Let’s face it, we are all so busy these days that it seems effective communication has fallen to the wayside. We tend to say something quickly and expect that the other person gets it. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. When they don’t, it can be frustrating. You have to stop what you are doing and follow-up or answer questions. Sometimes you have to spend extra time getting more detailed than you think you should have to. Lack of effective communication can halt the workflow. This can happen with both an assistant working in your office or virtually. The result can be detrimental to both the client and the virtual assistant.
It is a priority to provide our clients with Superior service in everything we do for them and their businesses. Communication is the key to this kind of service. We do our very best to communicate with each client by whatever means works best for them.
Tools for Communication
Email can be an effective way of communication but at times can also be a hindrance. In order for email communication to be effective:
- It must contain specific instructions – ex. “Create membership levels” is not specific enough. “Create Gold, Silver and Bronze membership levels with prices of $100, $50 and $25 respectively.” is much more specific. It does not require your VA to request more information in order to get the task done.
- It must be responded to in a timely manner – If we receive an email from one of our clients, our policy is to respond within 24 hours. We actually respond within the same day or sometimes within the same hour. If we are not able handle it right away, we respond with and acknowledgement of receipt. We also try to let them know when we will be able to get their information or complete their task. If we email a client but they do not respond for 3, 5, 10 days, then we are not able to move forward with the project or task.
Many of our clients prefer to communicate via instant message. This patform works very well for both of us as long as it includes the same requirements for an email. Remember though, instant message is not always instant when the other person is not online. Plan on sending an instant message and check back to see if there is a response if you do not have notifications set up.
Some people prefer to communicate via phone. At times this can be a little more cumbersome if a client requires something done right away. When your VA is working, many times the phone may go unanswered so as not to interrupt the workflow or project. We have the same requirement for responding to a phone call as we do with an email. We will respond within 24 hours if not sooner. The best was to work with clients via phone is to:
- Schedule the call – We all have very busy schedules and it is sometimes difficult to drop everything or rearrange your schedule to take the call. You can send an email, instant message, test, or leave a voice mail requesting to schedule a call. Leave the best date and time that works for you but be open to an alternative in case that will not work for your VA.
- Keep calls short and to the point – Time is money for your business. When calling about your business’ work/projects, stay on task and communicate the details. In addition, make sure your VA does not have any further questions before you get off the call.
For a VA, these types of meetings are often the most difficult. You have to remember, your VA may have several other clients they work with. They set work hours for themselves and depending on their workload and deadlines, breaking away for an hour or two is not always feasible. We know that some clients like to have the face-to-face and we accommodate the best we can as long as it is not a regular occurrence. It is especially difficult when a client requires both of us to be there as we each have different workloads and deadlines. Consequently coordinating schedules is sometimes a problem. If you require a face-to-face meeting, it is best to use the same requirements as a phone/conference call.
Working with a VA is supposed to be a help to you and your business but in order for your VA to work efficiently for you, you must communicate effectively with them. With effective communication, we are able to help take the busyness out of your business and provide you with the Superior service you and your business deserve!
What is one thing you wish your VA could understand?
Terri Randall – Business Owner, Virtual Assistant, Author, Encourager. Check out Terri’s personal blog, Diary of a Recovering Codependent