Outsourcing business tasks to a virtual assistant is one of the new norms fast spreading throughout the corporate world. It helps companies save money as well as manpower. Needless to say, it is one of the most effective ways that businesses have found that helps them manage and scale easily. Virtual assistants can be available as freelancers or through agencies. Companies that offer virtual assistance as a service often have a large cadre of qualified and well-groomed professionals ready to fit into their job description.
As a business seeking to hire virtual assistants, there are certain things that need to be considered before you put a stamp on it. The quality of the virtual assistance industry is good at the moment, but with many players entering the scene, it is surely going to go down. The service sector has this downside, and it is up to the client to get the best bargain.
Here are some things you need to look out for while hiring a virtual assistant:
Not knowing when to hire a virtual assistant
It is crucial to understand when and why you need a virtual assistant to help you with your business. If you are a business owner or a manager at a large company trying to figure out what exactly you need, here are some points that may indicate that you need a virtual assistant:
- As a business owner, if you are not getting time for your personal life or for a vacation, you might need to hire a virtual assistant.
- You or your team may lack some skills. This need may be satiated with the help of a virtual assistant.
- There is simply too much for you to do, and you feel like you need more than 24 hours a day.
- Your team is more involved in administration rather than in making core business decisions.
- Your business is ready to scale up and work for more clients.
Not explaining your requirements properly
When you approach a freelance virtual assistant or an agency to hire one, it is paramount that you list down your precise requirements. Being vague with what you need might end up into a disaster for you and your company. A proper and detailed job description is a necessary step before going through the selection process. As aforementioned, companies often have a large network of professionals, and it is up to you to decide what kind of help you require and what your company needs at the moment. Outsourcing a certain job role to a virtual assistant also means that your team is expanding, and how you manage this change is also important.
Not understanding what virtual assistants are good at
Virtual assistance comes with its pros and cons. It is up to you to recognise these issues and cherry pick the good out of the bad. To make things easier for you, here are some things that you can trust virtual assistants to do a good job at:
- Routine jobs like sending and scheduling emails.
- Managing office administration tasks like keeping inventories, managing petty expenses, etc.
- Bookkeeping like ledger keeping, trial balancing, etc.
- Designing creatives such as banners for your website, apps, or advertisements.
- Cold calling and customer support.
Look out for underqualified or ‘mis-qualified’ assistants
It is the responsibility of the person or company searching for assistance to take a good look at the skill set and the educational qualifications of the virtual assistant. Being impatient with your decisions before hiring someone can result in your loss of time as well as resources. After you have understood and outlined your requirements, it is important to communicate them properly to the agency. A good example of this would be a company looking for an accountant. Let’s say they hire an accountant who does not know how to work on QuickBooks. Now, the company knows that their accounts are done on this particular software, but they failed to either get this across or maybe they misjudged the virtual bookkeeper and assumed that he/she knew how to work on QuickBooks.
Lack of communication skills
This is definitely a big turn off for a virtual assistant. The problem becomes worse if you need the person to be client-facing or in some department, such as customer support. Before hiring a person, make sure that you interview them thoroughly. You may ask technical questions related to their field and, in the process, judge what their communication skills are like. Here is why communication skills are so important for a virtual assistant:
- A client-facing person with good communication skills paints a good impression of your company.
- Communication is also important in departments such as sales and customer support. Your sales executives need to explain clearly what the product/service is all about.
- Internal operations become smoother if everyone is on the same page. This can only be achieved if your team has good communication skills.
- Problem solving and brainstorming sessions become much more productive with good speakers in the room.
It is up to you to hire virtual assistants who are good at speaking and pushing the message across – the way it is intended.
Easily distracted and unresponsive
Some virtual assistants do not work as dedicated members of your company and share their time across different teams. You know this, of course, but this can turn into an issue if not addressed. Working multiple roles or at multiple companies may be distracting for the assistant – and it is only human. As a manager and a business owner, you need to seek out dedicated personnel who are capable of working as virtual assistants. You can also hire one full time.
Being distracted can also make virtual assistants unresponsive or have a casual approach towards the job. Make sure to look out for this creeping issue. Watch out and keep introspecting to see if you’re making these mistakes or not. It is important to be honest with yourself while managing a business. The purpose of outsourcing your tasks to a virtual assistant is to scale up your business instead of adding more issues to it.