Many small business owners decide to outsource their work to virtual assistants or off shore workers. This can be a very effective strategy and to be honest, we also use virtual assistants in our business. However, there are 3 main problems that we have found with virtual assistants. Hiring interns instead of virtual assistants solves all 3 of them.
The first big problem that we find with virtual assistants is the time zone issue. Many of your virtual assistants are going to be located in other countries like India, Pakistan, or the Philippines which means they are about 10-15 hours ahead of us in their time zone. This can make things very frustrating or challenging if you need to do things like a live chat or phone call. In both cases, someone needs to really adjust their schedule which can be very inconvenient especially if you are a busy small business owner.
The second challenge that we encounter a lot when working with off shore virtual assistants is the language barrier. Many off shore virtual assistants actually speak very good English, but there are still problems in two big areas. The first area is when they need to interact with your customers. Sometimes customers will get frustrated when they know they are speaking to an off shore call center. The other big area is if they are doing writing for you. Many times, the technical way they were taught English doesn’t always translate over to normal written or spoken English in America.
The third major challenge is that many of these emerging countries don’t always have the best internet reliability. The technology isn’t as advanced, so sometimes the internet can be down for multiple days in a row. In our business, we have had situations where a storm came in and we weren’t able to get in touch with our virtual assistant for 3-4 days.
Interns are definitely different from virtual assistants because they are able to solve all of these problems. At most, the highest difference in time zones is going to be 3 hours from the east coast to the west coast, so you’re always going to be able to get in touch with each other. Interns are college educated students that speak really good English and can easily interact with your customers. Finally, the internet reliability in America is fantastic and if worst comes to worst they can always go down to their local coffee shop for free WiFi. In a nutshell, hiring interns over virtual assistants is the best way to help grow and expand your small business.
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