One of the biggest challenges to overcome when running a virtual business is to make clients trust you without having met you in person. Not only that, but as a virtual assistant you need to let clients trust you enough to work with their business data and often interact directly with their clients. As a business owner, handing over this data and access to a new virtual team member can be very daunting.
So what can you do to build trust and come across professional?
Of course you’ll already have a great website and strong online presence but what about behind the scenes? What can you do to help your clients feel that their business is safe in your hands?
Technology to the rescue.
Look at your own setup first:
- Impress clients by making sure you are on the latest versions of Microsoft Office. Whether you are on a Mac or a PC there is no excuse to not be on the latest versions of Word, Excel and Outlook. Show that you are up to date or ahead of the curve when it comes to your setup.
- Don’t work on a slow or old computer. Nothing is worse for yourself (or your client who is paying you by the hour) to be waiting for your computer to get up and running. Invest in the tools of your trade and get the best you can afford.
- Be sure your computer is on the latest operating system, that you do regular maintenance and that you have virus software running. You want to be able to tell clients your systems are as secure as they can be.
- Back it up. Make sure clients know you have fool-proof backup in place and that any data they share with you will be securely backed up should things go wrong at your end.
Suggest secure and efficient ways to work together:
- Clients will be nervous about handing over logins to online accounts or credit cards so you can do travel bookings. Be sure to tell them you are using password management software and you will store any confidential information within this encrypted environment. If your client is already using a tool like LastPass invite them to securely share some of the logins with you via a shared folder or offer to set up sharing via your tool of choice.
- Clients may come to you with their favorite tools ready to share, but others will be looking for guidance on the best ways to collaborate. Suggest file sharing via Dropbox, but you can also cut down on email by using a shared to do list or project management tool to keep each other updated. Have a few suggestions up your sleeve as there is never a one-size-fits-all option. My current favorites are Trello, Asana, Capsule and Team Week.
- Use Outlook as a way of bringing together your various client emails and shared calendars. More efficient for you to have access to everything in one place. If your client isn’t sure what’s possible with their setup you can point them in the right direction by suggesting they use Office 365 for their business emails and calendar data as this will make it a lot easier to share with you and give you delegated access to their accounts. If your clients use cloud based emails through Office 365 it also means you won’t need to worry about backing up your emails for this account.
- Look professional by using a time tracking tool that allows you to track your time as you go and allocate it to different tasks and clients. Run reports you can share with clients at the end of the month as this will look a lot better than a manually produced spreadsheet or no evidence at all. The easiest one I have come across is Toggl.
You might even want to let clients know about your tech setup as part of your new client on-boarding process so they get full insight into how professional you are approaching your business. These are the small details that give you the advantage over others in your industry. And believe you me I have seen some pretty dire setups and know who I would rather be working with.
Francesca Geens helps independent consultants and solo business owners get the most out of the technology they use to run their businesses. Learn how she can help you advance your virtual assistant business by clicking here.
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