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Alternatives to Ruby Receptionists in light of price increase

I have been using the virtual receptionist service Ruby Receptionists for over a year. They are the third virtual receptionist service I have used, and they're by far the best. It's not even close, really.

Ruby just sent me an email informing me that (for the second time since I started using them) they are increasing their rates. My monthly bill with Ruby is typically around $1,400, and that is already about $400 above my budget.

The nature of my plaintiffs' civil rights contingent-fee practice is that I need to talk to about 50 potential clients in order to find just one person who I think has a viable claim, so there is really no way for me to decrease the volume of calls Ruby handles. I suppose I could start answering my own phone some days, but because handling phone intake is the most spiritually draining part of my practice--after all, I can't help most of the folk I talk to, and some of them take their frustration out on me--I'd like to avoid doing that.

So here's my question: Can anyone recommend a less-expensive virtual receptionist? My preference would be to stay with Ruby, but I don't know if I can continue to pay their rates, which I can only assume will continue to increase.

By the way, it's not lost on me that even at $1,400/month, Ruby is still much less expensive than a full-time receptionist. And Ruby probably does a better job at handling phone calls than most in-house receptionists. But my budget is what it is.

Thanks in advance for your feedback.

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Comments

  • AFFAFF United States

    I think you have a marketing problem, not a ruby receptionist problem. It should be easier to make the extra $400/month than to find another virtual receptionist. Figure out a way to raise your rates, get more clients, or get more valuable cases. That seems like a better use of your brain power. I'd read some of Lee Rosen's posts for inspiration.

    BTW, I have the same dilemma. I think Ruby is priced highly, but they're amazing, so I'm sticking with them.

    A lot of these services use "hand waving math" where they say, since Clio (insert practice management software here) saves you 8 hours a month of time, but only costs $75/month, and you bill out at 200 an hour, you're actually paying negative $1,525 a month since you have magically billed and collected the 8 hours you saved. Fortunately, Ruby is different. They really do help. I should put down the Koolaid I'm drinking.

    Congrats on making it work with a plaintiff side civil rights contingency practice.

  • AFFAFF United States

    Also, what does Ruby do for your intake? Do you have them ask all your callers a script of questions? Are you using them like a sophisticated screening service? Or are they just taking messages?

    If they do 50 calls at 10 minutes a call, that's 500 minutes...so maybe $1200 (depending on your pricing tier) for a single client? Crap.

  • @AFF: Thanks for your feedback! Ironically, the reason why paying Ruby's rates has become unsustainable for me is because my marketing efforts have been so successful; I get a ton of calls these days. Unfortunately, 95% of the folk who reach out to me lack viable claims, so that means I need to take an incredibly high number of calls just to find one person I can help. As far as I can tell, this is just how it goes with putative employment and civil rights clients; even the folks other lawyers refer to me seldom have viable claims.

    Given that these are often some of the most vulnerable and disenfranchised folk imaginable, I don't feel right about raising my contingent fee.

    I provided Ruby with a streamlined script, but because quite a few of the folk who reach out to me suffered awful violations of their rights or have somewhat of a victim complex, they want to vent their frustrations to Ruby. And the Ruby folk treat them with dignity and respect and let the callers vent. Sometimes for 10 minutes or more.

    The good news is that Gabbyville is way less expensive than Ruby, and it's working out so far. My service rep has really been on the ball, and the scope of the services Gabbyville offers is even broader than Ruby. I will report back if things turn sour.

  • I use Back Office Betties and have been with them about a year. Their prices are straightforward and less expensive than some of the alternatives plus they schedule appointments and are open on Saturdays which is a plus for me because we get a fair amount of inquiries on Saturdays.

  • @alphaomegan said:

    I provided Ruby with a streamlined script,

    Does that mean that Ruby was doing your intake for you?

    Does Gabbyville now do your intake?

    Thanks for your time.

  • @ariel.ortiz said:
    I use Back Office Betties and have been with them about a year.

    Ariel,
    Does Back Office Betties do your phone intakes for you or just take messages? Do you think they are good at it? Are they like Ruby where the caller is not supposed to be able to tell the phone receptionists isn't in your office?

    Thanks for your time.

  • Here is how my system works:

    1. If I don't pick up my phone on the first ring, the call is automatically transferred to the virtual receptionist (VR).
    2. The VR answers and greets the caller.
    3. If the VR determines the caller is a potential new client, s/he requests the potential new client to visit my website to access my public calendar and set up a phone case review.
    4. If the potential new client lacks internet access or otherwise requests help setting up a phone case review, the VR will access my public calendar and set the appointment up for the potential new client (Gabbyville does this; Ruby did not).
  • ariel.ortizariel.ortiz Phoenix
    edited October 2015 via Email
    Hi Betties does the intake and schedules all consultations on my Google calendar and our customers have no idea they are speaking to someone outside of the business. They send me an appointment confirmation email every time they schedule. The cost for the service is under 3% of what they are booking in new jobs for me. I've had people schedule with us just because we answer the phone every time they call.

    Please be aware that when you respond by email, you need to remove your email and any quoted material. —Mod.
    Post edited by samglover on
  • vivmitvivmit Los Angeles, California

    I used Smith.AI, and they are very responsive and a great service. Though I didn't ask them to do my intakes or schedule appointments, I think that was an option that was available. What they did do for me is to answer my calls b/w 9 and 6pm PST and either take a message or live transfer the caller over to me based on certain criteria that I picked. Its a great service that I think is more cost-effective than Ruby and though I didn't end up sticking with them due to cost issues (my firm is still in its infancy), I would take a look at them.

