My Personal Experience With Overseas Services: Virtual Assistants

With today’s election almost over, all of us have heard a lot about companies using offshore business providers or overseas services. Virtual Assistants are no different. There are virtual assistants located all over the world. But is it practical to use them for your business? Are they the ideal choice for a North American company? One individual challenged me, “Why not use a Virtual Assistant from another country? They are so much cheaper.”

Why would companies discourage the use of foreign VA’s? I have had several personal discussions with business owners who have sampled overseas help. In my nest blog, I listed twelve reasons why they were not happy with the working relationships. Except for one person, everyone’s response was the same, “Don’t do it!”

Based on my personal experience, when I worked for a major supermarket chain in the Northeast, I struggled terribly with our overseas assistant. It had nothing to do with her personality, because she was very sweet.

“You were one of the lucky one’s.” A client told me.

“Lucky?” I thought. I supposed that I was. After all, my overseas service professional was an employee of her company — from India. Honestly, the company  assigned her to me, I sat at my chair for ten minutes, before she called, rehearsing her name. I wanted to get it right. I wanted to show her respect. I wanted a good relationship with her. I really, wanted to give this a shot. After all, I’m open-minded and this was the trend of Corporate America, to use overseas virtual assistants.

She was very pleasant. Although, she sounded like she was underwater. Not to mention she sounded tired. It was no wonder she sounded tired; it was 2:00 a.m. in India.

We discussed the project’s criteria, as I continued to beg her pardon several times. (I wanted to make sure I understood what she was saying; and in all fairness to me, I got a few interruptions asking to repeat myself in return. I do have a Bostonian accent, you know.) We closed the call with her confirming that I would have the documents by 8:00 a.m.

The next morning, as she promised the documents were in my box. “This is great!” I thought. Except, except, dare I say it? Every document emailed back to me the next day had — not one, not two, but a minimum of three errors in each file; regardless if it was a Word document or an Excel spreadsheet. I chided myself, “How could you think for a minute that this woman would have been able to capture all those directions you rattled off to her yesterday? After all, we had a tough time understanding each other.” I scurried to correct each error, and made the 11:00 deadline, presenting the files to the department director.

Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident; not for me, nor for my colleagues, who also had their own overseas virtual assistants assigned to them. In fact, it was par for the course across the board.

In my next blog, I will share with twelve reasons why businesses have stopped Using Overseas Services. If you have had an experience, I invite you to share it in the comments section below.

 

 

photo credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video via photopin cc
photo credit: Vijay Bandari – Moved to other account via photopin cc

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