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The holiday season is ramping up, which means the interaction between customers and customer service reps is also going to be ramping up. Questions need answering, problems need solving. How customers interactive with service reps can make or break their shopping experience, and how service reps deal with customers can make or break a company. Here are some tips for each to ensure happier and more successful interactions.
You, the Customer
Understand what you want before you reach out to customer service. Reps are there to help, but remember, they’re not there to have personal conversations with you and hear your life story. They have many people they are trying to help. Know the reason for your call/email/tweet/post and be succinct when explaining. If they need more details, they’ll ask. Remember, you might be that person waiting on the line while someone else is explaining their life story - and you know waiting doesn’t feel good!
Watch your language. If you think you’re going to do nothing but swear and unload on the person at the other end of the call - don’t make that call. They don’t deserve that. Remember, they didn’t sell you the product. They didn’t make the product. They didn’t accidentally charge your card. They didn’t screw up your order. They are there when something does go wrong and they are there to help. Treat them with respect.
Escalate the problem only when it’s necessary - and then, do it politely. Service reps follow scripts. If X happens, you do Y. They don’t have any decision-making authority. They can’t just “refund your money” or “send you a new one” unless it’s part of their script. If you don’t feel you’ve gotten a proper answer, or would like to see a different outcome, you can ask the service rep to escalate the problem. ASK. Don’t DEMAND. If you’re so angry that you don’t know how to ask, use this: [insert service person’s name], I appreciate what you’re telling me, but I think I’d like to speak with a service manager or director now. Can you connect me or give me the proper contact information so I can do this?
You, the Service Rep
Don’t take the anger personally. The customer calling is mad. And, unfortunately, you have to take that call. They will swear at you. They will yell. They will blame you for everything. But you can’t take it personally. All you can do is stay calm and help. They’re at a point where they are frustrated and feeling like the company doesn’t care. So when they reach you, they feel the need to lash out. It’s not about you. If they have to vent, they will vent. And then you can begin to help them.
Always be a problem solver. The worst thing a customer hears when they reach out to customer support is “I don’t know.” Instead of saying that, you can say “I haven’t come across this problem, but I want to check with my team/manager to find out more so that I can get you an answer.” That’s all they want - an answer, and they’ll be willing to hold on the line for it.
You, the Company
Train your service reps. When customers contact you, they are looking for someone with knowledge. They want a welcoming voice or message. They want to know that they’re being heard. Ensure that your service reps are training on your CSR software, that they have specific scripts and responses for repetitive questions and problems, and that they know and understand your policies and your escalation process.
Have multiple forms of customer service contact. Customers are engaging more and more over social media rather than a simple phone call. Make sure you have customer service reps that can respond to Facebook posts and Twitter tweets as well as by phone, email and website chat. The more ways you can show your customers how accessible you are, the more pleased they’ll be with using your services and products.
It was around 10:30 on a Saturday night and I was looking for some new software. Yes, that is my excitement for a Saturday night!
I came across a website that sold software that fit what I needed. I was browsing, did a slight scroll down, and read the big sale statement. And right there, in an exceptionally large font size - a spelling error. A very glaring error.
Some people would not have noticed. Those that would see it would just ignore it.
But not me.
I can’t move beyond it. So I do the only thing that I can do. I send them an email and point out the error.
And it strikes me as a bit funny. Because this is something I’ve done my whole life. And honestly, it usually isn’t met with much gladness by others. No one likes to have their mistakes pointed out.
Last month I emailed another website. They were selling a course, but the expiration date had already passed. Again, I emailed and let them know they needed to update it.
I’m not trying to be mean or critical. It’s just what I do. If there’s a mistake, I want to see it fixed. And I realize that people are busy and rushed, and those two things are a combination for making errors. We all get to that point.
And for these websites I come across, they’re going to get emails from me, and they are not going to like me.
But, if you’re one of my clients, you’re going to love that I do this. Because I’m going to do everything I can to make sure you look your best.
Why did you hire a virtual assistant? You needed help, right? You felt it was time to start building a team so that you could focus on the big picture of growing your business. You are in the midst of chaos, you’re becoming more and more disorganized. You are not a software guru.
