A lot of CEOs have noted the benefits of having a Virtual Assistant (VA) beyond the novelty of it all. They perform all of the noncritical tasks and help their employers disconnect from technology, without worrying that the ship will sink… but, your VA is human and like all humans, your VA is going to need to take a break.
What happens then?
If all you’ve got protecting you against the dynamics of running a business is a VA, and a little bit of Artificial Intelligence in the form of apps, then when your VA is out of commission, that’s the moment everything goes downhill.
Being dependent on one individual to ensure that your business’ processes run smoothly is incredibly naive and a huge burden to lay on that one person. It’s a dependency that will lead to a “single point of failure” or SPOF, which in computer terminology refers to a part of a system that, if erroneous, prevents the entire system from working. SPOFs are undesirable in any system with a goal of high availability or reliability, be it a business practice, software application, or other industrial systems.
The first logical way to avoid SPOFs is to hire a firm with a team of VAs instead of hiring a single person. There are many happy people who have had only one assistant without any problems, but that’s just a few and far between. SPOFs happen way more often than you can imagine, and disaster avoidance is an essential part of an outsourced business’ strategy.
So you love your VA and you can’t believe how you lucked out, right? Just imagine being able to double, triple, quadruple, quintuple even, the talent pool. Imagine being able to assign multiple tasks without having to onboard and train yet another personality. That’s what Ninjas do! They get in where they fit in and make light work of something that would otherwise be insurmountable.
There’s a saying called being “pound-wise and penny-foolish” and nowhere does it make more sense than when it comes to outsourcing customer support. If you want your business to run smoothly, one-stop shopping should be the main priority. It shouldn’t matter if you have to pay 10% extra because whatever you need, you should be able to have it. No questions asked!
Let’s get another misconception out of the way, while we’re at it.
There’s a myth circulating amongst BPO service providers that a big team works better than a smaller one. FALSE.
Not having a massive team is not something that will stifle progress. You don’t need to want a huge team in order to fulfill your goal of attaining profitability. Ideally, you want to have a main CS leader with two support assistants.
What about the worry that you’re signing your organization over to strangers, and that they can one day either start a coup or just go completely rogue with sensitive information?
That’s not an unfounded fear. While it’s never happened, it is important to understand and mitigate the risks.
Tim Ferriss, the biggest proponent of outsourcing encourages everyone who forays into outsourcing, be it miscellaneous tasks and business processes, to commit the following adage to memory:
Never. Use. The New. Hire.
It came after he interviewed a US-based Virtual Assistant who had hired freelance help at the last minute, only for this freelancer to misuse financial and confidential information.
That’s important. Your team should not be able to subcontract work to others without your consent. The buck must stop somewhere, and hopefully, that somewhere is in your vicinity.
Not all firms have security measures, so when you’re shopping, look for the following, because they will assist you in establishing where the breach came from;
1) A firm that that has a company policy in which employees sign NDAs in order to go anywhere near sensitive client information.
2) Access limitations that keep system logs of access, especially for financial information.
3) A completely digital (paperless) office environment with serial ports disabled to prevent data transfer via storage devices
4) Encryption for all data exchanged via a secure Virtual Private Network
5) International security standards compliance and verifiable certification
6) Digital access restrictions through a Virtual Local Area Network, to ensure that unauthorized access to information is impossible
How to successfully outsource customer support
In order to run something like a well-oiled machine, there have to be some controls. Here are the three musts:
1) Pivot and Replace
There’s no doubt that you’re an effective communicator, but if you have a specific vision about what you want you had expected, don’t hesitate to make your dissatisfaction known. There’s no point in enduring if a team isn’t working at your level.
2) Ask someone to proof your instructions
Get a completely different person to proof-read your instructions before sending them through. There’s a multitude of ways that certain instructions can be interpreted, so simplify and proof-read. And when your team received the instructions, ask them to respond letting you know what they understand.
3) Make your deadlines clear and Prioritise
In order to make sure that your team is on point, you have to request status updates every 3 or so hours as they work to check on the feasibility of certain tasks. If they’re just not doable, your team shouldn’t waste time on it. It’s best to stick with a 48-hour deadline for the doable tasks while dividing them into small milestones.
Hiring an outsourced team to handle your customer support is actually less daunting than you would think, so if it’s the anxiety of “things going wrong” that is holding you back, know that there are already controls in place to mitigate that.
If you know what you want, how you want it done and by when you want to receive it, then you’re well on your way to successfully outsourcing customer support to a team and freeing yourself from handling the minutiae of doing it.
It’s time to simplify.