In an economy where remote work has become common, hiring a virtual assistant has become an attractive option for many companies.
Employing a virtual assistant rather than an in-house assistant can save you 25 to 50 percent on payroll costs, according to Prialto.
Virtual assistants are especially economical for startups on a tight budget.
But virtual assistants are only as effective as the companies they work for allow them to be.
You can increase your virtual assistant’s efficiency by adopting smart tools and techniques that empower them to do their job more effectively.
Here are three strategies to equip your virtual assistants for success so they can help your company succeed.
Use a Smart Business Phone System
A virtual assistant’s most important equipment is their phone, and the better their phone system, the better they can perform.
For maximum efficiency, a suitable phone system should make it easy for your desktop to manage phone calls along with any other communications channels your company uses for internal or external communication.
Your phone system should also enable your virtual assistant to perform functions such as placing callers on hold, transferring calls, and three-way calling.
Some phone systems are specially designed with the needs of virtual assistants in mind. For instance, the 8×8 virtual phone system is an all-in-one unified communications app that lets your virtual assistant use a PC or Mac as a softphone that can handle phone calls, visual voicemail, instant messaging, video calling, web conferencing, social media and faxes.
The app lets them see your corporate directory for easy dialing and call transfers, plus they can import contacts from programs such as Outlook and Skype for Business. Your assistant can also record calls. Calls are protected by encryption for security.
Calls are protected by encryption for security.
Provide Efficient Scheduling Tools
One major function of most virtual assistants is scheduling meetings. In order to do this efficiently, your virtual assistant needs easy online access to your calendar and schedule as well as that of other personnel in your company so that they can check for scheduling conflicts before booking appointments.
They also need to be able to send out meeting reminders to participants, along with instructions if participants need to connect to a teleconference line or web conference.
One tool designed to automate these types of tasks is Timebridge. Compatible with Outlook and Google Calendar, Timebridge makes it easy for your assistant to schedule any type of meeting, including face-to-face meetings, phone calls, and web conferences.
For instance, if you want to invite others to a meeting, you can tell your assistant a few times that work for you, the names of the attendees you want to invite and the type of meeting you want.
Your assistant can then send out branded and personalized invitations that automate the process of collecting everyone’s time preferences, finding a time that fits everyone’s calendar and scheduling the meeting.
The system also sends out automated reminders. You can even share your calendar with others directly to let them pick a time.
Use an Effective CRM System
One task virtual assistants often help their employers with is keeping track of sales-related information.
For instance, they might track leads, book appointments, schedule follow-up appointments and process invoices.
The most efficient way for virtual assistants to perform these tasks is to use a customer relationship management (CRM) system.
One of today’s leading CRM options is Salesforce. Salesforce provides your assistant with a single interface where they can store contact information, see your sales team’s hottest leads, view notes on the history of interactions with a process, send emails to your sales representatives about hot opportunities, and manage other key sales-related data.
Salesforce integrates with popular email programs such as Outlook and Gmail to make it easy to import contact information and send emails to employees, prospects, and customers.