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!

How to Reduce Sales Friction

In theory, sales should be easy. A customer wants something, your business has that something, and so you sell it to them. Rinse and repeat.

In reality, of course, selling is almost never that easy—especially for a small business. You have to generate leads, qualify those leads to determine if they’re real prospects, carefully approach your prospects, pitch your product or service in a compelling way, overcome any objections, and close the deal. It can be a long, demanding journey littered with potential obstacles and pitfalls.

While many businesses dedicate significant time and resources toward optimizing the sales process, they frequently—and inadvertently—make things even harder for themselves. How? By increasing sales friction.

What Is Sales Friction?

Sales friction is anything that gets in the way of a customer saying “yes.” It can happen at virtually any point in the sales process. A slow or unresponsive website causes friction for someone researching your company. An untrained salesperson causes friction by not being able to answer a prospect’s questions. A point-of-sale system that won’t accept a customer’s credit card causes friction in what should be the painless final stage of a transaction.

Consider some other common sources of sales friction—how many of the following might apply to your business?

  • missing or hard-to-find business contact information
  • unnecessary or redundant customer relationship management (CRM) systems and steps
  • CRM systems that contain unclear or incorrect information
  • sales and marketing messages that are irrelevant or flood prospects’ and customers’ phones and email inboxes
  • outbound calls that disrupt the lives of prospects and customers
  • communication problems between sales and customer service staff
  • sales and support unavailability
  • delays in following up with prospects and customers
  • missed deadlines and unfulfilled promises
  • complicated payment processes

The list goes on. Indeed, virtually every decision your company makes can either facilitate or impede sales growth. And while eliminating sales friction entirely may take a thorough audit of your organization, there’s at least one major source of friction you can fix today: the lack of a live chat window on your website.

How Does Live Chat Reduce Sales Friction?

Live chat is a valuable and highly underrated sales and customer service tool. It’s easy and cost-effective to implement, a majority of consumers like it, and relatively few companies use it.

On top of that, it can address multiple sources of sales friction, including the limitations of business hours, inefficient lead generation, customer objections, poor customer data collection, and more. Here are just a few ways how:

Generate More Leads

Live chat specialists can be trained by experts in your company’s field, making them capable of handling the types of qualifying questions necessary to generate real leads. Chat specialists are proven to generate more leads than other sales tools and strategies. In many cases, these leads would not have otherwise been created.

Overcome Objections in Real Time

As business-to-consumer communication has shifted away from face-to-face interactions and into the digital world, companies have lost the ability to overcome objections as they arise. More than a third (35%) of salespeople say overcoming price objections is one of the biggest challenges to any customer relationship. Live chat gives you the chance to address customers’ specific concerns in real time. With trained chat specialists available around the clock, there’s no need for protracted, back-and-forth messages and phone calls.

Gather Better Data About Your Customers and Prospects

Get ready to say goodbye to those old-fashioned website forms that only convert a small fraction of your website visitors. Live chat specialists are able to build relationships with customers from the moment a chat begins—before your company even needs to request information. Agents can be trained to gather specific data, answer questions throughout the process, and clarify any misunderstandings that may occur as they occur.

Always Be Closing

With live chat, customers don’t have to commit to an appointment before interacting with your company. They can chat in to ask a simple question, at any time that’s convenient for them, even when a phone call would be awkward or inconvenient—e.g. while sitting in a conference for work, waiting at the DMV, watching the kids at soccer practice, and so on. Chat agents are live on your website while your office is closed, so you’ll never lose out on a lead or sale regardless of when opportunity comes. Sunday at 7pm? No problem for a live chat agent.

After implementing live chat on your company’s website, you can expect a higher conversion of web visitors into new customers. In our experience, after handling thousands of chats, our average company client sees a 40% increase in sales inquiries.

 

See how live chat can turn your business website into a lead generation and sales machine.

 

Download our free Ultimate Guide to Chat

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

 

4 Outbound Rules You Need to Start Breaking

Some rules are like un-forked fried chicken:

In Gainesville, Georgia, it’s illegal to eat fried chicken…

…with a fork. A confused tourist got arrested for that in 2009.

Here’s the point.

Some rules are made to be broken, or at least ignored.

Today we’ll focus on the unwritten rules that’ll slowly crush your profits unless you break them first.

This is how to bring your outbound system to the next level, by breaking foolish rules.

Rule-to-Break #1: “It’s Okay to Have a Slow Season.”

The most deadly company-killer is a poorly managed slow-season.

All but the best of your competitors have bored individuals filling in their time with brainless busy-work just to look productive during the slow season.

That’s a valuable opportunity for you, for obvious reasons.

Who wrote the unwritten rule that certain months should be a slow time for your company?

It’s a rule that needs be broken.

The slow season should be your fast season.

When the demand starts to fade, turn up your marketing, full force. Things should actually get faster.

