faster since 1999. TimeSolv is compatible with PCs and Macs, iPad and other tablets, iPhones and Android App. If you’re interested in automating your law practice with TimeSolv, click here now to start your no-obligation 30-day free trial!

Live Chat: A Valuable Tool for Customer Acquisition

Right now, at this second, dozens of people want to get in touch with your business. Fortunately, you don’t need to do much to connect with them. If you have an online presence, such as a website or Facebook page, you’re probably halfway there.

But you already knew that. If your organization is like most, you’re already focused on digital marketing and website development. Perhaps you’ve invested in search engine optimization, content, advertising, or any number of the myriad strategies businesses use to stand out online.

So why aren’t you connecting with as many customers as you could be? Two words:

Live chat.

What Is Live Chat?

Live chat is a form of online communication in which people send messages to each other in real time. Think of it like texting, but over an internet connection rather than a telephone network.

You’re probably familiar with live chat, even if you don’t know it. If you’ve ever typed a word into Slack, WhatsApp, Apple Messages, Facebook Messenger, Google Talk, AOL Instant Messenger, or Skype, you’ve engaged in live chat. And if you’ve ever visited a website and were greeted by a pop-up box encouraging you to “chat now” with a support agent, you’ve seen a company’s live chat tool in action.

These tools aren’t merely for show—they can transform a business’s customer acquisition numbers practically overnight.

Why Does Live Chat Matter?

Consider the following:

  • 42% of all customers prefer chat over other communication channels, such as email (23%) and social media outreach (6%). [source]
  • 73% of consumers are satisfied with their experiences on live chat—that’s the highest level of all customer service channels. [source]
  • Compared to other prospects, live chat prospects are 4.6 times more likely to convert into customers. [source]

Given these kinds of statistics, you’d think service-oriented businesses would be zeroed in on live chat. And yet, approximately only 14% of companies use it. That means 86% of businesses—likely including your competitors—either undervalue chat or don’t know about it at all.

Sounds like a major opportunity for you to differentiate.

But that’s only one of the many benefits live chat can offer. With a simple, unobtrusive chat window, your site can…

  • meet customer demand 24/7,
  • take sales and support pressure off of your team,
  • generate new leads for your business,
  • help you overcome common customer objections as they arise,
  • answer visitors’ frequently asked questions,
  • gather a broader and more accurate set of customer data,
  • and much more.

That said, effective chat is about more than installing a widget on your website. To see real results, you need to do things right. Bots, forms, and outsourcing simply don’t work. In fact, shortcuts can actually turn would-be customers away.


Discover the ROI of live chat with our live chat calculator


Live Chat Insights and Best Practices

So, how do you do chat the right way? Download our new ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Chat, to find out!

Inside this free resource, you’ll find detailed, data-backed insights, with chapters covering…

  • The expectations of the digital customer
  • The difference between an AI and live chat experience
  • How live chat can boost your bottom line
  • What to consider when choosing the best live chat solution for your business

Discover how you can use chat to transform your business and start generating leads from your website daily.

 

Get Your eBook

 

Your Complete Guide to the Virtual Office

Do you know how I like to spend a day at the office?

Sipping on a cappuccino at a favorite coffee shop. Preferably, one that’s located sea-side with a view.

Or cuddling with my cats, wrapped in blankets, being productive and cozy, while drinking ever more coffee.

Sound dreamy? It sure is.

It’s also possible. Working remotely doesn’t come with the constraints you might image. The vital person-to-person interactions that keep most businesses alive and thriving are still possible from the comfort of…wherever.

Read on for a complete picture of how you can bring the virtual office dream to life.

What is a virtual office?

Remember the days of being shackled to a desk by landline and typewriter?

Me either.

But, what I do remember, is the need to report to the same location to be able to successfully collaborate with my team, and accomplish 90% of my work.

Times have changed.

Now, in all of its on-the-go, work-from-wherever glory, the virtual office is the modern-day business solution to traditional bricks and mortar. According to our friends at Wikipedia, a virtual office is:

“The operational domain of any business or organization whose workforce includes a significant proportion of workers using technology to perform their work at home.”

In other words, a virtual office primarily exists in cyberspace i.e., without a designated physical location. Employees can work from virtually (heh) anywhere with an internet connection.

What do I stand to gain with a virtual office?

In addition to your freedom, there are financial gains to be made from going virtual.

The overhead of buying, leasing, and maintaining a physical location can be a daunting expense for many businesses. The virtual office frees up more capital to reinvest in your company.

Then, there’s the flexibility factor. You and your team can work where and when you work best, which translates to less stress, better work, and happier employees.

How much happier? 82% of telecommuters reported lower stress levels than when traveling to an office. This coupled with reduced turnover and the ability to broaden your talent pool outside of your geographic location (get the cream of the crop!) puts the virtual office in a favorable light.

So what about accountability?

Great question.

Working remotely requires a particular mindset. You need go-get-’em employees who are motivated and self-directed.

