Alternatives to Ruby

Justin Maxwell

For the past few years, many of you have found your way to Smith.ai from a highly referenced thread on Lawyerist.com, titled "Alternatives to Ruby Receptionists."

That thread is now gone, but thanks to Archive.org's "Wayback Machine," the comments have been preserved. Here are positive testimonials from happy Smith.ai customers who shared their great experience.

"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 sync'ed 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."

- Patricia Waddell Stanley, December 2016

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!

- NymanIP, June 2016

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.

- Anne611, May 2016

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

- ct-esqct-esq, Feb 2016

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.

- vivmit, December 2015

Comparing Smith.ai to Ruby

Now that you've read a few anecdotes, let's drill in to the details — the costs and features that matter to you. Here's a handy comparison chart for starters:

Monthly Plans

Smith.ai and Ruby offer the following monthly service plans:

Smith.ai

  • $210 for 30 live receptionist calls and 1 live phone transfer number
  • $360 for 60 calls and 2 live phone transfer numbers
  • $750 for 150 calls and 5 live phone transfer numbers
  • Custom plans available

Ruby

  • $319 for 100 minutes with unlimited live phone transfer numbers
  • $599 for 200 minutes with unlimited live phone transfer numbers
  • $999 for 350 minutes with unlimited live phone transfer numbers
  • $1,399 for 500 minutes with unlimited live phone transfer numbers
  • Additional plans available

Coverage

Smith.ai

  • $7.50/call on the $210/month plan
  • $6.50/call on the $360/month plan
  • $5.50/call on the $750/month plan

Ruby

Since Smith.ai charges per call and Ruby charges per minute, here we've provided a per-call cost estimation. Ruby claims their average call time is 1.5 minutes. Assuming your calls average 1.5-minutes, which is quite short, Ruby's services will cost:

  • $4.64/call at $3.19/minute on the $319/month plan
  • $4.43/call at $2.945/minute on the $599/month plan
  • $4.11/call at $2.738/minute on the $1,399/month plan

Features

Smith.ai and Ruby both offer the following features:

  • Inbound and outbound calling with live virtual receptionists
  • Custom call handling procedures and script building
  • New lead qualification before intake or scheduling
  • Messages taken, and emailed or texted to you
  • Live call transfers
  • Integration with popular CRMs, like Clio, Clio Grow, and Rocket Matter
  • Integration with most major calendaring and scheduling software programs
  • Custom greetings and voicemail messages
  • Spanish-speaking receptionists
  • Instant status updates via mobile device
  • 24/7 call handling
  • Ready access to real-time call and message history
  • Ability to map client history to the incoming number, so clients receive personalized attention
  • Free hosting of toll-free number and/or local number in the area of your choice
  • Robocall filtering to reduce the number of calls that reach receptionists

Smith.ai offers the following additional features:

Ruby offers the following additional features:

  • Mobile app that includes messages, voicemails, chats, and texts
  • Status update options via the Mobile App, Apple Watch, and online dashboard
  • Unlimited live phone transfer numbers at no additional charge
  • HIPAA compliant service available at no additional cost
  • No additional charge to accept collect calls
  • No additional charge for complex call routing

Discussion

At Smith.ai, you're billed per call, not per half-minute, which means your costs are more predictable. It's far more likely that you'll know how many calls you have each month than how many minutes. Your overall monthly cost for services will depend on your call time.You can check the call time in your 2 weeks with Smith.ai or 21 days with Ruby (both include a money-back guarantee).

Note that the entry price is higher at Ruby than Smith.ai, with Smith.ai's lowest plan coming in at $210/month and Ruby's at $319/month.

2019 Update on Ruby Receptionists

Smith.ai and Ruby both have high Trustpilot scores: At the time of writing, Smith.ai has a 4.8 and Ruby has a 4.6 on Trustpilot.

However, in 2019 Ruby received many complaints about the ways their calls have been handled over the years. Don’t take our word for it; here are two reviews from consumeraffairs.com:

“We found that they were putting 90% of our callers on hold the minute they pick up the phone, which to me is a terrible client experience from the start. They were charging for all of this hold time. They were also charging us for more minutes than they were on the phone.
When we questioned them, their response was that calls were placed on hold so the receptionist could review the company information before every call. It was a clever excuse to say the least, but we were told all of their receptionists would be provided training when setting up the accounts, and already know how to answer the call. I am not normally someone to leave a review but felt it was important to warn other businesses who may not have the same call tracking system in place which allowed us to catch all of the inconsistencies and dishonest tactics Ruby Receptionists was committing.”
“I have used this company for years and years and years, and thought I was always happy with them to the point where I was no longer running tests of my own. Trying to demonstrate the service to a friend, I made a test call. To my surprise, after a long ring time, I was placed on hold, waited some more, and then got a receptionist. To my MUCH GREATER surprise, after some followup with Ruby, I realized I was being billed for not only the receptionist time, but the RINGING and the HOLD TIME. This is wildly unethical.”

At Smith.ai, we use our proprietary software to give the answering receptionist any information on your caller and your business needs — all in real-time. That way, receptionists can focus on their true skillset: professional, useful, and unscripted conversations. We train them on providing excellent service to your callers, and our AI tech takes care of personalization.

More Customer Testimonials For Smith.ai

We're incorrigible. But, we want to make sure you're confident when moving to Smith.ai. Here's some additional praise from happy Smith.ai customers:

See more recommendations for Smith.ai for our highly rated Virtual Receptionist Services services.

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The best way to compare Smith.ai to Ruby Receptionists is to try both services. Sign up for a free consultation with our team or get started risk-free with our 14-day money-back guarantee. We can't wait to show you how we can help your business capture more leads, make your existing clients happy, and help you reduce interruptions for more productive work days — all at an affordable price.

Note: This blog post was updated March 15, 2021 to reflect price and feature changes.

Justin Maxwell

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