Ruby Goes to Bootcamp

marketing agency answering service

Managed service providers (MSPs) and a variety of tech professionals gathered at the IT Sales and Marketing Bootcamp conference to talk business. The event boasted seminars delivered by prominent marketing consultant Robin Robins, and the opportunity to learn from peers within the tech industry. For the third year running, the Ruby® crew attended the event, eager to engage with fellow technology and service focused companies.

While chatting with MSPs, the value they place on quality customer service became clear. Most calls received by these companies are either current customers phoning in for technical support, or prospective customers seeking product information. While answering every call is an ideal practice for most companies, this isn’t always feasible.

Through our conversations with MSP business owners, the Ruby team was able to identify features of our service that prove especially valuable to MSPs striving to provide a delightful experience for their callers:

  • A live, remote receptionist to answer every call. Customers phone in to speak with a human, not an auto attendant. Greeting callers with a live and friendly voice is key in setting the stage for a trusting relationship. From the way we say hello to call-handling specifics, Ruby tailors our legendary service to the unique needs of each company we partner with. We strive to provide callers with the in-house experience they called for.
  • Accurate intake information. For customers in need of tech support, giving information to a real person leaves them feeling heard rather than wondering if a technician received their voicemail. Ruby can route calls or open support tickets through an open webform. By collecting accurate information for techs to follow up on, our receptionists help to streamline business efforts while creating memorable customer experiences.
  • Increased sales. A missed call is a missed opportunity. If a potential new client’s call goes unanswered, they may not wait for a call back before moving on to a competitor.

Having the opportunity to connect with tech professionals at the Marketing Bootcamp was a priceless experience. We were granted a view into how Ruby can help MSPs cultivate meaningful connections with their customers, growing their business one call at a time. This conference was one for the books!

Learn more about Ruby for marketing professionals

The Power of First Impressions

This article was originally published on July 14, 2017 on Manta – Small business marketing solutions helping millions of businesses get found by more customers. Original article.

Improving your first impressions

Don’t miss your chance to build trust with new customers. Make sure your first interaction is a prompt, positive introduction to your small business.

First impressions are one of your most powerful resources—or one of your biggest pitfalls. Those initial experiences a customer has with your small business are literally laying the groundwork for a foundation of trust. And that foundation of trust? It’s vital to ensuring a long-lasting customer relationship.

What happens in those first moments, for better or worse—from a phone call that goes to voicemail to a not-so-tidy lobby—gives your newest customers insight into their future experience with your business.

During those first moments, there are three questions your customers are asking themselves:

  1. Does this business care about its customers?
  2. Will I enjoy working with these people?
  3. Are they going to respond to my needs?

It’s critical that you answer these questions in those initial interactions because if you don’t, the customer is going to answer for themselves. You want a resounding, “Yes, absolutely!” for every one of these questions! That means thinking long and hard about where those first impressions occur, and examining these touchpoints closely. Is there room for improvement? Are you leaving any opportunities to surprise and delight on the table?

Most importantly, do customers experience confusion or discomfort at any point in the process? If so, immediately focus on those areas until that is no longer the case. After all, 78% of consumers have literally bailed on a transaction solely because of their initial experience!

And remember, we want our first impressions to form a foundation of trust and answer those three important questions. Confusion and discomfort are antithetical to trust (and certainly won’t make customers feel cared for), so don’t let those feelings creep in to those first interactions. Think of yourself as the guardian of trust in those first moments. Defend it with all of your might!

OK, so we know those first impressions are really important. That’s all well and good, but let’s get down to brass tacks here: What can you do now to ensure that your customers are experiencing a delightful first impression of your business?

Answer the Phone

Don’t let your phone go to voicemail during business hours—that causes confusion and frustration for customers trying to reach you. And avoid obnoxious phone trees at all costs. Keep in mind that 67% of customers have actually hung up the phone out of frustration with an automated system, likely moving on to a competitor who did answer their call.

