Welcome to the second part of our primer on virtual assistants. Since you’re here, it’s a safe bet that you, like many people, you don’t quite know what to expect from a virtual assistant, or VA for short, and aren’t quite sure how to work with her. The simple fact is that working with a VA usually comes with a bit of a learning curve, and we want to help you learn the ropes quickly. We hope to do that with this post, as well as others published here on our blog.
We mentioned this was the second part of a primer, and if you haven’t read the first post, we suggest you do so now, then come back here when you’re done. If you’d rather not make the jump right now, we’ll sum up the previous post with its title: don’t expect super(wo)man.
With that out of the way, let’s get on to the tips:
Give clear instructions and objectives
If we could train our VAs in telepathy, we would, but unfortunately, we haven’t found any training manuals to teach us to read clients’ minds. Until then, we’d like you to be clear with your instructions, goals, milestones, objectives, and the like.
If possible, give pegs or samples of output that we can take inspiration from – or even samples of previous work you’d like to improve on. To ensure timely submissions, give us timelines so we know which projects to prioritize. In a nutshell, anything that helps us understand your goals would be helpful.
In some cases, you might want your VA to repeat your instructions in her own words. This will help you gauge if you really are on the same page, and if she understands your instructions clearly.
One great way to make sure you’re all on the same page is by using some of the many tools available online. We tackled some of these tools in our series on virtual teams, so we won’t discuss them at length here. If you want a quick rundown, we favor Basecamp for project management, Skype for communication with clients, as well as Google Drive and Dropbox for file sharing and, in the case of Google Drive, online document and spreadsheet editing.
Tell us how we’re doing
Though it’s nice to know when we’re appreciated, we’re not just looking for praise and blurbs to include in our testimonials. In fact, we’d appreciate any feedback from you, both positive and negative.
Your compliments are nice, and they definitely make us feel proud – but they’re important because they tell us what we’re doing well. On the other hand, your criticism keeps our feet on the ground and helps us identify issues we need to address.
We only raised two main points here, because the key to making the most of our VA services is pretty simple. In a nutshell, the idea is to communicate with us. Your instructions and your feedback help us understand you and your business, and consequently, allows us to address (and maybe even anticipate) your needs quickly and efficiently.
Still, we can’t read your mind (we wish!), so if there’s anything you want or need, please tell us right away. If you’ll be away on holiday, or if you have particular preferences, inform your VA so she can adjust accordingly.
If you’ve gotten this far, we hope our little two-part primer helps you deal with your VA better and make the most of our services. Maybe you have your own tips for working with VAs too – if so, please leave a comment and share them with us too. With your help, maybe we can serve you better.
About Pepper Virtual Assistants
Pepper Virtual Assistant Services is a business solutions firm that specializes on administrative assistance, customer support, CRM, copywriting, and personal virtual assistance. We take pride in our reliable service and responsive client handling which embodies our team’s optimal performance.
Communication is crucial, sure. But you need to think about speed, too. If you take hours to explain something, you could have done it yourself in the meantime.
My VAs often told me that they liked it when I showed them what to do with screen videos. This works very fast and doesn’t take me as the employer much time.
You’re right, speed is essential. That’s why we suggest providing your VA with brochures and other literature that’s already handy. Of course, your method of using videos is great too, and in some cases, can work better than documents.
That being said, I think a brief Q&A session will also go a long way in case the VA wants to clarify any points in your video, brochure, or other material.
Using screened instructions like screencast is very effective especially if you’re giving instructions on the tweaking of a design.