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.

Download the Guide

 

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!

Let’s Go

Connect With Your Customers and Watch Your Business Grow

Are you looking for ways to grow your business and stand out from the crowd? Read this article by Ruby’s CMO, Molly Moore, on Shep Hyken’s Customer Service blog to learn about the immediate opportunities simply answering your phone and having online chat on your website can bring. These actions alone can help differentiate your brand in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

Get the full story here!

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.

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.)

Phone Skills that Boost Your Bottom Line

It’s easy to assume email is the way business gets done these days. But in fact, people will make an estimated 140 billion calls from mobile click-to-call alone in 2019. That’s about 20 billion more than in 2018 and an additional 30 billion are projected on top of that for 2020.*

The result of all this click-to-call action? The phone call will influence more than a trillion dollars in spending this year.

So, with the ways in which people can contact a business constantly proliferating, why is calling still so popular? The answer is simple: people buy from people. And the phone call is an opportunity to connect with a real, live human being.

When you treat phone calls as a golden opportunity to build relationships and add value beyond your product, every ring could yield a customer for life. We’ve put together a list of easy-to-learn phone skills that will help you convert more callers into loyal clients:

Play the Name Game

There’s data to support the warm psychological response to hearing one’s name. Asking for a name is a simple practice you can work to your advantage.

When a new customer identifies their name at the outset of a call, ask them to confirm spelling (yes, even if the spelling seems obvious).

Then, repeating it during the call need not be awkward. Looking up records or taking down an action item create the opportunity (e.g., “Okay, I’ve got the details, John. Now, let’s talk next steps.”) to address them by name and establish familiarity.

In taking the time to learn a customer’s name and perhaps offering your own, you’re developing a rapport and allowing space for an organic connection. Make customers feel at home with your business from the very first interaction and reap the benefits. 

Stay Warm

Never underestimate the power of a warm, pleasant greeting in building a relationship with callers. Develop a solid, simple introduction that lets callers know they have reached the right place, and that you are ready and willing to help!

From here, promptly respond to a customer’s needs, especially if they seem frustrated.

How a customer feels they’re being treated can be as impactful as any action taken to alleviate their frustration. Start by listening and responding to what a customer is saying. There’s great power in validating a customer’s feelings with empathy and accountability.

Simple verbiage like, “I totally understand” or “wow, that must be incredibly frustrating,” can completely turn a call around before you even get down to solving the problem.

Pro tip: Always avoid “I don’t know” as a response to any customer inquiry. It isn’t helpful and detracts from the trust you are trying to build. If you’re stumped by a customer’s question, focus on what you can do, rather than what you cannot.

Ex: “That’s a great question! Jane would be the best person to help you with that. I would be happy to try her line for you.”

Provide Relief

When you speak with a customer by phone, you’re sharing much more than information: you’re providing relief by anticipating and fulfilling their needs.

In addition to phoning in to make a purchase, people call a business when they are seeking a solution to a problem and require a quick response. When something is not working that needs to be fixed or they can’t find an answer to a question, you have the opportunity to really flex your customer service skills.

Go the extra mile to make sure you meet the needs of your customers. Have other customers faced a similar issue? What proved helpful to them? How can you set up a customer now to avoid problems in the future?

In other words…

Be Prepared

Why start from scratch when you can develop a system that works? Brainstorm the top reasons customers contact you by phone. Then, outline best-practices for each scenario.

  • Write down the most common 4 – 5 questions or challenges
  • Note a handful of common answers/solutions for each (especially those you’d need time to otherwise investigate).
  • Create a step-by-step outline for any related procedures. You can even make a checklist to use on each call, ticking off items as you go.
  • Also, note the most helpful follow-up questions. Sometimes, the initial issue isn’t the root of a problem. Asking questions can uncover hidden customer satisfaction issues.
  • Outline potential next steps for situations that may not be resolved with one call and be sure to share those with the customer.

Strengthen customer relationships by demonstrating your investment in their success. Proactive solution-seeking can pave the way for higher customer retention and word-of-mouth referrals.

Pick Up When They Come to Call

There is value in seeing this statement as figurative, but today, we mean this quite literally. Answer the phone! While this may sound like common sense, business owners on the hustle often (understandably) struggle to meet this very basic customer service expectation.

Anyone who has had to press “0” until their thumb goes numb to dodge a phone tree and connect with a real human understands the disparity between what customers need and what they receive. Within this gap, however, lies an opportunity for businesses to stand out from the competition.

Ruby Receptionists is here to help you turn more callers into clients when your business=busyness. Over ten thousand business owners have trusted our live, virtual receptionists to elevate their customer service experience, and capture prospects before losing them to voicemail.

Curious as to how Ruby can help you grow your business? Check out our super free, super helpful ebook to get the full scoop!

DOWNLOAD THE EBOOK

*Invoca 2018 Report

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