That said, virtual works! In a study by SurePayroll, 86% of respondents say they hit maximum productivity when working alone. Their managers agreed; two-thirds reported workers are more productive than their in-office counterparts.

Not to mention, the promise of working how you want can be a powerful motivator. Equip yourself with the proper tools and checking in with (and up on) your team is easy peasy.

How do I do it?

If you’re using productivity or project management apps in your business, you’re already halfway there. These apps will become the lifeblood of your new virtual office.

Now, you can be anywhere, with anyone, at any time. Video conferencing with tools like Zoom makes an online meeting super simple. Collaboration tools like Slack offers a space for individuals and whole teams to interact. The faces, voices, and input of your team are always but a click away.

Besides the human factor, project management tools like TeamWork, Asana, Trello, or Basecamp keep everyone on the same page, even if they’re on different points of the map.  

Look to sites or apps like Harvest or TimeCamp to generate activity reports and invoices from one location.

If there’s a function you aren’t managing online yet, there’s an app for that. Do some online research, ask around, capitalize on free trials, and get yourself equipped with the right technology mix.

What about my clients?

“But what about our customers? Won’t it be weird for them to engage with us? How do they call us without a desk phone?”

So glad you asked.

Let’s talk customer contact.

In addition to video conferencing tools like Skype and Zoom, there are offices you can rent by the hour when you need a place outside of the home office that is not buzzing with espresso machines.

When it comes to appearing less piecemeal and more official, relying on virtual receptionist and online chat services can be your best move.

Enter Ruby.

Our virtual receptionist services + live chat service + your virtual office= Virtual Love.

We are in the business of representing over 10,000 companies—virtually. From our offices (yes, we have physical locations for quality assurance), we establish relationships and a professional appearance for over 10,000 companies nationwide.

So, I suppose you could say it takes one to know one.

Here is how Ruby can help your virtual office feel like home:

  • Present a professional, unified front. Your callers will likely assume that Ruby’s receptionists work right in your office. We answer how you want us to with a highly customizable service designed to fit the unique needs of your business. From 100% live call-answering and transferring, taking messaging, making outbound calls, scheduling, and more, you receive all of the skills you’d want from an in-house receptionist without having to actually hire one.
  • One number to rule them all. Still taking business calls on your personal cell phone? We can help with that. Whether you’re a one-human show or a team of ten, having one central number for your customers to call eliminates potential confusion between both you and your customers, as well as between you and your teammates. Port your local number over to Ruby (or we can give you one), and we’ll handle the rest. You’ll be able to make calls (and text!) on your business number from your cell phone. Same convenience, more privacy, better customer experience!
  • Live chat for your bottom line. We also have a live chat solution fit for meeting your customers (and prospects) where they are, 24/7. This means that you don’t have to expend virtual people-power on tasks like constantly monitoring the chat box on your website, while still resting assured that someone is. People can interact with your business on their terms, while you continue to work on yours.
  • Keep it human. You could opt for phonetrees and chat-bots, but there is nothing more frustrating for a customer than having to press “0” until their thumb falls off or meeting a dead-end with a chatbot incapable of answering their contextual q’s. Create a customer service experience that makes you and your business feel accessible to your clients, no matter where you might actually be!

Whether you’re looking for a better way to run your business or simply needing a little extra wiggle room in how you work, going virtual is probably a lot more viable than you would have expected.

Where would YOU go if there wasn’t an office-bound desk holding you back?

Dream big.

Interested in learning more about how a virtual receptionist service can help you grow?

Check out our (free) ebook to get the inside scoop.

Let’s Go

Focusing on the Customer: A Playbook by B2SMB

 

Ruby recently got to share our guidance on small business scalability.

The result is the newly published B2SMB Institute Playbook, Keeping Focus on the SMB Mindset as Your B2SMB Business Scales.

It’s almost hard to believe there’s so much history in our young company–and that we’ve paced ourselves to the tune of making Oregon Business Magazine’s “Fastest Growing Private 100 Companies” list 11 years in a row.

Phew. That’s a lot of momentum to wrap the arms around. It’s also scores of relationships to build and maintain.

The B2SMB Institute is a hub of resources for Business-to-Small-Business professionals who help other small- and medium-sized businesses succeed. That’s why we felt this opportunity was a perfect fit.

Stay Close While You Grow

Our purpose at Ruby is to help small businesses make real, meaningful relationships with their customers. Even as their companies grow.

Cultivating customer love is our own internal Priority One. And we believe the only way to achieve it is for each of our employees to know–and feel–what it’s like to own, run, and work in a small business.


Is keeping customers close key for your company?

CHECK OUT THE PLAYBOOK


We’ve done the big reveal on our recipes for walking the walk. These include our “WOW Moments” client-gifting program and our year-long, internal “In Our Customer’s Shoes” campaign.

Our empathy-building activities raised both our NPS and CSAT scores, and brought our employees closer to our customers and our mission. (Plus, they were really fun.)

Give us a call!