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Understanding Virtual Assistants — What They Do And How To Find The Right One

Posted by Joann Fussell on May 17, 2017 8:00:00 AM

secretary-1713697__340.jpgIf you’ve ever googled “how to hire a virtual assistant,” chances are good that the results left your head spinning. Results range from how to hire assistants overseas in the Philippines or India, to solo freelance receptionists, to virtual assistants at established call centers. It may seem hard to sift through the options, but a few key concepts can help you clear the path to find the right virtual assistant for you.

1 - Know What They Can Do

Think of a virtual assistant as your receptionist, only they work remotely rather than in your office. However, they should be skilled in most of the tasks that you’d expect your in-house receptionist to handle, such as:

  • Answering phones—whether it’s full-time, after hours, or on an as-needed basis.
  • Customer Service Support—responding to emails, online chats, and handling FAQs
  • e-Commerce Support—taking and entering orders
  • Booking & Reservations—for seminars, events, or appointment scheduling
  • Data Entry—updating customer records, creating reports, and CRM management

Before searching for a virtual receptionist, keep track of your daily tasks for a week and make lists of which categories a virtual receptionist could help you with. You may find that phone calls too frequently disrupt your day, or that after-hours requests for FAQs could easily be managed by someone else.

2 - Know Where & How They Work

Here’s the tricky part. Most anyone who’s worked with virtual assistants has a horror story to tell. One may tell you about a virtual receptionist who worked from home and customers began complaining about hearing doorbells and dogs barking in the background when they called. Another may tell you about the virtual receptionist who was assisting other businesses and couldn’t keep up with juggling all the calls or keeping their customers straight. And in the case of overseas assistants, a common complaint is that the differences in time zones and languages become barriers to productive communications.

3 - Know What Technology, Training, and Backups They Have

Your virtual receptionist will be representing your business as if it’s his or her own, which essentially it is. You want to be sure that he or she is conveying the most professional image to your customers, so you’ll need to know what technology they use to answer your calls, how they securely record and backup data, and what tools they have to manage your schedule.

List any certifications a virtual assistant would need to have for your industry. If you work in the healthcare industry, for example, the virtual receptionists must be trained to be HIPAA-compliant. Receptionists answering for legal firms must be trained for client confidentiality plus have the securely encrypted technology to protect client data.

You should also know what their backup plans are if they aren’t able to answer the phone. This is the advantage of working with receptionists at answering services or call centers. With a team of virtual assistants on your side, calls will not be missed just because one receptionist is on another call or away from the desk.

Virtual receptionists at a call center or answering service are also trained to provide prompt, professional customer care via phone or email, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It’s like having your own round-the-clock team, at a fraction of the cost of hiring one full-time assistant.

The virtual receptionists at Voice Link of Columbus, Inc. have earned an 82% referral rate, thanks to our customized communication solutions, secure messaging, and appointment scheduling services that save our clients time and money while increasing their customer loyalty.

Voice Link offers month-to-month service agreements to meet your unique needs, with no hidden fees. Our excellent reputation, expert staff, and state-of-the-art technology will exceed your expectations. Request information online or call us at (800) 262-2799 for a free consultation.

 

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