How To Win Back Your Time With The Right Virtual Assistant
[Navigating the Customer Experience] Understand what customers really want + how businesses can understand the psychology of each customer or business with whom they engage. Look at technology, leadership, customer service charters and strategies, training and development, complaint management, service recovery and so much more!
Yanique Grant helps companies navigate their customer experience and build a strong service culture. She hosts The Navigating the Customer Experience Podcast, taking you on a journey with global entrepreneurs and subject matter experts who can help you to navigate your customer experience.
Daniel Ramsey is the founder and CEO of MyOutDesk, the highest-rated Virtual Assistant company in the marketplace with over 800 5-star reviews and over 15 years of experience serving more than 7500 clients.
Daniel founded MyOutDesk during the last global financial crisis of 2008 to help businesses leverage the remote workplace and scale businesses with Virtual Assistants. In 15+ years with MyOutDesk, Daniel has helped thousands of clients scale their businesses and grow profitability. He has worked with some of the largest companies in some of the fastest-growing industries.
Daniel has had the opportunity to work with many of the largest sales organizations, technology startups, insurance, real estate, and healthcare companies and he’s willing to share all those lessons with you.
- Could you share a little bit about your journey?
- A lot of our listeners probably are thinking would a Virtual Assistant suit me? How do you know if that’s really an avenue that you should explore? What are some of the key indicators that would kind of trigger you to say, this is something I could look into?
- Are you saying then that your Virtual Assistant doesn’t necessarily have to be in Jamaica? And what if that insurance advisor has concerns about cultural fit? How does your company integrate all of that?
- How do you get the customers to embrace technology if it’s not something that they were incorporating into their strategy or their execution prior to Covid-19? How do you get them to learn the technology, to feel comfortable using the technology, to feel comfortable asking their customers to engage with the technology if it’s something that they’re not accustomed to?
- So, in terms of your Virtual Assistant competencies and capabilities, is it just in the administrative spare, or do you do like accounts, marketing, sales? What aspects of Virtual Assistant does your company provide?
- If you could choose a client that you’ve used currently in the past that utilized your services and, you know, just that tangible example that we could share with the audience so they could see how it is that using a Virtual Assistant was able to transform either in terms of dollars or in terms of time or in terms of just productivity. How did that look like for them? Just if you could share one real example.
- Could you share with us how you stay motivated every day?
- Could you share with us may be one of your online resources, tools, website, or apps that you absolutely cannot live without in your business?
- Could you share with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you? It could be a book that you read many years ago that still has a great impact on you to this day or could even be a book that you read recently.
- Can you share with us what’s one thing that’s going on in your life right now – either something you’re working on to develop yourself or your people?
- Where can we find you online?
- Do you have a quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge, you will revert to this quote. It helps to push them forward, get you unstuck. Do you have one of those?
Yanique: I think it’s quite fascinating that your business was formed out of our last major financial crisis. So maybe tell us a little bit about that journey and how your journey of prior to your business got you to where you were and how you’ve been doing over the last 15 years and how this crisis that we’re currently in or we’re being propelled into is impacting your business. And just a little bit about who you are.
Daniel shared that what he loves is the story is not overcomplicated. He’s an entrepreneur, he was building a business and at the time, from 2001 to 2006, they were really building an amazing business because the market was hot, and they were in the expansion stage. And as an entrepreneur, he thought he was doing really well. He was very proud of himself, he was young, and he was in his 20s.
And he, like many entrepreneurs, hadn’t held a good job for a long time and so he built this business. And then the 2007 crash happened and at that time, he had three offices, lots of salespeople, lots of administrative staff. And literally in one quarter, they had 90% of their revenue go away. And at that moment, he’s scratching his head and he’s like, “Maybe I should go get a job. Maybe this isn’t working for me.”
And that was a momentary thought that came in and then went and he said, “No, I’m going to stick this out.” So, they stuck this out. They found new customers, new clients, at that time the market massively shifted and if you can remember that it was his first time ever being really impacted, much like many businesses today are being impacted.