Be Prompt

When responding to emails or messages, always do so as quickly as possible. If you’re not typically able to respond to emails or messages throughout the day, be sure to include an auto-reply or other communication so that customers know exactly what to expect (and, again, help avoid any confusion). A friendly “I’m busy at the shop until 3 p.m., but I’ll happily respond to your email as soon as I’ve closed up for the day!” goes a long way to reassure customers.

Use Positive Language

Can something as simple as word choice have a dramatic impact on a customer’s first impression of a business? It seems silly, but it’s true! The words you choose can significantly affect a customer’s experience. If you want a customer to walk away smiling after their initial interaction, replace negative phrases such as, “I can’t do that,” or “I don’t know,” with something a little more positive such as, “While I’m not able to do that, I would be happy to…” or “Great question! I’d be delighted to find out for you,” and see what happens. You just might be surprised at the results!

Be Human!

Wait, what? Yeah, I said it: Don’t rely on robots to take care of your customers. Chatbots, interactive voice response (IVR), and other forms of artificial intelligence software are fine, but they’re not delightful.

Humans crave connection and interaction—even if they swear they’d rather send a text—so be sure to satisfy that craving wherever you can. Bots are limited in their capacity to assist, and even as far as they’ve come, it’s always painfully obvious when you’re interacting with one. Don’t cut corners where it matters most: Ensure that your customers are getting an opportunity to interact with a warm, friendly human, and you will be well ahead of the game.

Masterfully crafting these initial interactions will set you up for long-term success with your customers. If you want customers to trust you—and ultimately to feel loyalty for your business—don’t let those first impressions slip by!

Download Our Free First Impressions eBook

The Most Important Step to Business Growth

The market is primed and ready for your new products and services. The possibilities are endless. The team is excited and ready to go. There’s no better time than the present to take the steps to scaling your small business.

What’s the secret to your success?

It’s pretty simple: people. Your customers, and the way you acquire and retain them, are the secret sauce for a successful business. Learn how to care for your prospective and current customers alike, and you’ll overcome the biggest barrier to scaling: finding the fans to support your growth.

Put People First: Focus on Current Customers

If you’re like most small business owners, you’re looking for a larger target audience. The wider the net, the more fish you’ll catch, right?

Truth be told, acquiring new customers is hard work. Studies have shown that the cost of acquisition is anywhere from three to seven times greater than the cost of retaining an existing customer. That’s why the first step is to take care of your current customers.

1. Build a relationship with your customers

When it comes to your current customer base, it’s wise to deepen the net. A tall customer base is made up of your faithful followers and friends; the people who know you, know your company, and know that you’re the go-to resource for purchases in your niche. These are the customers that come back to your business time and again. If you’re a car dealer, they are the ones that return to you for every vehicle purchase, while also recommending you to their family and friends.

Get to know them. Learn about customer likes and dislikes. Consider a brief survey, or take time to reach out and discover why they’re so loyal. As you grow, you’ll better understand their needs and how you can meet—and exceed—them.

2. Solve your customers’ problems

When customers are delighted, they’re likely to come back to your business again and again. Learn about their problems and challenges, ask them for honest feedback, and inquire about other problems they may be facing unrelated to your business.

Then, look for a solution. Whether it’s your product that solves their problem or you point your customers towards an existing solution, the support and care you’re showing your customers improves their lives. And customers will remember that. It builds loyalty in a way that feels authentic.

3. Add value to your customers’ lives

It’s not always about driving your customers to their next purchase. Don’t overlook the importance of utilizing digital resources.

I’m not talking about making a few posts on social media to sustain your growth. I’m talking about a coordinated content marketing plan that provides blog posts, emails, white papers, instructional videos and more, all with your customers’ lives in mind. Every resource, every communication, should be focused on your customers and their specific needs.

