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Virtual Assistant Support

Preparing for Employees Going on Annual Leave

9 Ways to Prepare Your Business for Employees Going on Holiday Leave

By | Business Improvement, Call Center Support, Employee Management, Time Management, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

Last year’s holiday season retail sales in the US alone topped $161 billion and 43% shoppers supported small businesses on Small Business Saturday. With the holiday season coming up, now is the time to plan out a company strategy to ensure you have backup staff handling essential business activities at all times.

Figures for Holiday Season Retail Sales

You don’t have to dread the holiday season when your employees go on leave, when the company’s manpower is down and productivity seems to nosedive. Simply follow our tips that we’ve practiced and improved upon through trial and error over 8 years of operations and you will be well prepared. You can easily handle holiday leave while maintaining a healthy culture and employer brand.

  1. Use a Workforce Management Software

Using a scheduling and staffing software or even a shared Google calendar can make your life infinitely easier. This way you won’t have clashes in scheduling vacations and can plan accurately in advance for holidays. Most workforce management softwares have additional features like communication, task management, and time reporting. Here is our rundown of some effective softwares:

Deputy

With unlimited users, shift swapping, forecasting and QuickBooks integration, Deputy is a mobile platform that can cut your time spent scheduling considerably. It is perfect for small to medium businesses employing shift workers.

When I Work

Offering templates and shortcuts with its mobile and desktop adaptive platform, When I Work is also integrated with some POS and Payroll systems and has a very intuitive user interface (UI).

Quinyx

It allows you to schedule work keeping in mind employee contracts and working time directives. You can also set up an optimal schedule matching the best employee to the most appropriate task and set up a staffing schedule taking expected sales into account.

TrackSmart

Their online time and attendance management software allows for scheduling based on employee availability and job skills. You can even set up recurring schedules. All these are accessible from all devices 24/7. These smarter schedules will ensure you are never understaffed, even for the holiday season.

  1. Be Transparent

Make sure you communicate your holiday leave policy and vacation policy to your employees as soon as they are hired. Is it first come first served? Are there any vacation blackout periods when no vacation requests would be entertained due to an expected rise in traffic or a special project? Will you be encouraging them to take their vacation in the slower periods? Communicating all this in advance will be fairer and more acceptable to your employees. Make sure any vacations are granted judiciously—with employees fully cognizant of the decision-making criteria—after due deliberation and without any favoritism.

  1.  Set a Deadline

Set a deadline by which employees can request holiday leave. Depending on your needs, this can be anywhere from a few days to several weeks before the staff wants to use leave time. This deadline should be far enough in advance for you to ensure that it does not affect a project’s productivity or deadline and you are not understaffed. Also cap the number of employees of each specialization who can take off at the same time.

  1. Get Pertinent Information

When an employee puts in a leave request, request a report on current projects. Ask them how they plan to meet deadlines before they head out the door. Nicolas Gremion told SmallBizTrends that this process “gives me piece of mind that their absence won’t be problematic and they can leave knowing that they’ve tied up any loose ends.”

Get a detailed breakdown of projects they are currently working on, tasks to be performed, access details for pertinent files and accounts, deadlines for current projects, important contact information, and any other information needed by the employees covering the vacationers’ jobs. Create a checklist of these that each vacationing employee can tally against before leaving.

Project NameDeadlineTasks to be PerformedContact PersonContact InformationAccess Details
AccountPassword
Project 1
Project 2
Project 3
  1. Delegate Tasks

Then make sure that someone is covering for the missing employee. Sometimes, that requires handing off tasks and projects to a few different people in the office instead of asking one person to do the work of two. Crosstrain employees in preparation for the upcoming holiday season, ensuring that the backup employee is fully conversant with the appropriate project training manual.

  1. Trade-off

Trade-off between your employees. Some employees may have important commitments at other times of the year that they can take time off for and then work during the holiday season. Allow employees with similar job descriptions to trade off their vacations with each other, one picking up the slack when the other is on leave. Stagger your employee vacations so you always have coverage; allow some to work the morning shift, some the afternoon shift, or schedule one set of employees for the first few days of the week and the other for the rest of the weekdays during the holiday season.

  1. Offer Incentives for Working Employees

Give cash bonuses, extra paid leaves redeemable after the holiday season, and other incentives for those willing to work during the most popular vacation periods. This will ensure that you have a productive skeleton staff even during the heart of the holiday season. It will also boost the morale of those who have to work over the holidays when the other employees are on leave and enjoying themselves.