So they figured out who their new customers were, where their new place in the marketplace was and they started to grow again. And in that growth, what he was worried about was he needed to stay profitable, he needed to take a paycheck home. And a friend of his started talking to him about Virtual Assistants and turns out he was about to hire five. And he toyed with Virtual Assistants, he had a couple in his business at that time and he turned to him and said, “Why don’t you help me find five people?”
And literally, MyOutDesk was born because his friend Christian Peter said, “I need some virtual assistants, just like you have.” And so, MyOutDesk was born, they steadily grew over the next couple of years. And what they do primarily is they help businesses, entrepreneurs C-Suite people, get some of their time back. That’s really what they’re focused on doing, is helping businesses grow and scale by adding high-caliber talent to your team so you can grow and scale your business.
Enhancing Customer Experience with a Virtual Assistant
Yanique: Amazing. In this global pandemic that we’re all going through, right. A lot of businesses are focused on how it is that they can enhance their customer experience. And, of course, you know, our show is Navigating the Customer Experience. And I guess a lot of our listeners probably are thinking would a Virtual Assistant suit me? How do you know if that’s really an avenue that you should explore? What are some of the key indicators that would kind of trigger you to say, this is something I could look into?
Daniel shared that it’s a great question and he wants to start by giving the audience their thesis to customer experience and when he says their thesis, really, he believes the customer experience starts with the set expectations. In fact, everything in their business aligns around, “Does the customer understand our product and service? Are we clear about what we can deliver? And are we a good fit? Are we a good match for our customers?”
And in their business, nothing goes sideways when everybody’s clear about the job. Everybody’s clear about how they’re going to help. If the customer has a realistic onboarding and a good system, then they typically don’t have customer experience issues.
So in their world……
They define customer experience as really the setting of expectations.
And that starts on their website that starts in the emails that they send out to their customers. And then, as they prospect and they find people who are willing to meet with them and do a consultation.
It starts in that first conversation. What are your needs? What are some of your thoughts or concerns or what’s your system look like? Who’s on your team today? So, they go through a really dedicated deep dive into businesses explaining what their service is.
And then they ask the customer, “Are you set up to train somebody? Do you have the right system in place? What tech tools do you have currently?”
One crazy thing is that their customers, run the gamut of being very sophisticated techie people. And then also, they have customers who this is their first time doing a Zoom, for instance. And they’ve never built on a customer experience that isn’t a handshake, that’s one challenge right now in the pandemic.
Most small and medium-sized businesses, they’re relational selling. They’re in that relational space and right now, as we transition to this digital world, many people are struggling. And so, their role is to help businesses find talent and buy back some of their time. And so, that one thing is kind of their driving force for everybody that they hire, all the customers that they bring in and that’s how they kind of think about customer experience.
Yanique: Brilliant. So, basically trying to save someone time.
Daniel agreed and shared that if you’re right now busy, you’re an entrepreneur. And he constantly thinks if he had more time, He could do anything. And that’s kind of what they hope, is that their customers are thinking, “Okay, I need help. I know I need help. My team needs help. We’re struggling with this. We’re struggling with the implementation of clients or we’re struggling with the setting of expectations or we need more help with our digital brand.” Whatever your need is, their job is in this process is to help you buy some of that time back.
And to the second question, customer experience. What they believe in terms of the team for customer experience is that many of the things that your customers are experiencing can be helped with a Virtual Assistant. So, they believe in a blended model where some of your people are in the US and then some are in their case, they’re in the Philippines. And maybe half of your customer experience team is in the Philippines.
And because of that blended model, not only are you saving money, but you’re able to cover the 24/7 if you need it, weekends, evenings, and also have multiple people on the staff. So it’s not just a small team, you can actually build a fairly large team and be cost-effective about it.
