Every entrepreneur knows how critical customer service is; but when you are wearing multiple hats trying to grow your business, it’s easy to view customer service as a nuisance. It is just so time consuming – returning calls, following up, solving problems, soothing concerns, expediting orders. But, oh, so important. You would love to have someone to take it off your shoulders, but have hesitated for a number of reasons.
Maybe you can’t afford to hire someone full time
Maybe you’re worried that you won’t have enough work to keep someone busy on a steady basis
Maybe you don’t want the hassle of paying payroll taxes and adhering to all the rules that come with being an employer
Maybe you doubt you can find the right person with the right skills
Maybe you work from home and don’t have the space, equipment or desire to share your home office with an employee
Hesitate no longer. Your answer may well lie in contracting with a virtual assistant. And I don’t mean a computerized voice like Siri – I’m talking about a real, live, highly professional customer service representative. For the past three years I have been helping organizations of all sizes across the globe take advantage of the enormous power of virtual professional services.
Let’s look at your reasons for hesitation again and see how a virtual assistant can help.
You can’t afford to hire someone full time. Not a problem. Virtual professionals work freelance, so you can hire someone for any span of time or on a per-project basis. This also solves the problem of fluctuating work load. You can bring someone on for peak periods and discontinue the service when things are slow. No layoffs or regrets – you pay only for what you need.
Taxes and employer issues. Virtual professionals are contractors, so they work for themselves and you buy their services just as you would a plumber or a dry cleaner. They are responsible for their own taxes, benefits, etc.
Finding the right person. Unlike traditional hiring, you have the whole world from which to choose. Many skilled and experienced professionals are choosing to go the freelance route, and their numbers are increasing exponentially. You can find them through a virtual marketplace like Elance, Guru or ODesk or by contracting with a full service virtual services provider like Worldwide101.
Physical space and equipment. Virtual professionals work from their own homes or space they provide for themselves, using their own equipment. In fact, you may choose a provider located half a world away and never actually physically meet. You will need some technology tools to help you communicate, share information and monitor work, but there are some really powerful tools available for free or low cost. Some of my favorites are Skype, Dropbox, Desk.com, Basecamp, Freshbooks, Jing and Hall.com.
In addition to what I’ve mentioned above, your virtual customer service professional may bring other advantages, especially if you are trying to expand your market outside your borders. Consider one of my clients, who is located in Germany but whose customers are mostly in the United States and Canada. I matched him with a virtual assistant in the U.S. who speaks the language, is comfortable with the culture and is in a time zone to easily provide the level of customer service he needs. You can find virtual professionals worldwide to match whatever unique customer service needs you might have.
So, consider checking out this innovative option. Virtual professional services may be the solution you need to take good care of your customers while freeing you to focus on other aspects of your business.