  1. Hire Temporary Support

In some cases, you can even hire a temporary virtual assistant to pick up the slack in an employee’s absence. Especially in the retail industry, business booms in the holiday season and having employees on holiday leave can cause a stress on operations. Hire a qualified virtual assistant to take care of ecommerce sales, provide administrative and operational support, or even act as a virtual receptionist service during the holidays.

You can even hire a temporary call center operator or a customer service center to handle customer service, field incoming calls, generate leads, and make telemarketing calls to take advantage of the boost in sales in the holiday season.

Having part-time staff as backup all year round is always a sound decision, so they can come in if you have any shortages and during the holiday season when most employees are on leave.

  1. Prep for the Manager’s Leave

What if the manager is the one going on leave? We suggest that you let your employees know far enough in advance so they can prepare. Make the manager’s calendar public so that the staff will know when he or she will be back. Ask the manager to train the second-in-command to pick up the slack. The administrative support staff must also be familiarized with how to handle certain tasks while the manager is out of the office, such as where to direct calls and how to respond to requests. Then, consider having a protocol for an emergency, so employees can determine when to call the manager while he or she is on leave.

With these tactics, you can ensure that handling the holiday season won’t be such a hassle. Let us know down below what some best practices are that you have seen or used for handling employee leave during the holiday season.

Why You Need a Medical Remote Team

Why You Need a Medical Remote Team

By | Call Center Support, Customer Service, Medical Virtual Assistant, Multilingual Support, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

A medical virtual assistant could be valuable for doctors, dentists, therapists, and a wide variety of other health professionals.

As a medical professional, you need to set time aside to not only look after your patients but also yourself. You need breaks from the hectic schedules and the hundreds of patients you have to treat or help. Without assistance, many medical practitioners end up overworking themselves. However, this does not have to be the case. These days agencies can help professionals (doctors, healthcare professionals etc.) by offering them the aid of a medical virtual assistant or a medical call center operator. Here are a few reasons why you should go for one of these options:

Administrative Support

A clinic or hospital only runs smoothly when its administrative tasks are taken care of by the staff. Such tasks range from medical coding to organizing shifts and coordinating between nurses and doctors. All of these can be handled by a medical virtual assistant. A medical call center operator, on the other hand, can manage referrals, communicate with patients, field calls, and make appointments in busy business hours. Working with a remote team like this will free you up from such duties, leaving you to see to the patients’ welfare.

Invoicing Support

A medical remote team can help you manage medical billing and payments, following up on invoices, and making sure payments are made on time.

24/7/365 Coverage

Working with medical support service providers would enable you to provide 24 hour healthcare call center support, so there are no delays in communicating emergencies to providers, 24/7/365. This will also expand your business scope considerably since you will be available after hours too.

Handling Medical Transcription & Translation

Get professionally formatted reports created from audio recordings by a remote team specialized in medical support to free up your time for value-adding activities. You can also opt for multilingual transcription services to cater to a diverse board of directors, medical professionals, or patients. A multilingual virtual assistant would allow you to communicate with colleagues from different countries and specialists all over the globe. Similarly, a multilingual call center operator would allow you to communicate effectively with patients from diverse backgrounds and all points of the globe.

Cost Efficiency

Medical practitioners, like all other professionals, must pay attention to budgeting as they diagnose and treat patients. One way to decrease your payroll burden is to utilize the services of a medical virtual assistant since that way you do not need to incur any overhead costs or HR admin expenses. You will also save the cost of training a new hire when you opt for a trained medical remote worker instead.

Increased Job Satisfaction

There is no better feeling than going home to the realization that you made a difference in someone’s life or saved someone. Having a medical virtual assistant will free you up to pursue your career and other passions. Therefore, getting a medical virtual assistant should ultimately increase your job satisfaction.

Having a medical virtual assistant or call center operator has financial as well as health benefits for you. Get the ball rolling today and see what a difference it makes in your life!

5 Ways a Virtual Assistant Can Help You Make Sales

5 Ways a Virtual Assistant Can Help You Make Sales

By | Business Improvement, Customer Service, Marketing Virtual Assistant, Multilingual Support, Social Media, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

If you want to make sales, then you need a virtual assistant to bring these five key factors to your business.

Managing a business may prove to be a daunting task. There are many tasks to handle and countless problems to solve at the same time. You, as a business owner, may initially have the time to handle those issues yourself. But you will eventually have to delegate and divide the work to achieve better results. For this purpose, it is always best to hire a virtual assistant.

