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Three Tools to Get the Most out of Your Virtual Assistant

With 43 percent of Americans now doing part of their work remotely, according to a recent Gallup survey, virtual assistants are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to traditional in-house administrative assistants. A virtual assistant costs 9 percent the salary of a full-time assistant, translating into savings of $35,000 per year, Conversational Receptionists estimates. Virtual assistants are especially attractive for companies that are using a virtual office or working on a start-up budget.

Virtual assistants perform their best when their employers adopt efficient strategies for deploying them. Here are three tools and techniques to help you get the most out of your virtual assistant.

Use a Unified Communications System

One of a virtual assistant’s most important tasks is managing communications for their employer. This includes answering phones, holding video calls, replying to emails, managing social media accounts, and organizing web conferences. Choosing an integrated communications system that lets your assistant manage all these different forms of communication can help them do their job more efficiently.

An example of a unified communications system suited to this task is 8×8’s virtual phone system. This tool enables a PC or Mac to serve as a center for your virtual assistant to answer calls on a softphone as well as listen to visual voicemail, hold video chat sessions, exchange text messages, chat on social media or hold web conferences. The platform’s softphone feature delivers HD audio quality secured by encryption and allows virtual assistants to perform functions such as call parking, call transfers, three-way calling and call recording. It also allows assistants to browse your company directory and import contacts from other programs, including Outlook, Exchange, Google and Skype for Business. Assistants can also send and receive fax messages.

Employ Automated Scheduling Tools

Another primary task virtual assistants perform is scheduling meetings. For efficient meeting management, virtual assistants need a quick way to check your calendar schedule along with that of other employees at your company in order to avoid scheduling conflicts when booking appointments. They also need an efficient way to send out reminders, details and instructions to meeting participants.

Automate these tasks with a scheduling tool like Doodle. To avoid the time wasted manually sorting through calendars to find an open time slot, Doodle will automatically compare calendars of all participants connected to the system in order to find a time that fits everyone’s schedule. Your assistant can also send out descriptions of your appointment availability, request contact information from participants and send automated appointment reminders. Doodle is compatible with most today’s most popular calendar programs, including Outlook, Office 365, Google and iCal.

Use a Cloud-based Office Suite

Another major task virtual assists handle is document management. This can encompass tasks such as typing letters, updating spreadsheets, preparing presentations and sharing files. The most efficient tool for a virtual assistant to perform these tasks is a cloud-based office suite.

Microsoft Office 365 is today’s most popular and robust cloud-based office suite. It includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and other apps, along with 1 TB of online storage space. Word and PowerPoint support real-time collaboration. If you’re looking for something less expensive or more limited to a specific application such as word processing, Tom’s IT Pro provides a review of several freeware cloud office suites that can serve as alternatives to Office 365.

Posted on August 1st, 2017 by Rachel Braam, Office Manager

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