Working as a virtual assistant makes for a dynamic and storied career. Only a few months in, I have made a cornucopia of impressions. As a PA-turned-VA, (personal assistant turned virtual assistant) I bring experience from a variety of sectors. Thanks to it, I now act like a human chameleon who expertly matches clients' energies and approaches to doing business. Here are some tips which can help improve the working atmosphere and rapport you share with your virtual assistant! (Note: All names used below are fictitious.)
Roger is in the habit of calling me at pretty much any hour of the day to check on the smallest details, like whether I amended the document headers of the monthly report to include the day as well as the date. He doesn't do it to be overbearing or out of distrust; he's used to micromanaging.
The way I handle Rogers in my VA career is keep my cool and assure them I have already thought of every single thing that prompts them to call me up. I understand the VA thing might be pretty new to them, and I give my best effort to demonstrate to them I am as invested in their success as they are. Soon enough, the obsessiveness subsides and we operate on much higher levels of trust.
No, not the exciting kind of mysterious! Vanessa makes a lot of last-minute requests, even if she was aware of them well in advance, and even then her instructions leave a lot to the imagination. Something along the lines of, "I need the project proposal for the new client, and don't forget to add the Provisional Appendix and our new MQRs." The what now?!
I react quickly to such cryptic calls, requesting all the information I am lacking: Who is the new client? What project template are we using? What should that Appendix include? What are MQRs? I know I am new in your business life and I already fit in like a glove, but I need a little more concrete information before I can get cracking. There are no silly questions when you strive to provide quality service!
Marc will habitually drop a sizable task on my virtual desk and tell me it is due at noon tomorrow. I suspect it's how he himself operates, driven by the impending deadline. Many of us do our best work under pressure; there must be something about converting stress into positive energy, right?
I have pulled many an all-nighter in my time, and I am not afraid to do it again. I will be honest, however, and tell you if the timing is just too tight for quality work to be done. I will also suggest I take over planning for you, so that next time things run smoothly.
James is very high-energy, to put it mildly. He has the vision and the drive, and once you are on his radar, he will sale-sale-sale until you reach for your wallet. He's also very pushy with me, completely closed off to any debate or dissent.
James is the one client type where I intervene openly. I see how his pushiness can quickly turn into downright bullying which costs him contracts and client relationships. Using my industry experience and social smarts, I gently redirect his efforts and remind him of proper business etiquette.
Some Final Thoughts
So you see, it’s impossible to work with every different client in the exact same way. You have to adjust your approach to their work to make them as comfortable as possible. This is how you will succeed with clients and retain them for the long term.
I will point out, if you believe that you just do not mesh with a client, and you see no possible way of working with them successfully, be honest about your worries from the beginning in the most professional way possible. Passing up on an opportunity that could turn out badly is better than letting it continue to drag on as a negative experience - for both you and the client.
What are some other personality types you’ve worked with? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section!
- How to Work with Several Different Client Personality Types - January 17, 2019