The world has catapulted headfirst into a digital revolution. While this has been a long time in the making amidst technological advances in internet connectivity and social media, COVID-19 has no doubt accelerated the process.
As more and more companies work from home, there has been a significant increase in interest in virtual assistants. Since virtual assistants work well, virtually, communication (and good communication at that) is vital to a successful partnership. To build an effective relationship with your virtual assistant and to get the best results from their services, you need to be able to get your point across to them with ease.
The remote nature of the relationship between virtual assistants and their clients makes communication a little tricky, as you won’t be able to catch non-verbal cues that you would pick up on in a face-to-face setting. This means that there is plenty of room for miscommunication.
So, where do you start?
Building a solid relationship should be first on your to-do list. Starting off on the right foot is vitally important and sets the tone for the relationship. Make an effort to get to know your virtual assistant and show that you value them and what they do.
It’s important that you both feel comfortable enough to broach tricky subjects when necessary. The better the relationship between virtual assistant and client, the easier it is for both parties to get their points across effectively.
In the same vein, building a good rapport between client and virtual assistant (and vice versa) is important as well. Mutual confidence makes for a better working relationship.
Where do you go from here?
While nurturing the working relationship from Day 1 is important, there are other factors and tips that go a long way to keep communication effective and efficient.
Keep it simple
Don’t get lost in the details. A simple message without technical jargon that sticks to the necessary information will be enough to get your message across to your virtual assistant. This is a case where less is more; wordy communication provides more opportunities for miscommunication. Stick to the relevant facts and, if in doubt, ask for clarification.
In the virtual space, unless you are constantly communicating via video calls on Skype, Teams or Zoom, we tend to miss helpful non-verbal communication cues like facial expressions and gestures. It’s important to listen actively and to give the conversation your full attention.
Of course this works both ways, as both the client and the virtual assistant need to engage in active listening to understand what the other person needs and/or wants.
Set up regular touch-base meetings
Scheduling a regular time to check in with your virtual assistant keeps everyone on the same page and ensures nothing is being forgotten. This could mean weekly or bi-weekly calls to discuss goals and expectations for the upcoming weeks, or perhaps you’d prefer shorter but more frequent phone calls to go through urgent tasks.
There are many different methods to communicate with your virtual assistant. The important thing is to choose what works best for you. Some of these are:
Email is a time-effective means of communication, because it doesn’t require people to drop everything they’re doing to respond immediately. It also allows you to attach any necessary links, photos or documents as needed. Emails also provide a great paper trail to refer back to.
Phone calls are by far the most common form of communication. They are also the least effort, as you just dial a number and say your say (have your say). However, it’s important to be mindful of others’ time and to schedule phone calls in advance.
Texting has become quite popular in the virtual space. It has many of the same advantages as phone calls, as it’s easy, instantaneous and allows you to convey a lot of information. However, as with phone calls, it’s important to consider the time at which you’re texting.
Communication plays an important role in the success of a partnership between client and virtual assistant. Mixed messages, miscommunication and hard feelings as a result of bad communication can be harmful to your working relationship, productivity and success. Effective communication will help your partnership flourish by creating a more positive, productive and motivated work environment!