Some examples include:

  • Show how to tackle a challenge with a step-by-step instructional video
  • Create an email series that addresses issues your customers might be facing in their businesses
  • Present your customers with information on industry trends that they may find valuable

Content ideas are around every corner. Start with your conversations with your customers and address the topics they’re talking about, their concerns. This establishes your business as a valuable source of truth in their lives, keeping you top of mind when it’s time for their next purchase.

Widening the Net: Focus on Future Customers

Of course, holding on to customers is only half the battle. Focus #2 is attracting new customers. That’s when all of your research and work comes into play.

  • What have you learned about your current customers? Use that information to build a buyer persona. Who is your average customer? What does this person like? Where do you find this person? Apply the lessons you’ve learned from current customers to the customers you’re hoping to acquire.
  • You’ve already learned how to build and maintain a relationship with your current customers. Now, apply those same principles to your prospective customers. Open up several lines of communication and be responsive on each of your different platforms.
  • Give them great (and consistent) content that adds value to their lives. Unlike current customers who already have you at the forefront of their minds, prospective customers are just learning about your business. Give them content that informs and engages, and is highly shareable. As they start to see your name more and more often, you have a much greater chance of moving them along your funnel, converting them to faithful, paying customers and growing your business.

People are your business’ greatest asset. A fact which becomes crystal clear when remembering that the vast majority of Americans seek a personal recommendation when on the market for a new product or service.

Looking to grow your business? Make sure that your customers would recommend your company when the opportunity arises. Find new and innovative ways to connect with your current customers and add value to their lives. Apply the same concepts to your potential new customers, and you’ll create raving fans for life.

Gabe Arnold

 

Gabe Arnold is the founder of Copywriter Today where you can get unlimited fresh content for all your marketing needs. If you want 250 free headline ideas for your next marketing campaign, use their free tool here.

 

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How to Handle an Angry Customer

Anger happens. It’s a natural response to frustration that researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara describe as a “bargaining emotion.” Internal anger is a defensive response to perceived unfairness. And the anger we express externally is our (admittedly not always productive) way of communicating our desire to resolve the situation.

When you represent your company, a game plan for addressing customer anger is key to successful customer service. It’s important to provide your customers with the opportunity to air and resolve their grievances, which helps you maintain your online reputation and provides valuable feedback for your business. Best of all, when your customer service teams are trained to handle angry customers, you have the opportunity to turn them back into happy customers.

With a few strategies, you can equip yourself to turn negative customer interactions into positive customer experiences.

1. Don’t take it personally

Stellar customer service is all about creating personal connections. But in difficult moments, it may be more effective to take the personal out of the equation—allowing you to better address their frustrations. Remind yourself that they’re frustrated with a product or a service, not with you personally. A little breathing room will better equip you to address your customer’s concerns head on.

2. Listen

Even if you’ve heard it all before, remember that your customer hasn’t had the chance to say it all just yet. To be sure you fully understand their concerns, give the customer room to express their point of view. Allow your customer to finish their thought before interjecting with a helpful solution. Often all they need is to feel heard, and more importantly, to feel like you care enough to take proactive action that will help them.

3. Empathize

Once your customer has had the chance to speak, repeat and rephrase your customer’s concerns to show that you heard them. If you’re unclear about your customer’s concerns, ask follow up questions to be sure that you’re fully comprehending their point of view. Demonstrating that you are attentively listening establishes that you and the customer are on the same page working towards a solution. A little bit of empathy goes a long way.

4. Apologize

Apologize for their frustration and mean it. As the representative of your business, it’s important to acknowledge faults and express your regrets.

Additionally, let them know that their complaints will be taken into account moving forward, that your company will learn from them. An authentic willingness to learn from mistakes and take complaints seriously can turn a customer relationship around.

5. Stay Postive

It can be difficult to maintain a upbeat attitude in a difficult situation, but a little positivity can go a long way. Your confidence in yourself will instill your customer with confidence in you and your problem-solving skills. And your positivity, when genuine, will put your customer at ease.

