Virtual Assistants - Your Guide to Leveraging A Global Workforce

Outsource
December 23, 2019
9
min to read
Ryan Douglas

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Virtual assistants are revolutionizing the modern workplace. These skilled, on-demand workers and technologies help businesses quickly bridge the gap whenever workload demand exceeds capacity. While the concept of hiring temporary assistants has been around for decades, advancements in communication and technology have made outsourced labor a no-brainer. 

From employing a global talent pool available 24/7 to using robotic technologies to automate work and reduce costs, virtual assistants are the future of business. Today’s article looks at what virtual assistance means and explains how companies can benefit from incorporating these and other labor-reduction strategies into their strategic plans. 

First things first, let’s define what it is that we’re talking about.

 

What Is A Virtual Assistant?

virtual assistant

Everyone knows what it means to have an assistant but adding the term “virtual” sometimes throws people for a loop. That need not be the case though, as a virtual assistant is simply additional help that is located offsite. Rather than handing off tasks to an employee down the hall, you do the same except with workers located around the globe.  

This decreases the overhead costs of onsite employees while accelerating business output.

Typically, virtual assistants are used to complete a variety of common back-office tasks. Activities like appointment scheduling, data entry, or handling personal errands (making travel arrangements, completing purchases, etc.). However, they can also take on expanded roles such as conducting research, managing social media, or providing customer service. 

Most any task that a business cannot (or does not) want to do can be offloaded to virtual assistants. And often completed faster, better, or less expensively than using in-house employees.

Virtual assistants can be “jacks of all trades” and do many different things for an organization. Or they can focus on specific areas and offer specialized help in business processes such as programming, web design, or accounting. VAs are invaluable when you have more work than you can handle or tasks that you hate doing (or don’t have the skills to do well).

It’s worth mentioning that the term virtual assistance can be applied to both human labor as well as intelligent machines. The human element would (of course) be a person while the machines are usually a form of advanced AI (Artificial Intelligence). Often referred to as Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs) common business applications include website chatbots or automated order processing systems.

Each designed to reduce manual labor, expedite processing times, or reduce human errors

IVAs are automated software programs that work behind the scenes to complete transactions. They can understand basic human dialog, maintain intelligent conversations, and provide an easy transition to live operators as needed. 

The beauty of using VAs is incorporating both humans and machines into the process. More on that in a moment, but first, let’s talk about why employing virtual assistants makes sense.

Why Hire Virtual Assistants?

Organizations are sometimes hesitant to add VAs into the mix because they don’t fully understand the value they offer. However, those who adopt this labor reduction strategy quickly realize the benefits an outsourced workforce can provide. Not only in terms of revenue generation, but in regard to productivity and employee morale also. 

Reduced costs

One of the most obvious advantages of hiring virtual assistants is the reduction of costs. Many common tasks that you’re paying existing employees to do (often at high salaries) can be completed by outsourced talent for a fraction of the cost. The majority of these skilled workers live in other parts of the world where the cost of living is much cheaper.

Thus, they can afford to provide the same high-quality work for much cheaper labor rates than domestic employees. Not only does this benefit the companies they partner with, but it helps the freelancer to earn a great income as well (typically better than local employers would pay). 

Yet, the savings don’t just end with labor rates. Hiring virtual assistants pays in other areas as well. Take training and onboarding (for example). Many of these global talent pools are filled with highly skilled workers who can do almost anything. These professionals are well- educated with degrees or certifications in their areas of expertise and real-world experience to back it up.    

Because they’ve already performed the tasks assigned to them, organizations don’t have to spend additional time or effort training them to get up to speed. Furthermore, since they are temporary (or contingent) workers, you avoid the high onboarding costs of providing benefits and allocating workspaces and equipment.  

All while realizing the same high-quality results you demand of current employees. The talent of a global workforce is top-notch and in-demand by growing companies. 

Time Savings

Beyond reduction in costs, VAs also help organizations save one of their most precious resources - time. As previously mentioned, virtual assistants come to the table ready to go and prepared to work.

Hiring an experienced global workforce allows you to ramp up production quickly without the need for additional training or onboarding

This fast turnaround allows organizations to generate results and quickly see a return on their investment. Many hands allow work to get done faster while still maintaining the same high standards.  

