Many Lawyerist readers have praised Ruby Receptionists. So, when our phone volume got too high, we took advantage of Ruby’s free trial period. Unsurprisingly, we found Ruby’s service to be top notch. But the service isn’t perfect. I’ve encountered a few issues, and come up with a solution to cut down on costs.

Why You Should Hire Ruby Receptionists

The simple answer is peace of mind. Let’s face it, the ladies at Ruby are top notch customer service professionals. They are nothing but courteous on the phone. Seriously, these people have “nice-off” competitions. In fact, I sometimes feel bad when I’m a bit short with them, even when it’s necessary (see below). Multiple people have complimented me on how nice my secretary is. I’ve also been told she has a “very nice voice.” Which I found to be a weird compliment, but I graciously accepted it on “her” behalf anyway.

The high quality of service lets me spend my day not worrying about the ringing phone. Having Ruby answer the phones lets me stay focused. I don’t have to worry about missing a call from a prospective client or having to deal with a client’s problem while I’m up to my elbows in another project.

As Sam discussed in his initial review, you can send Ruby detailed on-the-fly instructions for how to handle incoming calls. This is particularly effective if you will be out of town. For example, when I went out of town for a wedding recently, I told Ruby to take messages unless the call was from a judge or a couple select clients. That let me enjoy the wedding and not feel guilty having my partner answer the phone all the time.

What I Don’t Like About Ruby Receptionists

The Price

This is the main issue with Ruby. Their smallest plan includes one hundred receptionist minutes and will set you back $229 a month. Every minute you go over costs $2.29. When I signed up for the free trial, 100 minutes seemed like a lot of receptionist time. After all, once the call is transferred, the timer stops running. But I’ve found the time gets eaten up quickly if you have any kind of client volume. Doubly so if Ruby is screening some of your clients.

In our two week free trial, we used 195 receptionist minutes. We don’t really want to pay $379 a month for 200 minutes, so I thought that might be the end of Ruby Receptionists for the firm. As it turns out, Ruby gives you the call data. So the nerd in me set to analyzing how we used up so much time in ten days. As it turns out, a huge majority of the time came from two clients. In total, they used over 100 minutes. That is a problem. Below I discuss some strategies we are using to deal with the problem.

The Accuracy

I noticed that with a few calls, Ruby Receptionists got a last name wrong. It wasn’t a big deal. I’d say maybe three or four calls over the ten day trial had wrong last names. Also, on at least three occasions callers were identified as “new clients” or “potential clients” when they were already clients of the firm. I’m guessing the latter is from how my clients introduced themselves, but I can’t be sure.

Not Knowing

This is less a gripe with Ruby than with my own anal-retentiveness. At the end of the day I can see who called in. On at least half the days there are calls that Ruby Receptionists handled without forwarding the calls to me or my partner. When it’s a number that I don’t recognize, I can’t help but wonder what the call was about. I think it will just require letting go and trusting in Ruby Receptionists to handle things appropriately. After all, that’s what they’re there for.

How to Reduce Costs with Ruby Receptionists

In order to keep our minutes at a reasonable level, we are using three strategies:

  • Route calls: With RingCentral we pay $40 a month and can create call lists for problem clients, VIPs, or whomever we want. Most people get routed through Ruby, but some go right to voicemail. Others, like judges’ chambers, get pushed directly to our cell phones.
  • Constantly update whereabouts: Ruby Receptionists allows users to update their whereabouts via e-mail, the web, or an app. This is critical. If I’m walking into a meeting, I tell Ruby. If I need to drill down and write for an hour, I tell Ruby. This keeps them from wasting time calling my phone and having me pick up only to tell them to take a message.
  • Don’t allow small talk: When a Ruby receptionist calls, she cheerfully says on the phone, “Hi, this is Hillary from Ruby,” and then pauses. As a human being, it’s completely natural to say “Hi Hillary, how are you?” or make some other quick small talk. I quickly realized that this makes calls take longer, and results in clients staying on hold longer. It feels horribly awkward, but now when they call I just say hello and wait for them to continue after the pause.

There are other ways to cut time that we haven’t used. For example, you can have Ruby send people to voicemail exclusively instead of taking a message. After all, taking a message is time consuming. The down side to this is that you have to then listen to the full voicemail. Depending on your practice and your clients, that could become a tedious task. So far we’ve found that having Ruby take the message saves us time in the long run, even if it does mean a few extra seconds on the phone.

Summary

Ruby Receptionists

Reviewed by Josh Camson on .

Summary: Ruby Receptionists continues to impress with their service and value. The only down side is their up front cost.

Breakdown:

  • Price: 3/5
  • Ease of us: 5/5
  • Courteousness of staff: 5/5

Overall score: 4.5 (out of 5)