How have you turned a negative customer interaction into a positive brand interaction? Tweet us @callruby and share your story!

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Three Reasons Your Brand Voice Matters

The benefits of surveying your audience

Your message matters—and so does the voice you say it with! There are more opportunities than ever for businesses to create meaningful connections with customers and people are being exposed to more advertising messaging than ever before. So, how can you stand out from the crowd to showcase your amazing product and top-notch service?

Your brand voice is more than a tagline and a logo. It’s an extension of your customer experience that inspires customer loyalty and word-of-mouth. No matter the size of your business, who you are and how you communicate with your audience is important.

Consider these three reasons why your brand voice can’t be ignored.

1. First Impressions

Whether it’s your family roots, your industry expertise, or your super friendly service, your brand voice speaks to what makes your business unique. Scattered or generic brand messaging can get lost in the crowd, so set yourself apart by creating a memorable first impression.

Use your brand voice to communicate a message that inspires enthusiasm, like your values or your company culture. The things you are most proud of about your business will draw a customer base that’s as passionate about your product as you are.

2. Lasting Connections

With so many marketing channels and unique best practices, it can be all too easy for a brand voice to become brand voices. Maintaining brand voice consistency across marketing channels allows your business to stay top of mind at all times. Your new marketing efforts will naturally recall your previous messages, creating a seamless blend of positive associations for your potential customers.

Your brand voice should convert your customers into brand loyalists by evoking that same memorable experience time and time again. From your website to your packaging, there are a myriad of opportunities to remind your customers what drew them to your business in the first place.

3. Ripple Effect

Your voice can turn brand loyalists into brand evangelists. By providing your customers with a brand voice to stand with, the same messages that you share with your customers will be repeated in turn to their friends, family, and coworkers. According to a study conducted by Nielsen, 84% of consumers say they trust recommendations from people they know. Word of mouth marketing remains a valuable marketing channel in the digital realm, and it starts with a shareable brand voice.

Your brand voice echoes beyond marketing messaging in digital, print, radio and other marketing channels. Be sure you’re creating a lasting impression that will resonate in your customer’s minds.

So ask yourself the question, does your brand voice resonate?

Learn More about Establishing your Brand

3 Customer Service Hacks You Can Implement Today

Customer Service Hacks

Great customer service creates repeat customers and spreads positive word of mouth, two invaluable revenue channels for small businesses. A study by the Harvard Business Review shows that increasing customer retention by 5% can increase profits by anywhere from 25% to 95%, while a study conducted by Ogilvy, Google, and TNS indicates that 74% of consumers identify word of mouth as a key consideration.

The numbers are in and they all say the same thing—customer service is as important as ever.

There’s no shortcut to making stellar customer service the focal point of your business. But we’re happy to share a few concrete techniques you can use to improve your customer service experience right out the gate.

1. Start with a Smile

Any receptionist at Ruby can tell you that smiling is important, even over the phone! A smile infuses your voice with warmth that your customer will immediately respond to. Studies have shown that smiling can create a more positive mood from within—improving your own day and spreading the joy. So, start your customer service off with a smile to set your business up for success.

2. Say Their Name

Be personal. Be relatable. Connect with your customer by using their name! You might recognize this tip from the charisma handbook, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and it’s just as applicable in customer service as it is at a dinner party.

Be sure to ask for the customer’s name at the beginning of your interaction. Then, integrate that name into your dialogue with phrases like “Of course, Barbara,” “Is there anything else I can do for you, Andrew?”, and “I’d be happy to help you with that, Susan.” You’ll instantly create a more natural conversational rapport.

3. Empathize

Show that you care by empathizing with your customer’s concerns and communicating that empathy verbally. Be sure to use phrases like “I understand that…” to repeat your customer’s concerns in your own words.

