So you’re still on the fence about hiring a virtual assistant for your business and you still haven’t figured out what to do to put them to good use.
There is that notion that hiring a virtual assistant is more of a “luxury” rather than addressing a need. This is wrong. Many business owners used to think that only big companies can afford to hire a virtual assistant and consider this an extra overhead expense.
In reality, it is the other way around. More companies, especially smaller ones, are resorting to hiring virtual assistants to do for them the most of the mundane tasks. Small businesses are the ones benefitting more from this.
I can list down a lot of reasons why you should hire a Virtual Assistant but I’ve narrowed it down to two:
Virtual Assistants provide a solution to your common business problems, or even beyond.
Hiring a VA has become a solution to business problems because of the varied service structure that they offer. Business owners have come to realize that outsourcing is the best way to go about so they can focus more on creating what their business need. And so with a variety of service structure to choose from, you can build a service structure that best fits your business.
A virtual assistant can do so many things. They are multi-skilled professionals ready to help you with the nitty-gritty, so you don’t have to. You can always delegate the things that you don’t want to do, or do not have the skills to do it.
Some of the tasks that you can delegate to a virtual assistant are:
Social Media Management
Bookkeeping and Invoice Management
Travel Planning and Events Management
There are many other things that you can use a Virtual Assistant for. You just have to be specific about the tasks that you want to outsource or delegate.
2. Hiring Virtual Assistants can help you cut costs and increase your business’s productivity.
If you are just starting out your business, you would want to maximize everything. You can operate your business from your home office and don’t need employees to come. Think about the overhead costs of running a physical office versus a virtual office. Think about how much you are going to save on employee costs and benefits.
Virtual Assistants also run their businesses or do their work in the comforts of their homes, so you don’t have to worry about incurring big electric bills.
Virtual Assistants offer different types of service structures. If you want someone to help you run your business on a daily basis, then you might need a company VA or a dedicated VA. If you need them for a particular project or on a particular task only, then you might consider hiring them on a project basis or on a per hour basis. It really depends on your needs.
So how do you go about hiring the best fit for you? Consider the following questions:
a. How much are you willing to spend on a Virtual Assistant’s services?
Virtual Assistants offer their services fees differently. Some, as mentioned earlier, charge by the hour, or on a per-project basis. Others charge on a time block. You can block 20 hours for some tasks that you want to be done. Dedicated VAs may charge you on a monthly basis or fortnightly.
Again, Virtual Assistants are one of the most flexible types of service providers. If you need a dedicated VA or a Company VA, then you have to let them know if you need them to be working closely with you at specific times.
If you need them only for a short period of time, you still have to provide them with a deadline. Check if the deadline you set is amicable to both of you and that it won’t cause unnecessary stress to both parties.
c. Independent Virtual Assistant or Virtual Assistant Agencies
There are factors to consider in hiring which type of VA is perfect for you. Both have their share of advantages and disadvantages.
Independent Va work alone. They can focus their time on your tasks if you hire them with or without a contract. You have to be specific if you want them to be working exclusively for you. They are also perfect if the job or task entails sensitive financial information. If that is the case, then a contract or a non-disclosure agreement might be necessary.
That said, they also have other clients to attend to, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t perform their tasks well. But since they work alone, the services they offer are limited to their expertise or specialized skill. While they can multi-task, they might have other clients to attend to so you just have to be specific about your deadlines so they can prioritize.
On the other hand, Virtual Assistant agencies or companies have a pool of people who can work around your tasks. But it doesn’t mean that the tasks you want to be done is passed around to anybody. Privacy on sensitive information is still important and observed. They still provide you with a particular VA to work on your project or task, so the sense of responsibility is still valued. That said, the quality of work is not and will never be compromised.
One of the biggest advantages of working with a VA company or agency is that you know you’re not working with a “fly-by-night” type of service and that there is always someone working around on your tasks.
So, do you really need to hire a Virtual Assistant for your business?
It all depends on you. Check your priorities and get it straight. List down all the pressing issues you are experiencing in running your business. Can you do all those on your own? Probably you could, but do you really want to check and answer all those emails that have been sitting in your inbox for a while now? Or call up each and every client who needs support on a product you sold?
So really, only you can know where and what type of assistance you need for your growing business. Virtual Assistants are here to provide a solution to a business problem. They help you cut cost, get more things done, free up your time so you can focus on building products and spend quality time with your loved ones.
If you have decided to hire your first VA, you can go check us out here.
In order to see your business as efficient, you need to ensure that your clients get a satisfactory service and that your operations remain profitable. Nothing more, nothing less. There’s no rule about whether your company’s processes should be handled in-house or be outsourced to other agencies. Sure, in theory, it would be better to be self-reliant, however, this is not realistic in the present-day business landscape.