Another advantage of on-demand talent is scalability. When virtual assistants are in play, companies can quickly add more workers when needed, and easily scale back when they don’t. This flexibility allows organizations to keep pace with competitors while still managing labor and overhead costs.

 

Better Use of Employee Talent

One of the coolest, yet most frequently overlooked benefits of hiring virtual assistants are the opportunities created for existing employees. Sure, you save money by freeing your current workforce to focus on other projects. Yet, it’s the morale boost these actions generate that has the biggest impact. 

Employees are no longer forced to complete mundane tasks they don’t like doing. Instead, they’re able to shift their attention to projects that are more enjoyable and make better use of their skills. Not only does this increase happiness but it can positively affect the company’s bottom line. 

Utilizing VAs/IVAs helps organizations foster growth without compromising standards. 

Companies have to weigh the value of asking employees to do menial tasks that hoard their time and deplete their mental energy. Hiring VA/IVAs can free up bandwidth so workers can focus on high-value tasks that drive business growth and keep employees engaged.

Where Do You Find A Virtual Assistant?

virtual assistant chatbot

You can find virtual assistants in any number of different places, but you should start with the most obvious first. Ask people in your network for a referral as they may already have someone in mind. Whether that means a single person or a firm that specializes in virtual assistants. 

If not, there are dozens of sites online to find temporary workers for limited engagements. 

1. Freelance Marketplaces

Sites such as Fiverr or Upwork are frequently utilized. No doubt talent is readily available in these locations, but you must do your homework in screening and vetting the freelancers you hire. Not to mention that most gigs are “one-off” tasks which makes collaborating on long-term projects difficult. 

It sounds crazy, but these platforms often contain so many freelancers that sifting through hundreds of applicants to find a few possibilities is normal. While scores of other candidates may be unqualified or don’t fully understand the task at hand.

You also have to rely on the freelancing marketplace as the middleman in these transactions. Overseeing hundreds (if not thousands) of freelancers at once means problems are bound to occur.

Likewise, because of the competition, these platforms are often a race to the bottom in terms of pricing. With each applicant vying to complete the work for less than the one before. This cut-throat environment can actually scare off good talent as they don’t want to get into a bidding war for limited opportunities.  

2. Dedicated Providers

Stand alone providers also offer personal or virtual assistant services. The benefit of these types of vendors is they prescreen the talent they hire and manage each transaction from end-to-end. However, they typically charge higher rates for their services and often require long-term contracts. 

The best option is to partner with a specialized virtual assistant/automated solutions provider like Invisible. Working with a dedicated account rep means you don’t have to manage the process on your own. Our experienced team sifts through applicants ahead of time and keeps only the most qualified talent to assist with client projects.

We also vet each freelancer to ensure they’re who they say they are (and possess the skills they claim to have). Invisible also maintains long-term relationships with our global workforce so we know who the best fit for each assignment is. We invest in our talent pools to help increase their skills and add even more value to clients. 

Most importantly, we keep fees low so you get the help you need without breaking the bank. Clients buy “blocks of time” for outsourcing tasks which are not limited to specific functions or project types. Hire multiple freelancers to work on different projects or use your credits to complete a single, large task - it’s your choice.

Flexibility means you get more done in less time - without going over budget.

 

What Tasks Can I Outsource to a Virtual Assistant?

VAs can handle just about anything you want to offload. From digital marketing and appointment management to performing web research or running reports. If the task involves collecting, organizing, or inputting data, virtual assistants can help. We mentioned a few common back-office tasks earlier, but VAs can also complete specific assignments in popular disciplines. 

Sales Operations

sales operations outsourcing

Sales teams can utilize VAs and automated intelligence platforms to reduce workloads and find additional prospects. Sales development is improved by outsourcing research to uncover new markets and potential business partners. Virtual assistants can also perform email scraping, send mass messages or conduct personalized client outreach. 

Pipeline management is another area where VAs can assist. For instance, updating CRM account info or generating quotes or proposals on behalf of your brand. Online virtual assistants can also sift through incoming messages to filter spam and answer basic inquiries while forwarding advanced requests to regular employees.

Outsourced teams can assist with post-close activities as well. Like generating account reports and monitoring social media for mentions (or providing feedback).