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey identifies rephrasing as one of the key components of empathetic listening. Rephrasing your customer’s comments demonstrates that you are listening closely and that you’re addressing their unique needs. Practice empathetic listening to turn natural rapport into personal connections. It’s a key element of emotional intelligence.

By paying attention, and showing your customers that you care with a few small tricks, you can make any conversation into a great one!

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Free eBook: Using Words to Turn Callers into Clients

Customer service for phone calls

Are you paying attention to your touchpoints?

If not, you should be.

74% of callers are likely to choose another business after they have a bad experience—indicating that customer service is as important as ever. It’s time to approach every communication with your customers as an opportunity to spark a connection, gain their trust, and earn their loyalty!

If that sounds easier said than done, don’t stress. We’ve put together a guide of customer service solutions you can put to work right away.

In our free Using Words to Turn Callers into Customers ebook you’ll learn:

  • Tips and tricks to improve caller trust and turn callers into clients
  • The power of emotional language
  • Action items you can put into place today

Download Your ebook

Who Are You? Establishing Your Brand

Designing Your Brand

Establishing a local, solo, or niche business—even in the age of the internet—is easiest when you generate real word of mouth.

Easier said than done, right? But it is possible. Creating a genuine brand story and embodying that story throughout your customer touchpoints will set you on the right path!

Here’s a great example for you. I recently bought an old house that needed some plumbing work. After asking around, I got a recommendation for a plumber known for his work on old homes. He was described as genuine, honest, and kind. He doesn’t advertise and doesn’t have a website. His business is run on satisfied clients spreading the word.

How does he do it?

He obviously didn’t sit down and build out a 12-step plan for establishing a brand. Instead, he decided what values are important to him, and consistently acted according to them. He’s not the cheapest plumber. He’s not the fastest. But he’s honest, reliable, and knows old homes and their challenges. Clients who are looking for someone fitting this description, know that they can turn to him.

Now, how can you take his strategy and apply it to your business? Here are three steps that can help you define your brand story —and use that story to grow your business!

Ask the question: who do I want to be?

establishing your brandNo brand is everything to everyone. You can’t be both a high-end expensive furniture store, and sell cheap and attainable couches.

So, when you’re establishing your product, service, and brand voice, it’s important that you know who you want your client to be. Even more importantly, you need to establish who you are.

If you’re an attorney, do you sell yourself on price? Approachability? Your ability to win the case?

As a contractor, a realtor, or candlestick maker, you have to answer questions about your methods, specialties, and motivations. The more you’ve formulated your identity, the more authentic you can be—and the value of what you have to offer will shine through.
A good practice is to list out how you would like people to talk about your business. Spend an hour writing down words like affordable, reliable, transparent, passionate… whatever your phrases may be. Then figure out how you can apply these principles to your business.

Spread the word

Spread the wordIf you’re branding yourself in a certain niche, with certain qualities, you’ll want to share these differentiators when spreading the word. Add your keywords to your website. Tell your story to customers and potential customers. Be honest about who you are.

Include your brand story on your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn profiles, your website, your customer communications. The more you self-define, the more likely people will align your business and the value you deliver according to that definition.

In fact, it’s amazing how people love to share positive experiences! If you make a promise and fulfill that promise meeting or exceeding their expectations, your clients will share their experiences. If you want to provide excellent customer experiences, and you deliver those experiences, your customers will tell their friends, write reviews, and the word will spread.

Be consistent

Creating consistent customer experiencesIf you say you’re the friendliest roofer in town, it’s important to make sure you’re always friendly—holding up your promise. If you say you’re the cheapest, you need to be the cheapest.

Consistency is key.

Any inconsistency, any failure to deliver what you promise your clients, runs the risk of damaging your reputation. Unsatisfied customers will go on Yelp, Facebook, and other review sites to call you out onsub-par service or broken promises… Your self-definition, your brand story, has to be honest. It has to be true.

Want to learn more about branding your business? Learn 5 steps to establishing your brand story!

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