  • jeffkerrjeffkerr Atlanta, GA

    You might want to try Alert Communications. We found them to be reasonably-priced and very helpful, but I never tried Ruby and so can't compare.

  • PATLive is another virtual receptionist I haven't seen mentioned. I found them to be a lot more affordable than Call Ruby and offer great service. They worked with me to craft a script that identifies new clients right off the bat so we're not missing any opportunities.

  • Another good choice is Smith. They have done an excellent job. They cover my phones 9a-6p EST. They are helpful and friendly. They are in the price sweat spot. They don't have an incentive to charge by the minute. They are new and are very responsive to market feedback.

  • Adam LillyAdam Lilly Cumming, Georgia

    I've been looking for a virtual receptionist service, and am looking at Gabbyville and Vicky as options. Has anyone here used either?

  • I have been using Gabbyville for about seven months, and they are doing a good job. And they're way less expensive than Ruby. If Ruby is the Cadillac of virtual receptionists, then Gabbyville is the Nissan Altima.

  • anthonysparkanthonyspark New York, NY

    I've been using Ruby for many years. Yes, they're probably the most expensive, but they are heads and shoulders the best service. At least once a month a client or colleague comments to me how pleasant my receptionist is. I've used 3 other services in the past, they ranged from satisfactory to buttery.

    Suggestion to reduce your Ruby cost: hire someone else to do the client intakes. Ruby is excellent for reception, but probably not the right price or skill set for other tasks such as client intake. So I hired a VA to handle all new client calls, Ruby just patches those calls to the VA.

  • MHDellMHDell Charleston

    I've been using Ruby for about 3 years, on and off. I love them and have never felt like the expense was a waste.

    That being said, they take messages and route calls for me, but nothing else. They are not doing any intake so the average call is 90secs or less.

  • I've been using Gabbyville for about 9 months, and while I'm generally satisfied, I decided to make a switch to Smith.ai. I had filled out and then revised my "meet and greet" with Gabbyville and they never seemed to follow it. I've used up my trial at Smith.ai and I really liked that they send me not only a message after any call, but also a daily summary. Gabbyville would send me a weekly spreadsheet (which they forgot to do for several weeks, so I missed billing for calls). The Smith.ai emails are much more visually pleasing, and I can just text them when I'm away or with a client, whereas Gabbyville I would email it when I was in court or out for a long period of time.

  • nymanipnymanip Chicago, IL

    Smith.ai for sure. I've used their services since 2015 and don't know how I could live without them now. A live person answers each call with the greeting I select, hands the call over to me with an introduction, and prepares a summary of each call sent by email. (I chose email over SMS.) I have an IP boutique practice, so my new leads call with pretty much patent, trademark, or copyright needs. Anymore, the Smith receptionists are better at classifying some lead's IP needs than the lead themselves. Smith.ai also screens out solicitors or anyone else I don't want to take calls from. It's all so customized that it feels as if I have a dedicated receptionist. The prices are super affordable, too. Highly recommended!

  • I wanted to specifically add to this thread because after carefully reading all of the comments on here I switched from Ruby to Smith.ai. I flat out could not be happier. While I get that Ruby is still cheaper than a full time receptionist, I still needed more predictability in my bills. I also think with what technology can do for us these days, a full time receptionist is not the best way to spend money depending on what you need for your practice. With all virtual reception - there is huge benefit in being able to answer office calls wherever you are. For me, being a family law attorney, that means taking calls as I am able between hearings. At my old firm I would walk in from a morning at court will a pile of calls to return with little notes scratched out on paper. In my quest to be more paperless, Smith.ai has really been outstanding there too. All call notes come in as emails and there is even a call summary at the end of every day. They took great notes on my practice. Smith.ai knows what types of cases I handle....what counties I practice in...and who my usual referrals are to when I cannot take a case. I use calendly which is syched to my Google Calendar and they schedule prospective new clients who meet specific parameters. When I left a few months back RUBY DID NOT HAVE THIS ABILITY. I would get tons of calls that were not lucrative at all to me that I had to personally return because Ruby did not really have a good handle on what my office does. If I wanted them to schedule something I had to take the time to look in my calendar myself and type out an email or "assist" request in their app and specifically tell them exactly what to say and what dates/times to offer. It was so tedious. And expensive. Those Ruby receptionists were very kind and would take to people however long they wanted at a per min charge. And it was so awkward because if they called someone and left a voicemail very often the person would just call right back, get a different receptionist, who would then take another message to call them back. Argh. I was quite hesitant to switch because Ruby, as has been mentioned in several places on the internet, is the "cadillac" of virtual reception and Smith.ai doesn't have as many reviews on the internet. So I thought I would be making some concessions to save some money and get some predictability in billing. Well, a few months into my Smith.ai experience I must say I was so very wrong to think it was taking a step down. The receptionists sound just as nice and professional. The technology is just as good and really better. They block annoying solicitors very well. They can schedule without my intervention at all. And less receptionists seem to handle my particular account so it seems like they actually know my business better. PNCs who actually meet my requirements end up in my calendar. Given how hard this could be with Ruby it almost seems magical. Smith.ai receptionists have gone out of their way to look things up on the internet to understand a situation better. I mean, really, it is above and beyond. And my bills....they are lower than Ruby and predictable. They have been the same each month. In conclusion, I somehow stumbled onto something amazing and better for a better price. I know it usually doesn't happen that way. But it did here. And I thank all of you on this thread who took the time to write something and weigh in on this issue - especially those of you that tipped me off about Smith.ai.

  • edited December 2016

    Post removed at the poster’s request. To avoid losing the thread of the discussion, the gist was he had concerns about Smith.ai’s terms. See the posts that follow for more information. —Mod.

    Post edited by samglover on
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