Concerns of Culture Fit When Integrating a Virtual Assistant
Yanique: Okay, so let’s say, for example, you are a company that is based in Jamaica, I live in Jamaica and I know a lot of people listen to the podcast all over the world. I think we are listened to in over 87 countries globally, which is really cool. But let’s say your company is based in Jamaica and let’s say you’re a financial organization and you have a contact center or maybe you’re an insurance advisor and you’re looking to get a Virtual Assistant. Are you saying then that your Virtual Assistant doesn’t necessarily have to be in Jamaica? And what if that insurance advisor has concerns about cultural fit? How does your company integrate all of that?
Daniel stated that that is a great question and it was like Yanique is reading his mind. These are definitely the things that they help customers make in terms of considerations like, “Who’s on the team? How am I going to integrate a Virtual Assistant and how am I going to teach?” Maybe if you’re talking about financial or even insurance, there are licensing requirements. So, you have to have a license in order to serve a customer and sell them security or an insurance product.
So they’re definitely not providing licensed people. But what they are is, they’re helping the licensed people elevate the level of work that they’re doing. So when you’re a licensed person and let’s say you have 5 or 10 years of experience or even 20, guess what? You’ve seen every kind of risk and you’ve seen every type of investment. And your secret sauce is helping people build that financial wealth or protect their assets if you’re an insurance person.
But it’s not helping people reset their passwords or get access to their online profile or even schedule an appointment with you or get another statement or in the insurance world, get a certification out. All of those things are administrative or customer experience or service related and for the vast majority of companies, they can help in that space, there are some tools and techniques that you have to implement. But that’s what their consultation is all about.
They’ll sit down with the business, with all the key stakeholders, and they’ll determine, like, “Hey, maybe you need to implement Zoom meetings. Maybe you need to have an internal platform like Skype or Asana or Microsoft Teams or whatever the platform is that you’re on.” Slack is another great one. But they’ve been remote for 15+ years and they’ve helped companies create blended customer experience teams since their beginning, basically.
And the one thing that people always say is, “Wow, I didn’t know that this would actually work. Could you help me in this other department, sales or marketing or maybe ops?” And so, they’ve had the pleasure of helping over 6000 businesses in the last 13 years. And it’s amazing what is possible with the way technology is today.
Getting Customers to Embrace Technology
Daniel stated that here’s the reality. They don’t coach the customer; they don’t try to talk them into it, they just simply explain best practices. So, somebody comes to them and says, “I don’t have a CRM or I don’t have a digital strategy and I need to transform.”
Then they’ll help them develop a plan. In fact, he was on the call with a really great entrepreneur yesterday and he called and he says, “Hey, we’re really having success in this one state and we’re about to go nationally.” And they started talking, his name was Bill. He said, “What’s your plan, Bill? Would you have it written down?” And he’s like, “Well, I’ve got it in my head and I’m trying to write it down.”
So he and Daniel just strategized for a good 30 minutes actually. They talked through what his system needs to look like, what kind of technology he needs to employ, some of the challenges, and the roadblocks that he’s going to run into. So they’ve done this so many times that they’re all very simple standard steps, so they aim and he helped him.
And his (Daniel) company is focused on when you have a plan; they’ll help you fulfill the people portion of your plan. And customers that embrace this digital world and are okay with technology, those are their ideal customers, their ideal clients, and the folks who need help or aren’t quite yet sure what should happen, they’ll help them develop a plan, watch them go execute and when they’re ready for talent, when they’re ready to buy some of their time back, then they’re here for them.
Aspects of a Virtual Assistant
When asked what aspects of Virtual Assistant his company provides, Daniel stated that that’s a challenging question and he’ll give you an example. They have a boat broker in Florida and he hired a Virtual Assistant to help him with a marketing campaign around every time he sells a multimillion-dollar boat, he wants everybody in the world to know about it, and then he wants his customers to land on his website and see all of his boats online.
So, they have a very diverse customer base but he wants people on the podcast to know that they primarily help in four areas. So if you’re listening right now, you don’t have to write any of this down, he’s going to give away a copy of their free book. They actually wrote a book helping people implement Virtual Assistants into their business, regardless of where you’re at.
So, whether you’re in the UK, Australia, Puerto Rico, doesn’t matter. These principles and this practice all work the same. So if Yanique is okay with it, he’ll give away a copy of that book towards the end of their time together.
