Hiring a Virtual Assistant? Your Top 10 Queries Answered

Posted by - Eleanor Webb-Dickin on the 4th November 2020

It’s likely you’ve heard of the term and role ‘personal assistant’, perhaps you’ve had one before or know a person in your company that has this role. Have you ever come across someone with the role of a virtual assistant?

It’s a personal assistant. Yet virtual.

As the world dealt with COVID-19, businesses, communities, and individuals have shifted to do large parts of their day to day from going to work to being remote and joining the increasingly global digital economy.

Whether that’s social interactions with friends, team meetings, sales presentations, hiring new members of the team, or family video calls. The virtual way of social interactions and business seem to be here for the foreseeable.

That’s why we wanted to ensure you’re made aware of what the

If by the end of this article, or at any point in the article, you’re interested to see how a virtual assistant can help your business grow while giving you more time to focus on your priorities, please contact an experienced and regularly trained member of the Cymphony team where we can discuss a bespoke solution to you.

What is a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant, or virtual personal assistant, is an assistant who works on behalf of an individual and does so remotely.

Some people think the word ‘virtual’ means they are some form of bot (robot to you and me), which couldn’t be further from the truth. There are automated assistants but their effectiveness is hotly debated.

Virtual assistants are real people, they just work remotely and can be accessed online. This doesn’t make their contribution any less valuable, in fact, it means that they are far more flexible.

Virtual assistants can be a huge help to you if you’re struggling to juggle multiple responsibilities at the same time, whether that’s at home or in business.

They are on hand when you feel your schedule becoming hectic, then leave you to it when it’s back under control.

Talk about an ideal situation, right?!

Increasing numbers of people are coming to realise the value of these wonderful wingmen. To illustrate this, we found that the virtual assistant market is predicted to rise at a considerable rate between 2020 and 2025, so it might be time to get yourself set up with a virtual assistant.

Let’s find out more about these helping hands and why they could become your new favourite people!

Query 1: What does a virtual personal assistant do?

Much like any kind of personal assistant, they can be given a wide range of responsibilities. These are usually admin based, for example, diary management, screening calls, making bookings on your behalf and so on. All the little fiddly bits that take up far more of your time than you’d like.

How often do you feel frustrated spending time on tasks that hold little significance for your business, but are nonetheless unavoidable?

This is where virtual assistants come in, to take that weight off your shoulders and allow you to focus on your priorities.

A virtual assistant becomes your right-hand man (or woman); someone to rely on to look after the day to day housekeeping.

While a larger company might outsource its entire customer service department, a sole trader, which might be similar to your business, can benefit from one excellent individual to help ease their workload.

That said, the director of a large firm could also benefit from this kind of help when juggling their own individual responsibilities.

A virtual assistant can even be used as holiday cover when you’re low on staff, which saves you the stressful process of hiring someone new.

Query 2: Would I have 24/7 access to my virtual personal assistant?

We want to highlight to you that this does of course depend on the provider of your virtual assistant whether through direct or through a company, it’s important to check if you get 24/7 access.

For example, if you chose to hire a virtual assistant through Cymphony you will have the option for 24/7 access, and just imagine what you could achieve with that level of help! 

You’re probably thinking “Surely they’ll split the time between different people and I don’t want to have to keep repeating myself, do I?”

Don’t panic, established providers have thought carefully about this…

You might have one designated virtual personal assistant or you might have two virtual assistants. However many you have, you can expect them to grow, learn, and apply what they already know to understand your business through and through, building on their experience on a day to day basis. 

Of course, if you go through someone direct and hire on a full-time basis, you might need to account for the time off they need, which is another reason using an outsourced provider such as Cymphony can help you.

Just quickly adding to that, another benefit is that if you do use an outsourced provider, again such as Cymphony, you can expect to have a wide team of regularly trained and experienced virtual assistants ready to step in and cover.

One of the major benefits of having a virtual personal assistant over an in-house assistant, is their flexibility. They can be accessed easily thanks to being based online, so they can easily fit around the demands of your business.

If you do want to find out more about outsourcing this type of work, and the benefits of outsourcing in general, you can read our article ‘Everything You Need to Know about the Benefits of Outsourcing for Your Business‘ where we give a breakdown of how it can benefit your business.

Query 3: How would I integrate an online assistant into my business?

It may seem like a logistical challenge but in reality, it is the exact opposite. All it takes is a simple call (feel free to give Cymphony a call for some real-life experience of the process), and the provider will do the rest. 

An assistant will be chosen who suits your requirements, and a basic subscription model will be set up that requires very little input from yourself. You can then expect assistants will then be easy to access at any time of day or night, 365 days of the year if you need them!

