Investing in Clients: Strategies to Improve and Strengthen Relationships

Remote Receptionists for Financial Companies

Did you know most inheritors change financial advisors? PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates $30 trillion will be passed down to new wealth inheritors by 2020, the vast majority of whom won’t stick with their parents’ advisors. According to wealth management strategist April Rudin of The Rudin Group, a whopping 98% of heirs change advisors soon after receiving their inheritance. This presents obvious challenges to financial professionals—and opportunities. By learning what appeals to next generation investors, you’ll boost your odds of retaining new inheritors as clients and attracting heirs seeking new advisors.

So what is the next generation looking for? Young clients want to stay connected and informed, and they’re looking for more than quarterly reporting and occasional check-ins. To build trust with next-generation investors, advisors need to show they’re available and ready to help whenever needed. Outstanding customer service and responsiveness are key. That may seem like a tall order, but with the right planning, you can lay the groundwork for strong client relationships that pass inheritance test. Here are three ways to get there:

Exceed Professional Expectations in the Everyday.

Each client touchpoint, no matter how small, is a chance to show you care. Think about your current systems and brainstorm ways to improve. Could your client acquisition process be more streamlined and user friendly? How might you make in-person meetings more comfortable, informative, or convenient? Aim to go the extra mile in everything you do, even if it’s as simple as ensuring you always have warm coffee and chilled water on hand to offer office guests. Put yourself in your clients’ shoes, anticipate their needs, and do your best to meet those needs proactively. Then, find ways to do a little something more—like sending a handwritten thank-you card after every meeting. Over time, little niceties add up to lots of trust!

Host Client Appreciation Events.

What better way to show clients you care than by throwing an event in their honor? Whether it’s an informal information session or a little happy hour at your office, try adding a client appreciation event to your calendar. Not only are appreciation events a great way to celebrate your devoted clients—they’re an ideal opportunity to win new clients! Encourage clients to bring a friend or two, giving you the chance to mix, mingle, and network.

Be Predictably Excellent.

Handling another person’s finances is a big responsibility, and for clients to trust you with that responsibility, they need to know they can depend on you. One simple way to demonstrate your trustworthiness is by creating a consistently positive phone experience. Although you may not always be able to speak with a client when they call, it’s important to have someone available to answer live during business hours. A remote receptionist service can ensure your clients always reach a warm, caring person when they call—and such services are a great option to cover breaks, vacations, and overflow if you have an in-house receptionist. Financial advisor Chun Lee relies on a virtual receptionist service because, as he says, “My clients’ needs are what matter most to me. Knowing that [my service] is always there, answering my calls and taking care of my clients in a professional and friendly manner, gives us both peace of mind.”

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Webinar: Six Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Small Business

Everyone has the same number of hours in the day. And, as a small business owner, you’re stretched thinner than most.

Luckily you can make the most of your time with smart decisions and a strategic effort. Ruby’s Chief Marketing Officer, David De Rego, is here to help!

He’s identified six essential marketing strategies that are dedicated to helping your business grow.

These strategies build upon each other to help:

  • Legitimize your business
  • Establish you as a thought leader in your industry/market
  • Give you an actionable go-to-market strategy to grow your customer base and establish a foundation for long-term success
  • Provide exceptional customer service to retain customers for repeat business and/or give referrals

This webinar took place on April 11th but the knowledge lives on! Watch our recorded webinar below.

Watch Recorded Webinar!

Don’t Worry, Be Happy on International Happiness Day

RubyReceptionists Service Pyramid

With titles like “Problem Solver & Happiness Maker,” “Service Kickstarter & Happiness Builder,” and “Happiness Cultivator,” International Day of Happiness is one of our Customer Happiness team’s favorite holidays!

While the Customer Happiness team goes through rigorous and continual training to ensure we’re prepared to support our customers and program beautiful instructions, a desire to fulfill our core value of Foster Happiness is something that can’t be taught. Here’s our manifesto:

We are a league of superheroes. We are leaders, advocates, and friends, who are masters of sharing Ruby® magic. We believe in simple and creative solutions. We embrace change and celebrate innovation, teamwork, and tacos. We act with integrity and assume charitable intentions. Together, we define, embody, and elevate the standards of world-class service.

Each of us is here because we have a calling to make people happy—and that extends to our customers, callers, and colleagues. We do this with help from the Ruby Service Pyramid®.
The base of the pyramid is Be Prepared with the Right Infrastructure. Our Kickstarter team works hard to ensure that our new accounts start off on the right foot by programming beautiful instructions for receptionists and providing new customers with everything they need to know about getting started with Ruby.

Next up, Do What We Say We’ll Do. Problem Solvers & Happiness Makers own the customer experience once they’re all signed up. If a customer needs us to start handling a new type of call, we’re there to program those instructions in a way that will remain consistent for our receptionists. If there’s ever a mistake or a misunderstanding, we’re there to ensure that those are corrected, and the root of the concern is resolved.