1. Make Sales from Anywhere

A virtual assistant usually works from home. Therefore, you can hire one at a lower cost than that incurred when hiring a full-time office-based employee. You will not have to spend extra money on unnecessary office space either and can pay the virtual assistant at an hourly rate. It also reduces HR-related issues. Most virtual assistants who offer their services via platforms such as Upwork (previously oDesk) are quite experienced at their job. They are fast learners who are able to adapt to virtual work environments very quickly. Hence, you will not have to spend extensive amounts of time on expensive training sessions. Besides these obvious advantages, there are also several ways in which virtual assistants can help boost your sales figures.

2. Make Sales with Good Customer Service

Firstly, they can assist you in customer and sales support. You can assign them the task of providing outbound call center services. This way, you will save a lot of time which you can choose to spend on other more important things. Similarly, they can also provide administrative and operational support. If you let a virtual assistant manage company emails, for example, they can highlight the more important leads for you to handle personally. Inbound call center support is also assigned to virtual assistants nowadays since it can easily be conducted remotely.

3. Make Sales in Your Market

Since calls, chats, and emails do not require physical presence, they can be easily conducted from whichever location your virtual assistant is based in. It is better to hire VAs from the region where your sales operations are based. This is because they can understand the local buyers better, such as their language or culture. If a customer feels more comfortable and welcome, they will be more likely to return. A multilingual virtual assistant can help you deal with clients in their own languages, creating brand loyalty and increasing customer lifetime value.

4. Make Sales with Good Research

Virtual assistants can also be incredibly helpful in conducting research. Research is a time-consuming process, and a great amount of time is usually spent in vain when digging through hordes of data. Virtual assistants can come in handy here if you are looking to save time. They can further assist you in the process of lead research and generation and data mining. These are an important part of a sales campaign. If the data becomes too extensive at any point, you can hire more than one temporary virtual assistant as well.

5. Make Sales with Social Media

Since virtual assistants are well-versed in all things internet, they can also help you build an impressive online presence for your business. Social media marketing campaigns, for example, would be easy to run with an internet-savvy person onboard.

Hire competent, trained, and efficient virtual assistants through IdeasUnlimited, a company with over 8 years of experience of providing support services. As soon as you have hired your virtual assistant, you will be ready to launch a sales-boosting campaign for your business.

Finding New Clients

5 Ways to Find New Clients

By | Become an Affiliate, Business Improvement, Customer Service, Entrepreneurship, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

1. Word of Mouth

First, use the technique as old as time. Regardless of new technology, word of mouth is still valuable. According to Yotpo, 74% of consumers say word of mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decisions. Ask your customers to recommend you to a friend. In fact, try offering them an affiliate partnership so that they get a percentage of the payment as a finder’s fee. (We have an affiliate program…check it out!)

2. Advertising

Second, look into the many, many forms of advertising that are available. Don’t spread yourself too thin…limit yourself to two or three methods of advertising that are most likely to reach your customers. For example, if your customers are young and tech-savvy, put ads online. If they’re older and more traditional, buy ad space in the newspaper or magazines.

3. Networking Events

Third, get face-to-face with potential clients. This will give you the chance to tell a personalized story that reaches an individual on a personal level. While the local chamber of commerce is an obvious choice, there are many other options available for networking. Consider joining an organization like Rotary, Kiwanis, or Optimist. You can also look on Meetup.com to find networking groups in your area.

4. Social Media

Fourth, consider using a social media platform. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many other networks are an excellent way to have ongoing conversations with potential customers. And it’s not just good for B2C companies, but for B2B as well. Entrepreneur reported that social media lead conversion rates are 13% higher than average lead conversion rates. (Need a social media manager? Hire one of our virtual assistants to do it for you!)

5. Partnerships and Alliances

Finally, consider making an arrangement with another business with the same target audience.  Brad Sugars explains, “They might attach a gift voucher or other discount offer for your products at the end of a newsletter or mailing.” He goes on to say you can build an alliance: “For instance, a Web designer and an ad agency might send each other referrals for clients who need added services.”

What are YOUR ideas for finding new clients? What techniques have worked for you?

2018: A New Era of Customer Service – Are You Ready?

2018: A New Era of Customer Service – Are You Ready?

By | Backend Support Services, Business Improvement, Call Center Support, Customer Service, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

Your business relies on good customer service for its success – far more than it used to, in fact. According to IT research company Gartner, 89% of market leaders anticipate that the omnichannel customer experience will be their primary business concern, as opposed to four years ago, when only 36% did. This signals a fundamental change in the role and function of businesses.