Look at it this way, even some of the world’s greatest conglomerates like Microsoft and Apple outsource their production to countries like China, whereas SMBs and startups tend to outsource specialized functions like IT and general virtual assistant services. Either way, outsourcing is an option your business is bound to encounter sooner or later and the choice you make here may just play a deciding role in its future course. Here are several benefits of outsourcing that you should take into consideration.
The first thing you need to take into consideration is the cost of starting your own specialized department or initializing an in-house business process. Think about one of the most basic examples – the delivery system. In order to handle this in-house, you would have to acquire a sufficient number of company vehicles, hire a fleet manager and pay for the specialized software.
Aside from this, you would also have to hire a sufficiently large number of capable drivers and ensure their discipline at all times. It goes without saying that the costs of such a thing would be stellar. Therefore, outsourcing is not only the best choice you have but the only viable choice. Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule, for instance in a scenario where you need a single vehicle, for the time being. Still, a purchase of such a vehicle, alone, would probably surpass the available space in the budget of an average startup.
The next problem you will encounter when trying to establish an in-house department is the problem of proficiency. Think about it, even if you do hire an entire team (let’s say legal team for the sake of this argument), as a startup, you won’t have the privilege of hiring veterans. Instead, you’ll have to bring in inexperienced people (despite their talent and credentials) and wait for them to become proficient enough.
Another thing you need to understand is that the majority of processes that your startup will face will depend on you. The thing is that, as a person with an idea, you probably have some knowledge or previous experience regarding the core tasks of your company. For instance, the majority of people who decide to start marketing agencies have probably already worked in a marketing agency before. During the research for the startup alone, you can acquire so much knowledge on the topic that you may become somewhat proficient at it.
However, the same does not apply to every single aspect of running a business. As a seasoned marketer, chances are that you don’t know the first thing about HR. This is why it’s easier to outsource your HR than to start your own department. Think about it, the very process of vetting the right head for the department can be a nightmare. In this way, you can just have someone else oversee it.
An outsider’s perspective
The next thing worth mentioning is the fact that in some scenarios you need an outsider’s perspective. For instance, when hiring a marketing agency to do a branding for your startup, you get the privilege of getting an outsider’s opinion of your business. Think about it, your own marketing department is still a part of your team and has a biased view of your organization.
As a part of your structure, they also start from the point of brand awareness instead of going through the stage of brand recognition, in the beginning. This is also great for customer service, seeing as how they start from a position that’s much closer to that of a client than your in-house customer service team ever could. This ability to distance themselves from your company, if only just a bit, can make a world of difference when it comes to the outcome.
Most agencies work with multiple clients and have different arrangements with different businesses they work with. This means that, as your company grows, you can change your contract and switch to a more encompassing plan or change your partner altogether.
The problem with outsourcing lies in the fact that most entrepreneurs prefer to keep everything under direct control. This, however, is a psychological problem that they will eventually have to overcome in order to grow their business and future-proof it in order to endure the long run. In other words, outsourcing gives them more room to focus their attention and resources elsewhere.
Virtual assistants have gone beyond providing administrative tasks to clients. We are also great at providing customer service, tech support and even creating chatbots. Provided with proper training, a virtual assistant can do the work of customer service representatives in answering customer service related concerns.
In fact, Virtual Assistants and
chatbots were included in an article by Tenfold
which listed down the digital trends and technologies that are transforming
customer experience in the banking and finance sector.
In the article, it said, “the
demand for faster, more efficient services has eventually led to a forecast
that 85% of customer interactions will be automated by 2020, according
to Gartner. Chatbots and smart assistants are finding their way in various
verticals, serving various purposes from customer support, marketing, and
sales. These robots, powered by artificial intelligence, are used by the
biggest banks in the world like JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, HSBC (Hong Kong)
and SEB (Sweden).
Chatbots enable banks and financial
service companies to deliver efficient, personalized and responsive service to
customers at a minimum cost. Chatbots are available 24/7, and are capable of matching customer queries
quickly to solutions. Some are also programmed to take in leads, and the most
advanced ones can make personalized recommendations based on previous
interactions, customer data, and other factors.
Detractors of chatbot technology say
that these tools lack the empathy of human CS reps. While that is true, we
should also recognize that chatbots improve on this aspect over time. Machine
learning algorithms help these virtual assistants learn more about the art of
human conversation from experience. With such capabilities, chatbots prove to
be sufficient in handling basic customer service queries, pleasing consumers
with their efficiency and effectiveness.”
Empathy is as important as effectiveness in creating relationships with your clients. If empathy is what these chatbots lack for the customer to experience what would surpass their expectations, then that is where Virtual Assistants specializing in Customer Care or Customer Service comes in.
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