In an increasingly automated world, how do you create customized customer experiences when your company is dedicated to preserving personal, human connections? For Ruby Receptionists, who provides live virtual receptionist services for more than 8,000 small businesses across North America, the answer lies in creating meaningful connections and delivering great experiences with every call.
Based in Portland, Oregon, Ruby Receptionists has been making connections with callers and customers for over 15 years. Two-thirds of their 500 employees are receptionists who handle more than 40,000 calls a day. Ruby Receptionists prides themselves on “delivering delight” through human connections, but to do this, they rely on the technology and tech partners (like Twilio) that power their operation.
Before integrating Twilio Voice and then migrating to Twilio SIP Trunking, Ruby Receptionists was locked into an inflexible enterprise telephony platform for their receptionist centers. Afraid of losing call quality, they were hesitant to replace their legacy phone system.
“Ruby was keeping it real old-school when it came to our telephony infrastructure. We were so serious about providing high-quality voice calls that we hung onto our infrastructure past the point of it being helpful to us,” explained Katharine Nester, Ruby Receptionists’ Chief Product and Technology Officer.
Ruby Receptionists relied on time-division multiplexing (TDM) and primary rate interfaces (PRIs) to provide connectivity to their private branch exchange (PBX) and calling platform. However, this outdated technology was hurting their call quality and was no longer providing the service that they required to remain competitive. That’s what brought them to Twilio.
Nester leads the teams responsible for designing and building the mobile and web apps customers use to interact with Ruby Receptionists. As she and her team looked for a SIP trunking provider, they focused their search on those that could interop with their existing PBX so that they wouldn’t lose their built-in routing and knowledge. They needed easy access to local phone numbers, which they provision every day for their customers across North America, and a robust admin console so they could easily add capacity or make other changes as required. Lastly, they needed to make sure their call quality would be excellent by including Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) delivery for their SIP trunk.
Ruby evaluated several other SIP providers, with disappointing results, before they found Twilio. “One provider took a week just to provision one local phone number. Another provider couldn’t provision multiple phone numbers at the same time, and Ruby literally broke their admin console trying. Another took four months to install the physical circuit in our facility and then another four months to properly configure it,” said Steve Severance, Ruby Receptionists’ VP of Engineering.
After a frustrating journey to find the right SIP trunk provider, the team finally found Twilio.
We see every call we take for our small business customers as an opportunity to make a connection and make somebody's day. To do that, we need to have the right infrastructure underpinning us.
In contrast to Ruby Receptionists’ experience with other providers, Twilio was quick to set up. Their proof of concept was up and running with calls flowing through it on the Twilio platform within 24 hours. Twilio’s MPLS connectivity, with points of presence on both coasts, gave them geo-redundancy and higher-quality, more reliable calls. Ruby now uses the Twilio platform for 2.2 million and growing SIP and programmable voice minutes per month.
Most importantly, the move to Twilio and its easy ability to move numbers from one trunk to another in seconds has helped Ruby prevent outages and maintain uptime. In fact, since moving to Twilio, they’ve experienced 66% fewer service interruptions and a 50% reduction in the average number of customers who are impacted when an interruption does occur.
Additionally, Twilio provides easy access to local phone numbers with a very robust admin console. Ruby can now instantly provision multiple numbers at the same time with no issues. “We’ve provisioned more than 8,000 numbers, with lots of people using it at the same time, and we haven’t broken it yet,” said Severance.
The Twilio development platform gives Ruby the ability to offer more features to their customers. And, as a pleasant and unexpected bonus, Twilio ended up being much less expensive than Ruby’s ’ former provider.
Most of all, Twilio helps Ruby Receptionists fulfill their business promise. “Even if we make a connection that's delightful, even if we make somebody smile, if we're not actually doing what we say we're going to do, such as answering their calls quickly or providing excellent call quality, it won't matter, and it will diminish trust—not only with us but with the businesses we answer the phones for. Twilio has provided the right infrastructure and the right foundation that allows us to do what we say we're going to do for each and every call,” said Nester.
One of Ruby’s’ goals is to anticipate needs that their customers don’t even know they have. Ruby recognized the “bring your own device” trend among businesses and came up with the hypothesis that customers want to use their cell phones, but not their cell phone numbers, for business purposes.
“We had a hypothesis forming that many of our small business customers were no longer using a desk phone or getting a landline; they were using their personal cell phone as their business phone. And the hypothesis we built out was that these are folks want to keep their personal lives separate from their business lives. So they probably want to keep their personal cell phone numbers private,” explained Nester.
Using Twilio Programmable Voice, Ruby created a feature in their mobile app that lets customers choose which phone number they want to use when dialing out—their business or personal number. The beta took Nester and her team one month to build, which wasn’t too long of an investment if their hypothesis ended up being false. The feature, “Choose Your Caller ID,” turned out to be very popular.
“Thankfully for us, that hypothesis was correct, and the investment was solid. Within two months we were able to make it production ready. We've seen an approximate 70% month-over-month usage adoption for ‘Choose Your Caller ID’ since it launched. The ease of making features scalable and robust was critical to our ability to test our hypothesis quickly enough to make sure that it was something our customers wanted,” said Nester.
Twilio has been a fantastic company to work with. With Twilio, we've been able to rapidly prototype, test hypothesis and then move on to production quickly and easily.
If you’re wondering if people still call businesses in this digital age, the answer is a resounding “yes.” In 2016, mobile searches resulted in 70 billion inbound business phone calls, and that figure is estimated to increase to 162 billion calls by 2019. According to Google, 61% of mobile searches result in a phone call, and 47% of users say they will move on to a competitor if a business doesn’t have a phone number readily available.
Knowing this, Ruby Receptionists pride themselves on providing excellent customer service and “delivering delight” through real, human connections on the other line. But they don’t just answer the phone—Ruby keeps customers coming back for more. Eighty percent of customers say that a positive phone experience with a company is likely to make them a repeat customer. While positive experiences evoke customer loyalty, negative experiences have the opposite effect. In fact, 72% of people will hang up if they receive an automated response when they call a company.
To provide the level of customer engagement their customers rely on, Ruby depends on having the right infrastructure. Switching to Twilio as their Elastic SIP Trunking provider gave them the infrastructure to deliver delight at scale. Thanks to the ease of Twilio’s Programmable Voice APIs, Ruby continues to anticipate their customers’ needs by adding new features, and doing what they say they’re going to do: preserve and perpetuate real, meaningful connections in an increasingly technology-focused, virtual world.