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Read through the list we have compiled with an open mind, a sense of humour, a willingness to learn, and the ability to put yourself in the shoes of a Virtual Assistant
March 15, 2019 / By Terri Boote
Honestly, working as a Virtual Assistant is one of the coolest jobs in the world (if I do say so myself!) but, of course, there are downsides to everything, and we are not immune to that fact. Aside from people looking surprised when they find out that being a ‘VA’ has nothing to do with virtual reality, or when friends and family members stop by the house in the middle of the day because ‘I’m at home’ so I mustn’t be THAT busy, there are some things that really grind our VA gears!
Before we launch into this list of the most common VA complaints, I wanted to issue a small disclaimer. Yes, we are assistants of the virtual variety. It is our job to serve and support our clients with a huge range of administrative and more specialised business tasks, but at the end of the day, we are still human. Yep, we’re perfectly imperfect like everyone else! Things annoy us, affect us, and just like you; some things drive us downright crazy! We ask that you read through the list we have compiled with an open mind, a sense of humour, a willingness to learn, and the ability to put yourself in the shoes of a Virtual Assistant for the duration of this blog. Without further ado, and in no particular order, please enjoy our list of the top 5 VA Pet Peeves!
“Umm… Errr… But what about…?”A client not knowing what they want doesn’t start as an annoyance, in fact, it makes sense! If a client has never outsourced before, of course, they might find it difficult to figure out exactly what service/s they require. The pet peeve rears its head when a client is presented with the options, pros and cons, but struggles to take advice or be decisive and make executive decisions. This back and forth ‘banana-rama’ results in a lot of wasted time, as the VA gets unnecessarily bound up in their decision-making process.
How to avoid driving your VA around the bend in this situation? Communicate and take a step back. Say something along the lines of: “Thank you for presenting me with my options. I have a lot to think about, so I will go away and come up with an exact list of services I require and be in touch before next Friday. If I have any questions in the interim, I will compile them and send them in one email”. This clear communication describes the intent and timeframe, which is perfect. As long as we know where you are at with things, we can make a note and get on with other client work until you are ready. We don’t want to waste your money, or our time starting a job when you are uncertain.
Hello??? We understand how busy clients can get, but it doesn’t feel great when we chase and chase for answers/replies about a task, then when the client suddenly does get back to us (days, sometimes even weeks later) the work has become urgent and we are all suddenly left in a mad panic to get things done. This situation isn’t fair, nor is it respectful or professional to hire a VA to do a task, then not get back to them in time for them to be able to get the job done.
Prevent this issue by letting your VA know the best way to get in touch with you. Maybe text-messaging is better than email for you? Perhaps WhatsApp is best for quick replies. If you’re leaving the country for a week or making a significant change to your schedule, let us know who we can contact in your absence, and give us your schedule changes as soon as you know about them so that we can arrange things at our end as far ahead as possible. It’s hard to help someone who doesn’t reply!
You ask the VA for their professional advice, and then take none of it…Clients often have lots of questions about how they can save time in their workdays, which is great! What isn’t great is when a VA spends hours giving advice and making suggestions on how the client can improve their operational efficiency and make things simpler, but the client never actually takes their advice on board. That would be fine if they were not outsourcing work to a VA whose sole purpose is to help them save time! By assisting clients to work more efficiently, we free up our own time to be able to support more clients, so when we get caught up in a time-consuming task that could be made incredibly easy if they would make one small change, it can be very frustrating.
Less talk, more action is one way to summarise how you can avoid this VA pet peeve. If you are genuinely interested in optimising your office processes, implementing automation, and saving time, you need to trust your VA and be open to trying new things. That might mean you need to let go of a system that ‘everyone else is using’ because it serves no purpose in your business or you don’t know how to use it.
What am I missing here? VA’s are a talented bunch of office mavens, so you’d be forgiven if you thought they could read your mind. Unfortunately not – although the longer a Virtual Assistant works with a client, the better they will get at anticipating their needs and becoming a super helpful and proactive sidekick! Until that day comes, it is imperative that as a client, you communicate your instructions for a task explicitly and in writing. It’s not enough to merely say ‘Can you please make me some business cards, here are my contact details’, then when you receive the mock-up, you say ‘I don’t like the colour, I wanted it portrait, and where is one for my colleague?’
Stop the confusion and stress by ensuring you note down ALL the information clearly when you request a task to be completed; especially those things that could be misconstrued, or that you absolutely need to be done a certain way. That way, it’s all in writing, and the chance for things to be misinterpreted is lessened. For the first couple of jobs, it might be wise to have the VA come back to you with any questions so you can ensure you are both on the same page.
Please and thank you! Thankfully, this pet peeve isn’t one we encounter all that often, but when it does happen, it can be such a letdown. Now and then a Virtual Assistant will be caught with a client that is just plain rude! No one likes being spoken down to in a condescending manner, having orders barked at them like a fresh army recruit in a line-up, or spending hours on a task to receive absolutely no thanks for a job well done.
Being polite and professional doesn’t cost anything so please remember your manners when dealing with anyone, especially your hardworking VA. If they have done an excellent job, tell them! Positive feedback helps build morale, as well as driving your VA to continue to deliver excellent work. It can have a massive impact, so never underestimate the power of good manners.
Like I said, for the most part, we are lucky to have fabulous client’s who communicate well, practice polite interpersonal interactions, and give us lots of positive feedback for our excellent work, but at times a VA will run into frustrating problems with a client that could so easily have been avoided.
We hope you have enjoyed reading through our list of pet peeves! Were they what you expected? Was there anything you were surprised to learn? Feel free to share your thoughts and YOUR pet peeves with us! We’d love to hear them.