You needed help.
But now...you’re in a fight with your VA. Every time she offers advice, a suggestion, an idea, you say no. You push back. You fight everything she’s trying to do for you.
You bring a virtual assistant on board to make things easy for you. To lighten your ever-growing load. And your VA is going to know how to do that for you in the best and most efficient way possible. Isn’t that what you wanted?
It’s so important that you are open to everything she’s trying to do for you. If you only ever use Notepad to take notes, or you put all of your notes into an email, she may suggest something better. If you put your entire to do list in an email and she says, let’s transition this to a spreadsheet, let her do it. She says, this way I can see the tasks clearly, one per line, and I can leave notes where you can see what the status is. And we can share this doc and you can continue to add to it. It’s a living document and it’ll make sure things aren’t getting lost in emails.
Your virtual assistant is offering you a good idea. It may be uncomfortable for you because you’ve never used a spreadsheet before, but you have to open yourself up to that. You cannot just keep doing what you’re doing because that’s the way you’ve always done it. That’s not a reason to do ANYTHING.
Just because it’s something you’ve always done doesn’t make it right or good. It just means that maybe you’re a little lazy or you’re horribly resistant to change. If you’re going to run your own business, you cannot be resistant to change. The world is changing around you. You have to kind of go along with it and grow with it.
I’m not saying that all VA ideas are going to be perfect or great, but give them a chance and maybe when you’re comfortable with a spreadsheet, you can work up to project tracking software like Asana or Basecamp or something else that will keep you even more organized. Especially if you’re adding more team members.
Quit pushing back. Quit fighting everything she’s trying to do for you. Otherwise, there’s no relationship, and you should let her go so she can help someone else.
You must think I’m nuts. Because I’m writing a blog about firing your virtual assistant. That goes against every sales and marketing text book out there.
Why would I - a virtual assistant - want to put that nugget of information into your head?
Because it’s important. Because it’s a fact of business when dealing with virtual assistants. Sometimes things just don’t work out and you need to know when it’s time to let someone go, even if that someone is me. (I hope it’s not me!)
In every Employer/VA relationship, there is a beautiful honeymoon that undoubtedly takes place. You, the employer, are desperate for help. The VA tells you all the wonderful things she can and will do for you. Life is going to be better just as soon as you send over the first payment.
Happiness! Joy! Relief!
Unfortunately, sometimes that happiness is short-lived. The honeymoon ends much too quickly. But you think that it’s just because it has only been a few weeks. Your VA is still learning your business. She’ll get better. She’s really busy and you know this. That’s why she’s not returning your message. You just haven’t trained her enough.
And in a matter of weeks, you tell yourself it’s you, and you need to do more, and things will change if only you…
No. Stop that thinking right now.
You get so desperate for help that you’re willing to keep moving down the wrong path with the wrong person. This doesn’t help you or your business in the long wrong. Deep down in your gut, you know this isn’t working out, but you just don’t want to go through this whole hiring process all over again. So you keep sticking to this person who is not helping you achieve your goals.
Okay, that’s a tough question. I won’t make you answer it, but think about it. What I want to show you are three red flags that will immediately tell you your VA and you are not going to work out.
NOTE: I’m not saying the VA you chose is bad, or that you’re awful to work with. The Employer/VA relationship is completely different than one you’d have at an office. Because you’re both miles apart (and it could be countries apart), the relationship has to be one of trust, understanding, and care. You’ll work more closely with your VA than anyone. She will be an amazing support system for you. She will know just as much about your business as you do.
That means the relationship has to be just perfect to work.
So let’s talk about those red flags that will help you know it’s time to break up before you invest too much time and effort into a VA.
She promised turn-around times - but doesn’t deliver
I think this one is a complete deal-breaker in any business. During the honeymoon, if you ask your VA to write blogs, and she tells you she will write and post one per week every Tuesday at 10am….and you see the blogs being posted once on Wednesday, then a week goes by with nothing…. RED FLAG.