While the products or services that the company offered used to be the main concern, now the excellence of your customer care center will be the thing that sets you apart from the competition. After all, there are very few businesses out there that can afford to alienate their clientele because their products or services are good enough to keep people coming back regardless of their experience.

With this rise in the importance of customer service, many companies are going to have to do a massive overhaul of their current methods. This is because the support systems that companies utilize are becoming increasingly reliant on social media compatibility, 24/7 service, and mobile-friendly options. If your company doesn’t keep up with the modern standards, you will likely face losing clients and thus revenue.

So what exactly should you be aiming for in terms of customer service?

Live Chat & 24/7 Call Center Support

If you haven’t already set these up for customers, you are already behind. Most medium to larger companies have already set up an inbound call center solution, ensuring that someone can always be reached in case customers have questions or concerns. Even smaller businesses are upgrading their systems, each setting up a call center for small business. Live chat is one of the newer options, to be sure, but it has quickly become ubiquitous.

Omnichannel Support

Many customers now prefer to contact companies through multiple channels, some of the most popular of which are their social media accounts. There should always be an easy way for customers to use Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. to contact your company. These channels should also be easy to switch between in the event that the user wants to employ several at a time and there should be someone providing omnichannel support services so you are never out of touch with your customers.

Text-Based Help

Since so many people consider texting to be the preferred mode of communication, it makes sense that your company should have some form of it enabled on your site.

Remote Secondary Access for Technical Support

When your customer can’t figure out how to do something on your site, having an IT professional try to figure out what to do through verbal means is rather like flying a plane blind. Having an option for them to get remote access to the customer’s computer (with their permission, of course) is one of the best ways to sort out the problem quickly and effectively. You thus need someone qualified to provide such technical and backend support services.

No Automated Menu

People are sick and tired of automated menus and trying to interact with recordings. If you want to truly please your customers, offer them a real human being to talk to. It proves almost automatically that you care more about their concerns and are willing to pay someone to listen to them. Having a trained, empathetic, and skilled call center operator automatically enhances customer loyalty.

Virtual Assistant Support

Virtual assistant support services can help you delegate administrative support and operational support tasks. This is especially good for growing businesses that don’t generally need around the clock support in-house. You will never have to turn away customers and can even get extra help around the holiday season. These assistants can perform a wide variety of tasks, from answering phones and emails to scheduling and data entry, payroll processing, lead generation, and practically anything else you need.

These are just some of the customer support services that are becoming the norm for businesses. Implement these and you can practically ensure customer satisfaction – and keep them coming back!

Real Estate Virtual Assistant: Do You Need One?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant: Do You Need One?

By | Business Improvement, Entrepreneurship, Real Estate Virtual Assistant, Remote Support Services, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

Real estate is a demanding industry. This makes it extremely valuable for realtors like you to stay ahead of the curve. It also explains why running a real estate practice or agency is time-consuming. The introduction of new technologies that support virtual assistants has made it easier for realtors to focus their efforts on enhancing the core competencies that come with running a real estate agency. Support services ancillary to core business activities such as paperwork have been delegated to real estate virtual assistants. These assistants provide the tools needed to fuel your success, whether you are a solo agent or own your own real estate or brokerage firm. The following are some reasons to consider the services of a virtual assistant:

Cost-Effective

Real estate agents live a fast-paced, busy life. They spend many hours going through emails and phone messages. They then need to organize the day’s events and transactions. You could avoid all this by getting an assistant. This will help but it is not a cost-efficient solution. Get yourself a real estate virtual assistant who will handle all these tasks at a cheaper price than what you would spend to maintain an in-house employee. You also save on expenses such as getting insurance and pension plans for in-house assistants.

Increase the Level of Productivity

A real estate virtual assistant’s primary function is to handle your day-to-day schedule and organize your emails and messages. When you hire an in-house assistant you will have to give them vacation days or sick leave. Rather than lose all this valuable time and resources, get yourself a virtual assistant who is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Increase Sales Conversion

When it comes to the real estate industry, lead generation is as important as making a sale. When you get yourself an experienced real estate virtual assistant, they can help you make calls and follow-ups with prospective clients through both online and traditional methods.

Omnichannel Support

All client engagement touchpoints you require—inbound and outbound calls, email, live chat, mobile SMS/text, and social media—will be covered by the real estate virtual assistant to improve the client experience and ensure there are no missed opportunities. A virtual assistant can cover your busy hours or take up the slack of your office staff. A remote workforce also allows you to choose from a much larger, more talented pool of applicants than candidates available for in-house work.

