Ruby Receptionists: Leading through Innovation

Ruby Receptionists grew a lot in 2009.  We finished a dramatic renovation of our office, located in Portland’s Pearl District.  We added seven new receptionists and created three new administrative positions.  We were #34 on the Portland Business Journal’s list of 100 fastest-growing private companies.  Maybe most importantly, we introduced our new company core values.  They define who we are and what we believe.  They are the qualities we would never compromise, no matter how unpopular or unprofitable:  Innovation, Foster Happiness, Create Community, and Practice WOWism.  These are the values that drive us.

What do they really mean?  Company core values are all well and good in theory, but what do they look like in action?  Today’s post is about innovation.

Innovation is the receptionist who looks up a caller’s information from a previous message and confirms it rather than asking the caller to repeat his name, phone number, email address, etc.  Innovation is the creation of the Culture Czar position — not something you would see in any other company!  Innovation is seeing every mistake, every hiccup, as a chance to improve what we do and how we do it.  Sometimes it’s seeing something that “ain’t broke” but that could be fixed anyway.  It was a receptionist who suggested we use Shortkeys Lite to take messages more efficiently and accurately.

Hilary is a new addition to our team of virtual receptionists, and she had this to say about her introduction to the core values: “I like that all of the core values are interwoven.  If employees aren’t  happy or don’t feel like they’re an important part of the company they work for, they really have no reason to want to help make it the  best it can be.  Plus, the idea that we’re welcomed and encouraged to facilitate innovation shows that the company respects its Rubys on an  intellectual level — which is really a big deal!”

We listen to our clients and their suggestions too.  In fact, we go out of our way to ask them what they’d like to see.  When a client  has been using us for a few months, we call to  find out how everything has been going.  One of the most important questions we ask during this call is whether the client can think of any new software or features that would make our service better.  Some of the best ideas come from our clients because they know what would make their lives easier.  That’s what we want to do.  It was a client who helped us standardize the way we write phone numbers and extensions to be compatible with most smart phones.  Speaking of — for those of you iPhone users out there, keep an ear to the ground for exciting new developments in 2010!

If there is a better way to do something, we’ll find it.  “That’s the way it’s always been done” is not a reason to keep doing what we’re doing.  We are not confined to “standard operating procedures.”  If it’s not working for us, we’ll change on a dime.  Our ideas come from everywhere, and we’re not afraid to throw ourselves into the creative process, whether or not our ideas come to fruition.  We are creatives, we are geeks, we are rebels, and we define our own way of doing business. We follow no one.  We lead through innovation.

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