Because this is the time to gain on your stronger competitors and overtake the weaker ones.

You need to drum up the demand that forces you to hire more techs, plumbers, and/or electricians.

That’s how you grow.

And what’s the best way to do that?

Transform your “slow season” mentality into a “fast season” mentality.

Now, here’s how to build more business even when you’re slow.

Rule-to-Break #2: “We Hire Normal CSRs Like Everybody.”

We’ve all heard about the legend of Achilles. He was an extraordinary hero; skilled, powerful, just about invincible.

That’s what we’re looking for.

But instead of fighting skill, we’re looking for modern day sales prowess. Heroic work ethic. Top of the line customer service, discipline, and communication.

Ultimately, a new breed.

I’ve never hired a customer service rep to answer the phone.

Instead, I hired outbound people.

Great outbound people are rare. They’re CSR workhorses who can hit the phones non-stop and sell like a machine.

Not many people can pound out 100+ calls a day while answering the phone just as good as anybody.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s very difficult to find people with that kind of personality and skill. But it pays off.

Because they’re the ones who’ll transform your slow season into a fast one.

Here’s another rule to break.

Rule-to-Break #3: “We Only Pursue Recruiting When We Really Need to.”

Push yourself, the owner – whoever recruits – push them to recruit harder.

Make your hiring process more efficient, and a much higher priority.

Here’s something to think about.

I’d definitely try this if I started over again – I’d acquire lead lists. Not for sales. For recruiting. I’d get lists of techs and have my team call them, non-stop. That could create a bottomless recruiting pool of talent.

Keeping your pipeline full is far from easy. For most people, it’s far from fun. But people are the lifeblood of your company.

If you’ve hired a strong team, you’re halfway there. Now you need to lead them.

Rule-to-Break #4: “My Team’s So Good, They Don’t Need Coaching.”

Outbound calling yields regular house visits. That’s good. But are they calling correctly? Are they pushing themselves?

What’s inspected is respected. Set your expectations and hold your people accountable to hitting their KPI’s.

Measure:

► Their conversion rate on inbound; how many they made, how many they booked.
► How many emails they sent out.
► Total calls booked.

Focus on getting each individual to beat your company average instead of goals.

Always, always focus on your people. Steer them away from the “us vs the company” sort of mindset. That’s toxic. Treat them good and they’ll treat you good – if you’ve hired good.

And balance that with quality accountability, because even the best have low-performance stretches that you can coach them out of.

Here’s yet another rule to break.

We don’t do many service checks in the off season.

That’s lame in the sense that it literally cripples your company.

Let’s flip that around to create the #1 rule to keep.

#1 Rule-to-Keep: Hit Your Marketing Hard in the Off-Season.

Your techs don’t like it because they’ve adjusted to a poorly constructed system.

It’s up to you to lead them out of that system.

You should hit it hard during the “slow” season with both your outbound people and your techs, plumbers, and/or electricians.

Which brings us to system checks: Do your system checks in the slow season.*

Because you want to be fresh on your target market’s minds when things start picking up.

If you’re hitting the phones hard and making house visits in, say, March and April (the end of our off-season here in Kansas City), guess what?

When May and June roll around, and people start needing your services, who do you think they’re going to call? Yep. You, because your company has been freshly planted in their heads.

Throughout the year, keep your eye on plumbing and electrical system checks. As you grow, you’re going to have slow days. That’s just how it is. But you need to have them go out consistently so you can keep growing, and have less of those days.

QuickTip: February is a difficult month because you can’t check the freon. Just don’t check the freon on 5 years or younger. Give it the stamp of approval. Move on. Keep those system checks rolling. It’s also a good way to have new techs practice and learn through experience.

The same goes for the plumbing side of things, but you’re doing system checks in June and July, or whatever your slow season is.

 

Notes:

*Always call it that. If you call AC checks, well, AC checks, in the cold season, people are going to think “why do I need to check the AC, it’s not even warm,” and they won’t do it. Instead, check everything at once and call it a system check.

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

Exceeding Customer Expectations in the Digital Age

Guest Post by FieldPulse CEO and Founder, Gabriel Pinchev

Building your contracting business takes a tremendous amount of effort. It requires three things: finding and selling to new customers, delivering great service, and managing everything behind the scenes. For each area, focusing on the customer experience throughout their lifecycle (or customer journey) can bring significant returns.

The customer lifecycle is the journey a customer goes through in deciding to buy a product or service. For example, if Sally needs her home painted, she starts with an idea of what she wants. She’ll spend some time on the internet researching then talk with friends. She finds Professional Painting Co. and contacts them for a quote, either on the phone or a contact form on the company’s website. Sally accepts the quote and the service is rendered. Afterward, she has an opinion on the service and shares her perspective with a friend and posts an online review. All of this is the customer lifecycle.