Multilingual Support

Firms and agents in the real estate industry face language barriers in dealing with tenants, owners, vendors, and clients. Get an edge over competitors by hiring a multilingual virtual assistant as the need arises and communicate with your client base and vendors in their native languages. The virtual assistant can also provide administrative and backend support for those particular projects.

These reasons clearly highlight why you should get yourself a real estate virtual assistant…click here to hire yours today!

10 Things to Outsource to a Virtual Assistant

10 Things to Outsource to A Virtual Assistant

By | Business Improvement, Entrepreneurship, Remote Support Services, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

These ten tasks could be handed over to a virtual assistant to save you time, money, and energy.

You’ve got a lot of tasks that you need to finish, but you just don’t have the time to do it all yourself. When it comes to running your business, you are probably trying very hard to race ahead of your competitors, increase sales, market your brand, stay on top of your taxes, make your internal processes more efficient—the list of things to do is endless…If you are thinking that the weight is all on your shoulders, think again.

Using a Virtual Assistant can shave hours off your workweek. If you still feel a little hesitant to delegate parts of your business to someone you’ve never met, you are not alone. The idea of hiring a Virtual Assistant can feel strange at first, but what you’ll soon realize is that it’s all about selecting the right tasks for them to handle.

1. Online Research and Data Presentation

Get the help of a VA to conduct any time-consuming internet research and receive the best information on any topic, product, or competitor in a time frame that suits you.

You have an important meeting with a new client and you want to make a smashing impression? A Virtual Assistant can make a stunning PowerPoint presentation as per your specifications so that you can make the most of your time preparing your pitch.

2. Schedule Management

Every entrepreneur needs administrative support. A Virtual PA answers calls and keeps an eye on your schedule. If there are places you need to go and people that you need to call, it’s best if someone reminds you to do it. Sure, you can download some software that does it for you, but procrastination can still keep you stuck. You’ll complete your tasks much faster if you let your Virtual Assistant manage your schedule for you.

3. HR Admin

Training your employees on how to use a new software or service can take up a good chunk of your productive time. Why don’t you leave this job to a Virtual Assistant? She could even train your staff remotely, using Skype, for instance, saving costs. A Virtual Assistant can also take care of payroll processing for you, freeing up your time so you can focus on core business activities.

4. Database Management

As a business owner, you probably have to deal with a plethora of reports that have to be completed on a regular basis, from staff timesheets to expenses or client lists. The natural idea is to let your VA do all this. A Virtual Assistant can import, export, and sort any kind of data while she can also handle spreadsheet design and general maintenance.

5. Multilingual Support

Hire a multilingual virtual assistant to communicate with employees, vendors, and customers in the languages required by your business, to give your business a global reach. A skilled Multilingual Virtual Assistant can also provide multilingual transcription services, administrative support, and technical support.

6. Customer Service Support

A Virtual Assistant can reply to customer queries within a stipulated time period. A business query can be anything from an unsatisfied customer to a potential customer. A VA can help you stay on top of your customer service tasks, creating new business opportunities, resolving and expediting cases, and replying to complaints in a professional manner.

7. Social Media Support

A Virtual Assistant can post on your social media channels on your behalf and market your SEO content, increasing the visibility of your brand, products, and services. A social media VA can help you create a social media strategy, integrating it with the rest of your marketing strategy.

8. Clients and Partners Management

It’s always a good idea to send gift cards to your clients on holidays and anniversaries. These are pretty easy but time-consuming tasks that require a creative effort. You could even get your VA to congratulate a partner or client on a new job or deal.

9. Website Maintenance and Ecommerce

Websites require constant maintenance and updates. A Virtual Assistant can provide technical and backend support and can give you a real hand when it comes to managing your ecommerce site. She can provide ecommerce support services like writing compelling product descriptions, editing lists of products or images, updating prices and online inventory, or processing orders.

10. Blog Ghostwriting

Content marketing is the name of the game today. Your blog will fetch you an incredible amount of traffic, if done correctly. A VA can help you write some quality fresh content for your blog. This is essential to add fuel to your content’s reach and drive direct traffic to your website.

Whichever tasks you decide to outsource to a Virtual Assistant, what is most important is to build trust and help her really understand your business—this will take up some time at the beginning of the relationship but it will pay off going forward. Ready to get your Virtual Assistant? Click here to contact us!