After you have prepared for your first appointment with a virtual assistant, there are a number of things to consider. First, be prepared for your phone consultation where you will discuss how we might benefit your business, our hours, what services we offer, and fees.
Be prepared to consider the following:
You are now ready for your phone consultation. Most virtual assistants offer a free consultation to discuss your virtual assistant needs. To be prepared, know what your business needs from a virtual assistant: hours, services, programs that are specific to your business, confidentiality, and customer service procedures. We will discuss a bit more on what you can’t ask of your VA (virtual assistant) later, but for now we will stay focused on the basics.
There are times when you might need your VA to work the hours that your project calls for. Ask them if they are willing to be flexible in their working hours. It merits noting that they have other clients as well and cannot answer your calls 24/7. That said, most virtual assistants with make every effort to take the time to answer all of their client’s questions.
Services and Programs
What services do they offer? What programs do they use or have they used? If they are not familiar with a program that you are using, are they willing to learn a new program? These are valid and important questions to ask in your consultation. If you’re honest with your expectations, they will be able to tailor their services to meet your needs. Though they may exist, I have not come across one virtual assistant website that does not include a list of services, and sometimes programs, that their company uses.
Finding a dependable, honest, responsible virtual assistant is important to your business. Your virtual assistant must respect your privacy. Confidentiality is important to any business, and we understand that. Any information supplied must be kept with the utmost confidentiality. If confidentiality is one of your concerns, ask relevant questions. Most virtual assistants would not shy away from these questions.
Customer Service Procedure
Good customer service is seriously lacking in our modern world, yet customer service can make or break your business. Your approach to customer service determines whether your customer will return or offer referrals. If your virtual assistant will be answering calls to your customers, you must ask how they handle difficult customers when the need arises. At the same time, you need to let them know when you would feel it best to calmly ask an irate customer to call back after they have calmed down.
After having hired an on-site employee, many feel that it just follows that a virtual assistant would be happy to provide a resume. This is understandable; however, experienced virtual assistants do not present a resume to their prospective clients.
Business owners looking for a VA might find this surprising. After all, you would ask for a resume from any employee that you might hire. How do you find out about their background and their skills if not by a resume? You are absolutely right. When hiring an employee, you need to request a resume, and this will provide you with much of the information needed to hire them. On the other hand, when you are hiring a virtual assistant, you are hiring a business owner and not an employee. If each of your clients asked you for a resume, you would find that you were spending too much time on non-essential things.
Keep in mind that there are alternatives to a resume. Why not ask for a sample of their work. Many virtual assistants have put together portfolios, or information packets, in which they showcase their work and the quality of service that you can expect. You can get a good idea of how thorough and professional they are from these sources as well as their website, which we have already discussed.
If you are meeting with someone who does not have a portfolio prepared, it is appropriate to ask for a sample of their services. Don’t shy away from asking for work samples. Most of us are more than happy to provide you with samples of our work.
Expect to pay a retainer fee when working with a virtual assistant. Retainer fees are required in full, in advance of services. With some virtual assistant businesses, unused hours will not be carried over, so be sure to ask. JG Assistance carries over your unused hours to the next month.
If you have been considering whether a virtual assistant might benefit your business, please feel free to contact us. We would love to discuss how we might be able to help your business.
This is the second of a four-part series covering “How to Retain and Maintain the Services of a Virtual Assistant.”
Part 1 How to Retain and Maintain the Services of a Virtual Assistant