Foster Happiness is so important to us that it’s both a core value and a level of the Service Pyramid!

Customer Happiness is also there to Create Experiences. Receptionists reach out to Customer Happiness every day, to connect customer calls our way and to alert us of any updates that might need to be made. While Customer Happiness is located in a separate office, we make it our mission to connect with receptionists to create one large community as a company. This might be as simple as including a cute cat photo in my email reply, or sending a handwritten notecard to let that one receptionist who always makes me smile know that I’m thinking of them.

Moving our way up the pyramid, we find Give Them What They Don’t Even Know They Want. Let’s say we just added a new instruction to ask callers a few new questions when taking a message. Rather than adding the instruction and leaving it at that, our customer might get a call from the Problem Solver they worked with a few weeks later, just to check in and see how those changes are working out. It’s more than a passive exchange, it’s a full-circle conversation that the customer didn’t see coming.

If we’ve fostered happiness by mastering the Service Pyramid, then we reach the very top—Make Meaningful Connections. This is my favorite piece. There’s a customer I sent a handwritten notecard to as a receptionist back in 2016, just thanking them for making my day. This customer not only reached out through work channels to thank me, but stayed in touch personally after learning we had a few friends in common. To this day, we write each other now and then just to check in. He sends me articles that he knows I’ll be interested in, and I share pictures of events I attend with our mutual friends.

Now, this won’t happen on every call, every email, or even every face-to-face meeting. But the relationship and friendship I’ve built with this customer is the Customer Happiness special sauce—we foster happiness by taking a genuine interest in the lives of our customers and each other.

So, on this International Day of Happiness, I ask you to not only think of something that makes you happy, but take that and share it with someone else.

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S Corp vs. C Corp – Insights for Business Owners


The 2017 Tax Act made major changes to the US tax system, and as a result, many business owners are wondering whether they should structure their businesses as C corporations or S corporations. Which choice makes the most sense for your business? We sat down with CPA Bob Russell, who files between 900 and 1000 tax returns a year, for his input.

In your opinion, what are the important differences between C and S, and what should business owners know if they are going to reorganize themselves as C corps?
There are two important factors when considering reorganizing from an S corp to a C corp. The first and most important is the double taxation issue. The corporate tax rate was changed to a flat 21% under the new tax reform, changing from the graduated rates experienced by C corps prior to 2018. So in the simplest scenario, if a C corp has a net income of $100,000, the corporation will pay $21,000 in federal income tax. Now, when the corporation declares a dividend and passes that same $100,000 to the underlying shareholders, they will be taxed again on the same income at their personal income tax rates. Dividends are not considered operating expenses of C corps, so they get no deduction against future income for payment of dividends. Even at the lowest personal rates, this results in a total tax rate of 31% taxation on the same $100.000.

My experience is that very few people who have money to invest in the stock of a C corp fall in the lowest tax brackets, so a more realistic expectation is that the total tax would be closer to 43% for federal income tax purposes. With an S corp, the $100,000 of net income under our example has no tax at the corporate level, and flows directly to the underlying shareholders and is taxed at their individual rate. In addition, under the new tax reform, this will be considered qualified business income, subject to 20% reduction mentioned later in our discussion.

The second consideration is once you have revoked your Sub S status with the IRS, you cannot reapply for five years. That means you should carefully consider the future of the corporation and determine if revoking your S election is the best long-term strategy.

Do you anticipate that you will be filing more C corporations now that people are reacting to the tax reform?
I don’t anticipate that. The issue with C corporations is still double taxation. Even with the reduced tax rates that C corps are going to benefit from under tax reform, the total tax burden can still exceed the tax burden of the underlying shareholders if the income was passed directly through to them and taxed at the individual rates, as is the case in an S corp.

Would you say there are positive aspects of this tax law for small business? If so, what are they?
There are definitely some positive changes for small businesses. The most impactful change is the 20% reduction of qualified business income. This reduction is going to apply to all business entities including sole proprietors, partnerships, LLC’s and S corps. This reduction is an attempt to compensate non-C corp entities for the reduction in the corporate tax rate under the new tax reform act.

What do you think are key things small business owners should keep in mind during this time?
Above all else, don’t panic and make a change based on emotion. It is easy to listen to the soundbites and think that C corps are the best answer for everyone. However, they should carefully consult their tax advisor to fully understand all the implications that impact their particular situation before making any changes.

Secondly, some changes that have taken effect may affect their operating strategies. Meals and entertainment are no longer deductible unless for the benefit of employees, i.e. Christmas parties. Also, unreimbursed expenses that their employees incur are no longer deductible by those employees. Consider implementing an accountable plan and making those expenses business expenses, and therefore fully deductible. Be creative with your employees in determining their overall compensation plan.