An experienced VA is going to know how long things take to do (generally) and what her schedule is like so that she can accommodate your timetable properly. Failing to adhere to the delivery and turnaround times for work is a huge problem. Perhaps the VA just doesn’t have good time organizational skills. Perhaps she’s tried to take on more work than she’s able. Whatever the case, you cannot have a VA who turns in work to you “whenever.” That’s unacceptable.
She does not respond to your messages in a timely fashion
If you’re asking her a question Monday morning and she doesn’t respond until Wednesday… RED FLAG. Now, for me personally, if I’m receiving emails and phone calls outside of business hours, yes, I probably will not respond until I’m officially in the office again. Because we all have to have the boundaries of work hours and personal hours in order to maintain our happiness. (You don’t want your customers calling you at home on a Saturday night at 10pm, do you?)
But during business hours, your VA should respond within a reasonable amount of time. Even if it’s just to say - hey, I got your message but I’m on the phone. I’ll respond as soon as I’m off.
Acknowledgement is key to a great Employer/VA relationship.
She told you she could do what you asked - but she can’t
The worst offense between any two people is a lie. When you ask a quality VA if she is able to do a task, she should tell you the truth. If you were to ask me if I can design a website for you, I’m going to flat out say NO. I am not a web designer. Can I use platforms like Wix or Weebly or other drag and drop sites. Sure. But anything coding - that’s right out.
If you have key tasks that need to be done by someone who has experience, you need to make sure they have that experience. Plenty of people (not just virtual) will say they are able to do something just to make themselves look better in the interview process. But, when it comes time to shine, they can’t perform. And you don’t need someone reading through help files and “For Dummies” pages in order to solve your problems.
Of course, the best remedy even prior to having those red flags flying is to take your time before you hire. Feel free to check out our previous posts on the whole hiring process.
One morning I was doing my walk on the track around the football field at school. It was a particularly damp and foggy morning. The day before we had buckets and vats and barrels of rain. It rained hard. Of course, you know that inevitably, a morning after a huge rain, there are worms.
This morning on the track there were definitely worms. Lots and lots of worms. At one point, I found myself goose-stepping around the fourth turn of the track so as not to squish the several hundred that were wiggling about.
As I started lap two, I noticed seagulls beginning to gather on the track. Halfway through my second lap, I counted around three dozen seagulls mulling about. As I rounded the fourth turn again, I noticed there were more seagulls and fewer worms. By the time I had gone completely through lap three, the worms were completely gone, and the seagulls had moved on to the center field. A few minutes later they had flown away.
So, why am I telling you this glorious story of worms and gulls?
I want to show you how can you be more productive in your day and how you can make things happen faster. Be like the seagulls. They went for the worms that were on the track first because they were right there, out in the open. Easy to see. Easy to catch. Easy to eat. Once the easy worms were gone, the moved onto the field where worms were still plentiful, but just took a little more time to find.
We should all work in the same fashion. Start the day with easy tasks. Check those simple little things off the list and you’ll feel more successful. When you feel more successful, you feel more energized to move on to more difficult tasks.
Don’t overwhelm yourself when you’re first starting your day. Be like the seagulls and ease into the workday!
Are you ready to be more productivity but need some help? Contact us today!
Everything is going great with your business. Productivity is up. You’ve got new customers every day. Your team is amazing. It’s time to celebrate!
But what do you do when some or your team is virtual?
What happens when you have an office where a local team works, but you also have other team members dotted around the country (or world)? In today’s digital age, this is extremely commonplace. How can you, as a business owner, include your virtual assistants, virtual web developers, virtual content writers and more in your in-house celebrations?
One of the hardest things that virtual workers have to deal with is the isolation that sometimes happens when they’re working for people who have in-house teams. While it’s great to be able to work from home, virtual workers are always left out of company celebrations because they’re not there physically.
They see and hear the aftermath of festivities. Photos of an after-hours event with smiles and games. Chatter at the next meeting with inside jokes about what happened at a party.
These things hurt the morale of your virtual workers.
And when morale is low, productivity drops. Mistakes rise.