But the four areas think about sales, marketing, operations, and customer service and support. Those are the four main pillars of folks that they hire. And every business needs those four areas.
So, they’re pretty blessed and happy. And this pandemic has been really challenging for companies around the globe. And they only want to serve and help customers. So to the question, the digital marketing, they spent two months really outlining their digital strategy for Virtual Assistants. Like this is how you can use a Virtual Assistant in your digital strategy. And so they outlined all of that on their blog, they’ve outlined that in their book and they consistently put out content to help their clients succeed. And you can all check that out at www.myoutdesk.com
Yanique: Brilliant. Sounds fabulous. So, you said your four pillars are administration, marketing, operations, and customer service and support. So marketing and sales are kinds of one.
Daniel agreed and mentioned that in their world, they view marketing as inbound digital marketing, so anything that’s on the web or in social media. And then sales is really prospecting out to customers and having conversations. So think of it like digital marketing is the worm on the hook. You throw the worm out into the ocean and you’ve got your hook, that’s your marketing plan and then the sales team, they’re the people who reel in the customers with having good conversations and making sure that that particular lead or potential customer is a good fit for their service or product. So they’ve got those kinds of dual roles.
Using a Virtual Assistant to Transform an Organization
MyOutDesk has a customer, his name is Knolly, and he is a speaker, author, and trainer. He travels the world giving presentations on really building business. And he had built his own technology stack for his company and he’d built basically a (CRM) Customer Relationship Management platform. And he’d built that CRM a decade ago and it was in an interesting position because his customers use the CRM, his teaching and platform were around the powerfulness of combining sales, process and systems, and technology in order to really grow and scale businesses.
And so, when he came to them, he was like, “Look, I’ve hired 3 or 4 people, they’ve all been great for 6 to 9 months and then they’ve moved on.” Meaning, he was stuck in two places. He needed to invest more money in his CRM to bring it up to date because it was built almost 10 years ago and it was time to do a refresh and an update on the user interface. And then he had another need that he needed somebody to help him with this customer experience, meaning, people would sign on and then not be able to use the platform, and then they just disappear over time. And so, they talked at length about how he was going to either have to step in and run the business or hire somebody who’s really great at customer onboarding and customer service over time.
And so, they actually found him a guy named Chris, and Chris has now been with him almost 5 years. And Chris runs everything in the customer experience department for this technology company from onboarding new clients, taking credit cards, answering questions or opening tickets, and solving and resolving them. And so, this guy Knolly, didn’t want to step in and handle the customer service portion of his business and he really needed to buy some of his time back because he was busy traveling the world and speaking in front of large audiences.
So, what he (Daniel) would encourage everybody on today’s podcast to do and this is a simple exercise, they call it the sticky challenge. And he knows you can’t see him right now, but he has got in his hand a pile of stickies, just the yellow stickies that you buy at any office supply company.
And he wants you to follow yourself around or have maybe your leadership team do it or your managers within your business follow yourself around with stickies and then ask yourself this one simple question, “Am I working in the business or on the business? Am I just doing the things that need to happen every day that are important but really don’t grow the business? Or Am I working on growth initiatives? Am I working on the most important work?” And then write those tasks down and follow yourself around sticky.
So a good friend of theirs did this. She ran a South American investment company and she had her entire team do the sticky challenge. And after doing the sticky challenge for several weeks, she comes back and says, “Oh, my goodness, Daniel. I’m working 60 hours a week. And more than half of my time is on stupid tasks that actually don’t drive revenue or add value to my business.”
And just by sitting back and reflecting through her time and through what she was doing every day, literally, she was like, “I was on Facebook for 30 minutes every single day. And when I looked at it, I wasn’t writing on Facebook, I wasn’t using it as a lead generation, I was just surfing on Facebook.”
And so, what he’s encouraging everybody to do is really step back and ask yourself, “Am I doing the most important, most valuable work in my business or am I doing stuff that I should delegate down or give away?” You do that for a couple of weeks and you’ll really start to find opportunities to hire a Virtual Assistant and really help you grow your business.
