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A Very Important Skill Clients Will Need From Their Virtual Assistant, But May Never Know To Ask About It

Michelle Dale - Monday, May 16, 2011

If you’re a Virtual Assistant, it’s unlikely that any potential client will come and directly ask you if you have this skill, some may hope it’s a given, while others will not even begin to consider they may need it, but it’s likely that they will… There is something, call it a skill, and ability, or perhaps even a sense, and it’s something that could be within us inherently, naturally, or it may require some training or assistance to help coax it out or to learn how to utilise it, but nevertheless, I consider this one of the most valuable skills that can exist in a virtual assistant…

The Ability To Second Guess.

Whilst I am a virtual assistant, and have this ability myself to a certain extent, it’s really not something I have ever really thought about, or considered before. I hire virtual assistants who work with me, and I am so very lucky to say that pretty much all of my admin team, and the more senior members of my team all have this skill too, so essentially I am a client, and from that perspective, this ability never goes unnoticed by me when the skill is demonstrated, and this has allowed me to have the confidence in my virtual assistants, and really this skill is the reason why I was able to nearly half the time I spend working in my VA company and still maintain the very high standards which I really strive for. I am saying this from a client’s perspective, and it’s the absolute truth, so imagine how valuable that skill is to your clients…

Also keep in mind, if you’re a client, and you consider yourself a second guesser and you think because of this you don’t need a VA with that ability, you’re in denial… because nobody is perfect…

So, What Is Second Guessing?

It’s the ability to take an assignment, a task, a project or an idea and whilst working on it, see flaws, potential issues, problems, missing links or information or grey areas that the person assigning the work had not seen, or perhaps overlooked. Second guessing can occur from the smallest tasks to the largest projects, and if the work is being carried out by someone who has this ability, it’s important they know what to do with it.

How To Second Guess.

The best way to do this is by looking at the task and the bigger picture and anticipating that the person assigning the task may have made an error or missed something out somewhere, and it’s your job to try and find it. Now this isn’t to say that a client will always assign work with errors or missing information, but I myself know that sometimes if I am in a rush, very busy, and I am trying to do a few things at once, I can often eliminate bits of information, or sometimes, skip or not include parts of the task, sometimes I suspect I even take it for granted that the person should know what to do, which isn’t always the case. Whilst on the surface the task may appear to be straightforward, it may have a vital component missing, and that’s where second guessing comes into play…

The Second Guess Scenario.

Here is a small, yet important scenario which did actually happen to me recently. Every fortnight I send out a video newsletter, this week I am travelling for 10 days, so in my video, I mentioned that the newsletter offer would last for 4 weeks instead of 2, and I also asked for this to change on my web page where the video is placed. I got a message from my my VA who was scheduling the newsletter asking if I wanted to also change the email message that was going out, which stated there was another newsletter coming in a fortnight. I had never mentioned the email at all in my request, so a non-second guessing VA could have followed everything to the letter, my exact instructions, and the email and the video and web page would have been somewhat confusing. Instead I was contacted, notified, offered a solution and asked what I would like to do – this is the process a second guesser should take.

How To Handle Your Second Guesses.

There is a saying, “To assume is to make an ass out of u and me” – a play on a word, but it’s something that always sticks in my mind.

If you’re a second guesser, you should have a procedure for how you handle, what at this stage, could be assumptions. Just because you think it’s an oversight or an error doesn’t mean to say it is.

  1. You contact the client, and you explain what you’re doing.
  2. At the same time, you explain the potential problem, error or oversight you may have spotted.
  3. You ask if your suspicions are correct, and if so offer a solution.
  4. If the solution is beyond your level of expertise you can inform the client at this stage, and if it’s a problem, request further assistance.
  5. You then ask the client how they would like to proceed.

By doing this you have demonstrated the fantastic skill of second guessing, which is a very valuable ability indeed, and would pretty much secure your virtual assistant services with any client who values that ability, and in all honesty, I don’t think there is a client on the planet who wouldn’t.

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Hi I'm Michelle, an entrepreneur specialising in virtual assistance, a digital and real world nomad, and a down-to-earth mother of three.

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