There are a couple things you can do to ensure the whole team in included in events, meetings and celebrations.
BUY LUNCH FOR EVERYONE
Let’s say you have a quarterly in-office meeting. You gather in the conference room, turn on the Polycom and video connection. You buy lunch for everyone in the office. And what do your virtual workers see? They see an employer who bought lunch for the people there, but didn’t think about the whole team. And it’s very difficult to watch a group of people gathered together, enjoying a thoughtful token of appreciation, while they sit there not feeling appreciated.
It seems like such a small thing. A boxed lunch. But it’s tells your virtual worker that he wasn’t important enough to do the same for. But you can do the same!
Prior to the meeting, why not send a gift card to each virtual worker to a sub shop so that they can pick up lunch and eat together with the team. Or have something ordered and delivered to their home office. Something that makes them feel included, even if they can’t be in-office.
HAVE AN ONLINE CELEBRATION
Maybe once or twice a year you and the in-house crew go out for drinks, or mini golf, or bowling or any other after office hours event. It’s team building, right? But why aren’t you including the rest of your team? If they contribute to the business, they need to be included in the celebration.
How do you include virtual workers in an office party?
It’s simple. Have an online party. You can play video games together online. You can even create a digital scavenger hunt, grouping some virtual and some in-house people together. Cell phones and FaceTime make it easy to connect anywhere, and they can be physically and electronically hunting down locations, images, objects, etc.
When we hire virtual workers, we really need to think outside of the (office) box and remember that they are integral parts of the team that deserve the same thanks and recognition that in-house workers get. Take the time to remember and reward your whole team, not just those who can walk into a physical office.
Are you looking for out-of-the-box ideas for company events that will include your whole team? Contact me and let me put together a party your team will never forget.
We are all consumers. And as consumers, we are all looking for the best that we can have. (At least, the best that we can have with the income that we currently have!) We want to make sure we’re eating the best food, getting the best medical care, having our children go to the best schools. And we, as business owners, want to hire the best workers for our business.
But are we really getting the best?
Decades ago, when I was just a youthful college student, I got a job working at a now-defunct warehouse club. And during my training, they talked to us about the products they were selling. They had plenty of name-brand labels, but they also had the store brand alternatives.
For most people, the best of those products was the name-brand label. Because that’s what advertising has told us is the best. Most people wouldn’t even think of buying of store brand. But the fact is, the food that was in the warehouse club’s packing was the same food that was in the name-brand that they were selling. Back at the name-brand factory, they just switch out the containers from Name Brand to Warehouse Club, and continue the filling process.
So, we don’t always know what the best is going to be. But we are definitely led to believe what the best is. And the same thing happens when you look at hiring a virtual assistant. (Pretty cool how I switched from food to virtual assistants, huh?)
If you do a search online for hiring a virtual assistant, or, let’s say we want to be more local and search hire a US virtual assistant, you are going to get a pages upon pages of companies, solo workers, and articles which all talk about the best.
We are the best for you because….
We are better than anyone else because….
We’re so great, we’re featured in….
Pick any site. You’ll see all the claims. But, let’s face it. Everyone can’t be the best. It reminds me of a quote by Syndrome from the movie The Incredibles:
“When everyone’s super, no one will be.”
So, what are you supposed to do?
My research will always start with the website. A website can tell A LOT about someone, long before you speak with them. Are there spelling errors? Are there coding/design errors? Does the website look professional to you? If you’re hiring a web designer and their website is a free Wix site - that tells you A LOT.
Another part of a website I review deeply is the “As Seen In” section. So many people say, look at us, we were in USA Today, or CBS.com. Okay - prove it. There should be a link that connects you to the article on this other site. Otherwise, we could all say, we’re so great, we were featured on the front page of the NY Times. Prove it!
I also like to check out the review or testimonial section, if available. Are there reviews? And if so, are the reviews from credible, named sources? Do they all tout this virtual assistant as the absolute best?
You deserve the best team member for your company. Not just someone that tells you they’re the best. Take the time to do your research and find the virtual assistant that works out the best for you.