We hope this gives some insight into what these changes mean! When choosing your business entity or correctly structuring your company, talking to an accountant or business lawyer is a great idea. Here’s to your success!


Bob Russell is a self-employed certified public accountant practicing in Oregon since 1982, focusing on individual and small business taxation. Currently our practice services approximately 900 individual, partnership, and corporate accounts. Areas of emphasis in our current practice include manufacturing and construction industries. Bob graduated cum laude from Southern Oregon State College with a Bachelors of Accounting and a minor in Economics. Bob resides with his wife of 34 years on seven acres in the Beavercreek area, and enjoys hunting and golf in his spare time.

To Earn Customers, Learn to Sell Like a Kid

Always be closing

A few weeks ago, I came across a sales article exploring how to “sell like a child” that outlined how we can learn from the true artists of negotiation: small children.

Having kids myself, ages three and six, I took the bait and found myself intrigued by the simple tactics children use to get what they want. Had I been ignoring the sales training gold sitting at my fingertips all this time?

I started observing my children through a different lens. What other similarities existed between my pint-sized offspring and the best sales professionals I have encountered in my career?

Here’s what I’ve noticed:

They are naturally curious

Did you know that the average four year old girl asks approximately 390 questions a day?

Yeah, I didn’t either, until I had kids. It comes on early and fast, the insatiable thirst to understand the world around them.

For my son, his first deep dive into the world of “why” was about motorized vehicles. He wanted to learn everything about cars, tractors, trains, buses. He quickly started using the word “why” to question just about every decision we would make.

  • “Why do we brush our teeth?”
  • “Why can’t I have an extra bedtime story?”
  • “Why can’t I play with Daddy’s power drill?”

Like any sleep-deprived parent of a preschooler and infant, this constant questioning was absolutely maddening to me, but looking back I understand it. He was seeking to understand the world and how adults made decisions. And to think we tried to stifle that curiosity!

Just like the most successful sales people I have encountered, small children use questions to help understand people’s motivations and to combat rejection. And speaking of rejection…

They can take a lot of rejection

They say that it takes 7-10 attempts of asking for a conversation before a prospect will say yes. In the case of my kids, they pretty much never give up.

Whether it is one more book, a TV show before breakfast, or staying up late, most young kids don’t view the word “no” as the end of the discussion. Instead, they take it as a cue to reframe the question—all in practicing their tactics of negotiation.

They are competitive and keep score

My son measures himself against the competition (his three-year-old sister) constantly. From who gets the most minutes in the bathtub to the biggest glass of milk, he is always keeping score.

Isn’t a sticker chart just the junior version of a sales leaderboard? And boy, does he like to win.

They know how to close

Kids are the best closers, and my kids are no exception.

I recently picked up my son from school and, as we were walking to the car, he casually said to me, “So Mommy, what are we having for dessert tonight?” Now, in our family, we have dessert on holidays, birthdays, and the occasional weekend, so it’s not a common occurrence, but those simple words planted the seed in my mind, and I thought, “This kid just used the assumptive close on me!”

And in case you are curious, although I completely saw through George’s salesmanship, I had to commend him for his tactics. After he met my objections (eating dinner), he got his close (vanilla ice cream).

They believe in what they are selling

Ever seen a child pull out the big guns when they feel “meh” about something? Yeah, me neither.

Regardless of what they’re “selling”, they feel passionate in their persuasion. That kid running the neighborhood lemonade stands truly believes that their citrus inspired beverage is the best on the planet and that their customers will be better off after their thirst is quenched.

I believe the difference between selling for a paycheck or as a true profession is the belief that your customers will be better off using the goods or services you provide. I have been fortunate in my career to work at companies where I understood and believed in the value of the products and services I represented. I’ve witnessed the real, material impact that can come when a business need is identified, solutions are implemented, and organizations can focus on the growth of their organizations. At Ruby, we have the privilege of connecting business owners with an innovative solution that helps them grow and thrive, one happy caller at a time—something my team and I are proud to believe in.

There are many ways we can learn to “sell like a child.” But there are also many ways children are the worst sales people. Tune back in soon for the second post in our series!

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Free eBook: The Power of First Impressions

Making a great first impression

First impressions are one of your most powerful resources—or one of your biggest pitfalls. From your first interaction with potential customers, you’re laying a foundation of trust. A foundation that is key to ensuring a long-lasting customer relationship.

Get our tips and tricks on creating strong first impressions directly from Ruby’s VP of Customer Success, Christina Burns!

In our free ebook, we discuss:

  • Creating a foundation of trust with your customers
  • Small ways you can make a great first impression every day
  • The importance of connection

Download eBook

Your Service Superpower with Christina Burns

Customer Service Superpower

Last month, Ruby’s VP of Customer Success, Christina Burns, visited the International Roofing Expo to talk about service as a superpower.

