Look for anticipation, empathy, initiative and great communication
What qualities should you look for in a top virtual assistant? To find out, we asked a seasoned Prialto assistant, Louie Ramos. Based in our Manila office, she’s been with Prialto for more than a year and has a lot of advice on the subject.
Ability to create rapport
Louie hit home the idea that the very best virtual assistants are those who can discern the most effective ways to communicate with each unique client. People differ in that regard, and a great rapport between assistant and client sets the stage for everything else to flow naturally and fall into place — an absolute necessity when supporting busy professionals.
It takes initiative to get scheduling right
According to Louie, her clients live and die by their calendars, so schedule management is a top priority and a main request for her. But it isn’t as simple as you’d imagine. When she’s first copied into an email — her first cue to begin the scheduling process — there isn’t always a lot of direct instruction.
Part of great calendar management, therefore, must rest on a virtual assistant’s ability to interpret needs and take initiative to start the meeting scheduling process. To do this requires a level of precision that leaves no small detail overlooked.
Louie describes rereading through email chains to discern whether meetings are to be in person, via video conference or on the phone. Likewise, she undertakes a similar process to understand thoroughly who must attend the meeting.
Anticipating needs based on experience and empathy
It requires more than just experience to navigate a complex web of deadlines and meetings that may encompass multiple time zones, hotel and flight reservations, and expense reports. Staying on top of all this means anticipating a client’s needs. And to successfully anticipate the needs of customers ultimately requires a degree of empathy.
Great assistants put themselves in your shoes
Louie describes trying to put herself in the shoes of those she supports to fully understand their needs. She says she knows what it’s like to be outside the office or traveling for work, and this guides her decision-making process and drives her desire to make sure her professionals have everything they need at all times.
Individual preferences matter
Success also requires being able to hone in on the individual preferences of clients — no two are alike, each has unique preferences. One customer may always require flying one airline, while another may have no preferences — just whatever gets there fastest.
Because of this, Louie flatly states, “Never make assumptions.” You always want to save time for your clients, so first seek to clarify with colleagues who are already know them. But if you can’t get clarification there, be sure to then directly ask the client.
Look for trusted experts who offer suggestions
In addition to putting themselves into the mindset of their client’s, top virtual assistants must also take on a more authoritative approach and position themselves as experts at organization and productivity, offering suggestions for better ways to do things. For example, Prialto virtual assistants are backed by tried-and-true processes we’ve honed over many years.
Collaboration makes it work
And of course, it isn’t all on the virtual assistants. For the assistant-client relationship to really be successful and productive, the client must be willing to communicate very specifically, too. It’s a two-way street and even the best virtual assistants won’t know that you happen to prefer Skype vs. WebEx and need dinner reservations for 10 pm this Friday.
In the end, it really isn’t about dinner reservations, frequent flier miles and what CRM you use; it’s about communicating clearly and taking the time to really understand your client.