I have two questions, “Is it practical to use overseas services for your business?” And, “Are they the ideal choice for a North American company?” A prospect also challenged me asking, “Why not use a Virtual Assistant from another country? They are so much cheaper.”
Below are 12 reasons why some businesses have stopped using offshore virtual assistants:
- Unless your business is a large corporation, with international connections and legal resources, often times these groups cannot be held to the state laws your business operates under, let alone the United States laws, statutes, and regulations.
- There is a lack of fluency in reading, writing, and speaking the English language. Now, with that said, we do have virtual assistants in our industry network who are fluent in other languages. However, North American English and dialect is primarily practiced daily in their environment.
- It is difficult to vet offshore services. Since this is the case, regardless what the profile listed as the VA’s skills; there was little certainty about what skills the virtual assistant has to offer.
- There is the risk of poor quality – your projects are part of a production line, similar to old fashion typing pool concept of the 1930’s.
- There is a risk to project accuracy, because adequate time was not allotted to ask questions.1
- There is a lack of accountability to the business owner, and a lack of relationship with the virtual assistant. Limited communication was primary complaint I heard from business owners; from the first inquiry, to closing the agreement, it was mostly the internet. There was no personal interaction. (That’s when I realized I was one of the “lucky ones.”) Next, they found that once handed over the project, there was a lack of responsiveness to the person on the other end.
- Cost and time overruns were not uncommon.2
- There is a lack of consistency – You are not guaranteed the same VA more than once. The complaint here was after the business owner finally got their assigned virtual assistant trained in the first project, the second project went to someone else. Managers and owners found this frustrating, because there were new issues to work through.
- Due to poor cable infrastructure overseas, the use of offshore VA’s often can result in broken communications, unreliability, and bad internet connections.3 As a result, rarely was communication by telephone an option; when it was, the connection had interference, echos and underwater gargling sounds. Business owners found that communication was mostly restricted to email.
- There are dramatic time zone differences. Who wants a call at 2:00 a.m.? The one example when an overseas virtual assistant did call, it was in the wee hours of the morning at their home. They should have shut off their Iphone, problem was it was their alarm clock too. That was enough for them to decide to keep with a US-based virtual assistant.
- Usually, these virtual assistants work for overseas firms; they are not entrepreneurs. Therefore, they have no vested interest in your business success. Many United States and Canadian virtual assistants, including myself, hold advanced degrees. Trained and qualified professionals work with you to devise your business strategies.
- There are security vulnerabilities with regard system’s access, passwords, documentation, and intellectual property. One manager put it this way, “If I am not going to get the same VA every time, why would I hand over remote access to my computer? Why would I hand over a password to the cloud software I use?”
So when you hire a VA, keep in mind that cheaper is not always better, it’s just cheaper. There is a lot more to consider than cost savings alone; service quality is essential, as well as a reasonable turnaround.
1Denise Griffitts, https://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/offshore_virtual_assistants_may_actually_hurt_your_business.html.
3Fox News (2008), Indian Outsourcing Firms Hit Hard by Internet Outage, Fox news, retrieved October 6, 2012, from https://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,326988,00.html#ixzz28XKJQlIX.