How Daniel Stays Motivated
When asked how he stays motivated, Daniel stated that that’s a great question. And he thinks it’s funny, too, because he was just born motivated. But he’s definitely like anybody; they need to keep in routines. Like a car, if you forget to put oil or gas or water, the car breaks down. So in his case, he exercises a lot. Playing soccer is one of his favorite things. He’s a wrestling coach, a local high school wrestling coach. He contributes 25 hours a week when he can because Covid-19, they’re not going to do wrestling until next year now.
But his normal routine is a lot of exercises. He has a morning quiet time where he sits in a hot tub and he does meditation and a lot of journaling. And his other pillar is that he’s very consistent with his time blocking. So, on the schedule, family time, personal time, work time, customer time. So those are the three things, staying physically in good shape, having a mental game, meditation, yoga, just some quiet time in the morning, and then being really consistent with his calendar and schedule.
App, Website, or Tool that Daniel Absolutely Can’t Live Without in His Business
In terms of online resources, Daniel stated that he’s not going to give one; he’s going to give you a couple that is really important when you go remote or have a digital kind of background. First, he always prefers face-to-face conversations. So, they do a lot of video conferencing. So, have a video conferencing app, have a VOIP phone system so that you can have your Virtual Assistant and your team, regardless of where they are, actually communicate both phone calls, text messages and it’s really important to have kind of that system set up.
Yanique: And which ones do you recommend as the better ones to use if you were to engage in a VOIP system?
Daniel shared that they’re all pretty much created equally. They use RingCentral internally because it connects to their CRM sales force. But there are several out there. The most important thing is there’s no latency and so he’ll give some suggestions there. Latency means in the Philippines, which is their country of operations, there are servers for RingCentral. So, the servers where the phone is transmitted are actually in Asia and so, therefore, there’s no latency when you make calls or you have your 1-800 number, for instance, routed to somebody in the Philippines, that’s probably the most important consideration.
But also connecting to your CRM or your customer experience tool, that’s a very big deal. So, integration is a big deal, and native integration so that it’s not through an API of like Zapier or something.
And the last one is always a task management platform. He can’t tell you how freeing it is to have something, they use Monday, and they use Basecamp for projects. There’s a company called Asana which is great. Slack has a good one. But you need some sort of a tool for keeping track of all of the individual tasks, as well as all the projects that you have going within a business. And those three, if you implement those three things into your business, you’re probably ahead of the curve in most major businesses right now.
Yanique: How do you feel about scheduling the app? If you have to schedule meetings with customers, do those platforms allow for scheduling, or do you need to go outside of those platforms for scheduling?
Daniel shared that there’s Calendly and they use something called ScheduleOnce. He likes those things because they help automate the process. But also, he’s very cognizant of sometimes it’s just great to pick up the phone and have a conversation with your customers or clients. So, he uses scheduling apps that tie into their websites and tie into their calendars and tie into their CRM. And he thinks there’s a place for that. There’s the ease of use, your customers can choose to either schedule it like that or give you a call. And he thinks there’s some powerfulness in that, especially as you’re scaling and growing.
But nothing replaces a great, good old-fashioned conversation. And he’s the guy with that. He really, really loves talking to customers and helping them and hearing their experience and seeing what they need to do. And he loves Yanique’s mission, “Creating a more caring world.” He thinks that’s great. One of their core values as a company is just having a servant’s heart. So their job is to serve their customers and help them grow and attain their goals in life. So they share that very positive outlook.
Books That Have Had the Greatest Impact on Daniel
Daniel shared that he loves all the business books, and if you’re new in the entrepreneurial world or if you’re kind of driving toward success, Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t (Rockefeller Habits 2.0) by Verne Harnish is a great business book. It’s one of his favorite books. It’s written by a billionaire guy who really did a great job of explaining the process of growing and scaling a company.
But The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey. Another great book, The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley. He loves The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason. A lot of the books that are out there are written to tell a story.