There is no need to supply any equipment for your assistant, or even space for them to work from, which helps to cut costs dramatically. This brings us to the next query…

A photo of a professional assistant

Query 4: How much does a virtual assistant cost?

Hiring a virtual personal assistant can be a more affordable option than, for example, hiring an in-house secretary. 

Thanks to virtual assistants remote nature, they either provide their own working station and equipment, or they are supplied by the company you are outsourcing the service from.

This is another considerable cost avoided by you!

If you are already an employer, you’ll know how expensive the cost of hiring someone new can be. You pay an HR professional for a job advert, you pay for it to be posted on at least one job board, and you might even pay for a recruitment agency to headhunt for you.

Not to mention the time you take out of your day to interview multiple candidates. Plus all the other costs associated with hiring a new employee like pensions, national insurance contributions, the list goes on!

So, I’m sure you can see the benefits of making a call to a company like Cymphony and setting up a simple subscription service!

Query 5: How would I choose an assistant?

As long as you choose a well-practiced provider, they will make sure to ask you plenty of questions about the kind of virtual personal assistant you need. 

They will gather key information about you and your business, and designate an assistant who they feel will be an excellent fit.

It’s a far quicker process than sifting through applications and cross-referencing them with an exhaustive job description. It also allows for a more personal and tailored match, as you will be able to highlight your own preferences more specifically.

For example, perhaps you prefer someone with initiative who you can leave to get on with the job. Maybe you’d like someone who will work only on your specific instructions. You’ll be able to find whoever it is you’re looking for with ease.

Query 6: Where can I find virtual assistants?

You could try to find one yourself by advertising on job boards, but a far more efficient and cost-effective solution would be to compare agencies that specialise in providing virtual personal assistants. 

Agencies will do all the hard work for you, and they will have already screened the assistants working for them. Ring around and ask a few questions to get a feel for the values of the company, and whether or not you think they might be able to provide what you’re looking for. 

You’re not alone in looking for this kind of help, in fact, more than half of all companies use third-party support to connect with customers, which is one the key functions of your virtual personal assistant.

Query 7: What is the training process for a virtual assistant?

If you source a virtual personal assistant through an agency, they will already be trained in customer service so they can hit the ground running. This is another of the key benefits of using one; you can tap into skills and talent already developed by other companies. 

According to Forbes, many companies have found that outsourcing gives them access to talent in other parts of the world, further proving that a virtual assistant opens doors in terms of talent acquisition. 

You would need to inform your new assistant about what you need as an individual and the most important aspects of your company. It’s a good idea to put together a basic information sheet for them to use as for many of the tasks they cover, this will be all they need.

During your setup with your virtual assistant, you can expect them to ask questions with the goal of gaining knowledge and insight into your business communications and brand styling.

This means the virtual assistant can soon become well versed in what you and your business expect. They can then deliver a great quality service seamlessly which, in turn, helps to boost your company’s reputation.

Two minds are better than one

Query 8: Are virtual assistants freelancers?

You can expect your virtual assistant to have all the benefits of a freelancer, in terms of your company’s liability and costs.

It’s important for you to note that most providers work off a subscription model where you’re paying for a service, which can be far more beneficial than hiring an employee.

Query 9: How would a virtual assistant benefit my business?

Where do I begin? By being able to offload the time-consuming day to day activities that dominate your schedule, you gain endless freedom to focus on enhancing other aspects of your business.

Every business faces different challenges, and knowing your housekeeping is covered allows you to work on whichever aspect of your company needs the most attention.

Whether that’s being able to focus on creating a successful marketing strategy, streamlining operations to create a more efficient structure (Vas could reduce your operating costs by 78%), coming up with new ideas to increase revenue, or even working on international expansion.

It opens up a world of new possibilities and breaks down barriers for your business.

In the current Covid climate it’s becoming more and more important to consider how the various aspects of your business would be able to function remotely. A virtual assistant is one less thing to worry about. 

Query 10: Do I need a virtual assistant?

Ask yourself one simple question; do I ever feel stressed?

If the answer is yes, and between me and you, I’ve definitely had my fair share of feeling stressed during my life, then it’s likely you will benefit from having a virtual personal assistant.

Stress is never conducive to creativity, so if you’re overwhelmed with tasks your brain won’t be capable of coming up with those eureka moments that transform a business from a frog into a prince.

Imagine looking back 5 years from now, wondering why your business hasn’t made the strides you hoped it would. Imagine being faced with memories of endless hours spent answering calls, rearranging meetings, and dealing with lengthy queries.

Learning to manage your time and delegate where you can, is crucial to running a successful business. It allows it to grow to its full potential.

If reading this article has given you a glimmer of hope that one day you might be free of the burden of endless admin, give Cymphony and its experienced team a call to discuss a bespoke solution to turning that dream into a reality.