Dangers of Hiring a Virtual Assistant
By Bjoern Wind On February 2, 2015
Dangers of Hiring a Virtual Assistant
It would certainly be wrong to say that a virtual assistant brings only benefits to your business. As with anything, there are also certain dangers. This article does not intend to brand a virtual assistant as generally bad. Indeed, such help can increase your work productivity, especially when you work from home and the nature of your work requires a lot of administrative work, such as research. However, there are also several dangers in hiring a virtual assistant—things you can barely find on the web because most articles are written commercially, in favour of the use of a virtual assistant.
Therefore, we tried to gather some small aspects one should pay attention to when getting a virtual assistant:
The Quality of Work
A simple fact: a virtual assistant is helping your business only when the entrusted work fulfils your personal quality requirements. And as anywhere else, it is hard to find reliable and qualified people who suit your requirements. Therefore, you should first check whether the selected assistant is qualified to perform the task to your satisfaction and, most importantly, whether the assistant’s work ethic suits your own style. People work differently. For instance, one person prefers chat as the main means of communication, while another prefers the telephone. This and many more individual working preferences can make it a hard time for you and your assistant to effectively work together. In this context, you have to accept that it is almost impossible to find a perfect match on day one (if you do, hold on to it!). Hence, when you order a virtual-assistant service, plan enough time and money to incorporate your virtual assistant into your personal workflow. In this context, it is hard to turn somebody around, especially if you work remotely. Hence, don’t expect wonders to happen. If it doesn’t click, it probably never will. This is just what we found while working with a virtual assistant.
Trust comes over time and not from one moment to another. To successfully delegate tasks, you have to trust your assistant. This goes hand in hand with the first point—a simple fact. You have to trust your assistant.
See it also like this: as long as you are suspicious, you feel you have to control more, which costs you money and time again.
Be careful with customer contact
“Whenever a job requires customer contact, you should carefully consider if a virtual assistant is right for you.“
Again, we aren’t saying that a virtual assistant cannot interact with customers. When we started our journey with MyHelpster, we immediately placed our trust in our Helpsters by letting them talk directly with our customers. This decision worked in our case as we put a lot of emphasis on the hiring process of our Helpsters. However, after asking around, we have to admit that there was also a lot of accompanying luck.
In general, this most likely depends on the time you are willing to invest in recruiting and training your candidates and on the complexity of the tasks they are supposed to do.
Be careful with service providers, especially those from abroad
The market for virtual assistance is very competitive. Therefore, price is sadly less reliably determined than one might think. We have tried several agencies—European, UK-based, and from abroad. However, the quality we are getting is probably determined less by the agency we have chosen than by the virtual assistant provided to us. In point one, we talk about the working style and ethos, which considerably differ and are important success factors for work with a virtual assistant. In this context, Europeans clearly have a better match in terms of working ethos and style than, for instance, people from India. However, deviations occur, and from a cost perspective, it might be worth it to take the risk of running into minor cultural differences.
An assistant is not a strategist
One important thing to keep in mind when considering or getting a virtual assistant is the complexity of given tasks. You have to be able to give clear instructions, including on objective and process setting, to receive satisfying results. Everything else is expected too much. Keep in mind the hourly rate you are paying and the average qualification a virtual assistant brings to the table. Hence, outsourcing an executive market research task or data entry seems suitable. However, don’t expect your virtual assistant to work independently or to develop processes or strategies for your business. Everything else is not fair and raises unrealistic expectations.
To conclude, a virtual assistant can be great. Saving money by hiring an assistant is an undeniable fact. You should consider this as a real investment in your business and its productivity. However, just subscribing to a virtual assistant service will not solve your problems. You should hire a virtual assistant only if you are willing to build a long-term relationship. You have to give some time to finding a good match. If you find one, hold on to it.
Otherwise (that is, when you lack time, persistence, or long-term commitment), you should rely on using services like MyHelpster, where you can outsource single tasks without the hassles of clarifying job requirements.
If you are considering a possibility of hiring a freelancer or a marketing agency, it is good to know how to find the right one. And once you do find it, you will need a list of tools to boost the productivity of your virtual team.