In a Forbes article on revisiting the customer journey, the author points out that there are many points where the company has little control. Instead, the company’s job is to satisfy the customer to the point that they become an advocate. In a world of social media, having digital advocates help spread the word about your company is priceless.

The key to growing a business in the digital age is exceeding customer expectations.

But what are those expectations, and how can you use technology to achieve this?

First Contact

Before your future customer even reaches out, they’ve spent time learning about you. Today, that usually means an online search or asking friends and social media groups for a recommendation. Because of this, you want customers that are not only happy with you, but that are willing to promote you. All of this starts at the first point of contact.

When a prospective customer reaches out to you, they’ve already made up their mind that you’re worth spending time talking to. They’ve done their research. So now it’s important to give them the exact experience they’re seeking.

Whether your first point of contact is from your website “Contact Us” form or a phone call, this is your chance to make the right first impression. According to Consumer Reports, 72% of callers who reach an automated answer will hang up without leaving a message – and potentially call a competitor. If you don’t respond quickly, you lose the opportunity. Today, people are looking for instant gratification. Answering the call or responding to the email right away is the first step.

Build Rapport from the Start

Throughout the sales process, it’s important to build a real relationship with your customer. Remember the Golden Rule – treating customers like you would want to be treated goes a long way.

Even when you find ways to specialize your business and stand out from the crowd, your customer will almost always have another option. Keeping updated information about your customer in CRM (customer relationship management) software is a good place to start. FieldPulse is a CRM solution built specifically for contractors. With CRM software you can keep contact information together with appointments, past work records, photos/documents, and more.

By keeping track of your customer, and having quick access to all of their details, you’ll be able to provide better service. Having a team that’s connected to that information at all times will take you even further. The level of service you can provide will set you apart and help you win more business.

Wow Them While Delivering the Work

Your reputation is built on the quality of your work. Beyond the quality of the work, your customer has high expectations around communication. Keeping customers in the loop during every step is important. This means sending confirmations when booking, a reminder before the appointment, day of notifications, and follow up after the job is done.

 

Customer Communication

 

Being consistent is key. You’ll want to make sure you have a system in place to manage communications. That system can be contractor software (and that’s definitely recommended), but a standardized process that everyone on the team follows is a great place to start. Make sure that you’re staying in touch with your customers at every step.

Build an Ongoing Relationship

Once the work is complete, it’s time to build onto the relationship you’ve started. This part is so important because it’s what takes a happy customer and turns them into a promoter for your business.

Word of mouth, social media mentions, and reviews will bring you more business. Unfortunately, a happy customer doesn’t always volunteer to spread the word. Instead, you’ll want to follow up with them. Keep them on an email list. Call them two weeks later and ask them about the work that was done.

Tell your customers that you appreciate referrals and online reviews. They need to know how they can help you. When they do, you’d be amazed at how many more reviews and referrals you’ll get.

Parting Thoughts

Everyone has service expectations, and your customers are no different. By using the right kinds of technology and services to support how you do business, you’ll be able to exceed those expectations. Having someone answer the phone every time and having the tools to track and communicate with your customers (and your team!) are two great ways to exceed customer expectations.

 

About Gabriel Pinchev:

Gabriel is the founder and CEO of FieldPulse, a field service software that lets you run your entire contracting business from a single app. FieldPulse helps contractors go digital with tools to handle everything from customer management (CRM) and estimates/invoices, to scheduling and dispatching, team timesheets (and GPS location), and much more – available in the office or on-the-go.

The Single Biggest Problem With Most Contractors’ Websites

Every day when I sit down at my desk to start the day I ask the same question:

What is the single biggest problem plaguing most contractors’ websites and how can I best solve that problem today?

The reality is that the list of problems for most websites is fairly lengthy.

For example:

  • Website is not optimized for mobile
  • Website does not feature an easily accessible phone number
  • Website has poor SEO
  • Website lacks a constantly updated blog with unique content
  • Website displays generic, boring, feature-heavy content
  • And on…
  • And on…

However, every morning I go back to one problem that stands above all others.

…and that problem is:

The website is not focused on producing a desired action from the visitor.

Stay with me here.

Most of our websites allow more than 95% of visitors to leave without “converting” or producing a desired action. Desired actions include a phone call to the office or the visitor clicking the “Schedule an Appointment” button.

Of course, this is a tremendous inefficiency in our businesses and represents a significant opportunity for growth. Imagine if we could lower the 95% to 93%…

That’s 40% more website visitors taking action!   When more people take action on your site, you have more revenue opportunities and sales increase!

So, now that we know the problem, what is the solution?

***Engage your visitors to live, in real time with online chat!

When you provide an option for your visitors to chat with your business, you are decreasing the barriers for that visitor to start a relationship with your company. In turn, your company will interact with more visitors, have more sales conversations, and create more opportunities for new customers.

Give us a call!