And whenever they’re in story mode, he really gets into them and he loves reading those books. But, The Richest Man in Babylon, he’ll give you a quick synopsis of that book. It talks about not taking risks financially, when you make a bet, it’s not that it can be a short thing, but you really want to protect your nest egg or your business or your bank account.
And so, in his world, he finds a lot of value in that because a lot of entrepreneurs make decisions out of expediency, meaning they want the result right now versus the long game, which the long game is hard. So, he finds the struggle to be good, he likes to embrace that struggle, he likes to be part of that struggle, he likes to be in the struggle with their customers. And so, that book for him is awesome.
What Daniel is Really Excited About Now!
Daniel shared that he’s doing a lot of masterminds now. So, they just launched an entirely new kind of content strategy around building a mastermind, what they look like, and really a virtual mastermind. So, being in conversation with people, your peers, and really helping them grow and they’re in the process right now of doing an initial call mastermind to augment their customer experience. So, because they’re on a customer experience podcast, he thought this would be an interesting example.
They’ll pull 10 customers together, for instance, brand new customers, and then ask them how it’s going and then add value to them and teaching them, “Hey, this is the system that you need, or here’s an example of somebody else who’s tried to do that. And here’s one that failed and here’s one that succeeded.”
And so, the job is to give people a bit of peer accountability, as well as a peer group to bounce ideas off of, but as well as just having a safe place to discuss obstacles and how to remove them and how to really grow and scale.
So they’re offering that to their customers now as they are in the initial phases of onboarding a virtual assistant. And he’s really excited about it because it’s really a different approach for them. It’s a way of adding value at a higher level than they’ve ever done in the past. So, that’s his newest experiment right now.
Where Can We Find Daniel Online
Daniel shared listeners can find him at –
Website – www.myoutdesk.com
Twitter – https://twitter.com/MyOutDesk
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/company/my-outdesk/
Daniel shared that there is a text code if your listeners are in the US or North America, Canada, you can actually text them 31996, that’s the phone number to put in the text. And in the message, you’d put SVP (Scale with Virtual Professionals).
If you text that message, you’ll get a copy of their book and you’ll get in contact with them. And they’d be happy to serve anybody who’s listening today and thinks that maybe you could buy some of your time back.
Quote or Saying that During Times of Adversity Daniel Uses
When asked about a quote or saying that he’ll revert to during a challenge, Daniel shared that he’s giving away their secret sauce. Whenever he finds a customer or a friend who’s an entrepreneur or a business is stuck in a particular spot, he always asks this question. He asked them, “If they could wave a magic wand and have the problem disappear or have the business double or really start to see some traction and growth and scale, what would you have to start doing, stop doing? And who do you need on your team?”
He’ll give you some perspective there. When a billionaire goes to buy a sports team, she or he doesn’t say, “I’m going to run the football team or I’m going to be the manager of the team.” They buy the sports team and then they think, who do I need on my team in order to win the Super Bowl or win the next series or whatever? The billionaire never thinks, “I’m going to be the manager or I’m going to be the team captain.” They never think that.
And unfortunately, a lot of entrepreneurs do. So the question again is, “What do I need to stop doing, start doing and who do I need on my team in order to grow and double my business?” If you ask yourself that one question, you’ll start to see some big change.
Please connect with Yanique on Twitter @navigatingcx and also join her Private Facebook Community – Navigating the Customer Experience and listen to her FB Lives weekly with a new guest
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ENVISIONING OF A NEW REALITY FOR YOUR BUSINESS
Simply put, MyOutDesk equips entrepreneurs & business owners with tools, strategies, and virtual employees – and when combined, businesses have a competitive edge and find growth while efficient systems and processes are put in place.
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Did You Know? MyOutDesk’s origin story is set during the last global financial crisis of 2008. Yes, that’s right — our business started by scaling businesses with virtual assistants during a recession! Pioneers of virtual assistant services, our first client in 2008 went from five to seventeen VAs with a completely revamped organizational model in short order, and he told MyOutDesk, “Our virtual professionals have shaved $250,000 off our monthly overhead.”