I know that might sound odd, focusing on customer service at a roofing event. But customer service is key—no matter your industry.

Consider this.

Jane Doe needs a new roof. She pulls up a directory, or a list of recommendations provided by friends, and starts working her way down. One business doesn’t answer the phone, one is rude, and the third business is warm and inviting.

Which one do you think she pursues? The third business of course—and she hasn’t even talked about prices or quality yet!

In her presentation, Christina talks about three important superpowers (that you already have, you just don’t know it yet.) They are:

  • First impressions
  • Productivity
  • Follow-Through

First Impressions

It takes, on average, 7 seconds for a person to form an opinion based solely on first impressions. This means your first 7 seconds of an interaction with a potential customer could win them, or lose them.

Who do your customers reach when they call you? Voicemail? A phone tree? Or a real person?

Did you know that, according to Helpscout, when people reach voicemail…

  • 67% will just hang up
  • 75% report being frustrated when they can’t just talk to someone
  • 70% of these buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are treated

The best, and easiest, way to make a great first impression is to make certain your customers always reach a real person when they call. Someone who’s friendly, helpful, and ready to kick off a great customer relationship.

Productivity

Did you know that it can take 23 minutes to get back “in the groove” after an interruption? When you can easily spend up to 6 hours a day managing interruptions, you can end up losing time faster than you can get things done.

Every time the phone rings and you have to be the person to answer it, you lose around 23 minutes of concentration. A dozen calls in a day, and your productive day is lost.

So, what’s the solution? You need a real person answering your phones to achieve fantastic first impressions, but if you are doing it, you don’t have time to focus on your work.

That’s where Ruby comes in.

Remote receptionists don’t just answer your phones (ticking off superpower #1), they also help you maintain momentum (superpower #2). With the Ruby mobile app, you can hold your calls at any time with the click of a button—avoiding distractions when you’re on a roll. You can review calls and messages in real time, on your schedule—allowing you to prioritize in the moment. And you can manage your day instead of your interruptions.

Follow-Through

You’ve impressed your callers. You’re more productive than ever. Now, all that’s left is the follow-through that gets you over the finish line. Remember, customer service is an ongoing adventure.

70% of consumers are willing to spend more when they receive good service. On the flip side, 60% of consumers report that they’ll switch to a competitor for a better experience, according to Helpscout.

This means that, even once you’ve gotten over that first impression hump, customer service is still key.

Luckily, Ruby can help with this step too! Ruby’s team of remote receptionist can return your calls—ensuring your callers get that friendly voice, you’re always in the know (with a summary of every call), and you can stay productive.

It’s that human touch that really matters—those small moments where you remind your customers they’re important to you. And you don’t even need to be the one to do it!

Developing these superpowers could be the difference between winning customers, or losing them before ever even making your pitch.

Customer Service Superpowers
Christina Burns, VP of Customer Success

A Ruby since 2009 (when she started as a receptionist), Christina brings over a decade of customer service experience to our Customer Happiness and Receptionist Services team. She believes that a grassroots culture of collaboration, support, and personal growth is the key to providing world-class customer service, and she strives to foster that culture within her department every day. Using her signature humor, humility, and compassion to guide her, she leads our service superheroes as they pioneer a new frontier of WOW-worthy service!

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Ruby Visits Heckerling 2017

The Ruby crew had a great time at the 52nd Annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning in late January, and I wanted to share a quick recap of the fun and informative experience.

Estate planning professionals gathered at Heckling to hear from experts in the field, learn all the ins-and-outs of the 2017 Tax Act and its practical implications, and explore tools and technology designed to help create outstanding experiences for their clients (like Ruby!). We heard from many attendees who really enjoyed the sessions, and we were delighted to be part of an important milestone: this year, Heckerling had its highest attendance yet!

We had the chance to mingle with other tech companies serving estate planning professionals, some of which were visiting Heckling for the first time. Here are a few standouts:

  • Legacy Concierge facilitates closing electronic accounts, including government, insurance, credit, merchant, banking, email, airline, and social media.
  • HomeLight uses sales data and reviews to find top real estate agents based on past performance. Their team describes HomeLight as “Moneyball for real estate.”
  • Directive Communications Systems (DCS) is an estate management solution that helps attorneys and personal representatives organize and contact personal accounts to fulfill an individual’s final wishes.

We were lucky enough to meet some Ruby customers in person, too—one of the biggest highlights of the trip! We snapped this selfie with Ruby customer Thomas K. Chu, who chatted with us a bit about how our live remote receptionist service helps him deliver the focused attention his clients are looking for. Another customer, Tiffany O’Conner, stopped by the booth to say hello and grab a photo with Austin.

Many thanks to the talented presenters and wonderful folks we met at Heckerling—we’re looking forward to next year!

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