Insurance Operations 

insurance operations outsourcing

Just like with sales, VAs and automation technologies can perform back-office tasks for insurance providers also. Typical assignments include reviewing applications, processing quotes, and validating or inputting claims. Thus, saving providers countless hours of manual labor and freeing full-time employees to focus on other high-value tasks. 

Virtual assistants can also support account management efforts by renewing policies and filing the necessary paperwork to state and local agencies. Not to mention performing light bookkeeping - like tracking or paying outstanding invoices.

Pretty much any type of data entry/manipulation is fair game. From updating customer accounts or database records to generating reports and identifying trends, VAs are up to the task. 

People Operations

human resources operations outsourcing

Many outsourced workers excel in HR and people operations assignments as well. They can assist recruiting teams by conducting lead generation, helping with ATS management, or performing credential verification. VAs can also speed up onboarding by configuring new accounts and ordering supplies or equipment. Or help maintain compliance by updating HRIS systems and logging required training and completed paperwork.

As long as you provide detailed, easy-to-follow directions for the tasks that need to be completed, there’s not much VAs can’t do. Our use case/process library contains a full listing of the many services we provide.

Getting started is easy. Invisible accepts tasks via typed documents, videos, or by submitting “walk-through” assignments using screen-casting software. If you already have detailed SOPs (standard operating procedures) created, the process is even simpler. 

Breaking tasks down into logical steps allows them to be offloaded with predictable results. 


What Is A Contingent Workforce?

Contingent Workforce

Contingent workers are freelancers, contractors, consultants, or other non-permanent associates that are hired on a per-project basis. They may work on-site or remotely in a variety of different roles. The terms temporary worker and contingent workforce are often used interchangeably but there are significant differences between the two. 

Temporary workers are usually stopgaps to cover vacant positions. They may not have the ideal skill set for the job but can suffice in a pinch to get things done. That’s not the case with a contingent workforce - lumping them together discounts the value they provide to employers.

Contingent workers are highly skilled experts in their chosen fields. Often having the same training, education, and experience as their full-time counterparts. These professionals are good to go without the lengthy training or onboarding requirements required for new employees. 

Not only is this a considerable time saver, but further serves to reduce costs. Given proper direction, contingent workers can start producing from day one and deliver massive ROI for every dollar spent.

Virtual Assistants & Intelligent Automation - Your Productivity Solution

intelligent automation

Perhaps you’ve tried using virtual assistants and had a less-than-ideal experience. Some providers are all about remote workers while others tout fancy AI trained to act like people. Both can work on their own, but when combined form a powerful one-two punch that’s tough to beat.  

That’s what makes Invisible’s automation solutions so attractive - we use both! Our digital assembly line is a combination of people and machines designed to understand you and your business needs. Our global pool of talented workers and automation technologies can get your recurring work done fast at highly competitive rates.  

Invisible provides custom outsourcing solutions for marketing, sales, and HR teams to reduce repetitive work and increase existing employee productivity

Our clients can submit requests via email, app, or video call for as little as $14/hr. Then sit back and relax as our digital assembly line coordinates with agents around the world. We operate 24/7 to complete assignments fast and per your exact specifications. Our services are designed to maximize efficiency and reduce costs all while keeping your data safe and secure. Check out how it works here:

Still skeptical? Consider this:

Invisible accepts only 7% of global talent applicants and carefully monitors each one on every assignment. For comparison, Harvard’s acceptance rate is 5.4% (which shows just how serious we are). 

Every qualified agent passes rigorous tests in English, critical thinking, problem-solving, and data entry. Additionally, every assigned task has an associated benchmark. Agents are assessed on process-mastery, communications, and timeliness (with pay being tied to performance).

We also use custom monitoring software to keep track of what agents are doing and the data being accessed. Rigorous oversight means we probably know more about each contractor than most brands do about their own employees. 

Our machine-learning-powered platform sends work to the people who can do it best and fastest. We handle all staffing for each project and manage workload logistics from start to finish. Just tell us what you need, and we’ll complete, check, and deliver the results you want.

Ready to learn more or get started? Get started today with a free Invisible account and one of our dedicated account managers will walk you through the entire process. There are no long-term contracts to sign and you can change your service plan at any time. 

Wouldn’t you like to delegate more and do less? Now you can - with Invisible!

Ryan Douglas

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