If you’re wondering if Your Gal Friday is the best virtual assistant for you, please contact us here at Your Gal Friday and we’ll talk about it!
While there are probably hundreds of different tasks you’d like to offload to someone, and thousands of virtual assistants worldwide ready to help, you may want to focus your attention on just some key items at first to help you gain back some of your time. Listed below are three jobs you should definitely be contracting out to an assistant.
You are the owner of a business. You should not be answering phones, taking orders, sending invoices, troubleshooting for customers, etc. Take a look a just how much time you spend doing these tasks and ask yourself where your time could be better spent. Maybe you spend 20 hours per week on customer service issues. Think about what you could be doing to grow your business if you had those 20 hours in a week.
VAs are great at being customer service reps for your business. Once properly trained, we’re happy to keep your customers happy, answer emails, reply to questions, send out invoices, etc.
Social Media Monitoring/Posting
If you’re going to have Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts, you’re going to need to be active on them. What’s the point of having them otherwise? With over 2 billion active users on Facebook alone, having an active social media presence for your business is important. But it’s not easy to keep those accounts up.
You want to make sure you’re posting interesting things that people will share. You have to be responsive to visitor’s comments and questions. You don’t want a negative comment/question/problem to sit out there for days without a response. You want definitely need to share your products and services. And all of this can be time consuming.
A social media VA will set up a posting schedule, create and keep fresh content out there, and respond to your customers (and potential customers).
Depending on the type of business you are involved in, you might be having a lot of meetings or interviews that are recorded. (If you have a podcast, you definitely need to have transcripts available!) You absolutely must get a VA to do this transcription. An experienced one, too!
Transcripts are incredibly important for many business owners, but to do them on your own is completely unwise. Transcribing audio takes a very long time to do. On average, for one hour of audio, it can take about three hours of time to transcribe. And if you do not have the proper equipment and experience, it can take several more hours.
Hand off your transcription to someone who will turn it around quickly and accurately.
Remember, your time is valuable in growing your business. Don’t waste it doing those things that should be handed off to a virtual assistant. Free up your time to develop your products, network with others and grow your business!
If you’re ready to hire a virtual assistant, please contact us here at Your Gal Friday and we’ll talk about the best solutions for your business.
It is hard to hire virtual workers. And I say that as a virtual worker, and as someone who hires virtual workers. You’re going to go through a painstaking process of finding the best worker. You need to know that you’re picking the best person for the success of your business.
However, it’s absolutely critical that you know who is really doing the work for your business.
When you start your search for a virtual worker, you may find yourself looking at various websites of people that tell you all the great things he is going to do for you. And when you go through the interview, you’ll talk to the person whose photo may be on that website, and you’ll have discussions about what he can do and will do.
And you end the conversation feeling good. And you hire this person. But who did you hire?
It’s possible that you hired just one person - the one on the site. But, it’s also very possible that that person is just a face to talk to, and your work is going to be outsourced to someone in another state or country. This is a problem.
You didn’t interview the outsource. You didn’t know the outsource existed. You thought you were hiring a specific person with specific skills. Now you don’t know what it is you’re getting for a worker.
This happens more often than you think in business, especially nowadays when a lot of hiring is done via emails, websites and contract houses. I remember once, when I worked for a major corporation, we were hiring a programmer. A contract house had found someone, and several team members had done a phone interview with him. All was well and he was hired. Unfortunately, the person on the phone was not the person that showed up at our office. The person that showed up could not speak any English. That was a problem!
So, how do you know who will be doing your work? You have to ask. Truly, you need to find out who it is, and then request an interview with that person. It is important that you’re comfortable with that person. I have had several clients ask to speak to my team members - I’m perfectly okay with that. If that team member is doing the bulk of the work, that client needs to be in direct contact (and vice versa).
The virtual work environment needs to be open and honest so that you receive exceptional results every time.
If you’re thinking about hiring a virtual assistant, please contact us here at Your Gal Friday and we’ll talk about the best solutions for your business.
18+ years business experience. 9+ years in the virtual world and loving it!